Download: Marques Toliver’s Dreamy, Minimalist “White Sails”


Gifted 24-year-old songsmith Marques Toliver is a heartstring-plucking amalgam of music-school-trained violin shred, the Williamsburg avant-boho vibe of pals like Grizzly Bear and TV On The Radio, and a deep-seated love of contemporary R&B–though, as he tells i-D, “If I had to describe my music I would say it is like Paris in spring.” He came up in Brooklyn working at vintage stores and busking in front of the Bedford Cheese Shop, often taking in about $25 an hour via his formidable string-sawing skills. But after a star-making co-sign from chart-topping British sensation Adele, he’s increasingly spends more of his days overseas. Though his MySpace still identifies him as “Brooklyn” and his official website allows for the more general “London/New York,” Toliver makes no bones about the fact that he’s being seen less and less around the Verb Café. “Destiny, time, and music brought me to London,” he says. “The UK is my new home.”

Download: [audio-1]

His debut EP, Butterflies Are Not Free, is due April 25 via Bella Union. But we’re definitely stuck on this demo of “White Sails,” a gorgeous mix of woozy melancholy that exists somewhere between the bold pop of Raphael Saadiq and the muted minimalism of Arthur Russell. Toliver says the track was inspired by his busking experience but also, fittingly, “being uprooted, finding oneself in a new space and place.” Since settling in, he’s was even invited to play “White Sails” on Later With Jools Holland, which he attacked quite fearlessly. “Playing on the show was honestly like any ordinary day,” says Toliver. “When I’m busking, the excitement and energy is flowing through me, so when it came to the Jools gig I got myself in the same frame of mind. I wasn’t put off by the prospects of being on the show. All I had to do was sing the song in front of a camera.”

This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on April 26, 2011

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