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Marian Hill Breaks Down the Dark Romance of Their 'Was It Not' EP: Exclusive

Marian Hill
Joupin Ghamsari

Marian Hill

Nearly two years after the release of their sophomore album, Marian Hill is back with a stunning new EP, Was It Not.

The six-track EP finds the New York City-based alt-pop duo -- made up of vocalist Samantha Gongol and production artist Jeremy Lloyd -- exploring the many facets of romance, injecting each relationship-driven narrative with their signature dark pop production and jazz-inflected melodies.

Ahead of the EP's March 18 release via Marian Hill Music / Platoon, Gongol and Lloyd chatted exclusively with Billboard about the inspiration behind each song, from the dreamy questioning of the title track to the minimalistic trap running through "Like U Do" and the devastating blow of "No One Knows."

Check out Marian Hill's EP track-by-track breakdown of Was It Not below.


"Was It Not"

Jeremy Lloyd: This is the feeling of being old enough that you have an important adult romantic relationship solidly in your past. For so long any relationship in your past was when you were a kid. And now it’s a real thing that changed you in so many ways and yet somehow the details are fuzzy.

We love how this song isn’t happy or sad. It’s mystified, it’s wondering, it’s in between. The relationship was amazing (or was it?) …How much does it matter now that it was amazing? Or bad? Does it matter at all?

Samantha Gongol: This is maybe my favorite song off of the EP, and one of my favorites that we’ve written. I tend to gravitate towards the jazzier side of Marian Hill. It’s what I love to write melodically, and where my voice feels most natural and comfortable.

"Take a Number" feat. Dounia

JL: This beat started with me and Pasque jamming on the Rhodes at UMPG Studios in L.A. We cranked the bass on it and had it making a crazy sub sound. I forgot it for a few months and then came back to it with Sam -- the beat is so absolutely crazy and out there and slaps you in the face, and we tried to channel that energy in the writing . It’s a superior swag song, pure power.

SG: This was really fun to write; it’s dark, sexy, and full of pizzaz. Loved bringing in some extra female energy in the form of powerhouse and vibes queen Dounia. She’s so talented, and she gave it that extra sparkle that it needed.

"Like U Do"

SG: We had been writing a lot of songs, most darker and more somber in tone. I remember coming into the studio, and I must have been in some sort of mood that day. Because Jeremy played a bunch of beats and I was like, “I can’t write another sad song, I’m not in the mood!”

But what I love about "Like U Do" is that while its exterior is light and bouncy, it’s definitely anchored in a somewhat wistful reality. Seeing your ex and remembering why you loved them, but knowing very well you should not be together. And that’s definitely a good thing, but can also be just the tiniest bit sad...but ultimately positive.

JL: This one’s about seeing someone you used to love and seeing exactly why you used to love them but also knowing why you left them and just floating above it all. It's bouncy and light and fun as hell and was a wonderful breath of fresh air when we wrote it. But underneath that fluffy exterior is a kind of reality you only get with the serious passage of time.

"Eat U Alive" feat. Steve Davit

SG: This is my jam. This will inevitably be one of my favorites to play live. It’s an extension of songs like "Got It" and "One Time" -- and finally brings the sax back. And it’s always a pleasure to play and collaborate with Steve Davit.

JL: This song is a raucous explosion. It’s about knowing something so good is coming and prolonging the inevitable just a bit more to savor the incredible taste of anticipation. Steve has been with us since "One Time," and when he sent me the loop that became this song, we were immediately off to the races. He plays with a grit that takes the sax to a whole new place for me.

"No One Knows"

JL: This one’s really special to me because it’s written from the perspective of my girlfriend. We just moved in together in August, but when we first met she had just gotten out of a five-year relationship. Our connection was undeniable but she needed to take it very slow.

She told me how scary it was to have felt all the things we were feeling, to be in love, to be sure, and to be together for five years and then have it all fall apart. How could she trust that the same thing wouldn’t happen to us? I wrote this song with Sam as if she were talking to me, explaining that to me -- conveying how strongly she felt for me with the reality of her fears. It is the first song I’ve written in years that makes me cry.

SG: This song is still tough for me. I listen to it and though I don't cry, I definitely get emotional. There’s a heaviness to it. I’d just broken up with someone and actually wasn’t thrilled about diving into a song like this. But it was cathartic to write with Jeremy, and looking back it’s actually funny that he was inspired to write a song like this from a happy and stable place.

Even when the music isn't necessarily autobiographical, one of the beautiful things about getting to write and perform them is that they inevitably take on a life of their own, and I find they often mirror whatever is going on in my life at the time. I’m really looking forward to playing it live.

"Where We Could Go"

JL: I made this late one night, probably a month after we wrote "No One Knows." I love that song so much and was just playing around with the chords pitched down super low and it struck me that it was maybe something special.

SG: Jeremy played this for me and I knew it had to end the EP. I listen to it and I’m devastated by it every time.



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