Chicago, Illinois alternative pop band Marina City has been constantly creating and inspiring during this time of uncertainty. Members Ryan, Todor, Aaron, Eric, and Matthew have been able to release content as a band that is not only keeping them relevant in the scene but content that is interactive and keeps fans engaged and excited for what’s next. Take notes everyone, Marina City is truly one of the best and busiest bands of 2020.
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit the United States in March, Marina City had two choices. One, to cry about not being able to publicly perform their newly released songs on The Crush and let the band be as it is, or two, as creators and musicians, figure out how to be creative in the middle of the pandemic.
Ryan admitted that the first few weeks of the quarantine was filled with a lot of freaking out, especially for the band. After regrouping, Marina City had a plan. Lead singer Ryan Argast says that he feels very lucky to be in a motivated band that wants to keep making content despite being in a state where they cannot tour and see fans, friends, and family.
They asked themselves the question, ‘what the heck is a musician supposed to do in the middle of a pandemic in 2020?’
So, Marina City answered that question by re-releasing old music, doing live streams, recording new music, and creating playlists, a podcast, a documentary series, The Crush 2.0, the Road Show, and so much more. Ryan explained that some of these ideas were created and developed before the pandemic, as they have always been bucket list items for the band, and that some were developed because of the pandemic.
This time has personally pushed Ryan to answer the question of how to be creative in a world like today. Along with releasing a solo EP, he has been experimenting with photography and graphic design.
The other members are certainly trying to answer the question as well. Earlier this year, they took turns taking over the official Marina City social media accounts to share quarantine stories and advice. Matt said that he has been setting up a home studio and teaching online lessons while Eric was writing songs and playing some video games.
At the end of February, just before the pandemic, Marina City released The Crush, a six-song EP that defined a new era for the band. The Crush is the perfect combination of the two things they love the most: creating groovy and telling relatable stories. Featuring beloved songs like “Money,” “Addicted,” and “Cravings,” this EP is filled with songs that will put you in a mood to dance.
As explained in their documentary series, a product of their quarantine creations, “the crush” can be defined in multiple ways. The Crush is an infatuation with someone, something, or even Marina City and their music, it’s a bunch of people together being crushed in a room, and it’s the act of actually crushing something. The Crush is being in a room with other music fans, being crushed together experiencing something you love. To Marina City, The Crush is still developing, even after two or three years of work. It’s them finding their place in the industry. Argast says, “’The Crush’ can have so many meanings, and we [Marina City] love all of them.”
One of the goals that Ryan and the rest of Marina City have is to have the band be more than just a band. Marina City could be an art project, podcast, movie, clothing, documentary series, etc. Basically, a collective instead of just a group of musicians. This mindset is very obvious with the new content they have been producing for their new era, The Crush.
Watch “THE_CRUSH”, a short film riddled with themes of Marina City here:
Ryan continued to explain to me that The Crush EP is truly meant to be played live and that 2020 was supposed to be Marina City’s touring year. They had multiple tours and headlining shows booked with whole performances planned for these songs that would be so much fun. Ryan said, “There’s not one moment where you wouldn’t want to groove or dance.”
After The Crush, Marina City released The Crush 2.0, which reimagines the six songs and houses remixes and features from CHO, King Melik, Carly and Martina, and more. Argast explained that this collection probably would not have happened if there was not a pandemic. The idea of reaching out to other artists for collaboration is something that Ryan and Marina City love to do and that’s why The Crush 2.0 is so special to them.
Ryan says, “I think music is a collaborative effort, especially right now… my dream collaborations would be Jack Antonoff [Bleachers], Matty Healy [The 1975] and Tyler The Creator.”
Along with new collaborations, Marina City took the time to re-release their old music. Ryan explained that the quarantine made him, the rest of the band, and fans down and depressed and nostalgic for the old music to be available. Before The Crush, Marina City took down most of the music because as Ryan explained, “if we want this new era of Marina City, we have to be all in. We have to take down our music.” You can find the older songs on Marina City’s Bandcamp.
Due to the pandemic making it near to impossible to have live performances, Marina City came up with the ‘Road Show’, a unique way to bring music to their fans in and around Chicago.
As of right now, Marina City has had three successful runs of the ‘Road Show’, twelve shows apiece. Basically, Marina City would drive to your house, ring your doorbell, scurry back to the street, and play three songs for you. Before the first run, they made it a goal to promote safety as much as possible. Along with that, they were truly hesitant and unsure of what the reaction would be. They were filled with nerves. By the third run, they were ready to rock and roll. Ryan joked, “you probably got a better show if you were part of the third Road Show.”
The ‘Road Show’ made Marina City realize the reasons why they created the band. The shows did so much to their mental well being, in the best way possible. Ryan explained to me that, “the ability to connect with people, even in a socially distant way, is so powerful… it’s almost like it was an ‘I can’t believe this is happening’ kind of thing.” Marina City was able to meet new fans and to reconnect with old friends and fans. Some fans created banners and posters while others were very emotional about the performances.
Regardless of the state of touring in the future, Marina City will do their best to expand the ‘Road Show’ to other areas outside of Chicago because of the positive experience they had.
When shows are back, Marina City hopes that they will have at least another EP or two for fans to experience. Along with new music, they also plan to continue their podcast with tour stories, tips and tricks to help other musicians, and so much more.
Everything that Marina City does from this point on, Ryan explained, is going to be the best quality. If something does not happen, it’s because it was either scrapped or pushed to another time to ensure the best quality.
Even though Marina City may be a little quiet for the rest of 2020, they have great things coming. Not only is it guaranteed to be Marina City at their best, they have a goal to double or triple their content in 2021. If that isn’t inspiring, I don’t know what is.
Ryan also shared that he is truly glad he never gave up music, even though the past few months have been difficult not only for him but for other bands. He said, “It [music] is going to be really difficult. It’s not going to be easy. Nothing that you love will come easy. Nothing great comes easy.”