Discovery: Delicate Steve



Home studio producer Steve Marion of Delicate Steve has crafted a genre of tropical groove-based guitar pop—from his New Jersey bedroom. The 23-year-old musician fronts the band with his guitar, playing Afro riffs with hints of Hendrix vibes that leave no need for vocals. On his debut full-length, Wondervisions, out today on Luaka Bop, expect an anything-but-delicate sound that falls somewhere between the crossroads of soul, old-man rock, and instrumental pop.

Marion, who plays live with a group of high school friends, will begin an east-coast album-release tour this February. We caught up with him in the midst of a New Jersey whiteout, and just days before Wondervisions hit the market.

HOMETOWN: Fredon, New Jersey, and I live there now.

ON RECORDING WONDERVISIONS: It was an album I made about a year ago. I was just in a really good zone. I had done a lot of recording and playing in other bands, but I never really made music myself. I was just kind of feeling inspired at the time, and decided to make an album in my room just for the hell of it. I really listened to a lot of Ponytail and Dirty Projectors at the time, and I was just getting really turned on to all these bands. So, I just kind of hung out and made a CD.

HAS INSTRUMENTAL MUSIC BEEN A BIG INFLUENCE? I would say it’s been less of an influence than vocal music. I don’t listen to many instrumental groups, or instrumental music. I like Ratatat, and I like jazz music. I also like Fela Kuti, and African instrumental. But, I never really put on instrumental music.

WHAT DO YOU PUT ON? Everything, right now I’m listening to The Beatles a lot, I’m really obsessed with those guys. Also, Alice Coltrane, and this band Love, which is getting into some classic psychedelic music.

OTHER MEMBERS OF DELICATE STEVE: Christian and I wrote two of the songs together, and he played some instruments on that. Other than that, it was pretty much my songs, except for the last song that a guy from Ponytail and I made together. For the past two years before Delicate Steve, my friends and I were playing shows as whoever had the music. So we’ve all been playing together for a really long time, and it’s not like these guys are just hired, or just members of Delicate Steve’s band. It’s been kind of a collective cooperative.

THE NEW JERSEY MUSIC REALM: A lot of my friends make really awesome music, and they aren’t just trying to get it out there or be aggressive, or trying to pursue anything with it. They’re just making music for fun… Sometimes I think that these people would really be getting a lot of buzz if they were playing in New York, but I don’t think they want to do that. The people I know are content, just playing one show every two months and having all their friends come out.

ON WRITING MUSIC: The whole plan was for us to go out to this house we rented in Warwick over the summer and write a bunch of music, but I think we really just had more fun hanging out. That was literally the reason we decided to get a house out there, and we came out of there with zero songs, but we had the time of our lives. But now I have another album I’m working on. I work on music every day now. I don’t do much other than that.

ON THE STEREOGUM VIDEO WITH DIRTY PROJECTORS’ NAT BALDWIN: Nat and I became friends when we met last year. I’m a big fan of his music, and Dirty Projectors is awesome too. I met him at one of his shows, and we talked about running and basketball, and that was cool because we both like to do that stuff. I had this pipe dream for the video for “Wondervisions” as a few people playing basketball, and then I met Carlos Perez, who is directing the video, and I told him that and I told Nat the idea, and everybody was into it. So that was our first little basketball game. I used to play basketball up until 8th grade, Nat has probably played his whole life. He is amazing. I could talk for another 10 minutes about how good Nat is.

WHAT IS THE LAST SONG YOU LISTENED TO? “1979,” Smashing Pumpkins.

FANTASY SUPERGROUP: Greg from Deerhoof on drums, Nat Baldwin on bass, Alice Coltrane playing the harp, Michael Jackson singing, and the guitar playing from Captain Beefheart.


SO ARE YOU DELICATE, STEVE? I might be really sensitive. The story behind that is my best friend and I were talking a long time ago, and we’re really close so we can make fun of each other, and I was just like, “Oh I don’t want to go do this or that,” and he was like, “Oh, I’m Steve, I’m so delicate”—just out of nowhere, and I laughed. Then when it came time to name a little recording studio I had, I called it Delicate Studios after that little joke. Then when it came time to name the music I made, I decided to call it Delicate Steve.

WHAT NOW? Get the salt out for the snowstorm! And other than that, more music. We’re doing a tour with Akron/Family soon. Super-excited to go on tour with Akron/Family; they are one of our favorite bands, and we really listen to them a lot.