Marc Antoine Interview – “My Classical Way”
By: Cheryl Boone
September 1, 2010
Marc Antoine’s newest project will take you back in time, using as his foundation, some of the most beautiful classical melodies ever written from world-renowned composters such as Mozart, Chopin, Vivaldi, Debussy, Paganini and others. He dresses these melodies with Jazz, Latin, World and even Hip Hop influences. This eleventh album for the French-born guitarist melts and blends the past and present in an extraordinary way.
Before Marc headed out for a family vacation to the South of France, Smooth Jazz Magazine caught up with him and talked about his soon to be released, “My Classical Way.”
SJM: Marc you began playing guitar at the age of 11 and since then you’ve played with Jazz Legends, Orchestras and everyone from Sting and Marcus Miller to Queen Latifah and many contemporary jazz artist. But at age 13 you studied classically. Is that when you developed a love for classical pieces?
Marc: I think I developed that love early on from my parents who listened to a lot of music, from classical to rock to jazz and things like that. So I was exposed to those melodies pretty much since I was a boy, and they were very familiar to me.
SJM: Being a classically trained musician, how did you come to be a jazz artist?
Marc: As I heard more and more of the music I became attracted it to it.
SJM: How did you develop your particular style?
Marc: I kind of took my classical training and let the music transpire and develop through that. I love classical and jazz music and it’s very difficult to separate yourself from one style when you love multiple kinds of music. So my technique has something to do with my classical guitar background expanding and my musical aspiration to go further.
SJM: And you were inspired by Miles Davis?
Marc: Oh yes, Miles was very special and always in touch with the musical times around him but he could see ahead too. For example, back in the 50’s, when a car crashed, you heard a bunch of metal hitting each other. Now if you compare that to a car crash in the 1980’s or 90’s, you heard plastic instead of metal. So the sound of the crashes in the 50’s and in the 80’s wasn’t sounding the same. It’s kind of obvious that music was like that too for Miles. Miles was already on top of all the technology, of all the new musical styles and he was very inspiring. Just look at his career. He was always ahead of his time.
SJM: Did you ever get to play with him?
Marc: No I didn’t, but every time someone asks me who would I love to have played with I have to say Miles Davis definitely.
SJM: Can we talk about your soon to be released, “My Classical Way”. It’s based on the works on Mozart, Chopin, Bach, etc. What was your inspiration for doing this project?
Marc: First of all, I’m not just into the classical era. I also love Latin melodies. There’s something very magical about good melodies. I think all my musical life I’ve been attracted to melodies. Even 300 or 400 hundred years ago they were beautiful. So many people will hear one and go, “that sounds familiar”, but they didn’t know who the composer was. What I wanted to do was take those melodies and make them sound like something you would hear on the radio today.
SJM: Was it difficult to take those classical pieces, applying them to the guitar and then to smooth jazz or jazz in general?
Marc: No, I really didn’t try to do any jazz. I didn’t try to do smooth jazz. I just tried to keep the heart of the melody and have fun with it. So each segment of the melody will correspond to more of the real style of the composition.
SJM: Why did you decide to do this project at this time?
Marc: lol…just to do something new.
SJM: How long did it take you to do this album?
Marc: It took a while because I did everything myself. I recorded everything. I mixed everything. I mastered everything. I did everything myself
SJM: The composers that you chose, was there anything in particular about them that made you select them such as their depth, particular style etc.?
Marc: No, I just went straight to the melody. So if a melody is very famous and it happened to be Mozart, I tried to keep the familiar sound, but put my spin on it so it’s not a classical record or a smooth jazz record. I wanted to keep the style and the beauty. The concept is still there.
SJM: A lot of Mozart’s work was done for operas. Are you an opera lover?
Marc: Oh yes. Operas are great. Operas are the best thing to listen to for me in the car; Operas and classical music. I am crazy about Mozart. I’ve watched Amadeus probably 17 times, lol, Mozart was such an interesting character and his personality was so different from the beautiful music that he created.
SJM: When I was listening to the cd, I knew some of the tunes but didn’t realize it was a classical piece. “Carmen B” was one in of those tunes.
Marc: That’s exactly what I wanted. I want people to go what is that? They don’t know if it’s something from 20/30 or 200/300 years ago. They know they’ve heard it before, but now it’s got newness to it.
SJM: Track 6, “Rodrigo’s Concierto”, was one that I was not familiar with, and I did a little research on it and found out that the composer wrote that piece because of his wife having a miscarriage. So the selections have history.
Marc: Yes, yes very true. Joaquin Rodrigo was also blind as a result of diphtheria, and wrote in Braille. He actually died in 1999. So yes there is history.
Marc: You know Cheryl I made this record with no expectations. Sometimes that’s the best way to do. You aren’t clouded with how are we going to do this or that? An on top of it, it’s coming out on my own label.
SJM: Do you have any favorites on this cd?
Marc: I like the “Dreamer”song and the “Rodrigo” that you mentioned is pretty good as well.
SJM: Now is Frazzy Frog Music your label, and how did you come up with that name?
Marc: (laughing) yes it is. A very old friend of mine came up with that name years ago; about 20 years ago actually. I thought it was so cool.
SJM: Marc you’re also playing on Slim Man’s “Thousand Miles Away”. How did you two team up to do this project?
Marc: Well I’ve known Slim for about 17 years, and when he asked me to be on his record I of course said yes.
SJM: Did you do any of the producing for him?
Marc: I did some production things here and there. I co-wrote two songs of the songs with him and play some guitar on there as well.
SJM: Are you currently working with anyone else right now?
Marc: I did a few sessions and played on Shilts new record and a few others projects.
SJM: With the release date of September 21, 2010, can your fans pre-order “My Classical Way.”
Marc: Yes, I’m setting up everything now. They will be able to order at my website. www.marcantoine.com.