Transcript Episode 639: Marta Cikojevic (Marci, Tops)

After half-a-decade with Montreal's dreamy synth pop group Tops, Marta Cikojevic took her own turn in the spotlight in 2022. The eponymous debut of her project Marci finds the musician embracing dance music, with one foot planted in yacht rock's golden era. Prior to her time in music, Cikojevic had a flourishing career in modeling that took her around the world, including a long stint in Hong Kong. The musician joins us to discuss finding her voice.

Marta Cikojevic (Marci)  0:00  
I go on between Montreal and LA, a lot, but I'm probably going to be here for the next few months. So yeah, this is home.

Brian Heater  0:19  
When did you move out there?

Marta Cikojevic (Marci)  0:20  
I guess two years. Actually just found out, we got a new place my boyfriend and I, so we're gonna be moving next month to another apartment. So it'll be Yeah,

Brian Heater  0:34  
it's been two years was that a pandemic move?

Marta Cikojevic (Marci)  0:36  
We lived in Montreal during the pandemic, and then just decided that we wanted to try something new. And we both wanted to try living in LA. So we just went and did it.

Brian Heater  0:49  
Anything in particular, just just good southern California vibes.

Marta Cikojevic (Marci)  0:54  
Yeah, just wanted to get well. I mean, definitely wanted to try. Not experiencing Canadian winter. Montreal winter. I mean, Chicago was the winter is pretty intense there to pretty close. Yeah, yeah, for sure. But yeah, so it's been nice. I guess. So this has been our this will be our second or third Christmas here. Now. I think we might go to Universal Studios.

Brian Heater  1:21  
I'm from California. Originally. I live in New York now. Now I have seasons, but it's a little weird the first time moving down to the states to Southern California. And it like there's, it's like 70 degrees on Christmas.

Marta Cikojevic (Marci)  1:37  
Yeah. It's a little trippy. It's like, there's no snow. It's like you kind of forget that it's even Christmas. I was actually just in Australia. And they I mean, everything is obviously like Christmas decorated. But it was it's like there's summer there. So that was also really interesting. Was that a for a tour? It was Yeah, I was touring with tops we we went there for about it was about a week, I guess. And played like, like seven shows. It was really fun. Never been there before. It's

Brian Heater  2:07  
kind of like Canada from the standpoint of there's not there's a lot of space between things. So it's probably a little bit difficult to tour from that standpoint. Yes,

Marta Cikojevic (Marci)  2:15  
we were like doing a lot of flying around. Just because the drives are like way too long. But we actually, we did get to drive one on one we drove like an hour did a nine hour drive because one of our flights got canceled. But it was cool. We got to see the like countryside of Australia. It's not common, I guess that that happens. And when you're touring there,

Brian Heater  2:40  
however, the shows down there, they were really fun.

Marta Cikojevic (Marci)  2:43  
The crowds were great. Australians are kind of similar to Canadian. I've

Brian Heater  2:49  
never heard that before. So I would like you to to expound upon that. I

Marta Cikojevic (Marci)  2:54  
feel like there's just, I don't know, there seems to be like a similar energy. People are very friendly. They like to have fun. Yeah, I don't know, the vibe was very similar. I guess just like a friendly down for whatever attitude just like I mean, it's a lot sunnier there, and they, you know, have accents, but they are very similar.

Brian Heater  3:18  
Listen, I hate to break it to you, but you have an accent. I mean, it's true. I did. I was in Vancouver for the first time a couple weeks ago. And it's one of those things where like, you know, 99.9% of the conversation you don't notice and then somebody says like, Pastor? Yeah. Oh, yeah. And I'm in I'm in another country. Yeah.

Marta Cikojevic (Marci)  3:36  
I feel like it's when I say about or like, going out, like if the outs. And I'll even hear it in myself. I'm like, Oh.

Brian Heater  3:49  
Do you find yourself sort of? I don't know what I don't even know what the right the right word would be. But are you slowly losing what's left of your accent?

Marta Cikojevic (Marci)  4:00  
No, I feel like I mean, I go to Canada so often. And I feel like I grew up in a very small, like rural Ontario and I feel like it'll, it'll never leave me. Yeah, it's there for life. I

Brian Heater  4:14  
think whereabouts in Ontario.

Marta Cikojevic (Marci)  4:16  
Mount forest is really small town. About about 2500 people.

Brian Heater  4:26  
Once you draw attention to it, like it's unavoidable, no,

Marta Cikojevic (Marci)  4:29  
no, not gonna be able to start. But yeah, I grew up in the country. For the most of my time. I moved. I moved around a lot but grew up in the country. I actually grew up in like a town called Holstein, which is even smaller, and it's, it's like an intersection and there's like a general store and then everything else is just like rural in my country. But I went to school and like yeah, not for us was like the town that I grew up in.

Brian Heater  4:54  
Was it a situation where you couldn't? You couldn't wait to get out. I mean,

Marta Cikojevic (Marci)  4:59  
Yes, no. I mean, I like looking back. I'm really happy. I thought I like that I grew up there. And I grew up in the country. And, you know, I guess, yeah, there was a certain point where I was ready to leave for the big city. And I did. I don't really go back there. So often either, I think, because I don't have like any family there anymore. And like, none of my none of the friends that I kept in touch with live there, either. So I'd like to go back and visit, it's always fun, you know, to go through the past,

Brian Heater  5:31  
I get the sense, you know, I'm from a, I guess, I would say, a small city in California. But, you know, I get the sense that like, once the internet really started being a thing, like, people are, people are a lot less isolated than they used to be from different different forms of culture.

Marta Cikojevic (Marci)  5:47  
Very true. I was just talking about that recently, with someone also just about how like, growing up without really having a computer like, I mean, we had a computer and we had the internet, but it was like something that we didn't really use it that often. And just talking about how, like, you know, kids today are like, I find that like kids, like they don't they're not like going out as much. I feel like the generation of kids that are like, you know, like drinking age, like nobody's really drinking or partying like going to clubs or bars and stuff. But I think it's I think it's because they're occupied. Like they're not bored. I feel like we were when we were kids, we were bored.

Brian Heater  6:26  
Drinking and apparently sex is like, down in a major way. Really Gen Z two is is what I've heard, I can't say I have any. Like the Panek wasn't easy for anybody. But I can't imagine it coming at, like such a formative time of like missing I was talking to some of the other night who has his three kids, two of them are twins. I think they're like five now as old as eight and like, you know, they we all lost a year of our lives. But when you're that age socialization is like the main thing that you get out of school and they just completely lost a full year of that. Totally.

Marta Cikojevic (Marci)  7:08  
It's wild. It's wild to think about it's been, I guess, like almost four years. Pretty crazy. It's a long time. I mean, it's it seems like it was just yesterday. It's funny, I was also talking about like how, like a lot of the breakout artists like like dua, Lipa and like Rizzo and Dota cat, like those artists like really broke out in COVID. And a lot of those songs like you hear them on the radio now. And it's a little like, Oh, that was a weird time actually. Like you like you're like you love those songs. But it's now reminding you of, you know, your pandemic or like the quarantine or whatever, they get to go through tops,

Brian Heater  7:48  
tops was on the road. When things first went down.

Marta Cikojevic (Marci)  7:52  
We Yeah, we were we were in Germany. We were playing we were opening up for this band, and then came, can't try. And in Cainta right, sorry, I'm saying it wrong. It these in these like stadiums. And then yeah, it was it was so like, we were around, like, you know, 1000s and 1000s of people, which is a little freaky, because once the pandemic broke, we were like, oh my god, we're all obviously gonna get sick, like, instantly.

Brian Heater  8:16  
And they were ahead of us in Europe.

Marta Cikojevic (Marci)  8:17  
They were Yeah, it was kind of crazy. We were about to we're doing. We were on that tour, when it happened. And you know, the pandemic, the news, like made its announcements. And we were supposed to go to the United States to continue touring on like North American run. And we were like, Okay, we have to leave, we have to leave Germany, we have to get to the United States. But then like Donald Trump had announced it, like they were he was closing the borders, you have like, you know, 72 hours to get there. something ridiculous. So like, we booked flights to New York, which we made. But once we got to New York, the situation has gotten so much worse, that we were like, you know, let's just go home. Cancel the tour. Like it's obviously not happening. I'm

Brian Heater  8:59  
in Queens, which is really it was like the heart of the pandemic for a couple of months there. But, you know, into like, into March with musicians who were still touring I was I talked to a guy and it seems it's wild now in hindsight, but at the time it felt so touching goes, he's got to be like, well into his 70s and they were still touring at the time. And they didn't they didn't quite pull the plug because I think it took in understandably so. I think it took a long time for the scope of things to really sink in for people.

Marta Cikojevic (Marci)  9:30  
Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. It was it was it was Yeah, once there was like, when people had to quarantine that's when I was like, Okay, this is like, like sticking Yeah, putting a regular up my nose and stuff. I was like I gotta like oh my god. He was my dad's advice. He was like, my parents are very like, into like herbal like, you know, vitamins stuff. And or, you know, I You know, oregano oil. Yeah, it's, you take it, you know, when you have like stomach things or when you're sick, whatever, but my dad was like, put some on your pinky, like, rub it around your nose on your nose. And I was like, I'm not doing that. But everyone didn't, I did a little bit and then I was like, this is kind of burns. Like was, we're just gonna stop, it's gonna be fine. I mean, I didn't actually get sick till like, I think like a year or two, like after it happened, took me a year. But yeah, what a crazy time. I mean, I mean, I made my record. In the pandemic, I wouldn't have feel like, you know, I worked out to work on like, every day. Because like, I was really wasn't really seeing anybody. I was just going to the studio and working with it. On it with David. So, I mean, I, you know, that's something that I will say, like, a really good thing that came out of it for me.

Brian Heater  10:57  
Now, I guess it's fine. But for a long time there, you would have to talk about any positives from the pandemic in like very hushed tones. Like, you know,

Marta Cikojevic (Marci)  11:04  
I know it's true.

Brian Heater  11:07  
You, you wanted everyone to know that you like you were that you were suffering as much as anyone else. But yeah. So I mean, it's it, you know, it seems to me, so it's like, soon to be two records, I guess. But it seems to me that this was an inevitability for you, but the pandemic may be accelerated things a bit.

Marta Cikojevic (Marci)  11:25  
Absolutely. Yeah. Like I started making the record, like, right at the end of 2019. So it was happening, but then the pandemic just helps like, I mean, it just gave me more time, obviously, and focus to finish it. So yeah, it would have it would have happened, for sure. I wonder how different it would have been? No? Who knows. But yeah, but now working on another one. For a little bit. I mean, it's different, because I'm not in Montreal anymore. Although I am working on the record, still, on a lot of the record with David from tops. So I'm going back there to finish a bunch of songs, but I'm also doing a bunch of songs with different producers in LA, which is fun, like just friends of mine. The

Brian Heater  12:09  
first record was it was it largely done remotely, are the two of you meeting up in person,

Marta Cikojevic (Marci)  12:14  
we were meeting up in person, we were like, we had our like pods, you know, like people who you could like see everyday kind of thing. But yeah, David was my pod. So I would go, I would go over his place every day.

Brian Heater  12:25  
technology in general is a double edged sword. But you know, one of the things that affords us is, you know, we're having this conversation on opposite sides of the country. Right? Yeah. And, you know, to a certain extent, collaboration has gotten easier to to do remotely, were you at least able to do like a fair amount of stuff on your own? Or did you really need that kind of sounding board in person? i

Marta Cikojevic (Marci)  12:49  
Yeah, we did everything in person, like even the drums on the record, we got we have, like in person. I mean, you know, we're wearing masks and stuff. But it's funny. I mean, the top CPE though, was our, like, the first time that any of us had really done remote stuff. Because we were getting Riley the drummer to send us like we were kinda going back and forth with like drum takes and stuff. Because we knew Jane and David were in Montreal together at the time, so we were like working on stuff and then sending to Riley and he would send back to us, but I'm actually doing that a lot more now, too. I, my friend Chris Bowering just actually sent me drugs that he did in Vancouver. So it's like, funny now I'm doing more of the remote. So it works. It

Brian Heater  13:38  
does for sure. But you know, I think it probably based on hearing you talk about the the experience of that first record, it makes sense to me that you kind of needed somebody there to I not like it. I it's it's kind of a loaded word, but to like validate the Yeah, the stuff that you're writing? Oh

Marta Cikojevic (Marci)  13:56  
my god. Absolutely. I mean, it was also like, it was my first time doing it. I didn't, it's really, it's hard to do stuff like that on your own without, like, you get really caught up in your own thoughts and like your own expectations of like, what things should sound like and I think for me, I often if I don't have someone there, I won't finish it because I just will be so unsure about like, what direction to take it in. It's nice to have like I'm the type of person that like I'll you know, I'll finish a demo. Or like I'll get a song like close to finish I'll just like send it to a bunch of my friends. Like what do you think I need feedback. So having David there was really really nice especially just because he has a lot of experience with like writing producing all that stuff. He's you know, it was nice to have someone there that knew I'm not very I don't I'm not great at like using like Pro Tools and stuff for example. So it's it was nice to have someone there that you know, took charge of that and handled that when you

Brian Heater  14:53  
were bringing the songs in the first time like how this is gonna sound hoity toity, but how complete of Vision did you have? I mean, did you really? Did you understand? Like, how you wanted things to sound? Or like, how much of that was really a product of also having him in the studio to produce you? I

Marta Cikojevic (Marci)  15:13  
mean, yeah, I had an idea of like, the type of songs I wanted to make. And, you know, I would, I would show up with like, a song that was written that we would then go in and like, fix like, or like change little parts, or rearrange the song. Or, like, a lot of the times also, I come in with a song, I won't have a bridge, just because I don't know, sometimes those bridges, they get the best.

Brian Heater  15:43  
Somebody who hated bridges. The other day was weird, arbitrary thing that, you know, people are like that people

Marta Cikojevic (Marci)  15:50  
are strange like that. But I mean, it's like one of those things that I like, needed to learn how to master you know, and so it was nice to have like, David help finish writing some of those songs. But there are a lot of songs on the record, too, that we wrote together. Where we would both sit down, like I would sit down on the on the keys, and he'd have his guitar, or actually, he was playing bass a lot of the time. And we were just like, yeah, right, just write together and write the song. But I think, you know, I started with an idea of like, wanting to write more upbeat kind of songs. I guess there's an aspect of my music that a lot of people are telling me like that, I guess, is a bit r&b That I didn't realize I did. So that was cool. I think that that was something I discovered in the writing process. Like that, like I didn't realize what was happening. I guess

Brian Heater  16:44  
there aren't a ton of interviews with just you out there. But of the ones that I've read like you are, you're citing like Destiny's Child like you're citing like r&b. Yes. So you kind of it's not a huge surprise that people are making that leap.

Marta Cikojevic (Marci)  16:58  
No, absolutely. I think that that's like music that I love to listen to growing up or like and was listening to during the making of but I guess I didn't. I didn't realize till later that I was doing it. Like, you know what I mean? Like that. It was just like more of this like r&b influenced. It was unconscious? I think so and like, but then realizing like, yeah, I guess of course, like I was listening to a lot of these like r&b records. Like, of course, I'm gonna start, I'm gonna write music like that. But, I mean, I was listening to a lot of other stuff too at the time. So I guess. Yeah, I was just, yeah, it was it was cool. I guess it was it was cool that people recognize that. And then it also just made me like, realize that like, that was music that I really liked and should continue trying to do stuff in that way. But we'll see. I don't know, the next record is definitely already. I feel like sounding different. And I feel like it's stepping a little bit away from that vibe. similar but different. When

Brian Heater  17:51  
you were saying that you wanted it to be more upbeat. I was wondering if that if you're contrasting that to something directly? Like is that in contrast, a top? No,

Marta Cikojevic (Marci)  18:00  
I guess I just, I mean, when I first started writing, I guess, maybe in contrast to myself, just like when I first started writing songs, I was doing a lot of like singer songwriter style songs. And I think that I wanted to just try something new and different. Yeah, his talk was pretty upbeat, I would say it's

Brian Heater  18:21  
your own thing. But it's pretty clear, you know, especially on the first record that this is from somebody or I guess from several people in that band. It's not, you know, it's not like a huge, it's not a huge leap away from what Thompson's doing, I

Marta Cikojevic (Marci)  18:35  
mean, yeah, of course, it's like, David, you know, he's like, the main one of the main songwriters and tops to, like, produces, you know, everything. So, I guess like, yeah, it's gonna sound like to us, but, I mean, I guess that's also why I'm working with other people now, too, just because I want to, like, explore what my sound is, with different producers. And I don't know, it's kind of it's been fun.

Brian Heater  18:59  
Was that thought in your head of really trying to, I guess, distinguish the music you make from the other band that you're in? Yeah.

Marta Cikojevic (Marci)  19:06  
I mean, there's a part of me that definitely feels like I want to, just because, yeah, I want to, I want to try, you know, doing something different. And distinguishing myself as like, it's my own like thing. Rather than like Martha from tops, which is fine. I mean, I love tops. And like, I also write in tops, and you know, this. It's like, we're, I mean, I'll always love and the dogs. So it's like, you know, it's a compliment. And it's, you know, it's it but yeah, I think it's fun to just try new things and separate yourself a little bit.

Brian Heater  19:40  
You've been in the band for a long time, but you weren't. You weren't there from the beginning. So it seems obviously being in that band, being with those people and having those people pure on your records. I said a pretty profound influence on your sound. Absolutely.

Marta Cikojevic (Marci)  19:56  
There I mean, the tops has taught me so much about songwriting. I think like because a lot of you know what I do with my music now that like, I feel like I, I've taken or like they've inspired in me. Yeah, like, I feel like I can, you know, I can't be grateful enough for what they have showed me and they've just given me like a confidence also even to just try and do my own thing or like, you know, confidence in songwriting and production and stuff. So it's been, they've been a huge, very huge part of my life. And musical life. Once

Brian Heater  20:31  
you're touring stadiums in Germany does something like writing your own songs is that feel not as scary as it would otherwise?

Marta Cikojevic (Marci)  20:39  
Definitely. I mean, definitely, definitely, I guess. I think like when I first started, there's just like this, such like an expectation, I guess, that you have of yourself. And then I was like, Wait, this is actually just really fun and cool. And like, I can, like, I'm in a band that does it. Like, why can't I do it? You know, I'm seeing other people do it. It's not. It's not impossible.

Brian Heater  21:03  
But had you anticipated being a songwriter? For as long as you've been playing music?

Marta Cikojevic (Marci)  21:11  
Yeah, I, I've like, definitely, I've written I've been writing since I was little, but just nothing like, obviously professional or I don't know nothing. With like this, like, clear, like intention. It was just, it's just like, was a fun thing that I did. And like, you know, but I always like, as a kid, like, I always wanted to play music.

Brian Heater  21:33  
Was it fear? Or was it just being focused on too many other things at the same time?

Marta Cikojevic (Marci)  21:37  
Yeah, I think it was fear. And just like, but also Yeah, like, even I mean, I like, I quit music. Like, I stopped playing music for like, any quit like as it like, I I'm still played, but I just didn't, I don't know, it wasn't like, a main focus in my life. For a chunk of like, my, like, 20s, I guess, because I, I was modeling. And so I just decided to like, I was traveling a lot, I just decided to like, put everything I had into that. Which was great. And I had a lot of fun. But then, I mean, there just reached a point where I was like, I like what, what am I doing, I like lost, lost by like, like control of like, what I want, and like who I am, and like, I want to get back to what I've always wanted to do so. And then I quit. And

Brian Heater  22:24  
I obviously don't know a lot about modeling. But you know, there's, to a large degree, it seems to me that it's something that you're taking orders from somebody else, right? I mean, and it's not. And if the thing that you're really looking for is a way to express yourself, it's perhaps not the best way to do that. Totally.

Marta Cikojevic (Marci)  22:42  
And like I worked with a bunch of, I have friends who I'm still very good friends with, but I like I would work on shoots with Justin, who like, around a home mate, he took the photo, on my record of me walking. I've known him for like 10 plus years. And like we used to, like we would do creative shoots together. And that was definitely like the very fun and like more creative aspect of it. But yeah, you're absolutely right. It was there's not really a lot of creative outlet. In an industry like that.

Brian Heater  23:11  
You felt like you Q had kind of taken it as far as it could go. Yeah, exactly.

Marta Cikojevic (Marci)  23:15  
I taken his I was just, I wanted to try so I wanted to do something else. And I wasn't enjoying it anymore.

Brian Heater  23:24  
Was it just too grueling? Or what about it? Didn't you enjoy anymore?

Marta Cikojevic (Marci)  23:27  
I guess it was taking a lot of a lot of mental space up. And like, I think it I just didn't want to think like, there's just a lot involved in you know, with like, thinking about the way you look or like working out all the time, or I don't know, there's just, it's like, it's like really, like, just felt like it was a full time job in my head. Like, you know, thinking constantly about it. And I just didn't want to do that anymore.

Brian Heater  23:53  
Talked about like things that are high up on people's list of fears of just having like every inch of view under a microscope when you're doing that. I mean I I couldn't imagine. Personally

Marta Cikojevic (Marci)  24:04  
exactly like and then you know, I still like work or also like do shoots and stuff for people like shops or whatever like I don't mind doing that kinda stuff but it was more just like that be it being like such a full time gig and like, you know, having an agent and like really, I don't know, pushing myself like to go to castings and all that stuff. Like it was just it was just a lot and like, don't get me wrong. Like I said, I did enjoy it. I got to travel a lot and meet a lot of really cool people. But yeah, I just like yeah, music is obvious. I mean, I love

Brian Heater  24:36  
obviously the music business can be kind of like skeevy is but do you find yourself in more bad situations in modeling?

Marta Cikojevic (Marci)  24:44  
I feel like I mean, you're right because like music industry it can also be like extremely shifty. But yeah, I mean, yeah, I would say so. I just I just just because of it How'd your vulnerability like, you know, you're like what? Like, in your teens or like in your early 20s. It's like you don't know a lot about life. And I think that people take advantage of you a lot. I've thankfully never had like, anything like really bad happen. But yeah, I mean, there's so many stories. But yeah, I think that it's just, it's just that it's just that aspect of it. That's, I think, pretty dangerous. I mean, music is like that, to that. I think there's a lot of, you know, young people that get involved in like, I mean, so yeah, it's like, it's honestly, it is pretty similar, but hard to say now, because I'm older and I came into the music industry older with like, knowing more, and especially coming out of the modeling industry. I was like, okay, like, I've got thick skin.

Brian Heater  25:41  
Now, the worst that somebody can say about one of your songs probably isn't like nearly as, I mean, it sucks. It's hard to have people critique you, but there's just there's something about people like just talking about your physical periods and that minut level of detail that is totally absolutely mortifying to me. It's a trip. Yeah. But how did you start modeling?

Marta Cikojevic (Marci)  26:08  
Someone my mom's friend, who was a makeup artist. She was like, Oh, your daughter's so tall, like, she should go see. You she should go vinyl. Like literally Oh, my God. It's like, so this day, I still get asked, What do you do model? Do you play basketball? I'm like, Okay. I mean, I do. But I mean, I know. I do love like basketball, but it's not, you know, I don't, not not professionally. But yeah, I guess it started like that. Yeah, it was just my friend's mom was like, Oh, she should try and I know this guy, this agent and should meet him. And so I just went in met him. And yeah, that's pretty much how it started. And I was like, in it for a while. Then I quit. And then I got back in it. Yeah.

Brian Heater  26:58  
So you started as a teenager? Yeah, I

Marta Cikojevic (Marci)  27:00  
started in high school. Like, I guess what I was. Yeah, like in grade like 11 or something like that. Yeah.

Brian Heater  27:06  
Did you continue school? Were you doing both at the same time? No,

Marta Cikojevic (Marci)  27:09  
I continued school. I continued. I went through high school. I quit though. Like I ended in high school. And then like, I like continued, just like a normal high school life. And then I was like, four years later, I say that I got back into it that my friend was like, again, same similar thing happened when she was like, oh, you should meet my agent. You should maybe like, think about modeling again. So I started up. I really struggling to remember what year that was. I feel like it was like 2011 Yeah. Because I started up again. And then I went and went to Hong Kong and like spent like, five months there. And that was like,

Brian Heater  27:45  
I started again. I love Hong Kong. A couple years but it's it's amazing. You were you were out there modeling. Yeah, I

Marta Cikojevic (Marci)  27:54  
was up there modeling. I was I meant to go back there. We went to talks was gonna go back there on a on a tour that we did, but we were there was like this typhoon that was following us around. So a bunch of that. Yeah. And thankfully, we never got caught up in it. But there were some of the shots. Some of the shows had to get canceled because of it like Hong Kong was one of them. So I was so bummed we didn't get to go back. I really want to go back there. It's such a cool city. I mean, it's, I guess it's different now, but I want to I still want to go

Brian Heater  28:19  
back. It is last time I was there was when the protests were happening. And it's and it's like, it's so close to China and they've got this high speed rail now it takes like 30 minutes to get from Hong Kong to Shen Gen. Well, which is which is like great, but I have a friend to who's from there. I was talking to him about it. He was like, well, they the CCP has jurisdiction over the subway, which means that all underground up until it gets to like the station in Hong Kong. that's run by the CCP. So they're like it's they're slowly like encroaching onto Hong Kong. And it's really, yeah, because it's such a beautiful, like vibrant place with its own identity. And it's just, I mean, obviously the, you know, colonial English rule before of course, it it's, it seems like it's gonna get swallowed up just completely sooner or later. That's

Marta Cikojevic (Marci)  29:11  
too bad. I need to I need to get out there. Soon. Then. I discovered a Wong Kar Wai while I was living there, too. And I was like, Oh, wow, this is like really just like, like, I really just like immersing myself into the city and it felt so cool. I loved it.

Brian Heater  29:26  
I've been there a couple times. And the first time I was there, I accidentally booked a hotel in the Chungking palaces. Oh, yeah. That was like a real dodgy. You know, I've been living in New York for a long time. And I would say that was one of the Dozier situations I've been in and

Marta Cikojevic (Marci)  29:46  
that's so cool that you've been there multiple times

Brian Heater  29:48  
only for weeks at a time like you spent months there which is a really different experience.

Marta Cikojevic (Marci)  29:53  
That's true. That's true. That was a long time. It's a it's like perfect. It's a kind of like the perfect amount of time like you really get to like know Oh, please.

Brian Heater  30:02  
Did you pick up Cantonese? No, I

Marta Cikojevic (Marci)  30:04  
mean, not. Not really just like little little things like, like hello and goodbye or like, yeah. Yeah, no, no, no. No.

Brian Heater  30:13  
How did you end up there for modeling though?

Marta Cikojevic (Marci)  30:16  
There was such an agent there that I guess. I think they I can't remember if they came to Canada and like, met me or but it was it was through an agent, my agent at the time like had hooked it up and they basically just like, you know, like my luck and thought I could work there. So then they they

Brian Heater  30:38  
shipped me over there. They're looking for Western models.

Marta Cikojevic (Marci)  30:41  
Yeah, exactly. They're, I mean, they're always just looking for like new faces and stuff. And yeah. You go there and you build Yeah, it was it was really fun. It was it was a really weird time. But it was great. It was like living in an apartment with like four girls. It's a tiny, tiny, tiny apartment. And like bunk beds. It was

Brian Heater  31:01  
like a reality show. Yeah, really? Yeah. A really different experience, though, like being somewhere for five months. And like being on tour in a place, it seems, you know, like, I'm lucky that my job brings me to places for weeks at a time. But it seems like when you're touring, you know, you've got late nights, you don't really get to enjoy places like you would if you're traveling for yourself.

Marta Cikojevic (Marci)  31:21  
You really don't I mean, and it gets really like, you know, you like really get to the venue and just are in the venue, and then you pack up and you go and it's like dark out and you just get to the hotel. You know, there's not a lot of downtime. But I mean, it's funny, my friend was recently talking, we were talking about touring, and she was like, it's such an unnatural, like way of living. Because you're like gone, you know, for like a month or more. I mean, I can't imagine those artists that go on tour, like basically all year. I guess there's like buses and stuff involved. But you know, yeah, it's like, there's like days off and stuff that you go in, like, you can go and explore. But a lot of the times on those days off I'm like just going to sleep.

Brian Heater  32:01  
It seems like a really, especially when you're driving around seems like a really good way to know if you should be in a band with some Oh my god.

Marta Cikojevic (Marci)  32:08  
Absolutely. I mean, that's why even tops is great, though. Like we were talking about that a bit on tour because we heard about like the Brian Jonestown or how they like, yeah.

Brian Heater  32:17  
I had him on the show. And yeah, he's well, he's infamous. Yeah,

Marta Cikojevic (Marci)  32:22  
I mean, I've heard lots, you know, but we were talking about how, like, grateful we were, like, not we mean, that's just not that's so far from anything that would happen in in our band, like, we're actually really good friends. And we hang out. I mean, you know, we hang out a lot outside of just touring. So it's nice. I can I can be in a van with those guys. For

Brian Heater  32:47  
have them guest on on your record. But there is an extent to which like, I mean, obviously, there are ways in which you've complicated things by moving to a different country, but at the same time, it's like any relationship like, it's probably actually nice, like, having some time away, and then going back and seeing them.

Marta Cikojevic (Marci)  33:08  
I agree, I really do. And like, you know, I mean, it's funny. So Riley, the drummer also lives in LA, which is nice. And now Jane, she was living in Berlin, but she just moved back to Montreal, which is cool. So now it's just in between Montreal and LA. By No, I agree. I think that it's nice to get some space and like, just do your own thing for a while, like you said, like in any relationship. And when you come back, you just appreciate it that much more

Brian Heater  33:31  
was tops, Was that your first band right after the modeling thing? No,

Marta Cikojevic (Marci)  33:36  
I was in a couple bands I was in my very first band that I was in was, was called church. But we had to, we changed our name to sand Marina. And like just restarted because I guess we were getting billed as like a Christian band.

Brian Heater  33:53  
You stayed in the kind of like Catholic model, it seems like.

Marta Cikojevic (Marci)  33:59  
But it was actually funny because we started the band and then that band churches was also just like coming out. So really, this is just complicated. We're changing the name. We know they weren't that was my first band. And I mean, I'm still in touch with Ryan. He's like a very, very old friend of mine. There's that band. And then I also then after that joined the band, I guess I was in a band called Valens and a band called Sunshine, the blue moon, kind of both at the same. I mean, I was in three bands at the same time, actually. But it was just in Toronto, you know, and it was, it was it was fun. It was so fun. It was like, you know, three days a week different a different band going and like rehearsing in January and just having fun. But that was when I first started like, playing music and bands was I guess in like 2014 When I moved to Toronto, you

Brian Heater  34:41  
went from modeling into music. It sounds like you transitioned a bit though, like at what point in the process was it clear like, Oh, this is actually like a thing that I can do.

Marta Cikojevic (Marci)  34:50  
I definitely like I stopped modeling. I was I was in Paris actually. I was living there at the time and I was I was really like feeling like that. That's when I made the decision. I was like I need to stop playing music So when I ended my trip, I moved to Toronto, and started playing music with, with Ryan Brown being in this band church that I was just saying, well, San Marino, and it wasn't like, right away, it took me it took a lot of confidence. And like I just didn't, I was really scared. I was super, super scared to get involved in like, I don't know, just start playing again, because I've only really played by myself. And I wasn't very good. Like, you know, I just didn't, I just didn't know what I was doing. So it was, yeah, I don't know how long but it was, wasn't immediate, but it was like, I guess like, you know, a few months or something like that. I I started.

Brian Heater  35:36  
Like, I went, yeah. You really were learning kind of on the spot that it sounds like I really was.

Marta Cikojevic (Marci)  35:41  
Yeah, like I had played piano. Like, when I was younger, and like for most of my life, but it wasn't. I don't know, it wasn't. I didn't like stick to it, or like practice a lot or whatever. It was just like doing it for fun. So when I started playing in bands, I was Yeah, I had to, I had to learn how to like jam with other people and stuff pretty quickly. I wasn't very good. I don't think I'm like, you know, I'm proud of what I've had, you know how far I've come. I do have like regrets. I'm like, I wish I really like was, you know, I stuck to like to in high school. And like even during modeling, I really wish I didn't get like stop. But whatever. Probably

Brian Heater  36:19  
doesn't feel like it when you're going through it. But it seems like that came together pretty quickly then. Yeah. Nothing good to like being and, you know, to being able to tour the world.

Marta Cikojevic (Marci)  36:31  
I mean, yeah, sounds like I you know, I feel proud of what I've done and accomplished. With with the with the amount of time I mean, I met Yeah, I guess I met tops in 2017. And that's when I definitely joined tops. And that's also was like that was like a really like, step up of like, okay, you need to like, practice Get your shit together. And like, you know, because I was like going to Montreal, it was really lovely, though. You know, I went to Montreal and I jammed with Jane, who was playing flute. She never played flute live before. Like, she had always played flute, but she didn't really play flute live because she was usually the one playing the keys. So yeah, we like had a jam. And it was just like, so nice. We her and I were just like jamming together. I felt it just felt so right. I was like, Okay, this is like, my new. My new family. Toronto

Brian Heater  37:25  
is obviously a very expensive city. But I keep forgetting when I talk to, you know, people in Canada that there's like, some support for the arts up there. So like, it is possible to like, survive in a band. Man,

Marta Cikojevic (Marci)  37:40  
it is like really very true. Like I hear a lot. I mean, I have obviously so many American friends who are in bands. And yeah, like the grant system is like, it don't get me wrong, there's it's a lot of like bureaucracy, and it takes a lot of, you know, work to get some of that stuff. But like, when if you do get it, it's like really helpful, because we've taught like two offices, like we're really lucky, we get grant funding and it helps otherwise, I mean, it's just really hard to make money. It's like, like, no one I like, a lot of bands that I know just are bit like breaking even or not. Even Marcy stuff is like, you know, I'm not at a level where I can apply for certain grants, actually. So it's also like penny pinching with a lot of the stuff like touring that I do. And breaking even.

Brian Heater  38:25  
How does that work when you move to the States?

Marta Cikojevic (Marci)  38:28  
I mean, I am on a Canadian label, so I still get to benefit I you know, I think that no matter what, as long as you're a Canadian even if you're on an American label, you can still get granting, I think you just need you just need someone to help you like, I guess, right? I'm not just write them but like, like, recommend you and stuff like you know, get you in the system. I guess I'm not really sure to be quite honest. It's like really, it's like confusing and I'm like

Brian Heater  38:58  
your label head is also your manager, right? Which I assume probably helps with a lot of these red tape things.

Marta Cikojevic (Marci)  39:05  
Yes, actually, I mean, I don't have a manager but some is tops his

Brian Heater  39:08  
manager is friends label.

Marta Cikojevic (Marci)  39:11  
We tops is no actually tops is a Yeah, tops. It is not RRBs anymore, but also we did work with that but yeah, we we've like yeah, we're not anymore, but we're obviously everyone's very good friends. But we said this helps me a lot. He definitely does a lot of like, he feels a lot of like a manager's role and I really appreciate it but yeah, he's I mean he's demand does a lot he runs a very nice label. And also like he knows a lot of that like ins and outs and a lot of like yeah bureaucracy around a lot of that granting stuff and like he he's been a really good he's been a good person for me to like, turn to to ask questions. Because I really like I'm pretty new. I mean, I'm not new to music, but I'm very I'm pretty new to the music industry. Like I don't really You know, I mean, I've just been, I've been in bands, I've never ran my own business essentially. So I'm learning a lot, actually. And stuff has been really lovely in like helping me navigate through that. So

Brian Heater  40:13  
I assume that math changes considerably when it's both in terms of like creatively and pressure, but financially and everything else when it's when it's your name on the product.

Marta Cikojevic (Marci)  40:22  
Totally. It's like, and I said that to my sister recently, I was like, it's like running your own business. You have to learn a lot of I mean, there's a lot of like, accounting stuff that I, you know, I didn't do before that I'm doing now and thinking about things differently, which is like, can be distracting. I actually got hypnotized. I was I was going through a phase where I was like, not really writing. And I was really like, just focusing on more of like, the business side of marcionite it was really bugging me, I couldn't like get my head out of it. And like, whenever I sit down to write, it was just all I could think about. So I'm like, got my friend to him that ties me. I mean, I think it were, what was the goal? It was just to be able to, like, separate my my, like, brain from like, you know, business and creative. Like when when I'm going into creative mode that my business side of, I guess my those thoughts, like, Don't interrupt. That's

Brian Heater  41:19  
fascinating. I've never done I do a fair bit of meditation, but I've never done hypnosis. So it's nice to hear that, that it worked for you. It's really nice.

