"It's not the load that breaks you, it's how you carry it" - Lena Horne
It's safe to say that Marques "Merk" Elliston brought a whole new meaning to "For Us, By Us." Having founded Complex 2010 Recording & Rehearsal Studios in 2010 alongside his co-founder Cayex Illah, the duo were able to fill a void that was ever so present to the Chicago music scene. With over 10 years of industry experience working as a branding & marketing strategist, Merk has solidified his position as the musical aficionado for up and coming creatives, especially in Chicago. All that success didn't come easy; from working every job imaginable just to get by to feeding his entrepreneurial spirit, Merk gives up the real on his come up!
Q: What wakes Merk up every morning? What or who motivates you?
A: Most mornings its Hudson.. my 2 year old.
Q: What does it feel like being a respected voice & adviser in the Chicago music scene?
A: Its pretty cool…especially in Chicago. We tend to be abnormally tough on our home grown talent.
Q: How did you develop COMPLEX Studios? What is your mission behind it?
A: The Plex was a blessing. My brother Idris “Peeda Pan” and I had done all there was to do from a nightlife aspect and our 1st love was always music. Back in 2010, we were back & forth from Miami doing parties when I decided to look into finding a hub. My former assistant & I were hosting, meeting everywhere from Panera Bread to Harold Washington Library and in the mist of this I bumped into a music industry friend Cayex Illah. He had a space that we bounced ideas around for a couple months. From those conversations came Complex 2010 Studios. The Mission is simple.. to provide top tier music services while empowering our fellow entrepreneur.
Q: How has CMPLX2010 molded your future?
A: Complex is a extremely valuable chapter in my life. Its the birthplace of the ideas that will mold my future. One of those kids is “Hmmm”… [http://hmmm.agency]. You will be hearing more about it around the top of the year.
Q: When did you decide to turn a passion into a career?
A: I’ve had every job lbvs, folding jeans, washing dishes you name it but in 2007 when I was working at a small eye-wear store, it hit me and no longer I couldn’t scratch the entrepreneurial itch from a distance any more.. I just left.. Like middle of the shift up and said “ok im gone” turned in my keys and didn’t look back. That transition was met with plenty resistance from the universe. I drove home that night and my apartment had been broken into. I sat on the floor in disbelief, loosing all my savings & more.. I eventually got up to go take a drive and then Boom. My car was gone! Stolen that fast. I just took a ride on the train..No job, car or savings so soon after I lost my apartment. Tough transition indeed but I wouldn’t trade those times for the world.
Q: You currently manage a few music artists from Chicago. Who are they? How do you balance time with each artist?
A: Chimeka & Ty Money are 2 of the current projects on my desk. Managing artist is a job you can lose yourself in.. Its not as much about giving them time, Its about making sure you make time for yourself. We all understand the biggest picture so it works well.
Q: What is your favorite part about your job?
A: Today, I'm gonna say moving at my own pace.
Q: What is the best advice you've received in the duration of your business?
A: Under Promise & Over Deliver.
Q: What has been the highlight of your career thus far?
Q: What’s next for Merk?
A: I want to talk and document more. I was in the process of working on something very special with a mutual friend of PlayBoi Rico. A podcast studio is whats next on my checklist.. after that who knows?