Mello vibes

Music sensation Marshmello sat down with Seb Powell to discuss his unique virtual Champions League final performance, learning a few tricks from Neymar and their shared passion for European champions Chelsea

Interview
Meeting Marshmello was all a bit surreal. I was at home in London, talking via Zoom with one of the biggest DJs and producers in the world, who was in Los Angeles giving one of his first ever interviews, looking ahead to a performance that had already happened, performed in a stadium that he had never set foot in. And yes, he was wearing that hat.

Throw in the fact that the venue had been changed ten days before showtime and it was clear that the 2021 Champions League final opening ceremony, presented by Pepsi, was never going to be a run-of-the-mill affair. But then Marshmello has never been one to fit the mould. The platinum-certified DJ and producer has always done things his way, from the unique outfit he wears to a collaborative approach to his music. Restrictions brought on by the pandemic demanded a new direction for his pre-game performance and he was happy to oblige.

The result was a stunning virtual set in the Estádio do Dragão that took in the whole of Europe, as a massive globe emerged from the centre circle. A giant Marshmello walked through the streets of Europe’s capitals and he was suddenly joined by Selena Gomez for a duet of their hit Wolves. Moments later the pitch appeared to turn to water and he was singing Silence with Khalid, as waves broke on the side of their boat.

So, as mentioned, all a bit surreal. Surreal and a lot of fun. And when we spoke before the final, we found out that we had something else in common apart from a love of music – come on, Chelsea!

I’ll get to music in a minute but first, do you follow a particular team?

Since I can remember, as soon as I got into football, the Champions League and all those teams, I’ve always liked Chelsea – and they just so happen to be in the final, so it’s kind of perfect.

Agreed!

If I had to choose between two different teams it would be different, but with them being in the final obviously I’m siding a little bit with Chelsea. Just from always knowing about them. The first time I heard about Chelsea, [Didier] Drogba was on the team and that was my era of getting into football, so it’s great to see them in the final again.

The videos for Alone, Happier and Stars all feature football. Was that your idea?

I do like football and sometimes it fits perfectly for the music videos. So I’m definitely a soccer fan and I’m really excited to be a part of this whole experience.

"It was a really wild experience. For about five or six days I was in a room that was solely blue screen – the whole warehouse was a blue screen. We had treadmills and these little turntables that I stood on; you see that in the performance, when I’m spinning. It was just a really crazy experience and one that I never thought I would have."
"I would say music is universal, in the same way as football."

Your music is all about good energy and fun – the perfect fit for a match where fans are finally being allowed back in the stadium?

Definitely, the performance is full of energy and even though it was virtual I tried my best to imagine myself in the stadium with everybody there – and tried my best to emulate the experience. And strangely, in my head, I felt like I was there. It was just a great experience overall.  

One of the great things about football is the atmosphere in the stadium. I’ve missed that buzz so much. How much are you looking forward to being out touring again and connecting with your fans?

Oh man, I’ve missed it. You know, my schedule was always go, go, go, go, constantly, for five years. And then it’s obviously been about a year and a half, so I’m very eager to feel that energy. It’s been a while.

Tell me about putting together the Porto performance.

It was a really wild experience. For about five or six days I was in a room that was solely blue screen – the whole warehouse was a blue screen. We had treadmills and these little turntables that I stood on; you see that in the performance, when I’m spinning. And when I’m walking on the field, I was really walking on a little piece of turf. There’s a moment where I’m walking on a globe and we’re going through all the cities and there’s one main street that goes around. That was really on a treadmill that was all painted blue and as awesome as that was, there were just as many bloopers of me nearly breaking my ankle, falling off. It was just a really crazy experience and one that I never thought I would have.

As the opening act of the Champions League final, which of your songs is most likely to get the players fired up ahead of kick-off?

You know, I would have to say my song with Juice WRLD, Come & Go. When I made it I wanted to do something with a little bit more of a rock vibe. I used a lot of guitars and I just tried to do something super hype. The energy is there.

