Name: Charley Marley
Occupation: CEO, Charley Marley, Inc.
Born: Austin, Texas
Lives: New Braunfels, Texas
First things first, how long have you been rocking the mustache?
(in a polished hillbilly accent) Momma tells me I done come outta the womb with it. Says the doctors were mighty puzzled.
OK. Now, what do you call your style of music?
(long pause) Man, if I were to put it into genres, it'd be as follows: Reggae/Hip-Hop/Soul/Jazz/Acoustic/Folk. If I were to describe it in words, I'd say it's the music you'd want queued up in your car on your way home from work, on your way to the bar, on your way back from the bar, on your way to church, or on your way to your mother-in-law's. (laughs)
What instruments do you play? What is your specialty?
It would probably be easier and save time to tell you what I don't play. Being that I consider the voice an instrument, I'd say voice. If you don't consider the voice and instrument, refresh your knowledge of jazz singers. Not Sinatra; he was not a jazz singer. Ella Fitzgerald and Etta James, Amy Winehouse, The Andrews Sisters – those were jazz singers. Masters of voice in the secular (not Christian or classical) music world.
I've had formal training in voice and bassoon. Everything else is a result of my drive and passion for learning instruments. It's pretty weird; I've got this ability to pick something up and at least be playing "Ode to Joy" on it by the time I set it down. (smiles) I always take it into the garage though; nobody wants to hear a dude scratch out Beethoven on a viola for three hours with no water breaks.
Where does your talent come from?
One could argue that it comes from genetics, but the fact remains that I can't make someone good at music, and neither can anyone else. So there's only one source, and it's God.
Who are your biggest musical influences?
(leans back) I had a rough childhood, and the first music I ever really gravitated toward was rap. Eminem, Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg – all those guys my parents hated. I wasn't allowed to listen to the radio as a kid, and I remember sneaking to my room with my AM/FM cassette player, putting it on the local rap radio station and hitting record so it would record the radio to tape. I thought it was the most awesome thing and before long I accumulated a collection of tapes I'd pop in when my parents weren't around.
How did you arrive at the name 'Charley Marley'?
Contrary to popular opinion, it has nothing to do with reggae music, or Bob Marley. While I do write reggae, it's not the origin. It's my momma's special nickname for me, and no one else can use it. (smiles) I don't know how you found out about it.
You've bounced around a little bit. Why did you come back to New Braunfels?
Well, I moved around the country quite a bit after I graduated high school, and experienced some wild things. I've lived in Chicago, Pittsburgh, corn-field Illinois, corn-field Pennsylvania, Colorado Springs – a bunch of places. All on one-way Greyhound tickets. I just wanted to go. Anyway, I ended up getting in some legal trouble when I went to Corpus Christi for spring break one year, and did some jail time. I moved back to NB in February of 2011 to get back to my roots; to spend some time in the river. Now I can't leave. You don't realize how beautiful New Braunfels is until you leave.
How has spending time in jail had an effect on you and your music.
When I got out of jail in Corpus I was put on probation. I never took it seriously, and ended up going back on multiple violations. I think all in all I've probably done close to 20 months inside, including some time up in Colorado. (leaning back in his chair) When people hear that I've been to jail, their tendency is to write me off as a hellion, but there is nothing further from the truth. Everything I write is something I've experienced, and I've experienced a lot. I've got testimony that will blow your socks off, and my music is at the center. Jail gave me nothing but time to perfect it.
Describe your writing process.
(pauses) It's kinda odd, but my songs typically come to me as fully orchestrated, complete works in my head. All I do is start writing and I've got the songs down on paper in half an hour. When they don't come complete, I've usually got staff paper nearby and I jot down the melody. Then when I go back over it later the other instruments come right back to me.
Which one of your songs means the most to you?
They all mean something different to me, and can be categorized by periods in my life. There are songs I'll never release that jerk me every time I sing them, and there are songs that will be hits that I don't even flinch on. It's different for every song.
Tell us 3 things that you can't live without.
(chuckles) Haha. Never ask someone who spent years homeless what he can't live without. You'll find the answers are food and water. Depending on the condition he's in, the third answer may just be beer.
What is your opinion of shows like American Idol and The Voice?
(sighs, pauses) I think the idea is great, and they're both obviously extremely successful shows, but that's because they're popularity contests, not vocal competitions. I find myself screaming at the TV most of the time, so I tend to stay away from those shows.
What 3 words would your friends use to describe you?
I would hope that the words are faithful, honest, and caring, but I know my friends. So it ends up as spontaneous, unpredictable, and random. You'll find those words are synonymous with one another, or at least that's what Webster says, but what does he know? He's a dictionary; he's not even a real person. (winks)
What actor would play you in a movie about your life? What would the movie title be?
It's a tie between Adrien Brody, Christian Bale, and Jared Leto. They're all crazy. I think I'd call the movie "Conviction." There are many things I am convicted about, many things I tolerate, and many more things I will not. Actually, now that I think about it, I'd love to see Denzel's take on me. (laughs)
If you could have dinner with anyone dead or alive, who would it be?
Jesus. No question. I love that guy.
What's the best thing about being an up-and-coming musician in New Braunfels?
I'd say the best thing is being able to remain humble. It's easy to be humble when you're nobody. It's not easy to remain humble after you've had some success. (in the polished hillbilly accent again) God don't bless the arrogant. Also, the look on peoples' faces when they find out I'm worth spending money on.
Are you going to record an album?
No way man, I'm gonna live in a van down by the river. (laughs) Yes, I plan to record as many as will be successful. There is no date set to begin, however.
What has been your best gig so far?
I haven't had many, which is no longer the case, but I quite enjoyed this little coffee shop gig I played out at The Stone Coffee Bar in Gruene. The crowd was very responsive; it was like they came just to see me play or something. (laughs) Check the place out; their coffee is exquisite, and they have a raw juice bar, which sold me.
What are some of your goals and dreams?
Eventually I will start my own record label. I love performing, but it's not something I want to do, or will be able to do the rest of my life. I want to be able to get those with a positive message heard, and you don't have a say in who gets played unless you're a heavy hitter, and the only way to become a heavy hitter is to become one. My hope is that people will believe in what I'm doing and make a conscious effort to support me in it. I know it will succeed because I'm not in it for me.
1. God, always #1
2. Parents, always #2
3. Aaron Smith
4. The NB Scene
6. PT and all my Renew Church family, you guys have been so supportive. Thank you.
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