The mythos of being a touring artist—long nights embroiled in the tantalizing freedoms of sex, drugs, and rock and roll—is a necessary artistic evil.
Consider 30-year-old singer-songwriter, rapper, and producer Marc E. Bassy—who hails from the Bay Area, though you didn’t need me to tell you that—and his deceptively sunny tunes. Both his 2014 mixtape Only the Poets and 2015's East Hollywood dance around the darker truths of being young and successful: loneliness, heartache, addiction, depression. From first pass, amidst the bright melodies and allusions to dance music, a listener would never know Bassy was going through it.
Therein lies the great irony of the fan-artist relationship: no matter how confessional, we never really know what life is like for our favorite entertainers. All of this is to say, when Bassy adopted a blasé attitude in describing the sacrifices he’s made to be a touring artist, only we were shocked.
“I’ve pretty much given up the idea that I was gonna turn into like a responsible adult [laughs]—a mature, normal, functioning member of society—and embraced the idea that I’m in it for the long haul as a creative, as a musician,” he says with some resolve. Bassy says that he’s made peace with his lifestyle, admitting that “it’s just part of the game,” and a small price to pay to be able to live his dreams in full.
“I kinda built this story up in my head before we really did this,” he continues. “I mean, it came true. So it’s like, here we are. I wanted to be a traveling musician, touring, getting money, fuckin’ bitches. That’s how it’d be in my head. Like, that’s what’s gonna happen. And then it’s like, 'Oh shit.' There ya go.”
Of course, one of the biggest sacrifices is a stable and healthy romantic life. Finding your life partner in your twenties follows a fairly standard formula of dating, spending increasingly more time together, moving in together, arguing about nothing, falling asleep on the couch, getting married, and consequently stumbling upon eternal contentment. All of these steps, though, require a level of presentness and intimacy that Bassy cannot offer by virtue of his career.
“When you have to leave for three months, [you're] drunk, partying and doing all this shit and then come back,” he trails off. “Or when you have to be in the studio every night until five in the morning, a lot of the natural progression of a relationship is eliminated. And this is [a] hazy occupation, you know? We party a lot, dude. Everybody knows what we do. So, it’s all good. So because of that, it’s hard.”
With that, any relationship Bassy begins, business or otherwise, is propelled by an urgency and his impending departure. He stresses his age, 30, and finds himself ever so out of place when compared to his friends who are already married or thinking of starting families. “I had this idea like, I’m falling behind,” he admits. “But I just made peace with it. And it’s all good, you know? I’ll get married when I’m 40.”
Aside from romance, the life of a touring artist—binge drinking, not sleeping, and the like—can permanently damage the body. While Bassy admits that he’s “highly conscious” of staying healthy and taking care of himself, it’s all too easy to let those good habits fall by the wayside.
“I just don’t care,” he explains earnestly. “I wouldn’t say I’m like an addict but I definitely… When it’s time to drink, it’s time to drink, when it’s time to smoke, it’s time to smoke. I don’t really ever pass. I’m not like, ‘Oh, I need to sleep so I’m not gonna do that.’ I don’t think I’ve ever done that, not once.”
But Bassy is not plagued with worry. He claims he’s strong and is more mindful than he’s giving himself credit for. “I find balance in my own way,” he defends. “When I’m touring, I take care of myself. I eat well, I do my own thing. I like to make it seem like a bigger deal than what it is.”
Now that he has arrived, Bassy attests that the realities of star life are no different than his fantasies, which makes for better music in the long run. Adding a necessary tinge of sadness to his songwriting, the road partly acts as his muse.
“I’m so impressionable,” Bassy declares. “Like, my environment informs everything I do. Like when I get out on tour, I act like an ass. I write songs that feel like that. Sometimes I do like a meditation retreat or something and I trip out and turn into that guy. So I love that. Your surroundings affect you so much, affect everyone way more than they understand. Even just the weather.”
In that breath, Bassy cannot wait to escape Hollywood, his resting spot for the past 12 years, claiming that the environment stunts his music and his artistic growth. As compared to his recent touring experience Europe, where he was awake for over ten days, coasting on a natural creative high. He’s constantly flirting with the desire to throw a dart at a map, book a flight, and go create for two months uninterrupted, though he admits he’s not at that level just yet.
“I think after this tour, after this next batch of music that comes out, that’s the kinda thing I’d love to do,” Bassy says. “Like you know, Kanye’s in Wyoming right now. That’s where he’s making his album. He made 808s & Heartbreak in Hawaii. Like, that’s the kinda shit I would love to do one day. You pick what you want your music to be about, you pick where you wanna do it, and it’s all part of one thing. So in the future, we’ll definitely be doing that.”
With that said, Bassy’s vision for the coming years is to buy himself an airplane, to facilitate his creative and travel bugs in tandem. So while the traditional life path is on the backburner, the tradeoff is Marc E. Bassy being positioned to make the best music of his life. He’s done chasing hits and once again ready to find himself in the music, as opposed to manufacturing another career-shaping hit like “You & Me.”
“I was kinda lost in the past couple years 'cause 'You & Me' did really well,” he admits. “I was tryna just recreate that, but I forgot that I didn’t make that on purpose. That just happened like every other song. So we kinda went back to just making music and I’m really excited about it.”
Additional reporting by Brian "Z" Zisook. Transcription by Sara Brown.