There are some pretty amazing freestyling clips in the promo video for your final show and we’ve heard you are friends with Neymar. Has he given you any tips?

Anytime we’re around we always hang out and catch up, yeah. He’s a good dude, I like him. And do you know what, over the years he might have taught me a thing or two. You saw my amazing skills with the football in that commercial so, you know, I think that just speaks for itself!

I also hear that you’re pretty good at playing FIFA...

I would definitely say that. I’m a little rusty but I can still hold my own, definitely. I remember there was this one show, I think in Singapore, they had FIFA set up in the backstage artists’ area for some reason. And I beat somebody, with my helmet on, seven-nil. So I would like to say I’m pretty good at FIFA.

Football is a team game and you obviously enjoy team efforts in your music: collaborations with the likes of Anne Marie, Bastille and Khalid. How much of a buzz do you get working with other artists?

Oh I love it, I just love collaborating. It’s one thing when you’re alone and making a song and it’s just your opinion; you know how that goes. And sometimes you can be your own biggest critic. So when you work with somebody you can kind of bounce ideas off them and say, “Oh, that’s actually a great idea.” And then they say something and you’re like, “Oh, that’s a great idea.” I love that. I always love to collaborate with other people whose opinions I trust, when they’re as talented as they are.

The whole Marshmello ethos is about bringing people together. Is it your passion to unite people around the globe?

I would just basically say music is universal, in the same way as football. I have a huge passion for music and I would love everybody to come together and talk about the fact that, “Oh, I love this song,” or, “I went to this concert.” Even if they might have differences about whatever it is, they can all unite over music. And, though perhaps at times a little divided when it comes to teams, unite in their passion for football too.

What’s next for Marshmello?

Only exciting times, to be honest. I’m right into my fourth album [coming out]. Obviously with touring not happening, it was the most time I was able to dedicate to an album. We had time to shoot plenty of music videos and all of my creative energy went into this, so I’m just super excited that it’s going out to the world. Let’s go!

Music
The show must go on

Krista Carnegie takes Seb Powell behind the scenes to explain how, despite the pandemic and a last-minute venue change, Marshmello still pulled out a great performance

“It taught us to always expect the unexpected,” says Krista Carnegie, COO of entertainment and management company The Shalizi Group, reflecting on the realisation last November that Marshmello’s opening ceremony performance would have to switch from live to digital. “He knew he wasn't going to be able to make it out there due to Covid, but he wanted people to feel like he was still there – doing these things with the stadium that no one else could possibly do in physical form.”

Then another twist: the news, just over two weeks before kick-off, that the final was being moved to Porto. “We had sent a team to Istanbul; we got the measurements of the stadium down to the seat numbers. Everything was so detailed. When we got the call that it was possibly being switched we were just like, ‘This was never an option!’ And so, within 48 hours and some real hard thinking, they figured out how they could switch X amount of shots to make it look like we were in Portugal. It was a 24-hour team.”

Marshmello, says Carnegie (pictured above), was “in it all the way”. “Every piece of it is run by him. From the moment we thought we were doing this show in Turkey in 2020, he was involved in what the design would have looked like on the pitch to the songs that he wanted to play. When we needed to pivot he was even more involved in that process, knowing how important it was.”

Filming the blue-screen treadmill sequences in the Mello helmet was a unique challenge. “Our tour manager sourced the biggest treadmill I've ever seen in my entire life to make him feel more comfortable; it probably could have fit 15 people,” explains Carnegie. “During the pandemic, a lot of artists and award shows have been using xR [extended reality] to create these other worlds, but they have never used it to create a physical space. For us, that was a big thing. We used a lot of live elements.

“We wanted real people, we wanted real drummers, we wanted real dancers. We even had real water. We had two to three days of rehearsals where he learned with the dancers – things like gravity and spacing and timing. And then it was four days of shooting. The last day was fun, because including water on the blue screen was something no one had ever done. Because water can reflect the lighting everyone was absolutely terrified of what it would look like on camera. But I think the end result ended up being everyone's favourite bit.”

