[Interview] Marvel Years On His Musical Journey and Sound Evolution
Multi-genre multi-instrumentalist, artist, producer, and DJ, Marvel Years (né Cory Wythe) is an emerging musician bringing new meaning to dance music. His groove-packed, soul-driven, instrument-heavy electronic music holds a fresh yet comfortably familiar sound credited to a lifetime of musical experimentation.
Picking up the guitar at age 10, Wythe dove head first into the world of music and hasn’t come up for air. He’s evolved from jamming out at his uncle’s Christmas parties and playing in middle and high school bands to t performing at notable festivals and venues like Red Rocks, Summer Camp Music Festival, and Freaky Deaky.
Wythe provides something of a spiritual experience as a live act. Not in the way that he’s putting you into an introspective trance, instead providing a soul-reviving experience that leaves you enraptured and refreshed. His electro-soul, glitch-hop-infused production, and groove-packed basslines get your body moving, while his live electric guitar performance leaves you wonderstruck.
We sat down with the budding artist to learn more about his flourishing musical journey and plans for the future
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Let’s start with a bit of background. What was your first music-related experience, and how long after that did you begin creating?
Well, I got my guitar. That’s how I started in music when I was like 10. I got into it because my uncle used to play in a bunch of bands back in the day. He would have Christmas parties; at every party, he’d have a bunch of instruments, and we’d all jam out. So that’s how I got interested in it. Then, I was in a bunch of bands through middle and high school. Then, to pass the time after school at night, I would make mashups. I just started making my own music and put it on YouTube and went from there.
So you grew up in Vermont? How do you feel growing up there influenced your sound or career?
I don’t know about Vermont in particular, but the school I went to molded me musically because we had this awesome music teacher. Mr. Freebern—shout-out Frees—had an electronic music class in the basement of the auditorium. And he retrofitted the whole thing into a legit music studio. He taught us how to use Logic and produce. That just like kick-started my whole musical journey. Pierce Fulton, a big house DJ, also went to school there and got his start the same way— Mr. Freebern’s electronic music class every morning.
How do you feel being in New York City has transformed your sound and how you’ve grown as an artist and person?
I think it’s a little bit more inspiring than just living in Vermont, where you’re enclosed in your own space. There’s nature and stuff, which is inspiring, but going out in the city here just seeing the different cultures and music, even taking the subway and seeing people jamming. It’s a lot of hustle and bustle, but I dig that as a musician. It’s fun because you get random ideas at the most random times, like walking through the park or something like that. I think it’s been really good for me musically.
You mentioned that you started out playing in bands. What genre did you start with when you first started making music?
Producing music, I started doing mashups first. I was doing mashups of like Matisyahu and Journey. It started as a joke, and then I started doing more hip-hop-based, pretty light-sounding stuff, like hip-hop with electronic aspects. Then it just morphed from there, where I started playing more guitar. I started recording more live instruments, like the piano, organ, etc. When I started playing shows, I figured out what hit and what didn’t.
What direction do you see Marvel Years going? Do you feel like you’ve found your sound, or are you still evolving?
I feel like I’m still evolving, but I’m writing an album right now, and I feel like that will be my true sound. I don’t know how to explain it yet, but it’s going to be electronic, bassy music but guitar-focused. So it’s almost as if Two Feet made bass music. Like the guitar during the drop is the main focus, but there’s also this electronic bass aspect to it. I’m still experimenting, but that’s the direction I feel like I’m heading.
You covered Pink Floyd’s “Have a Cigar.” What are some other classic bands you’d like to cover?
Bands I grew up listening to. That’s why I did Pink Floyd. I listened to a lot of Zeppelin. I loved Fleetwood Mac and all those old, 70s bands, psy-rock, and some alternative. I was a big Chili Peppers fan growing up. Remixing one of their songs would be cool. When I listen to a track, if I can hear how I would like to rework it, then that’s how I go towards it.
You put out Hidden Grooves Volume 4 in March. Is there a similar theme across all of the Hidden Grooves projects?
I feel like they’re all similar. They’re guitar-based, little hip-hop beats, but I feel like the most recent one was more live looping jams that I put on Instagram during COVID when I wasn’t touring. I recorded them in locations like Colorado and turned them into videos. All the other ones before that were just beats I was making when I was losing my mind in the studio, and I needed a break.
You and Maddy O'Neal collaborate all of the time. How would you describe your relationship with her as a friend and collaborator?
Maddy O’Neal is one of my best friends in the music industry. The first show I ever played, when I was 19, was with Maddy. So we’ve known each other for like ten years. Maddy’s just like my big sister. I brought my parents to the first show we played together, and Maddy talked to them all night. They love her. She’s an awesome person to collaborate with. When making a track, she’s good at providing atmosphere, where I’m more the bassline [or] guitar riff. We complement each other well in the production aspect.
You mentioned your parents coming to your shows. Tell me about your family and siblings. Do they support you?
Yeah, I have one brother, a younger brother. I think he likes it because he gets free tickets to shows, so he enjoys that, but I don’t know. I think he looks at me kind of like a role model. I moved out of my house, and I was 20, living on my own. I feel like I inspired him to do the same. And travel. He likes to travel [and] I feel like I may have inspired him.
My parents are definitely the most supportive. I was in college freshman year and got a tour offer. So I did the tour, and I came back and told them I didn't know what to do because I kept getting more show offers, but I couldn't balance school work with shows. I was on tour doing calculus homework backstage after my sets. They were the ones who told me, "you get one shot at this, so if you want to do it, just do it."
Final question. Super serious. If you could be reincarnated as any animal, what would it be and why?
A bear. Bears are my favorite animals. They’re the most powerful animal ever. They’re fast. They run like crazy and climb trees. They swim. [They] are just great. They’re huge but gentle animals if they’re not provoked. And they sleep a lot, which I love. I’d be a bear, just chilling on the top of a mountain.