MVRemix: Who served as musical influences for you growing up?
Marcos Hernandez: It was pretty much from Stevie Wonder to Lionel Ritchie, later on down the road U2, Depeche Mode, Ah Ha [chuckles]. Just any of the large pop icons, like Michael Jackson or Aerosmith. Even now I kind of look at people that are in the industry that have made their mark like Justin Timberlake and Christina Aguilera. Even on the oustide of things, I kind of listen to Bjork every now and then, I like everything really. Mostly what you've got to know as far as influences is that if you take a hispanic kid and raise him on Motown; the Delfonics, The Supremes and stuff like that and then you throw in a bunch of Mariachi music and pop top 40, that's what you get really.
MVRemix: Was singing something that came naturally or did you have to learn?
Marcos Hernandez: I've been singing pretty much all my life. I grew up in a musical family and we all sang for whatever reason. From my grandparents, my aunts and uncles, just performing in front of family and friends and whatnot. It was never anything that I wanted to do seriously, I mean I sang in 6th grade until I was a senior in high school, in choir or whatever... reading music. Every now and then playing piano and was really never considering it that seriously as a career for me. I know that within this industry there's a 97% failure rate and that very, very small gap of people that make it is very, very intimidating for a lot of people who are looking at getting into the industry. The people that have made it have been around for so long and they've surrounded themselves with good people. That's the reason why they've made it.
MVRemix: How did you initially sign with TVT?
Marcos Hernandez: I had a great team of management around me, TQ management. I was in Dallas and it was an independent label that had produced and put together the album "C About Me" that was released in May. It had sixteen tracks on it, it had "You And I," it had a Russel B. track on there. It had my sister on there, some of my friends. Some of the producers I like to work with and it was pretty much the idea of what I wanted to do with it was there. It started picking up steam when radio started playing "If You Were Mine," and the hispanic community received it all in a very warm manner and I couldn't have been more happy for record labels to start banging on our door and saying, "Well, hey you've got something on your hands. Can we get involved or do you need help?" "What can we do to take you guys to the next level?" And TVT was one of those labels.
I met Steve Gottlieb out in Salt Lake city. We could've met in New York or wherever, but the reason we met in Salt Lake city was because my manager's wife had forced him to take ballroom lessons at the college out there. So I flew out there, got to know him, he got to know me and there was a poker table full of guys who were playing "Texas Hold 'Em" and after I was done singing he told me, "Man, you could sing the underwear off my wife!" I was like, "Wow, that's pretty cool." "But you're a good man, so make sure she doesn't do that." It was really cool to see his reaction and a couple of days later he was like "We want to offer you something."
TVT is really a work-horse of a label, they've really come in within the last month and a half. We've put five new tracks with producers like Steve Morales and Scott Storch and they're all really, really good. We kept seven or eight of the songs from the previous album and I helped write with Steve and Scott Storch and Kathy Perez. The other eight songs that are on the album, if I didn't at least contribute in some form or fashion, I did most of it. It's really cool to have your sound and your writing out there and people just enjoying it. It's an exciting time out there for latinos in the industry to get this kind of recognition as far as guys like Pitbull and Frankie J, really any of the latinos out there that are doing it good, doing it big representing our family.
MVRemix: Your labelmate Lil Jon recently criticized your label TVT for being problematic and sheisty with him being paid, despite what he has earned for them. What are your feelings on this and have you experienced anything along those lines?
Marcos Hernandez: Um, fortunately not for me. And I've really never heard anything about that. Somebody mentioned that to me but I haven't really done my research enough to know or to go and make an educated opinion or comment about that. I do know that around me, the management team I've had around me for about four or five years - they are so well versed in the ways of this industry and they're really, really looking out for me. My family, we all really just handpicked everything. We're kind of a "show me" kind of family. Like "Show me what you can do, not tell me." We've gone from there to some great people that have kept us out of those situations like that. I don't know the details of that hurdle of his. I don't know really what to say about that except for he'll be in my prayers if he's having something going down. I'll say a prayer for him, hopefully it'll be able to get better.
