Marco Pavé is a social activist and rapper representing Memphis, Tennessee, the Home of the Blues. Pavé is a strong believer in supporting his city, participating in benefit concerts and writing music targeting different societal issues. Make sure to check his latest EP “Perception”, available on Itunes or embedded below.
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Mike O’Keefe: I know you grew up in Memphis. Can you describe your hometown a little bit? What would you suggest a first-time visitor to see?
Marco Pavé: I’m always about not trying to showcase just the tourism side. That’s what Memphis does a lot. I’m pretty sure a lot of cities are like this – showcasing the surface stuff. I’m about showcasing the real so people can see how Memphis is behind as a city and how it’s growing as a city. For me, I come from North Memphis, Tennessee. Which is a predominately black neighborhood. Memphis overall is a predominately black city, but it’s very effected by the segregation of the 50’s. You still can see it today. I wouldn’t even call it negative, that’s just the reality.
Some positive things for me are the Grizzly’s, they came here I think it’s 11 years ago now. I remember them first coming from Vancouver. I didn’t even know where Vancouver was. You always have to go to Bill Street. It just has a lot of places to go and live music. You’ll experience the sound of Memphis.
MO: Absolutely, that’s probably the most important thing to me about traveling and getting a sense of the culture in each place.
MP: Yes, exactly. Memphis in May is a great festival. In the summertime there’s always a festival or concert to go to. Africa in April is a good event with a good turnout. It’s usually free. They showcase the different African countries each time they have it. Stuff [to do] that the main stream wouldn’t hear about are coming to the local open mic’s or coming to the Hattiloo Theater. Playhouse on the Square is a good place. There’s a top art museum here in the city.
MO: It’s definitely a place I would like to check out. What is the first destination that comes to mind when you hear the word “vacation”?
MP: It’s not a specific place, but I always go to the beach. Beach and vacation is always synonymous to me. It doesn’t necessarily have to be any particular place. The Malibu Beach in [Los Angeles] was pretty cool. I went there the first time I was in LA last year, just to get away from the hustle and bustle of the big city. Galveston Beach in Texas is pretty good for me. Definitely vacation and beach goes hand-in-hand.
MO: Where does your inspiration for music come from? Does traveling to new places play a role?
MP: Yes, definitely. The traveling that I’ve done the last year or two has just opened my eyes to other cities and how they operate. Like I said in my first [answer] about really being real about they’re either behind or how they need to catch up to the cities that are progressing. I go to a place like Seattle and you can tell the difference between the new downtown and their old downtown. You can see the newness of the city. You can see the stronghold that Amazon has over the city. The negative side of that is the gentrification, pushing people out, but there are also positive impacts to that. So, for me, I get inspiration just from seeing different cities that are growing and thinking about the future.
MP: They go hand-in-hand perfectly. If you’re really serious about it you have to travel to be a musician. Most people wouldn’t even take you serious for it if you haven’t traveled or been on tour outside of your city. They have to go hand-in-hand because that was the old way to get music out before the Internet. Before the mass production of audio cassettes and records people had to play the music and travel. Take it on the road. I don’t think that would ever go away. Even with the Internet being as powerful as it is.
MO: Yeah, it’s just universal. It brings everyone together. Is there a destination that you haven’t been to yet that you’ve got to see?
MO: We’ve touched on it a little bit, but what does seeing and experiencing different cultures mean to you?
MP: It’s life changing or it always has the potential to be life changing. You see how [people] live and how they do things. It gives you an appreciation of that. It makes you think about life in different ways. My wife and I were having a conversation of transgender people in America, about how you don’t have space to cross the line if you’re a feminine man. But, in other cultures there can be six different genders. It allows them to be freer. It doesn’t constrain a group of people. I feel like that slows down a lot of violence. It slows down a lot of ignorance that people have. Then just experiencing different people so we know that we’re all connected in some kind of way.
MO: If you had the choice to perform and speak anywhere in the world where would you choose? Maybe an iconic venue or a place that means something to you?
MP: That’s a good one. I would probably want it to be an international thing. The Memphis pyramid would be a good one though. I would want to take it back to its roots. Right now it’s a massive Bass Pro Shop, we here in the city call it a big tackle box. The Grizzly’s used to play here before they wanted their new arena. I would want to take it back to its roots. I would love it to be an international crowd.
MP: It’s most likely a small college town, Centre College in Kentucky or something like that. I also have SXSW in Austin, Texas. It’s going to be my second time going down there. I definitely want to get more immersed in the culture of Austin.