Best of all was finally being able to kick back and enjoy the show. “Everyone was smiling and cheering. Marshmello was wearing his Chelsea jersey – it was great. It was a long journey but If I had to pick one moment, it was being able to be with the people who we made the show with and just see it. The scariest part was giving it to everyone – the music fans, the football fans – and just seeing if they would like it. The reaction was absolutely amazing.”

Throw in the fact that the venue had been changed ten days before showtime and it was clear that the 2021 Champions League final opening ceremony, presented by Pepsi, was never going to be a run-of-the-mill affair. But then Marshmello has never been one to fit the mould. The platinum-certified DJ and producer has always done things his way, from the unique outfit he wears to a collaborative approach to his music. Restrictions brought on by the pandemic demanded a new direction for his pre-game performance and he was happy to oblige.

The result was a stunning virtual set in the Estádio do Dragão that took in the whole of Europe, as a massive globe emerged from the centre circle. A giant Marshmello walked through the streets of Europe’s capitals and he was suddenly joined by Selena Gomez for a duet of their hit Wolves. Moments later the pitch appeared to turn to water and he was singing Silence with Khalid, as waves broke on the side of their boat.

So, as mentioned, all a bit surreal. Surreal and a lot of fun. And when we spoke before the final, we found out that we had something else in common apart from a love of music – come on, Chelsea!

I’ll get to music in a minute but first, do you follow a particular team?

Since I can remember, as soon as I got into football, the Champions League and all those teams, I’ve always liked Chelsea – and they just so happen to be in the final, so it’s kind of perfect.

Agreed!

If I had to choose between two different teams it would be different, but with them being in the final obviously I’m siding a little bit with Chelsea. Just from always knowing about them. The first time I heard about Chelsea, [Didier] Drogba was on the team and that was my era of getting into football, so it’s great to see them in the final again.

The videos for Alone, Happier and Stars all feature football. Was that your idea?

I do like football and sometimes it fits perfectly for the music videos. So I’m definitely a soccer fan and I’m really excited to be a part of this whole experience.

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"It was a really wild experience. For about five or six days I was in a room that was solely blue screen – the whole warehouse was a blue screen. We had treadmills and these little turntables that I stood on; you see that in the performance, when I’m spinning. It was just a really crazy experience and one that I never thought I would have."
"I would say music is universal, in the same way as football."

Your music is all about good energy and fun – the perfect fit for a match where fans are finally being allowed back in the stadium?

Definitely, the performance is full of energy and even though it was virtual I tried my best to imagine myself in the stadium with everybody there – and tried my best to emulate the experience. And strangely, in my head, I felt like I was there. It was just a great experience overall.  

One of the great things about football is the atmosphere in the stadium. I’ve missed that buzz so much. How much are you looking forward to being out touring again and connecting with your fans?

Oh man, I’ve missed it. You know, my schedule was always go, go, go, go, constantly, for five years. And then it’s obviously been about a year and a half, so I’m very eager to feel that energy. It’s been a while.

Tell me about putting together the Porto performance.

It was a really wild experience. For about five or six days I was in a room that was solely blue screen – the whole warehouse was a blue screen. We had treadmills and these little turntables that I stood on; you see that in the performance, when I’m spinning. And when I’m walking on the field, I was really walking on a little piece of turf. There’s a moment where I’m walking on a globe and we’re going through all the cities and there’s one main street that goes around. That was really on a treadmill that was all painted blue and as awesome as that was, there were just as many bloopers of me nearly breaking my ankle, falling off. It was just a really crazy experience and one that I never thought I would have.

As the opening act of the Champions League final, which of your songs is most likely to get the players fired up ahead of kick-off?

You know, I would have to say my song with Juice WRLD, Come & Go. When I made it I wanted to do something with a little bit more of a rock vibe. I used a lot of guitars and I just tried to do something super hype. The energy is there.

There are some pretty amazing freestyling clips in the promo video for your final show and we’ve heard you are friends with Neymar. Has he given you any tips?

