At the young age of 21, Louisville-bred singer Marzz joined the talented cast of R&B singers that are present on the up-and-coming Keep Cool Records roster. Her knack for emotive ballads made her a perfect fit on the label while her teenage-esque heartbreak stories helped her stand out on her own without fading into the background behind her skilled labelmates.
There are many other things that make Marzz stand out. The singer has synesthesia, a neurological condition that gives you the ability to see sounds as color. She also identifies as gay, something that once confined her to a bubble in fear of her parents and families’ reaction. She eventually popped that bubble to enjoy life in her truest form. These are all small pieces to the puzzle that make Marzz who she is, but they certainly don’t define her.
An emphasis on inclusivity and striving to make that a reality in all corners of her life are additional things that make Marzz the promising young singer she is. Fresh off the release of her debut EP, Love Letterz, we caught up with the singer to talk about the new project, her sprawling collection of notebooks, how Kehlani’s SweetSexySavage influenced her, and more.
So your new EP, Love Letterz, is inspired by your special mood notebooks. I’ve read that you keep them everywhere you go and have 29 of them.
Yes, actually, I have like 36 of them just sitting in my backpack right now. I have synesthesia, where I can see colors when I’m creating or just in general from listening to something whether it’s on the TV or I’m hearing somebody talk, I can see their aura. I have these notebooks where if I’m angry, I write in my red notebook. When I was little, I didn’t really express myself verbally, I would always have to write something down and I’d be like, “No, no, this is what I want to tell you.” I’d literally hold up the notebook and show them like, “This is what I want to tell you,” but I’d be holding my red notebook, this is when I’m angry. A yellow notebook, this is when I’m sad. A purple notebook when I’m frustrated. A blue notebook when I’m happy. That’s really how I go about those and whatever I’m feeling, that’s the mood notebook that I write in. It’s the way that I write my songs as well.
When did you first start using or creating these mood notebooks and how has your continued use with them shaped the way you write and convey emotion?
I started writing in my notebooks around like, I ain’t gonna lie, I didn’t have a phone, so literally the only thing I could use was paper and pencil. My mom didn’t give me a phone till seventh grade, I had this little Blackberry Slider, I thought I was doing my thing. When I was little, I believe I was into poetry, I used to watch a lot of Kevin Hart doing stand-up comedies. This is something I’ve never even told anybody: When I really first started getting into writing, I thought I was gonna be a comedian, but I was like nah, I’m funny, but that’s not what I would want to do. So I just started writing down my feelings. I used to listen to Kehlani and her album, SweetSexySavage, a lot because everything that she was talking about just connected with me. I was still trying to figure out who I was and she really helped bring that creativity out of me. I was like, “Well maybe today, I should start songwriting” or “Maybe I should just write a song.”
On this EP, the songs come off as diary entries. First-person, heavy in reflection and questioning life’s events, and expressive in a way that you might not be in person. Were you perhaps hesitant to take these entries of sorts and put them into song for the world to hear?
I’ll say it’s a little bit of both, to be honest. I’m a very open-minded person and I’m very understanding. I’ve come to a point in my life where I really don’t care what people say. I have to do this, I have to put my feelings out because if not, it’s going to eat me up alive. Even if it helps somebody else and even if it’s a different circumstance, they can know that they have somebody they can relate to and I’m always going to be fulfilling them with love, joy, and positivity. They can always come to me and listen to my songs and just be at ease, knowing that everything is about to be okay and it is okay.
My favorite song on Love Letterz is “Done Witcha,” simply for the moment of finally deciding to move on from someone who is no longer best for you. What personally pushed you to say enough is enough?
Really again, going back to my mentality, I was in a really bad headspace. My mom and dad just got through a divorce, we just got situated, and I got introduced to my stepdad, all of this was happening at once. I came out to my family at — I think it was my grandma’s, Christmas or Thanksgiving one of the two, I know it was a lot of food, I don’t remember. All my cousins and stuff were there, I was like, “Y’all, I’m gay.” Everybody was looking at me and chaos just broke loose and I was like, “Oh my God…” That moment was really when I put myself in a state where I was like, “No, I gotta get myself together. I have to get my mind straight,” because I stopped going to school. I stopped posting stuff on Instagram and I was always on Instagram, so everybody was like, “Yo, what’s going on with you?” I didn’t talk to anyone when I went to school. I was just in a really bad headspace and I was like, “No, I can’t let the enemy take me like this, he can’t destroy my joy.” I don’t like hypocrites, so if I say imma do something, I gotta do it. It’s like, alright, I gotta put my big girl pants on and thug it out. You only have one life, you have to make yourself happy.
When you came out to your family about your sexuality, you popped the bubble you were in where you suppressed your true self. How did things change for Marzz after this moment?
My mom, I believe that she always knew that I was going to be who I am today because when I was younger, I was a straight tomboy. I’m more masculine than anything and me coming to her [and] actually telling her my sexuality and what I’m into, it kind of threw her off, but she was like, “Oh, I already knew,” so I was more at ease. Her reaction was calmer than I expected, definitely, because my mom is super spiritual so I was kind of in shock. I was like, well, okay, that kind of makes me go into [coming out to] my family. That reaction, they were baffled, they were like, “Oh, my God, I can’t believe it,” and it was just like, dang, y’all really gonna do me like that? It really took for my mom to explain to them, as far as the difference within religion, I guess Christianity, with how heavy they are in that. She was like, love is love, God would want us to love her regardless of what I choose, we have a choice. She said, if this is what I choose to do, that she supports me strongly and they should too. Some people still don’t [support me] that are in my family. A lot of people are more open-minded to it and they understand it because they know that this is truly what I want. I appreciate them for being open with me. That really put me in a headspace as to how I’m going to express this in my music. I’m gonna take and really push myself out there and even if it’s my family listening to my music, they can understand my headspace. They can understand what’s going on in my mind, what I’m feeling at the moment, and if I experienced anything at the moment, they know why I was feeling that way.
You very much live a life of and in color. Between your vibrant appearance, which gave you the nickname Skittles, and living with synesthesia, your world is vibrant. Has this affected your view of the world in terms of seeing more than just the black and white of things?
I’ve always been taught not to judge a book by its cover. I ain’t gonna lie, it’s hard not judging people, but we can’t do that. You can have an opinion, but it’s not right for you to make an assumption about somebody or perspective about somebody regardless of skin color. With me being a Black female, I ain’t gonna lie, it is kind of scary out here because I feel like I have to always watch my back just because of anything. I’d rather be cautious in making sure that I’m just doing right by people and making sure that I’m right within. You can do what you please, but imma make sure I make peace with any and everybody regardless of the circumstance, whether you’re an ex-enemy or enemy.
As you continue to grow and release more and more music, what do you hope your listeners take away from you as an artist through your work?
Believe it or not, I hope that they take the pain that I experienced and turn — even if it’s dealing with their own — that around for the better. I’m gonna keep saying it because I’ve been self-reflecting on myself so much, I’m so tapped in with myself, it’s crazy. This quarantine stuff made me tap into myself in so much, but I feel like it’s very important for people to have a commitment to self-love. I feel like that’s so important because a lot of people don’t genuinely love themselves. They’re out here trying to find love by doing the craziest stuff, just for somebody to love them. Like a sweetheart, you got to love yourself first. I really want them to take the pride that I have in also changing my life around for the better. For me, it’s okay to put yourself first, it’s okay to be selfish. Take that moment that you need, but also, know to get focused and move on, so you can keep growing.
Love Letterz is out now via Keep Cool/RCA Records. Get it here.