Nicole Kelly Marion, (born January 10th, 1990) better known by her stage name C.K. Marion, is an American Rapper, Songwriter, Music Producer, Dancer, and Actress. C.K. Marion was born in Orlando, Florida and gained national attention at a young age 9 years old. She was first noticed on the television show Dooley and Pals playing the role of Kayla. At 9 years old she released her first single “Gonna Make U Dance.” At this time in her career she was known by the stage name Lil Cola. At a music performance she gained the attention of Tyra Banks and Banks reached out to help her by making a promotion video that can be viewed on YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D2HL8uoVh8A
Marion’s second release in the music industry was Ivory Tower in 2013 with the band Coalition of Lost Arts (C.O.L.A.). Band members included Marcus Henry (Lead Guitarist), Tracey Gibbs (Drummer), Matt Smith (Bass), later replaced by Ryan Russo (Bass and Saxophone), Cristal Texitor (Vocals), and C.K. Marion (Lead Vocals and Keys). Orlando’s Justin Beckler produced the band’s EP Ivory Tower. Marion’s third release was Phony Art in 2015. It was a solo project that C.K. Marion produced and recorded from a mobile device. The fourth released was Trance Hop in 2016. An EP produced by C.K. Marion with a Trance and Hip Hop infusion. In 2017 Marion released Recruitment, which is part one of a three-album concept.
C.K. Marion produces and writes all of her music. She taught herself how to play piano and guitar, compose music and beats, and write poetic lyrics.
1.) What made you want to get into the music business in the first place? Did anyone influence you to do music? If so, who? Influences? Role Models?
My mother Kelly Marion was a Dancer and Choreographer and my father Carl Marion, also known as Chill C. Capone, was a Songwriter, Actor, and DJ. I begged my parents to get me involved in the entertainment industry and at first they told me I was too young. So when I was 7 years old, at a family reunion in Miami, I jump onto a picnic table and started performing Puff Daddy’s “I’ll Be Missing You” and my family went to my father saying “what are you doing with her?” It was from that moment my parents took my passion for performing seriously. My father would play KRS1, Public Enemy, Nas, Michael Jackson and LL Cool J. My mother would play classic rock and Pop music. So my musical influences vary greatly, but began from what my parents listened to.
2.) Unfortunately the music industry is full of talented individuals who just don’t get any recognition for their talent and/or work. What do you plan to do to make sure you stand out and get noticed?
Mastering all elements of my artsy is what separates me from other artist. There may be someone that raps or writes better than me, dances better than me, produce better beats, plays piano and guitar better, has better music video concepts or acts better. However, there aren’t many artist that do all of these things or at an above average level. From the outside looking in it may seem that I am wearing too many hats, but I have a passion for all art forms. When I want to learn something new I don’t stop until I become very good at it and I love to give people a great show. When performing I will have break downs where I dance, some songs I’ll start playing the guitar while I beat box and rap, and my expressions are very theatrical. So it’s being versatile and having a love for music, all elements within music, that helps me to stand out from others.
3.) Would you rather be on a major label or would you rather stay independent? Why or why not?
I love being independent because I am in control of my brand, music, and artistic direction. However, the benefit of a major label would be the exposure and mass distribution. I don’t think I’d enjoy a label making me more “marketable.” I’m a strong believer that being yourself is the best marketing because it’s real and no one else can be you.
4.) Do you think that the traditional music industry model as we know it is dead? Why or why not?
I would say the traditional music industry model has transcended into another being entirely. It died and was reborn. Most artist, especially starving artist, aren’t making money from their music. Rather they’re making money from everything other than music i.e merchandise, live performances, branding/advertisement, and monetizing videos. There is a lot more imitating now, more than ever, because everyone’s following the same formula; it sells. If people can sing along with your song before the song is finished then this industry considers that a hit. The more complex, lyrical, or weird music isn’t getting much radio play these days. While there are artist out there still creating amazing music I’ve noticed that this music business is becoming about everything other than the music.
5.) How do you think the internet and social media affected the music industry and how musicians are able to market themselves?
The internet streaming doesn’t put a dent in the artist pocket unless they’re listened to by millions. However, the beautiful part about the newer music industry model is that with the right strategies success is truly possible over night. All it takes is one song or viral video and all of a sudden half the world knows who you are. The internet is a very powerful tool for artist, but the internet is very over saturated as well, which challenges artist to be more creative when trying to get noticed. A lot of artist I know, and myself included, dread the social media aspect but it is absolutely necessary. As artist we just want to create and perform, but now there’s so many other things that fall on the shoulders on the artist. The time that should be spent working on music is being spread between promoting, engaging fans, designing, and posting material consistently on social media. Overall, if an artist is willing to put in the time and work to become popular on social media outlets then their success rate will sky rocket whether they’re truly talented or not.
6.) What is the most difficult thing you’ve had to endure in life and has that had any effect on your path to becoming a musician?
The effects of alcoholism. Many members in my family and extended family suffer with drinking problems and for a while I battled with it too. In my heavy drinking days I ended up on a very dark path and opened myself up to various spiritual attacks. If I hadn’t reached out to God for help I don’t think I would have ever turned my life around. I trust the desire in my heart for music and truly believe that God is guiding my path. Through the darkness I witnessed and felt a lot and it became great writing material.
7.) Artists who try to make music for the general public and make more money are usually seen as “sell-outs.” Do you see it that way and if so, what do plan to do to make sure you make music that is true to your brand and make a good living at the same time without having to “sell out”?
Success takes sacrifices. An artist must ask themselves what they want to accomplish. Sometimes artist sell-out in order to build a platform and once their brand is recognized and popular they’re able to do what they truly want. Personally, I’ve struggled with wanting to stay true to myself and create new innovative music, but I had to ask myself if I would be satisfied with never getting the recognition I believe I deserve. So my newer music has a mix of “sell-out” or commercialized songs and deep, emotional, and lyrical songs. This is how I found a balance to be happy within myself and my art. I choose to leave no stone unturned because making music is for yourself and for others to enjoy. As long as the artist is putting their everything into their music then I don’t think it’s selling out. It’s just business.
8.) When you do music, what would you like your listeners to get out of your music?
I make my music for two reasons. It’s either to enlighten people or make them feel. I want my listeners to know that I am being honest with them. If I’m making a song about it I’ve either gone through it or someone very close to me has. So I want them to know they’re not alone in their struggles and that they matter. I can’t wait to have my music heard on a global scale; especially, as I continue to progress, experience life, and become more vulnerable in my songs. I hope my music has the ability to change lives and help people get through tough times. Whether it’s commercial and distracts them from their current situations or if it’s deep and offers advice on how to get through it. I want listeners to know I keep it real and I care for them, without even knowing them, because if they listen and enjoy my music then I am relating to a part of them. A part we have in common and feel on a human level.