‘That’s fresh!’ says Marques Toliver when I tell him that listening to his EP, Butterflies are Not Free, is like a bolt from the blue. The 24 year-old Floridian turns up for our chat with his afro towering above other pedestrians and boyfriend in tow.
'This is Tom,' Marques introduces us, his white teeth gleaming and eyes twinkling. Given that so many musicians choose to remain sexually ambiguous when launching their careers, his candour nearly knocks me for six. Actually, it makes sexuality into a non-issue.
Butterflies Are Not Free is a unique fusion of Marques' influences (think of a jam session between Vivaldi and Stevie Wonder with Destiny's Child on backing vocals). It’s a 4-song multi-instrumental mythopoeia that tells of one man's journey to find himself, and contains some of the most beautiful gay love songs you’ve ever heard.
Marques sings from the heart, howling and caressing the soul of his compositions with his expansive baritone voice. I'm inspired by stories,' he tells me. 'The first track 'Charter Magic', is named after the magic in Phillip Pullman's Dark Materials - but I also get inspired by some little poetic blurb posted on Twitter.'
Who's his dream collaborator? 'I'd have to say Beyoncé. I couldn't say what kind of record we'd make though - it would probably be a whole new style of music!'
This article appears in the May issue of Attitude, out now.