Every so often, an artist comes along who immediately draws you in, and it took less than 30-seconds from me pressing play on Mrley’s debut single, ‘My Side Of London’, to be hooked into the world of Marley Rutherford.
His debut EP, Love You London, arrived this week, and it’s the exhilarating start of a journey from one of the most exciting artists that have come out of Britain this year. He has a snarling punk attitude, the bravado that every frontman needs, but, more importantly, Mrley feels like a voice that truly represents modern Britain in 2021.
Over the five tracks, Mrley shows different sides to his sound, which present a taster of what is yet to come from him. Admittedly, he’s not punk in the traditional sense like The Sex Pistols. However, if they were about in 2021, they would be a completely different group too. Strikingly, the singer is blessed with a captivating aura, which immediately pulled me into his work, and I found it enchanting.
Rutherford was previously a rapper, but a couple of years ago, Mrley picked up a guitar for the first time since his teens, and a fire was sparked inside him. That moment kickstarted this evolution in his sound. However, as Rutherford explains in our conversation, it took a while for the change to erupt.
“It was amazing,” Mrley reflects over Zoom about his first show this summer which made the gravitas of his new project feel real. “It was the first show I played as a band, it was I was sold out, and everyone was singing the lyrics for ‘My Side Of London’ back to me on that chorus line. I played quite a lot of new songs too, but for unknown songs, the engagement was really good, and cool to see people actually moving to it,” he says with a spring in his step.
Playing with a group rather than gigging as an MC is a totally different experience for Rutherford, but one that he’s revelling in thanks to his tight-knit relationship with his bandmates. “It’s a bit scary in a sense because you have to trust your band. It’s not like when you’ve just got a PA, and all you’ve got to do is worry about yourself. Luckily I trust my band, they’re all really good musicians, and I didn’t really have that worry.”
The last piece of the jigsaw in his band only slotted in around a month and a half before that debut show, but instantly there was that connection there once they secured a drummer. “We only had about three rehearsals with him, and he didn’t miss a beat. He is a talent, and he’s played the drums since he was a kid, so it wasn’t a shock to me, but I knew him as a guitarist and a singer. He said to me, ‘I thought my drumming dreams were over’, so it’s quite sweet in that sense it kind of everything came together.”
It’s all been somewhat of a whirlwind for Mrley over the last eighteen months. Before the pandemic, he had already decided to change his musical identity, but that unwanted period provided ample time to reflect and hone his sound in a new direction.
“It was on February 9th (2020),” he says, referring to his musical epiphany. “Although I’d say it was about two years because I decided to switch up before then, but I hadn’t acted on it, I just had the idea of doing it.
“It wasn’t something I had necessarily told myself I was going to do straight away, and it just kind of fell into place naturally,” he continued. “I didn’t restrict myself and say I’m just going to make rock. It just happened that when I went for a session with my now-producer/engineer, and the first thing I wrote was rock. Maybe, if I went in there and made rap music, it would never have progressed into what it is now.”
On that day, Mrley wrote ‘So Much To Say’, which became his second single, and set the blueprint for the sonic territory he now finds himself swimming in. After being the song that changed his trajectory, it’s only right the track found its place on his debut EP.
“I wrote the lyrics on the first day, and I wrote the guitar too. All I had was the 808 pattern, I had it on my laptop, and I made it work when I used to be a fireman, but I just used to fuck it off and make beats in the little office all the time. It’s funny in the sense that the first song I ever made in a serious studio environment actually came out, and it hasn’t changed much since that first day,” he adds.
It was fate that day that made Mrley decide to write a rock orientated track with a producer who shared a similar vision as him, and since then, they’ve been riding this cosmic wave together, taking it one song at a time. Love You London is a swaggering introduction from the 23-year old, who lays a marker down across the five tracks — get on board early before he doubtlessly blows up.