On the latest iteration of his organically grown and riff laced beat tape series, Marvel Years has proven once more his ability to transcend genres.
Hidden Groove, Vol IV features a combination of Fender Stratocaster, Squire bass, electric piano, and absolutely no samples that Cory Wythe, AKA Marvel Years, didn’t create himself. A true homegrown effort. And although the instruments come together beautifully, it’s clear that the Fender Strat is the hero of the project.
As the fourth chapter in a line of beat tapes that Marvel Years has been releasing since 2017, Hidden Groove, Vol. IV encounters a guitarist and producer who has settled into his layering abilities. In this album, Marvel Years isn’t pulling out any fancy tricks or insane riffs. He doesn’t need to. Instead, he is letting the melodies breathe between measures and letting the notes he doesn’t play do the talking.
Without a doubt, Hidden Groove, Vol. IV exemplifies an artist who has become incredibly comfortable with his sound and has opened up the valve, so to speak. With festival season, a busy show schedule, and tons of new music on the horizon, the release of the beat tape comes at a busy time for Marvel Years.
Recently, we caught up with him to talk about the evolution of his beat tape series and how he puts pen to paper.
RB: We’d love to start out by talking about your sampling process. Are you a big crate digger or do you get most of your stuff electronically?
MY: This album in particular was sample free but a lot of my older tracks/Hidden Groove EPs contained samples. I used to live near a record shop while I was in college so a lot of my early stuff was cut off of records that I bought there. Later on, I started to sample more from digital tracks that I found digging on YouTube and other places.
RB: If the album was the soundtrack to a made-up movie, what genre would it be and what would the plot be?
MY: I would imagine it’s some sort of drama/adventure about this vagabond-type dude traveling across the country in search of something. What he is in search of I do not know but he eventually finds it and the movie ends with sunset on the beach as the final track “Wave Goodbye” is played. End Scene.
RB: Could you share with us when and where the album came to life?
MY: I made a lot of these songs during covid so they were made mostly in my studio in NYC and up in Vermont at my parent’s house during occasional visits. Two of the tracks on the EP were also live performed/recorded in the mountains of CO and an island in the Florida keys.
RB: You were moving around quite a bit! What software, hardware, instruments, or other equipment did you use to put it all together?
MY: I made all of these songs in Logic Pro so all of the instruments came from my Fender Strat, Squire bass, and Yamaha electric piano which run into an Apollo Twin which then runs straight into my Macbook. Nothing fancy but it gets the job done!
RB: Did you set out with the intention of making an album when you started making the songs or did it kind of fall into place?
MY: The Hidden Groove series as a whole started out as random beats or chill songs I recorded to pass the time that I eventually decided would fit well on an EP together. Each installment came from digging up all of these beats I recorded and seeing which ones made the most sense living together. Kind of like a musical treasure hunt until eventually, you have an album haha.
RB: Is it hard to transition from chill beat-making to your harder-hitting electronic stuff?
MY: I’ve found that it actually lets my brain reset and unwind going from the harder stuff to the chiller Hidden Groove stuff. Producing sometimes gets to a point where there are only so many wubs my brain can take before I go a little crazy. So the chill guitar jams are a welcome change when I feel I need a break.
RB: We love the vintage feel of the album cover. What’s the inspiration behind that shot?
MY: I’ve had this running theme with the Hidden Groove series where the artwork has this kind of old-school retro/vinyl look and I think it pairs well with the music since that classic vibe is what I’m trying to recreate in my Hidden Groove tracks.
RB: Can you imagine any live environments where you might play music from Hidden Groove to a crowd?
MY: Most definitely and we have talked about doing some Hidden Groove shows in the future. An opening set for one of my shows where I play all Hidden Groove tracks or some sunrise/late night a.m. sets at a festival have been some ideas floating around. The vibe needs to be right.
RB: Anything in particular fans can look towards in terms of your shows and festival performances?
MY: Putting more emphasis on the “live” aspect of my live performances and integrating the guitar as a backbone to the show instead of just an accompaniment to the music. So I’m really excited to mess with that and take the live shows to a new level.
Whether it’s his live shows he’s taking to a new level or his skills as a producer, it’s clear that there is only one direction that Marvel Years is going. And that’s Up.
To keep up with Marvel Years on his ascent, follow him in the links below.