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INTERVIEW: Marc Marut of Cool Ass

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Posted August 12, 2020 by Peter Burns in Interviews

Cool Ass was created by Marc Marut, with a sound that’s reminiscent of 90’s alternative. Combining a hard hitting, toe tapping, energetic rock style with other influences, Cool Ass music gets people moving as much as the lyrics get them laughing. Not only is Marc a musician/songwriter, he is also an accomplished actor. He has starred in feature films such as “The Paperboy (1994)”, as well as many TV shows such as “Goosebumps” and “Road To Avonlea”. Marc does all the composing, recording, and audio engineering himself.

  1. Can you tell us a bit about where you come from and how you got started?

Marc Marut: It’s funny, I fell into music completely by accident. When I was nine years old I auditioned for Les Misérables to get a Cub Scouts badge, and out of nowhere I got the role. Doing musical theatre exposed me to professional musicians from a young age, and I learned a lot from the conductor and other members of the orchestra. As I got older, I spent lots of time in studios laying down vocals for commercials and TV shows. It was a very natural progression, and eventually one thing just led to another.

  1. Where did the moniker “Cool Ass” come from?

Marc Marut: To me Cool Ass is more than just a name, it’s also an attitude. It’s about being good to others, but especially about respecting and believing in yourself. We all have talents, and we all have a purpose for being in this world. When you discover what that purpose is and don’t let people scare you away from being who you really are, that’s when you can do all the cool ass things you were meant to. Right now I’m making Cool Ass music.

  1. Who were your first and strongest musical influences that you can remember?

Marc Marut: Being a teenager in the 90’s, I’m heavily influenced by the style of music for that time period… but my influences are also a bit all over the map. Nirvana got me into grunge, and Veruca Salt’s vocal harmonies have definitely made a huge impact on me, but I also listened to a lot of Queen when I was younger. As a kid I remember wishing I could play guitar like Brian May. I like to incorporate elements of classic rock, blues, dance and even swing into my music, but there’s typically a grunge element that holds it all together.

  1. What do you feel are the key elements in your music that should resonate with listeners?

Marc Marut: Well, being that it’s reminiscent of 90’s alternative, it’s definitely upbeat. The lyrics are pretty funny too, so my songs get people laughing as much as they get them moving. My music combines hard hitting, toe tapping, energetic rock with other influences, and puts a smile on people’s faces.

  1. For most artists, originality is first preceded by a phase of learning and, often, emulating others. What was this like for you? How would you describe your own development as an artist and music maker, and the transition towards your own style?

Marc Marut: It’s pretty much the opposite for me… ever since I was a kid music would just come to me from out of nowhere. I’d always have tunes playing in my head, and the challenge for me was learning how to reproduce them on instruments. I’ve always had music in me, and I just need to get it out and into the world. Everything I’ve learned and emulated so far has just made that easier.

  1. What’s your view on the role and function of music as political, cultural, spiritual, and/or social vehicles – and do you try and affront any of these themes in your work, or are you purely interested in music as an expression of technical artistry, personal narrative and entertainment?

Marc Marut: The world is so divided right now, that honestly I don’t want to get sucked into that with my art. In the past, political music had a lot of impact, but nowadays opinions seem to be set in stone so there’s no point. I just want to laugh and have fun, and that’s why I make music. People can get so caught up in ideals that they forget why we’re here in the first place. So I don’t know… is that spiritual?

  1. Do you ever write a song with current musical trends, formulas or listener satisfaction in mind, or do you simply focus on your own personal vision and hope people will empathize with your sound?

Marc Marut: Obviously listener satisfaction is an important part of sound design, but when it comes to the song itself I focus entirely on my vision.

  1. Could you describe your creative processes? How do start, and go about shaping ideas into a completed song? Do you usually start with a beat, or a narrative in your head?

Marc Marut:  Honestly, the music just pops into my head and I take it from there. I do often start by laying down a simple beat, and then I might add some guitars or bass, then other instruments, then go back and add in some drum fills… it’s like a making sculpture. Once I have my block of stone, I just chip away at it until it’s done.

  1. What has been the most difficult thing you’ve had to endure in your career or life so far, and how did you overcome the event?

Marc Marut:  The toughest thing in my career has been learning all the technical aspects of production. There’s so much to know! Everything from audio engineering to VFX, to learning how to code websites… it’s not easy for me because I’m a very right brain thinker. Art and language are where I excel naturally, so learning computers and math stuff was really hard.

