Q&A: What It Means When Starbucks Taps Your Band

Matt Bishop and Hey Marseilles love the big green giant far more than they'll ever admit.

Seattle band Hey Marseilles has been described a number of ways—cabaret pop, lit rock, and "Li'l Decemberists" (mine) are among my favorites—but "Starbucks rock" maybe isn't a title that would be accepted with thanks. But with the septet's inclusion on the coffee giant's annual album of love songs, Sweetheart 2010, via a cover of Daniel Johnston's "True Love Will Find You in the End," the tag is worth considering.

Frontman Matt Bishop met us—at the Starbucks outlet that's probably the nearest you can get to their corporate headquarters without actually being in the building—to discuss the challenges of being a homeowner, his day job at Seattle U, and what it means to have their song sold alongside biscotti and teddy bears. For more from our conversation, visit our music blog at seattleweekly.com/reverb.

Bishop: I've been trying to figure out how I can integrate the wows of the housing crisis into some sort of contemporary, 21st-century singer/songwriter angst. But I haven't figured it out yet. It's still kind of a middle-class problem.

SW: I think the Starbucks crowd will feel you.

That's true. I don't know if the Starbucks crowd is ultimately the crowd I want to be writing to. Maybe I shouldn't say that as we're putting out a CD on Starbucks.

What do you think it says about Hey Marseilles' music that Starbucks thinks their audience will drink it down?

The same thing it says when my mom and her friends love our CD, and my sister and her 4-year-old kid loves our CD, and 18-to-25-year-old women love our CD. I think it's palatable and accessible in a lot of ways, just because it's softer and it doesn't have a lot of edge, necessarily. It's pretty clean. I think that it just says that it can be appreciated by a wide variety of crowds. Even the Starbucks crowd is not the intended demographic necessarily when we're creating the music.

Do you guys practice in this neighborhood?

We practice in a building called SoDo Pop. It's right across from Starbucks headquarters. It's literally across the street.

So they just heard it out the window and wandered over...

Actually, we've got an '80s glam band that practices right next to us, so I'm sure they didn't hear anything, because we can barely hear ourselves when we practice. Maybe it's the Seattle thing. The Starbucks [CD] has, like, three Seattle bands [with Grand Archives and the Long Winters]. It's super-exciting for us.

So you guys rehearse in the neighborhood, and are fueled by Krispy Kremes?

Fortunately not. We come to Starbucks more than we go to Krispy Kreme.


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