Interview: Mary Mary — "Changing the way you think is the biggest transformation…"
Wed, 24 Feb 2010 14:12:31
Mary Mary are blessed.
Grammy-winning sisters Tina and Erica Campbell have voices that can soar to the heavens, while carrying undeniable soulful hooks. However, most importantly, they've got a benevolent goal with their version of gospel. Erica smiles, "If my answer can be someone else's answer, heck yeah, I'll share it. I’m not stingy [Laughs]."
Erica and her sister share those answers over the course of their latest album, The Sound. It's a powerful, poignant and often poetic collection of gospel music that's catchy enough to make any angel smile. However, right now, the duo are in the midst of working on their next album due out this coming fall. It's a process that's been enlightening for Mary Mary as they draw influences from places everything from 300 to Beyonce to The Other Boleyn Girl.
The Sound was #1 on the Gospel Chart and #7 on the Billboard Top 200, plus their single "God In Me" has spent 64 weeks on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop songs chart. So they've got a lot to celebrate!
Erica Campbell of Mary Mary sat down with ARTISTdirect.com editor and Dolor author Rick Florino to discuss The Sound, her forthcoming album, taking a cue from some flicks and some big life lessons.
The Sound has a truly classy feel. Did you set out to make something old school?
Yeah, we're classy chicks so you know—[Laughs] I'm just kidding! Our aim is to put out music with integrity that will last. It's not just music for today. It's music that somebody can put on six or seven years down the line and say, "This is really good!" That's definitely the focus when it comes to our instrumentation, lyrical content, how we sing and everything else. We want to make sure that we put out music that’s simply good—not just good right now.
On the album, everything's connected and you want to listen to the whole thing.
I think that’s how all albums should be put together. When you look at some of the greatest albums ever, like Thriller or Off the Wall, they flow from song to song. You just want to connect, and you want the listeners to feel like they're on a journey. Not many young artists do that. You can go from the moon back to earth. You're crying the next moment, and then you’re dancing. You’re emotionally all over the place. I think that an album should take you on this ride. The perfect album is when that you can put on when you're on a long drive. That's what we aim to create.
"I Worship You" stands out. Is there a story behind that one?
Tina and I know where we come from. Even though we're singing gospel music, we don’t try to be perfect. We know that we've made some pretty bad mistakes and we've done some pretty ugly things in our lives. I think that’s why we're so confident when we talk about the ability to transform your life from inside out. When we think about all that we are—all the negative things that have taken place in our live—and who we are now, we feel so grateful. I just have to thank God. Changing the way you think is the biggest transformation. You're not negative, not fearful and you’re not terrified of life and taking chances. You don't look at a problem as a sign that you’re not doing something right. A problem is just a problem, and you're going to make it through and be stronger because of it. "I Worship You" is about that. It's a really emotional song for my sister and I, because we can’t help but look back.
That honesty comes through.
You have to be honest. I always think of Alanis Morrisette's Jagged Little Pill. It's a huge album, and it's very honest. That's what connects with people because so many people have issues and questions, and they're trying to figure it all out. We listen to music to escape. But during that escape, you can find an answer to something that’s troubling you. That's an album you’ll listen to all the time.
It's most important to show yourself on every song.
Definitely! I think "Resentment" on Beyonce's record is incredible! It's amazing because it's just so doggone honest. I think so many women have been in that spot. Music should be fun, it should be alive, it should make you want to roll your windows down—well when you’re somewhere in good weather [Laughs]—, let the wind blow in your hair, just listen and have a good time.
Where do you see your new music going?
We've actually been recording; we never really stopped. Even if we're not going like every day, at least there's a day and month where we go and we write, we just got to keep it fresh. I LOVE what we have. We have like six songs so far for the next album. We have to record quick because my baby's due in two months. Congratulations
Thank you thank you, but I’m so excited about the new music. It is going to be a little different from the last album, but it will be true to who we are. It won't so be farfetched where people are like, "What the heck? What's going on with Mary Mary?" It's going to sound like Mary Mary, but it's going to sound like Mary Mary evolved. A lot of times when I hear a new song, I automatically imagine myself performing it.
Now when you're writing, do you watch a lot of movies or read? Where else do you find inspiration from other than just hearing music?
A combination of both… I watched 300 and The Other Boleyn Girl. I'm a people watcher so I look at people and survey the world around me. Then I want to make sure our music translates. I want to make sure the music reaches people who never went to church or maybe don't believe in the God I believe in. I aim to share the music in a way that touches their heart, and they want it though. I don't think anybody is going to turn down something that can help them and build them when it's wrapped up in a dope track. It's a recipe for success in my opinion.
Well being in LA too, you get to be surrounded by so much creativity and so many different people, it's a pretty cool place to be.
LA is crazy, you can be driving down the street and see a Bentley, and then see a whole neighborhood of homeless people. It's just so crazy. You decide you determine what kind of life you have. So many people come out here to chase a dream. Some of them will reach that dream some of them will not. But there has to be a sense of determination in your heart when you live here. That's the point of LA—sometimes you hear, "Oh LA is a bunch of fake people." There's more to it. The dedication to your dream is the most important thing. If you're not determined, if you don't have the discipline to live it out, it's not going to happen. But if you do, it can.
Check out Rick Florino's new novel Dolor available now for FREE here…