Anytime we’re around we always hang out and catch up, yeah. He’s a good dude, I like him. And do you know what, over the years he might have taught me a thing or two. You saw my amazing skills with the football in that commercial so, you know, I think that just speaks for itself!

I also hear that you’re pretty good at playing FIFA...

I would definitely say that. I’m a little rusty but I can still hold my own, definitely. I remember there was this one show, I think in Singapore, they had FIFA set up in the backstage artists’ area for some reason. And I beat somebody, with my helmet on, seven-nil. So I would like to say I’m pretty good at FIFA.

Football is a team game and you obviously enjoy team efforts in your music: collaborations with the likes of Anne Marie, Bastille and Khalid. How much of a buzz do you get working with other artists?

Oh I love it, I just love collaborating. It’s one thing when you’re alone and making a song and it’s just your opinion; you know how that goes. And sometimes you can be your own biggest critic. So when you work with somebody you can kind of bounce ideas off them and say, “Oh, that’s actually a great idea.” And then they say something and you’re like, “Oh, that’s a great idea.” I love that. I always love to collaborate with other people whose opinions I trust, when they’re as talented as they are.

The whole Marshmello ethos is about bringing people together. Is it your passion to unite people around the globe?

I would just basically say music is universal, in the same way as football. I have a huge passion for music and I would love everybody to come together and talk about the fact that, “Oh, I love this song,” or, “I went to this concert.” Even if they might have differences about whatever it is, they can all unite over music. And, though perhaps at times a little divided when it comes to teams, unite in their passion for football too.

What’s next for Marshmello?

Only exciting times, to be honest. I’m right into my fourth album [coming out]. Obviously with touring not happening, it was the most time I was able to dedicate to an album. We had time to shoot plenty of music videos and all of my creative energy went into this, so I’m just super excited that it’s going out to the world. Let’s go!

Music
The show must go on

Krista Carnegie takes Seb Powell behind the scenes to explain how, despite the pandemic and a last-minute venue change, Marshmello still pulled out a great performance

“It taught us to always expect the unexpected,” says Krista Carnegie, COO of entertainment and management company The Shalizi Group, reflecting on the realisation last November that Marshmello’s opening ceremony performance would have to switch from live to digital. “He knew he wasn't going to be able to make it out there due to Covid, but he wanted people to feel like he was still there – doing these things with the stadium that no one else could possibly do in physical form.”

Then another twist: the news, just over two weeks before kick-off, that the final was being moved to Porto. “We had sent a team to Istanbul; we got the measurements of the stadium down to the seat numbers. Everything was so detailed. When we got the call that it was possibly being switched we were just like, ‘This was never an option!’ And so, within 48 hours and some real hard thinking, they figured out how they could switch X amount of shots to make it look like we were in Portugal. It was a 24-hour team.”

Marshmello, says Carnegie (pictured above), was “in it all the way”. “Every piece of it is run by him. From the moment we thought we were doing this show in Turkey in 2020, he was involved in what the design would have looked like on the pitch to the songs that he wanted to play. When we needed to pivot he was even more involved in that process, knowing how important it was.”

Filming the blue-screen treadmill sequences in the Mello helmet was a unique challenge. “Our tour manager sourced the biggest treadmill I've ever seen in my entire life to make him feel more comfortable; it probably could have fit 15 people,” explains Carnegie. “During the pandemic, a lot of artists and award shows have been using xR [extended reality] to create these other worlds, but they have never used it to create a physical space. For us, that was a big thing. We used a lot of live elements.

“We wanted real people, we wanted real drummers, we wanted real dancers. We even had real water. We had two to three days of rehearsals where he learned with the dancers – things like gravity and spacing and timing. And then it was four days of shooting. The last day was fun, because including water on the blue screen was something no one had ever done. Because water can reflect the lighting everyone was absolutely terrified of what it would look like on camera. But I think the end result ended up being everyone's favourite bit.”

Best of all was finally being able to kick back and enjoy the show. “Everyone was smiling and cheering. Marshmello was wearing his Chelsea jersey – it was great. It was a long journey but If I had to pick one moment, it was being able to be with the people who we made the show with and just see it. The scariest part was giving it to everyone – the music fans, the football fans – and just seeing if they would like it. The reaction was absolutely amazing.”

