There are some people with such interesting and rich personalities, that when you find out that they’re also extremely talented and create amazing and beautiful things you’re not even surprised, you just go, “yeah, that makes sense”. It happened the opposite way with Marilyn Carino – first I heard her new beautiful record Little Genius and then I got to ask her a few questions for trippin’ the rift. But even when I was listening to her music, I had a feeling that only a truly extraordinary person is capable of producing something that sensual and sincere. See Marilyn’s answers below to see for yourself that I was right.
tipkin – To say that your life has been eventful would be not saying much. There are some crazy facts about you posted on your website. Want to share just one story with us to illustrate?
Marilyn Carino – Well, all my strange adventures are loooong stories that just sound surreal to paraphrase! Sometimes I wonder how I survived til now. I consider myself an adventurer – that’s the spirit with which I approach life and enter into every endeavor. And it seems to run in my family in a bizarre way – cousin in the CIA, uncle in the mob, grandmother running off to jet-set with royalty, nobody did anything destructive like abusive behavior or addiction, except I was REALLY into drugs for a while – and I had a great experience! I think making music is my own way to really eat life up – I’d never do sky-diving or climb a mountain, to me that’s just gratuitous risk and a bore. I’m interested in creative adventures – putting your heart and intellect to the test, having faith in your actions when you don’t have all the answers. To me life is all about embracing that risk and encouraging others with your experience. The essence of my music is about that.
t. – Where did the affection for music come from? When did it all start? Can you talk a bit about your country and jazz background?
M.C. – My mother always had music on. Always. A little transistor radio in the kitchen while she cooked, food + music, a deadly combination for an Italian! She loved everything. One of my first memories is Ray Charles’ “Hit the Road Jack” on my mother’s radio. I sang it over and over, I was in a high chair so that’s pretty young. And my dad loved Dixieland jazz, Kid Ory especially – and Eddy Arnold who sang beautifully and also yodeled something fierce! Lots of singers, really high-level: Tony Bennett, Sinatra. He was an older dad and old fashioned to boot. But the music was always great and always on.
t. – Where did the inspiration for lyrics and music come from at the beginning and what keeps inspiring you today?
M.C. – I have been practicing Nichiren Buddhism for a long time, I chant Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo. Herbie Hancock, who also practices this Buddhism, spoke to a group of artists at our culture center in New York and what he said affected me profoundly. About artistic inspiration, he said, “When I want inspiration I need to remember that music is what I do – being a human being is what I am. Everything originates from who we are as human beings.” Everything is inspiring if you are able to be sensitive to what the world is telling you and if you have the wisdom and courage to interpret your own feelings about it. So I am always trying to cultivate that insight. I am really proud of my lyrics, and to me each of my songs is a perfect expression, a perfect little question. If I can’t get to that when I’m writing, I have to ask myself what do I need to change or cultivate in myself in order to get to that level of openness and honesty? It’s a process that excites me more than anything. And as long as I’m alive I’ll never be out of ideas and I also know that I will always keep getting better as an artist.