If you’ve ever envisioned yourself in a dark smoky lounge, a Tom Ford dress hugging you in all the right places, cognac swirling in your glass as you move through the room with an unstudied feline swagger—pausing for a suggestive moment as the bass drops and a sea of suits parts around you like a modern-day Cleopatra—then the soundtrack to your fantasy couldn’t be anything but Marian Hill.
“People have come up to us a lot at concerts, like breathlessly, and said, ‘I just love having sex to your music,’” says Jeremy Lloyd, producer of the Philadelphia twosome. “The first time was weird, but now we’re pretty used to it.”
It’s good they’ve acclimated, because it’s true: Marian Hill is doing something indisputably sexy, and music junkies are taking note of the bracing sound. At the heart of the music is Lloyd’s dark, heavy, minimal beats, which charge Samantha Gongol’s sultry, Etta-esque vocals with a refreshingly stripped-down voltage. The lyrics are catchy and uncluttered, with beguiling refrains like, “Boy if you wanna go I would not mind—but I’m not the kind of drum you play one time.” It may come as little surprise that Lloyd’s biggest influence is Drake’s producer Noah “40” Shebib, and that Marian Hill’s new EP Sway (out this month) was mastered by Chris Gehringer of Sterling Sound, who also mastered Drake’s Take Care.
Lloyd and Gongol met in middle school, when they starred opposite in a junior production of The Music Man. Samantha played Marian and Jeremy played Harold Hill (a decade later, that’s how they decided on the name Marian Hill). They stayed friends until college when Jeremy went off to Yale and Samantha attended NYU, and they often got together when they were home—writing their first song “Whisky,” over Jeremy’s senior spring break. The summer after Jeremy finished school he decided to send the song out to a few places, and it took off pretty quickly after that. “The process of Marian Hill was really having ‘Whisky’ and then figuring out what the band that made that song would sound like,” he says.
Given the notably sensual nature of the music that’s come from their partnership, it may disappoint some to know the Marian Hill duo isn’t an item. “We’re just friends,” Samantha says. “Although, we did have to kiss in The Music Man. I was super nervous; Jeremy was the seasoned veteran of the stage. He had it together, but I could not stop laughing.”
Jeremy is sage-like as he calls the incident to mind. “Yeah I was definitely seasoned,” he says. “I had kissed a girl in the 7th grade play already.”