As Demarius “Mari” Edwards ’14 unzipped his backpack and revealed his MacBook Pro, Martin “Marty” Clarke ’14 rolled his eyes and flashed a smile. Edwards began playing for me a song they both created. While tapping my foot and restraining myself from getting up to dance, I nodded in approval.
The two members of the dynamic duo come from contrasting backgrounds, which started them off on an awkward path as roommates during their first year. Edwards is from outside of Chicago, Ill.; Clarke is from Greenwich, Conn. “When [Clarke] told me he could rap, I just looked at him and thought, ‘right, sure you can rap,’” Edwards said. “I really didn’t expect him to rap [the way he does]; he has flavor.”
A year later, the dichotomy of Edwards’s urban background and Clarke’s suburban background makes their music “unassuming.” They see it as “bringing two worlds together.” They put themselves in the shoes of the listeners, and then try to think of the memories and emotions their music will produce. They also consider what kind of sound will appeal to more people, and they remain considerate of the people in their lives. “Sometimes I think, ‘this is a good line, but how will somebody I know feel about it?’” Clarke said.
Edwards has been composing music since the summer of 2009. He rapped and wrote lyrics, and he started playing the keyboard and singing R&B by that winter. Clarke amassed his experience from playing around with a microphone and speakers during high school. “[Edwards] was a lot more serious [about music] than I was during high school,” Clarke said.
Their first track came to fruition after hours of working on Proteus music software. “[Clarke and I] were just messing around, and then we had a frame for a beat to a full song,” Edwards said. “It was that first bonding experience … composing this brilliant song.” That moment marked the birth of “Mari N’ Marty.” Their first song, “One Night,” went on to become a sensation amongst the Class of 2014 and beyond.
Clarke’s expertise lies in the composition of instruments and synthesizers. “[Edwards] has respect for my ear,” Clarke said. Edwards considers Clarke the extra pair of eyes and ears he needed. “He will say, ‘move a synth here, no that instrument over there,’” Edwards said. “We are each other’s audience.”
“We have a lot of fun together. One time it was four in the morning, and I woke Marty up, telling him, ‘you gotta come down to do your part,’” Edwards said. “And, of course, I did,” Clarke chuckled.
When questioned about their inspirations, they both glanced at each other and thought hard for a while. “I feel like pop music is really fun to make; I like Lady Gaga,” Edwards said. “People and the world also really inspire me.” Clarke shot Edwards a corny look.
“I remember one night we were walking, and these girls were singing one of our songs,” Edwards said. “It’s the beauty of the world that inspires me, and being able to give them something special. Listening to something you created from scratch is amazing. Others might not think it’s a masterpiece, but you know you made it.”
Their music also goes beyond synths and clever wordplay. They will add instruments or vocals manually if synths don’t get the job done. For example, their JA Lucy Rollins ’12 performed the background chorus to one of their songs.
Since then, Edwards and Clarke have performed live for the Black Student Union’s Valentine’s Day event in February, received more than 2000 hits on their music videos uploaded on YouTube and heard their song “Let Go” played during First Fridays.
The group explicitly stated that school remains their priority; music is a “serious hobby.” When not singing or recording music, Edwards can be found practicing for football or track and field or at Sophomore Council meetings. Clarke also represents the Ephs on the baseball team. “I’m not very interesting,” Clarke said. “Music takes up most of my time… shockingly!”
Next up, Mari n’ Marty are coming out with a new dance song this fall. Edwards guarantees the new track will get people moving.