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Casual listeners of Marian Hill can be forgiven for thinking the band's name refers to a single performer. In truth, the two-person act coined its moniker by combining characters from Meredith Wilson's beloved play The Music Man, more specifically Marian Paroo and Harold Hill. Such a mash-up approach typifies the band's music, a blend of spare electronica, jazzy saxophone and killer hooks couched in crystalline vocals. Fans holding Marian Hill tickets can expect more than canned beats and pre-recorded harmonies, too. During a show, production artist Jeremy Lloyd produces the band's sonic soundscape live using a combination of keyboards and drum pads as vocalist Samantha Gongol sings in her sultry soprano.
Marian Hill's background
Lloyd and Gongol met in middle school and started composing music together during their time at Haverford High in Pennsylvania, a natural progression after their long-running involvement in various choirs. In Gogol's words, they originally wrote "bad singer-songwriter music" and parted ways when Gongol went to study music business at New York University and Lloyd music theatre at Yale. During breaks, they would reconnect over songwriting, and eventually Lloyd shared a particular beat he'd been toying with. The end result was "Whiskey," a female-empowerment anthem that eventually led to the addition of improvisational saxophonist Steve Davit for live performances and some select studio work. "People love Steve," Lloyd told Rolling Stone. "We were playing in Kansas City at the Midland Theatre and he got a loud cheer - tonnes of people chanting his name."
Marian Hill's career milestones
People also love a catchy tune paired with an innovative product. Though Marian Hill had a 2015 TV debut on The Late Late Show with James Corden and a Top 40 Billboard Alternative Radio hit with "One Time," the band didn't really make a splash until Apple began to advertise its wireless AirPod earphones in 2017. Entitled "Stroll," the television spot featured street dancer Lil Buck jookin on walls and roofs to the single "Down." The week after the commercial first aired during an NFL playoff game, the song broke into the Billboard Hot 100 and Alternative Songs chart. It went on to chart in seven countries and made it to No. 10 on Billboard's U.S. Mainstream Top 40. The attention made "Down" the most requested tune on song-identification app Shazam for months on end and earned the band a spot on Rolling Stone's artists to watch in 2017 list. Marian Hill also performed on Good Morning America, and a collaboration with Lauren Jauregui of Fifth Harmony ("Back To Me") followed, which performed well in Spain and France. Additionally, the group has been involved in a number of noteworthy remixes, including reimaginings of Drake's monster 2015 hit "Hotline Bling" and Alina Baraz's "Electric."