In Conversation with Marquis Hill

We’ve been thinking a lot about Marquis Hill lately. Partly because we can’t wait for his upcoming album release, Modern Flows Vol. 2, on November 9th, but mostly because we just love this guy. Rarely do kindness, wisdom, and talent come together in one package. We sat down with Marquis a while back to ask him a few questions…

What is your definition of creativity?

My definition of creativity is being unapologetically original. No one can do “you” better than you can. Being original taps into the greatness and creativity that is within all of us.

What do you think about when you play?

When I play I try my best not to think and simply be in the moment. Always be in the moment!

If you weren’t a professional musician, what would you like to do?

If wasn’t a professional musician, I would still want to have some type of career in the arts. (Dance, visual art, theater, etc…) I feel that in this country, and especially in the black and brown communities, the arts are seriously being neglected. The arts are what makes us human. The arts mold children into well rounded individuals.

What would you say is the most important factor to your success as a musician?

Loving and believing in everything I do. If I believe in and love what I’m doing, I am the most successful version of me that I can be. No monetary value can compare to an artist truly believing and loving there craft, and loving others through that.

What advice would you give to young people who want to become professional musicians?

My advice would be to take advantage of the time you have as a young person. Practice and focus on your craft!

Who are some of the key artists who have influenced you?

…to mention far too few – Donald Byrd, Duke Ellington, Miles Davis, Diane Ellis, Ronald Carter, Ernest Dawkins, William McClellan, and Willie Pickens.

What is it about those artists that you appreciate?

I appreciate that each one of these artist/educators have their own unique voices in their field of work. I’ve learned from these artists that it’s extremely important to have your own voice and to always strive to be original. I also learned the importance of education and community. What is learned should be passed down to keep the tradition alive.

In your personal life, who do you look up to?

When reflecting on this question several people come to mind. I have been fortunate enough to have a number of positive influences – selfless mentors in my life, but in this moment my mother comes to mind. My mother is the definition of strength. She raised a young black boy on the south side of Chicago, in a single parent home while juggling the everyday struggles of life in Black America. She instilled in me that anything is possible if you work hard and believe in both your value and potential. Strive for greatness!

How has growing up/living in Chicago influenced you and your music?

Being born and raised in Chicago has influenced me and my music in many ways. Chicago has molded me in to the strong black man I am today and has helped me in the search of finding my own sound/identity. Chicago has also taught be the importance of originally.

What are some of your favorite places to visit/spend time in Chicago?  (restaurants, bars, coffee shops, museums, parks, rec centers, etc…)

The Green Mill, The old Velvet Lounge, The Apartment Lounge, Lake front, Jazz Showcase, Andys Jazz Club, Dusty Grove, Reckless Records, Hyde Park records, Cole Park, Tuely Park.

What makes you proud to be from Chicago?

Chicago is home first and foremost! The city has made me into everything I am today and has taught me lessons and life morals that I take with me everywhere I go.  In everything I do, I do my best to represent my city well!