An Interview with Del Marquis // Slow Knights

“We used to sing about love,” lament the voices of Slow Knights, a new project by Del Marquis of Scissor Sisters. The new album demands the listener slow down and truly experience its futuristic, 80s-tinged funk-pop, like the delicious, unhurried feeling of ruminating on a new crush. Exclusively with the Arcade, Del Marquis takes a moment to share the secret of his Cosmos, a place where chasing the stars has “real emotion and warmth.” One thing is for sure, the Knights at Del Marquis’ table keep the records spinning right ’round.

How did this project begin?

To make an Pop R&B record, one I could enjoy listening to; so i brought in strong singers to do the leads. What ended up happening was that the singers and songwriters who contributed, took the record to a place of real emotion and warmth, something beyond great production.  When we decided to perform live, some people who sang together on record had never met in person, but the intimacy came fast between the people inovlved with mutual respect for each others talents.

Where did the name Slow Knights come from?

Slow Knights is a name that sounded like the music, ‘Knights’ is a reference to cloaked nature of the people involved.  None of the songs have “featuring” in the title, an egoless concept of contribution & anonymity outside of  song credits. I kept my image and that of the singers off of the artwork & videos. ‘Slow’ is the attention span you need to listen to an album that is designed with a full arc in mind, i kept the track-listing down to 10 songs on purpose, it’s not about front-loading, this is a proper record.

Slow Knights has this incredible balance of throwback and future in the production. What influenced the sound?

I have so many references that were specific to this record, i did a playlist for the site Rdio that was about this.
But your first influences always creep in, i learned guitar by playing metal and hard rock – some element of that always creeps in. I love non-linear arrangements, but tried to keep the weirdness in check so it was a solid pop record;  Something like “Caught Up in the Rhythm” was improvised vocally, so that strays a bit…the rest seem straightforward to me.

How does it feel to approach a new project outside of the Scissor Sisters’ space?

It is a good record, out there forever in the world… I and the other people involved can be proud of, that feels great.

There’s an incredible group of talent on the album.  How did you decide who to work with? What was the energy like in the studio?

I worked with people i felt comfortable with and who’s talent brought out the right tone to each song. Most of the singers came into work on demos, and i think were kept in the dark a bit as to the final outcome.  I liked the element of surprise, so that the people involved were excited when they heard the final master.  Xavier was in the studio with me the most on the songs that he sang, helping me simplify bass lines and find the hooks in the melody, I have a tendency to overcomplicate things.   With both Xavier and Mykal, i’d have them sing stream of consciousness over some basic tracks, and look for melody / hooks / words – then compose what i thought was the beginnings of the lyric.  We would then go back and refine the idea.  As for solid lyricists , Rod needs little nudging, i gave him a track and occasionally a theme of what to write to, or partial lyric and i’d get back a 99% finished lyric in a day or two.  The ladies, Bridget and Chrissi add that necessary balance of feminine energy. I had a blast arranging the vocals in songs like “Signs of life” where there are nearly 7 different people singing.

If you could work with any artist, living or dead, who would it be?

The-Dream & Darkchild

What’s up next for you?

I’m working on some new songs, probably for a 2cnd SK record.  It will be different, just by evolution, but i hope the feeling you get when listening to it is the same.