  1. On the contrary, what would you consider a successful, proud or significant point in your career so far?

Marc Marut:  I’m extremely proud of the music video for “S.O.B. (Song Of a Bitch)”. I put together a great little crew, but aside from the initial camera setup I took care of all the technical aspects myself. I did everything from data management to post production, VFX and 3D modelling, and even the liquid simulations and color correction. It was pretty technical, and I think I pulled it off quite well. The green screen turned out amazing.

  1. If someone has never heard your music, which 5 keywords would you personally use to describe what you and your music is all about?

Marc Marut: Fun, upbeat, 90’s, graffiti, muscle cars

  1. With social media having a heavy impact on our lives and the music business in general, how do you handle criticism, haters and/or naysayers in general? Is it something you pay attention to, or simply ignore?

Marc Marut: I honestly don’t get much of that, but I have had a little. I think in a way it’s a measure of success, and I welcome it. I always respond to negative comments, and I’ve learned to be extremely kind when I do. I don’t think it’s the reaction those people are expecting… they don’t know how to respond. More often than not they wind up deleting their own comments, or just abandon the discussion entirely. Kill them with kindness, I say.

  1. Which aspects of being an independent artist excites you most and which aspects discourages you most?

Marc Marut: The freedom is by far the most exciting part of being indie. Nobody controls my creativity, and I can express myself exactly the way I want. The most discouraging aspect, though, is that I don’t have access to as many resources. It’s really tough to get good exposure when I have to compete with the big record labels, who have tons of money.

  1. If you had a choice to go on tour with any acclaimed international artist in the near future, who would you choose, and why?

Marc Marut: I would have to choose Veruca Salt, just because I’m such a huge fan of their music. That way I could watch them play at every show on the tour, like the fanboy I am.

  1. Could you tell us something about your latest project, and what fans can expect to hear?

Marc Marut:  My latest song is called “Fuck You COVID-19”, and like all my music it just popped into my head one day. I was actually getting ready to record some other songs I have written, when suddenly this global pandemic came out of nowhere. I had to completely reorganize my life! By the time I had finally adjusted to all the new restrictions, I found I was humming this new song… and it was such a catchy tune and was so relevant to how people were feeling, I had to put all my other plans on hold and record this one instead. Everybody really likes it, and it’s got great reviews. It has high energy, a great beat, fuzzy rock guitars and even features a brass section. People from all over the world rock out to it in the music video, and of course the lyrics are pretty funny too. It will definitely put a smile on your face!

  1. Do you have a personal favorite track amongst your compositions that has a specific backstory and/or message and meaning very special to you?

Marc Marut: All of my songs have a lot of meaning to me, which is probably why they wrote themselves in the first place… but if I had to pick one in particular it would be “S.O.B. (Song Of a Bitch)”. It’s about standing up for yourself and not letting other people put you down, and it’s the song that inspired me to start Cool Ass.

  1. Creative work in studio environment, or interaction with a live audience? Which of these two options excite you most?

Marc Marut:  I love both, but they’re very different. Working in the studio requires a lot of focus, because you have to be a perfectionist. You can play around with things, and tweak stuff here and there, and only when you’re happy with the final result do you know you’re finished. The process is very introspective, and it’s all about making yourself happy. Performing on stage is the opposite, and it’s all about how the audience feels. I love the energy of the crowd, and as a performer I feed off of it… it’s like when you’re on stage, you know you told a funny joke because the audience laughs. You don’t get that in the studio.

  1. What’s your favorite motto, phrase or piece of advice, you try to live or inspire yourself by?

Marc Marut: Champions have failed more than most people have ever tried.

  1. How essential do you think video is in relation to your music? Do you have a video you would suggest fans see, to get a better understanding of your craft?

Marc Marut: I think video can add a lot to music, because it’s an extra dimension. Sometimes video gets something across about a song that can’t always be conveyed by just listening to it. I’m a big fan of making music videos, and am especially proud of “S.O.B. (Song Of a Bitch)”. It’s almost more like a short film than a music video in some ways.

  1. What do you find most rewarding about what you do? And do you have a specific vision or goal set in your mind that you would like to achieve in the near future?

Marc Marut: The biggest reward I get is the sense of pride from looking back at things I’ve done, and thinking, “Damn, I did a pretty good job on that”. My true measuring stick is if I’m still happy with a project when I revisit it years down the road. For the near future, I’m really looking forward to pressing an LP on vinyl. There’s something about playing a record that makes the music listening experience more authentic to me. I love the smell, the artwork, the writing on the sleeve… it’s more interactive. To me there’s nothing more Cool Ass than having my own brightly colored vinyl record.

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