MVRemix: A lot of men look upon singers like yourself as hustlers, you know what sells and how to sell it. How do you respond or feel about those sentiments with regards to your music?
Marcos Hernandez: I mean, it's cool and everything. There's always gonna be that part of me that is just completely out of control. Hormones out of control, but the southern gentleman in me rules out that and my strong moral background keeps me in check as far as how to act right in front of ladies and what not to do and what to do. Really I think I actually earn a lot more respect from girls that I've met. They're just like, "You know, you're really cool. I'd love to get to know you a little more." Usually what I tell them is "I'd like to get to know you a little more before we go out and do anything else." As far as sex sells, that's great and everything but personally I'm pretty shy about my body and I try to keep it modest because really it's all about the music and a feel good tune that's very easily sing-able. If there's sexual connotations in it that are being received in a very over the top way then that's a perception that I don't necessarily wanna get at except that it's always there, and it does sell.
MVRemix: In an interview I did with The O'Jays, they criticized younger R&B singers for their lack of sincerity and emotion attached to their material through their age and a lack of experience. Having such a hectic schedule do you feel that you're having to act a certain way or do you feel your experiences are well enough developed to be sincere?
Marcos Hernandez: I think I'm pretty much old enough to know what goes into making a great relationship. Any love songs out there that are worth performing - you really have to bring something to the table as far as a mindset really. In a greater way of looking at it, back to my family, my parents set a great role model for marriage, being married for thirty-three/thirty-four years and well, whenever they say "Go ahead and have fun," but whenever you go ahead and you sing these songs, you've got to be thinking about these words that you're singing. You've got to be really think "This song may mean something to somebody." "This song may be a really big turning point in someone's lives." I've gotten emails from people saying, "I hooked up with my boyfriend over this song," or, "Me and my boyfriend broke up over this song because I couldn't stand the way he was treating me." Everything I sing comes from a strong background of passionate singers who sing with a lot of heart. There's really no other way I know how.
MVRemix: How did you become a spokesperson for the American Heart Association?
Marcos Hernandez: A good friend of the family was vice-president or media relations for the American Heart Association - Hispanic branch, we grew up with her and everything. Her name is Francesca Martinez or Ramirez, something like that. Don't quote me as far as her last name... She kind of called us up and said, "You know Marcos' career is going in a direction that's really good and I think it would be awesome if he could come out and do a couple songs out here. Really promote the health and well-being of hispanics in a time and age where all we're doing is eating a lot of extra food and not really looking at all the reprocussions of all the fat and high content there is within them. It's a really big problem with the latin society right now; heart disease, diabetes and high blood pressure. We're not really looking at taking care of ourselves. We love to party, we love to have a good time and everything, but you really need to take care of yourself more. My mom is diabetic and all of her sisters are diabetic or most of them at least. My grandfather died because of multiple strokes and high blood pressure and my grandmother died of diabetes. It's endangering us. At one point you have to have somebody tell you about personal experience like that when you know better. You have to take care of yourself and you know you want to be here to live and enjoy as much of life as you can, while you're here.
MVRemix: Any last words?
Marcos Hernandez: Know that from jump street - from high school to now, I've gone through a very great change. I've grown up so much that it kind of freaks me out. I used to weight 220/230lbs in high school, size 38 waist. I did the Atkins diet because I just wanted to feel better about myself and healthier, I just wanted to feel healthier. Going back to school, I went back because I wanted to learn, I wanted to be something helpful. I've got my EMT certification under my belt but I really need to get re-done. To have all those certifications and know that you can really help somebody, whether it be through song or a physical way or means - it's a cool thing. For anybody out there who's listening, just know that the more we can help each other right now - especially with the Katrina and the Rita storms coming through right now. We need to come together and be strong and I think we'll get through all that's going on right now.
Lâ€™Orange and Stik Figa â€“ The City Under The City album review
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MVRemix Urban | Online Hip Hop Magazine | US and Canadian Underground Hip Hop - exclusive interviews, reviews, articles