A magnetic energy surrounds Marta Cikojevic's debut record Marci. It shines, shines and shines. It's the sonic embodiment of three cocktails in a rooftop, moments before finding yourself flirting with a hot stranger. Radiant, sexy and fun, Marci pulls references from pop music's iconic moments and celebrates genre's defining qualities with great enthusiasm. The hedonistic theatrics and groovy melodies makes the record the perfect end of summer release to drink and party to. Even though Marta wears her influences on her sleeve on her solo project, the boundary-pushing sensibilities of her music is evident in each track. The sultry R&B influences and soul-dipped vocal numbers defines Cikojevic's unique sound throughout the record.
There are not many musicians who understands pop music as deeply as she does it seems, as the record listens like a time capsule for understanding the genre. It encompasses pop music's most glimmering moments with a Marci twist. Switching between analog and digital, it highlights what pop is and reimagines what it could be. The lore of the record is unsurprising considering her background in TOPS. The Montreal effect shines through her work, filling the record with eclectic subtleties. Each track has their unique theatrics yet the cohesiveness of the record keeps the listeners drifting and swaying at all times, without any disruptions. Each track is a timeless triumph in showcasing Marta Cikojevic's musicianship in the best, brightest shining light.
To help you immerse yourself in the immaterial world of Marci, I've interviewed the multi-talented artists.
How did your self-titled album come to be? What pushed you to follow a solo side project?
I always wanted to do it but I didn't have the confidence at the time. Being in TOPS have taught me a lot about song writing and I gradually built my confidence so I thought it was time for me to follow a solo project. I had some demos on the side and I made David (Carriere) listen to those and he told me that I should head over to Montreal and record an album with him.
So David's encouragement was a big factor for your solo project.
Totally. He was a big reason as to why I ended up doing it. Sometimes you need that push and someone who believes that what you're doing is cool. He gave me the confidence boost to actually pursue it.
You mentioned that you used to be a shy singer growing up and that your grandfather had inspired you to put yourself out there a bit more. Do you think that his push had some things to do with you aiming for a solo project?
Definitely. I was very shy growing up. I would find solitary spots to sing by myself. I didn't know if I was good enough but I still really liked it. As a young child, I always wanted to be the singer, the star of the show and sing my own songs. It was something I always wanted to do.
What was your grandfather's relationship to music?
He was a folk artists and he recorded a lot of his songs on tape so he was the one who introduced me to the world of recording music. At that age, I didn't know that it was a possibility. I have tapes of myself as a ten year old of songs that we had recorded together. Also, having someone who was enthusiastic about music was very special.
What do you think is the most gratifying thing about having a solo project? How does that differ from a band dynamic?
It is very hard. It's a lot to take on but it feels lovely because it's me. It's so special to see something that I've done in it's final result. It's also very special to work with other people and see how my ideas are interpreted by them through their expertise. The collaboration aspect has been really fun. It has been very rewarding and I'm kind of addicted to it now. I understand how it feels to be a solo artist.
You've included TOPS members in your creative process. How was working with them on your own project instead of a TOPS album?
David, obviously, helped me a lot. He is already a really good friend and we know how we work. Jane also sang and played some flute. Everyone in TOPS is extremely supportive. I'm around them a lot and we're in the same band so it was an obvious decision to involve them in the project. With David, we have a very similar way of writing so it felt very natural to do this with him.
Which song you think, embodies the essence of the album the most and why?
This is so hard. I'm going to say the first thing that comes to mind and I think it would be Immaterial Girl. I like the energy that it has and the way that we put it together. It was put together on a whim and we had a really fun time making it. I think that the energy of the song really stands out.
Marci is a very rich album sonically and it draws inspiration from a lot of different moments in pop music. Is there a specific pop album that had a big influence on you in your formative years?
Honestly Destiny's Child's Writing On The Wall was huge for me. I actually liked a lot of classical music too because I played the piano. It opened up a new world for me. I really liked Phil Spector because obviously he makes the catchiest songs. "Ain't No Mountain High Enough" was really big for me too. I recently remembered that me and my friend went to Canada's Wonderland years and years ago and they had these recording booths where you could record yourself singing. We went in and recorded ourselves singing that song. I hope my friends still has the tapes of it.
Your album celebrates pop music but it has a lot of different influences like soul with prominent vocal numbers and the saxaphones. How did you go about creating the soundscape for the album?
David is an incredible producer and he is able to pick out a moment or a sound that he hears and codifies what happens in those moments. It's so cool to watch him work. We went through a lot of eras and genres. We looked at a lot of 00s production styles. The way that I write can be too nostalgic sometimes, as if it's from the 80's or the 90's. So for those songs that sounded too on the nose, we would specifically choose to produce it in a more 2000s pop way. We tried to mix the worlds a bit.
Your album is like a time capsule of all the different decades of pop music yet it is deeply imaginative and futuristic which feels very expansive. What inspired you to switch back and forth between analog and digital?
I have a very eclectic taste. I like the stuff that are released today and I like the stuff that are released yesterday. I wanted to try to encapsulate that and not pick one thing and limit myself. There are so many ways of producing music now, especially because of technology so it's fun to use that too. That being said, I also have a lot of respect towards how people used to do music. Finding the middle ground is the fun part.
I'm assuming you like artists like Charli XCX and SOPHIE who use technology to its full capacity.
Yes I love it. I don't understand how they do that, it's like magic to me. Cecile Believe is incredible and I'm amazed on how she makes music.
Lyrically, the album celebrates a hedonistic way of going through life. Whether it'd be with cashing in cheques, going dancing, going all the way for love... Is that mostly how you experience life or it is an idealized version of how you wish you'd feel?
I guess it's close to true. Of course it is exaggerated but I tend to have a "go big or go home" mentality and I like to experience things to the max.
And how do you write your lyrics? Do they come to you instinctively?
I don't like writing lyrics that much. I'm not that good at it yet and I'm still figuring out my process. I try to think of what syllables makes what mouth shapes. Right now how I'm writing mostly depends on sounds. I also like to go with themes. I definitely pick a theme and go from there. David helps with lyrics quite a bit too. Sometimes he comes in and says "Maybe don't say that, it's a bit too on the nose." My writing tends to be a bit cheesy sometimes.
What do know now, that you didn't know before while you were in a band?
I didn't know how much work it was because I have always been in bands. It's crazy. The whole side of doing interviews, posting on social media is crazy. Those logistics don't come naturally to most people because maybe they just want to jam with other musicians and do their own thing. It's still very rewarding because it is your project. I'm getting a response and it makes me want to respond back. There is a new communication happening that I love.
Do you have any sweet doubts about your upcoming tour, touring solo for the first time?
It's going to be craaazzy. Obviously I'm nervous but I have a lot of faith in the musicians that I've asked to play with me so I'm not worrying about it sounding bad. Each day that goes by I go "Oh my God, another day closer to the concert." Whenever I perform, even if it's just for my friends it's very rewarding so I'm so excited to perform.
Stream Marci here: