INTERVIEW | Marco De Vil
You may recognise him from billboards for Mr Price or Sportscene, but 22-year-old Marco De Villiers aka Marco De Vil wants to show that he’s more than just a pretty face and is using his music to do so.
The 22-year-old rapper, songwriter and model is the perfect example of overcoming your circumstances to attain the life you want.
In an interview with News24, De Vil opens up about using his life story as his muse for music, why Eminem is his inspiration, his latest single, Don’t Want You Back, and more.
“Growing up in my household was always a battle, and I think one of the ways for me to deal with it was writing,” De Vil says when asked about how his childhood influenced his musical identity.
He adds: “It was definitely a form of therapy for me; just channelling all those emotions and putting them down to paper really made me feel better.”
Born to a family with two siblings, De Vil was raised by his mother and stepfather, who, in the beginning, De Vil saw as a father figure. However, some short years after his mother married, things worsened, and De Vil found himself on the receiving end of constant daily physical and verbal abuse.
Having lived in a hostile environment, De Vil says, became “the catalyst for who I am today and the music I make”.
While the rapper initially channelled his feelings into poetry, he began writing music after being inspired by US rapper Eminem.
“Firstly, I related with the anger he was going through at the start of his career,” De Vil explains.
“Secondly, Eminem is kind of like the dad that I never had, you know, an imaginary father. So, whenever I was feeling down, I would listen to him. It was a huge part of my life.”
De Vil adds that hearing Slim Shady be so vulnerable in his music gave him the confidence to do the same in his own music.
“I feel like it helps not being so closed up because once you release those emotions, it doesn’t affect you that much.”
De Vil began recording music in 2014, and in 2017 he entered a US-based competition called Coast 2 Coast that provided a platform for emerging Hip Hop artists from around the world to appear on their annual mixtape.
His track Winning was selected to be featured on the mixtape, giving the 22-year-old the validation that he was on the right path.
“I was really psyched out about that. That album was like, ‘Nah, I’m on the right path.’ It gave me that motivation and inspiration I needed, and because it was a global thing, it made me feel special.”
Fast forward five years and De Vil has released a new single titled Don’t Want You Back – something he says shows growth in his sound.
Elaborating, the rapper says that when he started, he was “selfish” in making music. “if I like it, you have to like it,” he adds.
“Now, it’s different,” he says. “Now, I try to make it 70% me or at least 60% me and 40% you [the listener], so there’s relativity.”
Speaking more about Don’t Want You Back, De Vil says writing the song was a team effort, but it stemmed from a true personal story.
“I was in a relationship, and it was just toxic. It made me angry,” De Vil explains. “I was on an emotional rollercoaster then, and it was one of the most difficult breakups for me.”
He continues explaining that the song is, therefore, about “understanding love and what comes with the territory”.
As De Vil continues to bare his soul through his music, the local rapper says he hopes to inspire his listeners to be more open to vulnerability.
“Just be open, like, 100%,” he says. “Let your guard down. Be vulnerable. Because releasing all these emotions is a form of healing.”