Marcus Machado: “Learn the rhythms, learn the changes – that’s what’s important for any concert. No one will hire you for the speed at which you play the solo “

There are the child prodigies… and then there are the child prodigies. Take Marcus Machado, who started playing guitar at the age of two.

“The guitar has always been there, since my earliest memories,” he says. “My dad was a musician, so there were guitars and instruments all over the house. And my mom had a crazy record collection. One of the first things I remember was turning two and listening Electric Ladyland and pick up the guitar. And I’ve been going since.

Indeed, he did. Now in his thirties, Machado has mastered a soulful sound that incorporates elements of R&B, funk, jazz, hip-hop, heavy rock and psychedelia into a punchy and unique six-string stew, as evidenced by his new solo album, Purple aquarius.

Additionally, Machado has performed with a wide range of artists, from Robert Glasper and Victor Bailey of Weather Report to Anderson. Paak and Pete Rock, is a member of soul hop supergroup DMD the Vibes alongside drums phenomenon Daru Jones (Jack White, Talib Kweli) and Living Color bassist Doug Wimbish, and provides electric guitar riffs and screaming solos in the hip -hop / hard rock project th1rt3en, directed by rapper Pharoahe Monch.

When it came to doing Purple aquarius, he says, “I wanted to make a record where he touches all genres of music. The inspiration was to keep the guitar material alive and carry this torch, and just try to create something different with it.

Machado phoned Guitar world from his home in New York to chat Purple aquarius, th1rt3en, and the importance of having an “open ear” when it comes to the guitar.

Purple aquarius – I have to imagine that the title is at least a nod to Prince, who clearly has an influence on your sound.

“Everyone asks: ‘What Purple aquarius? What does it mean?’ For starters, I’m an Aquarius, so the music comes from an Aquarius mindset. And yes, the purple is a nod to Prince, but the record is also a nod to Jimi and Eddie Hazel and Albert King and John Scofield and Jef Lee Johnson and all the other guys that influenced me. For me, purple simply represents the color of the music that comes from it. There are a lot of different landscapes, and the color of this landscape is purple. “

You hear all of these different landscapes, from acid-rock freakouts to more liquid and jazzy instrumental excursions, and pop sounds to R&B, soul and funk. Can you talk a bit about how your playstyle has evolved?

I always really liked the rhythm and the lead while playing at the same time

“As a child, I was like a sponge. I have been playing guitar since I was two and have been playing professionally since I was nine. And in my house you would hear everything from Jimi Hendrix and Weather Report and Joni Mitchell to A Tribe Called Quest and John Denver. So I would be attracted to all these different sounds. And then also being a hip-hop kid, I was influenced by people like D’Angelo and Raphael Saadiq and J Dilla. I also try to integrate this hip-hop side into my playing.

“As far as my pace of play goes, I’ve been heavily influenced by people like Catfish Collins, Prince, Nile Rodgers, all these different cats. And I always really liked the rhythm and the lead at the same time. So I just incorporated all of these different styles and approaches. Because you can have a guitar album where you play solos for days, but I wanted something where there is a balance, and you get a bit of both. You get a bit of lead, but at the same time you get a funky beat too.

Marcus Machado

(Image credit: Maishah Hendrix)

What was your main guitar and amp setup Purple aquarius?

“I’ve always been a Fender guy, but more recently I’ve used D’Angelico guitars a lot. They are my reference. On the record you hear a lot of D’Angelico Deluxe Bedford SH, which is also the guitar that I played live. You can all the different tones of this guitar – a Tele, a Strat, a Les Paul… I love it.

“As for the amps, I use a Fender Twin in the studio, and sometimes a Marshall JCM800. I also have a Tech 21 [Hot-Rod] Plexi pedal, and I use Beetronics effects – they have amazing fuzz, an Octavia [the Octahive]… These are my friends from Los Angeles. “

Among the many projects you are involved in is th1rt3en, which is a collaboration with Pharoahe Monch and Daru Jones. It really shows the more aggressive side of your game.

“This project lasted about six, seven years. We really took our time because we wanted to create a really big sound and bring something different to the world of music.

“As far as my playing in this band goes, it’s heavily influenced by Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin and Band of Gypsys and stuff like that. And the band is just the three of us – Daru Jones on drums, Pharaohe Monch on vocals and I on guitar. So again, I kind of took the position of playing rhythm and conducting together. Sometimes I use an effect like Octavia to do low end guitar stuff, so it’s almost like I’m playing guitar and bass at the same time.

“But I love doing th1rt3en stuff. I’m in the sound barrier – plug in as many Marshall amps and speakers as you can, go up and play as loud as you want!

It’s always fun.

“Yes man. And also, with this project, what I love is that Pharoahe Monch just lets me open up. Even though it’s a hip-hop / rock project, he doesn’t want me to just do the normal guitarist thing and add some more solos in. He’s like, ‘Dude, after you rap or spit out a verse, I want you to answer my playing.’ So a lot of the guitar you hear on the album is me answering his lyrics. It was really dope – having the freedom to play and to really experiment. So I love this band. are my brothers, it’s a family, and we can’t wait to do so much more together.

In addition to your solo release and your work with th1rt3en and DMD the Vibes, you have worked with artists ranging from Anderson .Paak to Pete Rock to Robert Glasper. What’s the key to being able to adapt to so many different styles and situations, and marry so many disparate musicians?

“For me, it’s just about having an open ear and not just playing any kind of genre. Like I said earlier, I’m a fan of all styles of music. But if you’re a session player or you’re in a group, you sometimes feel limited, or that you can’t do as much as you want.

“So what I’m trying to do is, whatever situation I’m in, whether I’m doing jazz or hip-hop or whatever, I bring all my style to it. As long as you’re open to the music and the different artists you work with, everything will fall into place.

There are so many guitarists these days who have incredibly advanced technique. But that’s only part of the equation when it comes to getting into a musical situation and being able to deliver.

Even though someone might say, “Dude, that was a crazy guitar solo,” they also want you to actually study the work. You must first know the music

“Yes. When I was younger I was like any kid – you just wanna play the fastest and the craziest. And so I think you can have all the crazy techniques, but in the end. , you absolutely have to know your basics first. It’s very important to fold in the pocket, you know what I mean? Especially when you get all those different gigs in different situations. Even though someone may say: “Dude, that was a crazy guitar solo,” they also want you to actually study the work. You have to know the music first. “

This is good advice.

“I’ve always done that. Learn the music. Learn the rhythms. Learn the changes. Once you figure that out, you can start playing solo and doing all the other stuff.

“One of my mentors, Victor Bailey, rest in peace, he once told me that when he was teaching at Berklee he would hear amazing bass players – you know they could play. Portrait of Tracy, all the wackiest and craziest solo stuff. But they couldn’t stay on one. They couldn’t play a basic groove. And to me, that’s what’s important for any gig. No one will hire you just for how fast you play the solo.

“So learn music first. Once you figure this out, you can have fun with it. You can do all the solos, you can do all the wild stuff. You can do whatever you want. “


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