Marta Cikojevic (Marci)  41:27  
I it was it was my first time. It's been like working. I've done it with her like three or four times now. But it's my first time doing it. But I really like it. It's like, quite therapeutic, or at least the way that she does it is very therapeutic. You've been working

Brian Heater  41:39  
on this project a lot and it but it seems that it's kind of coincided with it also feels like at the same time that that tops has been taking off as well. You know, like, touring a lot. Obviously. It's been a number of years since there's been a full length album out, but is it difficult budgeting your time? It is?

Marta Cikojevic (Marci)  41:56  
I mean, it isn't it isn't like Marcy. Marcy isn't like I look. Okay, this year was was definitely easier. Because Topps wasn't like doing much touring. It was I found it to be fine. But like, yeah, like, like, you know, thinking about the future and stuff. There's like, yeah, I get a little nervous. Because I just want to make sure that I can just do everything that I can. But for the most part, it's been fine. It's been easy. And yeah, I mean, now that. I mean, just thinking about like releasing my record. And when we talk is gonna release when we're gonna release the tops record. I'm like, Okay, I want to like plan it properly. So that I'm not. It's not like, the scheduled conflict doesn't happen. Because, you know, I mean, you release a record, and then you have to tour it. So I'm trying to make sure that yeah, the timing of both it works out because I, I would like to just I would obviously like to do both always. Did

Brian Heater  42:48  
you feel a limitation in terms of your own identity and your own songwriting within the band?

Marta Cikojevic (Marci)  42:55  
Yeah. I mean, definitely. I when I first started writing in the band, I mean, they're very, like, open to having me, which is really great. But I'm, I definitely like, I definitely held back a lot at the start just because I wasn't sure like, how much I should, you know, get ever like, that's like any new job, right? Yeah, exactly. Exactly. Yeah, exactly. But now, I mean, on this new record, is really fun. I mean, we just, like, got into the studio and started writing stuff, just like all together. You know, I mean, I feel like we all have our roles too, which is nice. Like, and like, they're always open to me like bringing songs also to the band. But I feel like when we jam, it's really nice, because we have like David's playing guitar, I'm playing keys, Riley drums and James writing the melodies. So it's kind of, it's nice, because it gives you a lot of freedom, actually, where you're not having, like two people writing the same part. You know, we're all just like writing our own parts. And then at the end of it, we can all look at it together. And like, I mean, obviously, Jane and David are a few like, they are like the, the head of like, they do a lot of the producing and writing and they're, you know, ultimately boss bosses but like, Yeah, but it's been this this past record writing it was like, was really fun. And I just felt really it was it was nice that it was very like everybody contributed in a way that was like, very easy and free and fun. And yeah, I

Brian Heater  44:25  
think it's also lucky to jump in and I'm probably really feeling a lot of myself in this but you know, for me when I started a new place it takes a really long time for me to feel like I'm a part of that new thing that existed before I was there.

Marta Cikojevic (Marci)  44:40  
Oh my God completely I completely understand that I feel like that in relationships or like anything I it takes me a while to like, get comfortable enough to did to be myself not be myself, you know like to really like give everything where like feel like I can you know without stepping on anybody's toes or whatever. But yeah, that's It's yeah, it's I mean, it's obviously very similar in advance dynamic, I guess. It's

Brian Heater  45:05  
also like a relationship and standpoint that it's like, yeah, this was a fully fledged person before I came on. Totally. Exactly. And it's sort of like, okay, well, now I need to, you know, there's a big difference between starting a bands and like, kind of jumping onto a moving platform. Absolutely.

Marta Cikojevic (Marci)  45:21  
And I think that's why I mean, you just gotta be just gonna go go along for the ride and see what happens without being too pushy or anything, you know, I mean, you're learning from them. They're learning from you. So I

Brian Heater  45:33  
was surprised that you didn't have a lot of faith in your voice when you started this project.

Marta Cikojevic (Marci)  45:38  
I know. It's funny. I mean, I think that I just, I don't know I sang in other bands like just like backups. I guess I just didn't know that I could really sing. And it's funny because David was was actually the one that was like, You should use like, like, I had, like, I have like, I guess cheesy aspects to my voice as like everybody does, but he was like, do it these like don't feel like don't feel insecure about it. Just do what you think is is right and like we can look at it after. But it was a nice opportunity for me to just like let go of like my insecurities and just do it. And then once I started, I was like, oh, yeah, this is like really fun. And I really like because I did a lot when I was younger, and I guess I just forgot I got scared and you know, it like died died and I was like, I can't do this anymore.

Brian Heater  46:29  
I had this exact same conversation with somebody recently. We're just when you're young you don't know that you're supposed to be ashamed of things. That gives you so much power that you don't have what you've lived some life. Oh

Marta Cikojevic (Marci)  46:40  
my god. It's so true though. It's so true. It's like this Yeah, you build up all this like all these insecurities and fears and then they just like take over and you're like, I can't do anything. But it's nice you and when you have friends that can help you and they tell you you know like No, no, just just give it what you got. It will be good.