Nick Marks brings the soul to what can sometimes be a hollow genre
Study beats…. It’s one of those genres that I feel like is so hot right now. But also a genre that is super saturated. It’s one of those areas of music that people listen to without actually listening to, if you know what I mean. It’s background music.
So when I got passed this lo-fi boom bap “study beat” track form a New York based producer called Nick Marks, I had my finger hovering over the skip button. That finger continued to hover while some cinematic jazz unfolded underneath a laidback beat. Sure, I could study to this; but I was more keen on listening to where Marks was going to take us next.
The track is called “Between Gigs” and it opens with a shifting chord progression that spills over into a cascading synth. It’s meditative, but there is a soul in a way that a lot of music under the same label of “Study Beats” seems to miss. The blend of acoustic and electronic instruments creates the sort of expansive feeling that you would expect in cinematic scoring but through a laid back lo-fi lens.
“Having spent years writing, collaborating, and playing in neo-soul and hip-hop projects, this track comes as a natural progression and an off-shoot from the cinematic jazztronica tunes,” explains Nick when talking about “Between Gigs.” “This is another place in the musical universe I want to create. It’s not about fitting in with conventions of style and genre, but speaking necessary artistic truths. A little cinematic lo-fi jazzy boom bap beat interlude.“
“’Between Gigs’ is designed to be an aural aperitif for many moods,” continues Nick. “Whether walking down the street, studying, cooking at home, or spending intimate time with your partner, this track aims to bring warm vibes and encourage listeners to ‘keep your head up’ during the ‘in-between’ moments of life, where our patience may be tested.”Nick Marks – Between Gigs
Originally from Australia, Marks grew up among Melbourne’s innovative musical scenes — jazz, neo-soul, R&B, funk, latin and hip-hop. As a classically trained pianist and self taught composer, Marks brings a unique spin to what is an oversaturated genre.
Since moving to New York in 2016, Marks has firmly established himself as an in-demand composer, producer and musical director. He writes scores for feature film and television, is a frequent collaborator and arranger for various cross-genre artists. His music has been performed in iconic venues including Carnegie Hall. His latest releases have received support on BBC, Jazzwise, Worldwide FM and Bandcamp Weekly. Marks’ music resonates with the full spectrum of emotions, a reflection of his view that life is multifaceted with layers of beauty and complexity.
Last week, Marks dropped his debut EP, Cinematic Chromatics Vol. I. The EP takes that idea of cinematic beats to a whole new level. “Before i learnt how to score, I used to make beats, mixing in jazz harmonies and electronica elements,” admits Nick. “I wanted to get back into this space, exploring and experimenting with its sounds to make something fresh. I began with programming a hip-hop inspired beat, I wanted to created that feeling of ‘swag’ with some different drum samples.“
The result is a four track album that is expansive. It’s thinking about beat making like a conductor would — the orchestra is composed of synths and drums and Marks layers and builds the tracks to create a jazz movie in your mind.
Check out the full EP below and look out for more good things to come from Mr Marks.Nick Marks – Cinematic Chromatics Vol. I