Throw in the fact that the venue had been changed ten days before showtime and it was clear that the 2021 Champions League final opening ceremony, presented by Pepsi, was never going to be a run-of-the-mill affair. But then Marshmello has never been one to fit the mould. The platinum-certified DJ and producer has always done things his way, from the unique outfit he wears to a collaborative approach to his music. Restrictions brought on by the pandemic demanded a new direction for his pre-game performance and he was happy to oblige.

The result was a stunning virtual set in the Estádio do Dragão that took in the whole of Europe, as a massive globe emerged from the centre circle. A giant Marshmello walked through the streets of Europe’s capitals and he was suddenly joined by Selena Gomez for a duet of their hit Wolves. Moments later the pitch appeared to turn to water and he was singing Silence with Khalid, as waves broke on the side of their boat.

So, as mentioned, all a bit surreal. Surreal and a lot of fun. And when we spoke before the final, we found out that we had something else in common apart from a love of music – come on, Chelsea!

I’ll get to music in a minute but first, do you follow a particular team?

Since I can remember, as soon as I got into football, the Champions League and all those teams, I’ve always liked Chelsea – and they just so happen to be in the final, so it’s kind of perfect.

Agreed!

If I had to choose between two different teams it would be different, but with them being in the final obviously I’m siding a little bit with Chelsea. Just from always knowing about them. The first time I heard about Chelsea, [Didier] Drogba was on the team and that was my era of getting into football, so it’s great to see them in the final again.

The videos for Alone, Happier and Stars all feature football. Was that your idea?

I do like football and sometimes it fits perfectly for the music videos. So I’m definitely a soccer fan and I’m really excited to be a part of this whole experience.

"It was a really wild experience. For about five or six days I was in a room that was solely blue screen – the whole warehouse was a blue screen. We had treadmills and these little turntables that I stood on; you see that in the performance, when I’m spinning. It was just a really crazy experience and one that I never thought I would have."
"I would say music is universal, in the same way as football."

Your music is all about good energy and fun – the perfect fit for a match where fans are finally being allowed back in the stadium?

Definitely, the performance is full of energy and even though it was virtual I tried my best to imagine myself in the stadium with everybody there – and tried my best to emulate the experience. And strangely, in my head, I felt like I was there. It was just a great experience overall.  

One of the great things about football is the atmosphere in the stadium. I’ve missed that buzz so much. How much are you looking forward to being out touring again and connecting with your fans?

Oh man, I’ve missed it. You know, my schedule was always go, go, go, go, constantly, for five years. And then it’s obviously been about a year and a half, so I’m very eager to feel that energy. It’s been a while.

Tell me about putting together the Porto performance.

It was a really wild experience. For about five or six days I was in a room that was solely blue screen – the whole warehouse was a blue screen. We had treadmills and these little turntables that I stood on; you see that in the performance, when I’m spinning. And when I’m walking on the field, I was really walking on a little piece of turf. There’s a moment where I’m walking on a globe and we’re going through all the cities and there’s one main street that goes around. That was really on a treadmill that was all painted blue and as awesome as that was, there were just as many bloopers of me nearly breaking my ankle, falling off. It was just a really crazy experience and one that I never thought I would have.

As the opening act of the Champions League final, which of your songs is most likely to get the players fired up ahead of kick-off?

You know, I would have to say my song with Juice WRLD, Come & Go. When I made it I wanted to do something with a little bit more of a rock vibe. I used a lot of guitars and I just tried to do something super hype. The energy is there.

There are some pretty amazing freestyling clips in the promo video for your final show and we’ve heard you are friends with Neymar. Has he given you any tips?

Anytime we’re around we always hang out and catch up, yeah. He’s a good dude, I like him. And do you know what, over the years he might have taught me a thing or two. You saw my amazing skills with the football in that commercial so, you know, I think that just speaks for itself!

