The Marvel Life

The Marvel Life: Marian Call

Marvel.com hangs out with musician Marian Call to talk about geek life, traveling the states and more!

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By Janna O'Shea
Photos by Judith Stephens

Marvel HQ opened its doors to singer-songwriter Marian Call in the midst of her latest tour last month. With albums like “Got to Fly” (a throwback to Joss Whedon’s cult classic Sci-Fi Western ‘Firefly’) Call has gained fame for integrating all kinds of geek culture into her music. In 2010, Call toured all 50 states in the United States, playing every possible type of venue, from house shows to comic shops. The 49>50 tour was mainly coordinated through Facebook and Twitter, and Call set up all of her shows without a manager or agent.

We spoke with Call about her unique tour, her favorite Marvel characters and what makes her nerd-out the most!

Marian Call

Marvel.com: Tell us about your 49>50 tour which you promoted using only Twitter and Facebook.

Marian Call:
Well, it's pretty straightforward. I had a crazy idea and I ran it by Twitter. [I wrote] "Should I tour all 50 states?" and Twitter exploded. I mapped it out, thought it through and decided to just go ahead and do it. I'd say 90% of my gigs were crowdsourced through Twitter and Facebook, meaning fans put me in touch with a favorite venue, recommended a local place or even hosted me playing concerts in their homes. The shows were mostly small, but the fans were really devoted and awesome. So in each town I kept making enough to roll on to the next town. I played 134 shows on that tour.

My favorite part was probably the food. The best of the best of the cuisine from every part of the country and Canada too. Heck yes!

Marvel.com: You’re passionate about musicians taking back their rights and fighting against the venues who mistreat them. What is your philosophy when it comes to your career and what reactions have you experienced because of it?

Marian Call:
I wouldn't say the venues have mistreated musicians. It's more that it's the Wild West out there right now: for musicians, for venues, for the major labels, for music distribution and for every other professional associated with the business. No one knows which way is up or how to monetize the crazy changes taking place in entertainment as a whole. Everyone's scrambling.

But the Wild West means there's opportunity, and I'm a fan of opportunity. I guess my philosophy is that music is for everyone -- everyone should make it, and everyone should get a chance to hear it. I hope that the changes in the music world will make it possible for lots more musicians to be heard, and for lots more small-time artists like me to have careers without ever having to try to climb ladders or crack the big time. I would love to see music all over the place, in traditional venues, in non-traditional venues, on the streets, in homes, in arenas; because I think there's room in this world for all kinds of musicians.

I also think audiences need to be educated. They need to learn to pay directly for stuff they like. Otherwise, it goes away. Audiences have been shielded from the costs of things, by either advertising or the wide availability of free music online. They don't have to pay for music or news or media anymore. But if we don't teach them to think carefully and pay deliberately for stuff they like, that stuff will go away. Furthermore, I believe that people enjoy paying for stuff they really like. Enough people anyway.

I try to keep my perspective positive and open, refreshing and evolving. So, generally, I get a pretty positive response when I talk about my ideas about art and music and how to monetize them.

Marian and Spidey!

Marvel.com: Many of your songs focus on the nerdy side of life. What do you nerd-out about the most?

Marian Call:
Probably words. I have favorite sci-fi shows, stars and so on, but at my core my nerdery is about language. I was a nerd from the moment I could read. I was a voracious little bookworm of a child and I wanted to be an author. That's why I play the typewriter!

If you're asking about favorite franchises, they would probably be "Firefly", "Battlestar Galactica" (new), "TNG", "Douglas Adams" and anything Jim Henson.

Marvel.com: Who are your favorite Marvel heroes/villains and why?

Marian Call:
It's probably cliché to say Spider-Man, right?  But I love Spider-Man! He's so popular because he's an amazing character, especially in his vulnerability as Peter Parker. He's multifaceted and has earned his decades of notoriety. Plus he's witty and a little nerdy himself, which I find hot.

Also, Storm. Because she's just completely awesome.

Marvel.com: What projects are you working on right now? What does the future hold for you and your music?

Marian Call:
I'm wrapping a double album right now that has consumed my life for ages.  It'll be out soon, and it's called "Something Fierce".  Once that's out, I'll be touring some more, and then I'll be going on a cruise with Jonathan Coulton, Wil Wheaton, John Hodgman and friends! I can't wait for that!

Keep up with Marian Call's adventures all around the world on Twitter, Facebook or on Google+.

Stay tuned to Marvel.com for more of The Marvel Life!

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