Synth-pop artist Nourished by Time is emerging from his parents’ basement

100%: After 10 years of writing songs, the eccentric Baltimore artist is finally getting his flowers. Here’s what he thinks about Joe Biden, London life and The Sims.

Marcus Brown, the musician better known as Nourished by Time, is feeling proud of himself today. And so he should: fresh from signing to XL Recordings, he’s gearing up for the release of his second EP, Catching Chickens, which drops on 22nd March. It’s been a whirlwind twelve months for an artist who’s finally getting his props after writing songs for a decade.

In 2023, Marcus released his debut Nourished by Time album, Erotic Probiotic 2, which drew critical praise for its distinctive blend of lo-fi synth-pop, R&B, funk and soul and Marcus’s unusual, compelling lyricism about failed romance and the looming threat of capitalism. The album’s single Daddy, for example, told the story of losing a partner to their rich sugar daddy via upbeat synths and a vocal hook that’s difficult to get out of your head. Before that, Marcus was a musician who was fairly under the radar; he wrote Erotic… in his parents’ basement in his hometown of Baltimore, where he also put together much of Catching Chickens, in-between touring and weeks-long stints living in South London.

I’d love to move there eventually,” Marcus says, Zooming in from his sublet in Brooklyn. I did a DNA test a long time ago, and I found out that although I’m mostly West African, the rest is all British and Irish through my grandfather, who I never met. So coming [to England], something just clicked. I think it’s one of the most creative places on earth. People are so gracious to my music, too, more so than anywhere in America.”

Back home, around 2020, Marcus wasn’t necessarily putting himself out there. He was prone to anxiety and overthinking, hitting up open mics only to leave after one song. The 28-year-old, who studied music at Berklee College in Boston, knuckled down on songwriting around halfway through his course. At that time, I was trying to sound like Mac DeMarco, like Foxygen,” he says. I was trying to figure out my style and I didn’t like it. So I drew from the stuff I actually listen to, which is basically really old shit and SoundCloud rap. I went back to the basics, and it worked. I think everyone should write an album. You learn things about your psyche.”

The Catching Chickens EP’s lead single, Hand On Me, features characteristically chirpy synths and bass wobbles, and lyrics laced with a touch of anxious humour: The future is my passion /​When I don’t know what is happening”.

I was shocked that people like [the song],” March says, laughing. But I think it’s great… The music I put out isn’t necessarily normal, and it’s a lot to process. But I’ve built a really cool following. You know what they say: all you need is 1000 fans that spend 100 dollars a year!”


What kinds of emotions and experiences influence your work?
The actual process is pretty horrible, half the time. It’s a very internal thing, deciding what to write about. Take a song like Daddy – what I was actually going through was a lot less cartoonish, but I wanted to talk about a theme in a way that isn’t just shitting on a woman for having a sugar daddy or being a sex worker. It was like, What about what I’m going through? Where do I sit in this?” [Songwriting] is like sculpting, except you’re crafting something you can’t see. It’s really fun, even though it’s also a painful, sadistic kind of thing.


What’s a piece of advice that changed your life?
This teacher at Berklee, Pat Pattison – he was the only one who let me be weird and write weird ass songs. But he’d always say: It’s not about writing, it’s about editing.” That applies to everything. You can get so wrapped up in the idea and not wanting to change it. But it’s not about you, it’s about the song or the project. That’ll outlive everything.


Where’d the name Nourished by Time come from?
I love coming up with names for shit. I was inspired by Guided by Voices, for sure, who are one of my favourite bands. I like the grouping of words. I’d come to a point in my life where I realised that if I stay consistent, good things will happen. It’s a reminder of that. It’s a mantra. It’s also cool that it sounds like I’m a band but it’s just me. I was opening for Dry Cleaning in Texas, and I overheard this guy talking about my music. He was like, His name sounds like a metal band but it’s more like 90s R&B.” I found that really funny.


What’s the last thing you laughed so hard at that you almost cried?
Joe Biden. His team is really bad. They made this video where they go to some random Black family, he orders a hamburger and gives them some fried chicken and talks about basketball. I was also laughing at the Twitter commentary. And people are confused why Trump wins! I remember when he won last time and Erykah Badu just tweeted like, Hahahaha”. Everyone was so mad, but I got it. She has tried to warn y’all since the 90s.


You rule the world for a day. What goes down?
I would get rid of cars and replace them with really dope, high-speed railways. I would act like I was playing The Sims and create better infrastructure around the world. I’d make it so there’s always a parking spot. I’d get rid of streaming. I would make Baltimore freakin’ awesome. I’d make it so we don’t have a bunch of corrupt politicians running the city.


What’s a bad habit you wish you could kick?
Either smoking weed or going on my phone. My favourite artists didn’t have cell phones, they just did cool shit and were way more present. I remember my brain before I got a cell phone, and it was great.


Love, like, hate?
I love French fries. I like to learn languages, but I’m not too good at it. I try not to hate as much anymore, because that is low-key projection. But I hate worker exploitation and not thinking for yourself. My family used to joke that I could have a whole T‑shirt filled with all the things I don’t like, but this is an abridged version.


Favourite song of all time?
Weak by SWV.


What’s the last lie you told?
I’m busy.” I’m not that busy.


What can artists do to help save the world?
Be honest. Certain artists can stop and do other things, because they’re not doing it for themselves. They should be selling cars or something. The artists who are meant to be artists, they should be true to themselves and work really hard. It’s a muscle for a lot of people. Don’t give up! Certain people should, but mostly, don’t give up.

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