I also hear that you’re pretty good at playing FIFA...

I would definitely say that. I’m a little rusty but I can still hold my own, definitely. I remember there was this one show, I think in Singapore, they had FIFA set up in the backstage artists’ area for some reason. And I beat somebody, with my helmet on, seven-nil. So I would like to say I’m pretty good at FIFA.

Football is a team game and you obviously enjoy team efforts in your music: collaborations with the likes of Anne Marie, Bastille and Khalid. How much of a buzz do you get working with other artists?

Oh I love it, I just love collaborating. It’s one thing when you’re alone and making a song and it’s just your opinion; you know how that goes. And sometimes you can be your own biggest critic. So when you work with somebody you can kind of bounce ideas off them and say, “Oh, that’s actually a great idea.” And then they say something and you’re like, “Oh, that’s a great idea.” I love that. I always love to collaborate with other people whose opinions I trust, when they’re as talented as they are.

The whole Marshmello ethos is about bringing people together. Is it your passion to unite people around the globe?

I would just basically say music is universal, in the same way as football. I have a huge passion for music and I would love everybody to come together and talk about the fact that, “Oh, I love this song,” or, “I went to this concert.” Even if they might have differences about whatever it is, they can all unite over music. And, though perhaps at times a little divided when it comes to teams, unite in their passion for football too.

What’s next for Marshmello?

Only exciting times, to be honest. I’m right into my fourth album [coming out]. Obviously with touring not happening, it was the most time I was able to dedicate to an album. We had time to shoot plenty of music videos and all of my creative energy went into this, so I’m just super excited that it’s going out to the world. Let’s go!

Music
The show must go on

Krista Carnegie takes Seb Powell behind the scenes to explain how, despite the pandemic and a last-minute venue change, Marshmello still pulled out a great performance

“It taught us to always expect the unexpected,” says Krista Carnegie, COO of entertainment and management company The Shalizi Group, reflecting on the realisation last November that Marshmello’s opening ceremony performance would have to switch from live to digital. “He knew he wasn't going to be able to make it out there due to Covid, but he wanted people to feel like he was still there – doing these things with the stadium that no one else could possibly do in physical form.”

Then another twist: the news, just over two weeks before kick-off, that the final was being moved to Porto. “We had sent a team to Istanbul; we got the measurements of the stadium down to the seat numbers. Everything was so detailed. When we got the call that it was possibly being switched we were just like, ‘This was never an option!’ And so, within 48 hours and some real hard thinking, they figured out how they could switch X amount of shots to make it look like we were in Portugal. It was a 24-hour team.”

Marshmello, says Carnegie (pictured above), was “in it all the way”. “Every piece of it is run by him. From the moment we thought we were doing this show in Turkey in 2020, he was involved in what the design would have looked like on the pitch to the songs that he wanted to play. When we needed to pivot he was even more involved in that process, knowing how important it was.”

Filming the blue-screen treadmill sequences in the Mello helmet was a unique challenge. “Our tour manager sourced the biggest treadmill I've ever seen in my entire life to make him feel more comfortable; it probably could have fit 15 people,” explains Carnegie. “During the pandemic, a lot of artists and award shows have been using xR [extended reality] to create these other worlds, but they have never used it to create a physical space. For us, that was a big thing. We used a lot of live elements.

“We wanted real people, we wanted real drummers, we wanted real dancers. We even had real water. We had two to three days of rehearsals where he learned with the dancers – things like gravity and spacing and timing. And then it was four days of shooting. The last day was fun, because including water on the blue screen was something no one had ever done. Because water can reflect the lighting everyone was absolutely terrified of what it would look like on camera. But I think the end result ended up being everyone's favourite bit.”

Best of all was finally being able to kick back and enjoy the show. “Everyone was smiling and cheering. Marshmello was wearing his Chelsea jersey – it was great. It was a long journey but If I had to pick one moment, it was being able to be with the people who we made the show with and just see it. The scariest part was giving it to everyone – the music fans, the football fans – and just seeing if they would like it. The reaction was absolutely amazing.”

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