By Norma Jean Ortega
Fatal Jamz is said to be LA’s best kept secret—an underground artist with a cult following. The mesh wearing, gender-fluid human behind the catchy 70s glam rock anthems (that is a hybrid sound reflecting a bit of Bowie, a bit of Simple Minds, and a bit of Queen) is Marion Belle. He talked with me about his music and recent LP, Coverboy.
Norma Jean: How would you describe your sound to someone who's never heard of you before?
Marion Belle: "Wild hearts on the streets of L.A." The mystique of a fragrant night high above the city.
Norma Jean: Top 3 music influences and briefly why?
Marion Belle: I'm influenced by poets and people. Deeply romantic creatures hiding out in the pack. Sailors who jumped ship. Hoodlums who blossomed into troubadours. There's too many to name these are people I worship.
Norma Jean: Are you singing about personal experiences and is there a central theme in your new LP, Coverboy?
Marion Belle: I always sing about personal experiences. The theme is what life is like, for me, as a singer.
Norma Jean: You use to be in another band called Bowery Beasts. How does Bowery differentiate from Fatal Jamz?
Marion Belle: That project summed up a period of my life in LA when I was working with autistic kids and trying to find myself really. We recorded Bowery album completely live in the famous Sunset Sound studio. It was kind of a big sprawling Guns N' Roses approach. Fatal Jamz is a return to me, to the freedoms of youth, when I first encountered the scent to Polo Sport. Fatal Jamz is also more gothic, gargoyle and roses.
Norma Jean: In interviews they proclaim you as LA's best kept secret. Are you aiming to go beyond the LA music scene with your new album?
Marion Belle: I've always wanted to and I feel it's finally happening. I have fans from all over the world now who write me each week, and send me cool things like silk shirts and video treatments.
Norma Jean: How did you decide on the album name?
Marion Belle: The song Coverboy felt like such a manifesto that it became clear it should be the album name. One of the first people I played the album for was my friend Cullen Omori, and he gave me a strong nod that it should be the title. He also thought the song was written about him as have many LA fuckboi's and guitarists.
Norma Jean: What are your future plans?
Marion Belle: Gonna shake up the whole scene from Rio to St. Petersburg, rain down pure romance and show em what my guns do.
Up next, we have a residency at the Constellation room in June where we'll play the album with a six piece band every Wednesday.
Norma Jean: Favorite artist/band right now?
Marion Belle: I really think Cullen's new record is special and a lot of people are gonna like it. It's coming out on Subpop in a few months.
I like Drab Majesty a lot.
Norma Jean: Talk to us about how you developed your sense of style/fashion?
Marion Belle: When I first started writing songs, and going downtown to the lockout to sing with the drum machine, this swagger came to me. It was a very sexualized thing deep in my DNA.
I used to describe my style as Ghetto St. Tropez. The 'Thug Youth' video pretty much encapsulates that.
Norma Jean: What do you do when you're in a creative rut?
Marion Belle: To me it's not ever about a rut. The muse is always there. My obstacles come from the pressures of daily life getting in the way. I'm inspired to overcome them, even when I feel like a lowlife, bc there's glory in the song which I can always turn to as a salvation and I know if it helps me it might help others. So that's why sometimes my songs are aspirational and euphoric.
Fatal Jams perform with Von Kin and DJ Fish on May 26