On his first two albums, Marc E. Bassy was decidedly inspired by hip-hop. For his third, Little Men, he decided to change it up.
“It’s a bit of a departure from my normal music. We were more inspired this time around by the early 2010s indie rock music. I was listening to a lot of MGMT and Empire of the Sun,” he said in a phone call last week. I started playing a lot more guitar. So I just kinda got into a new sound. I think it’s a little bit more indie-rock-inspired rather than hip-hop-inspired. Honestly, we made an alt album.”
It’s a somewhat drastic change. He made the album for himself rather than focusing on whatever anyone else wanted him to do. That’s not always a popular decision in the music industry.
“It’s too early to say for sure what the fans think, but I’ve definitely gotten messages on both sides,” he said. “There’s definitely people who have been giving me some hate mail on my Instagram so far. But I was almost expecting that. And there’s some people who really appreciate it. I think this is definitely going to be that album that some people hate.”
So it’s not always unpopular.
“It sounds like my best work—I’m sure of that—as far as the quality and the singing and the instrumentation,” he said. “You want artists that you’re a fan of to grow musically, because hopefully you grow as a listener and as a person.”
For a music artist, changing your sound means changing how the tour works. Since Marc E. Bassy is going to be on the road beginning in February, he has to figure out what those shows are going to look like. He said he will have his full band on this one, and he’ll be playing guitar on stage, with the help of his music director and bandmate. Fans can also expect an organist, but the rest of the band needs to be built out based on the needs of the music.
Oh, and before that tour kicks off, he’ll be playing in his former back yard. Bassy, a San Francisco native, will be playing Outside Lands this weekend.
“I grew up in San Francisco, in Potrero Hill. My family has big Potrero Hill roots,” he said. “They still have Hazel’s Kitchen, my auntie’s sandwich shop. I grew up above that. I go up there probably once a month. I’m anxious about what my costume should be because I’ve gotta wear something on stage.”
Having been at Outside Lands before, both as a guest artist with Kehlani and as an attendee, he considers it his favorite festival and one of the best out there.
“You get the full … Coachella-level experience in terms of the drama and the big bands and the lineup,” he said. “And you feel like you’re in this expansive area. But you’re also in the middle of the city and you can get there much easier than in the middle of the desert.”
And if some of his fans in attendance don’t like the new stuff even after hearing it, they only have to wait a couple months.
“I’m putting out a deluxe edition in January, right before we go on tour,” he said. “It’s gonna be a little more R&B-, hip-hop-leaning. Songs that didn’t make my album, not because they weren’t good enough but because they didn’t stylistically fit.”
Follow editor Daniel J. Willis at Twitter.com/BayAreaData.