TFFT recently caught up with rising star Marika Hackman…a stunning singer-songwriter who we’ve been keeping an eye on and pronouncing her brilliance for some time now! We chatted about her tours, both headlining and supporting, her work with some major stars and the current reign of women in folk…
Firstly, how would you describe your sounds for those who aren’t familiar with it?
ummm, probably dark, grungy, abstract folk.
Who, or what, are your main influences?
My family all love music so i grew up in a house where music was always playing. We had Led Zeppelin, Steely Dan, Joni Mitchell, Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, and so many more amazing songwriters. I think they’ve all influenced me in some way, and then more recently bands like Bon Iver, Warpaint and Cat Power have sent me in a more melancholy, grungy direction.
Do you come from a musical background?
yeah my Granny is a piano teacher and my Grandpa plays saxophone – Madonna watched him play once! My Dad can play piano and flute and my Mum can play piano and my brother plays piano and violin and he’s a super good house producer as well, so I grew up in a musical household. I think what really rubbed off on me is the fact that everyone in my family just loves music so much.
You only recently completed your first tour with Benjamin Francis Leftwich; how did you find the touring experience? Was it how you’d expected?
I was really nervous before i went, because i didn’t know anyone on the tour and they were all guys. It was also my first ever tour, and a pretty long one at that so it was all a bit daunting. There were times when I felt a bit homesick or I seriously needed some female company so I didn’t have to talk about balls/poo/sex/balls, but I still had an amazing time! All the guys were awesome and once you get in the routine of performing every night, everything just sort of slots together. Also being on the bus was so much fun, definitely nice and cushy for a first tour.
And then you went off on your first headline tour, how was it having your name top the bill for the first time?
It was pretty surreal, but much more satisfying than the BFL tour. It was nice to know that people were coming to see me, even if the crowds were small. I was so grateful to anyone who came because I genuinely thought that no one would turn up haha, so that was a pretty daunting mindset. I’m really looking forward to my next headline tour in March, also I’m playing at the Castle Hotel in Manchester which has been my favourite venue so far.
Do you prefer the recording process, or touring?
I love performing even though I get pretty nervous, but I love that adrenaline rush. Touring is very hard work though, it definitely makes this feel more like a job, even though I love it. Recording is much more chilled, and it’s so much fun just playing with different ideas and sounds, with the added bonus that you can go home to a comfy bed every night. It’s a tough call but I’d say recording. At the moment!
You’ve worked with the likes of Adam Beach and Johnny Flynn already, how does it feel to have these sorts of names behind you?
It’s crazy! It was my first experience in a studio when I worked with those guys, and they were so chilled out and friendly, it was like a crazy good dream. And working with Charlie Andrew as well was amazing, I’ll be doing my album with him so I can’t wait for that. If I could’ve cherry picked people that I wanted to work with, Charlie and Johnny would’ve been in there, so it’s so surreal that it’s happened already!
There’s a definite uprising of women in modern folk, how do you find being involved and associated with this movement?
It’s a tricky one because I wouldn’t say that I’m the same sort of folk that people associate with folk nowadays. There’s so many different levels of folk and I think that even though my music has an almost medieval sense of folk at its core, it’s had layers added that hopefully take it somewhere a bit new. So it’s nice to be included in the female folky side of things but I don’t want people to see me just as that, or try and compare me to other folky songstresses.
If you could play with anyone, who would it be?
playing with Warpaint would be pretty cool, or a duet with Kurt Cobain if he was still alive would be awesome!
What is playing the most on your iPod at the moment?
When I find music I like, I tend to listen to it over and over and over and over again, so I’m still playing Alt-J a lot, and my old faves Warpaint. But when I’m on trains I tend to be reading, so I don’t listen to music, and when I’m at home I tend to be working so I don’t listen to music, because it would be impossible to write, so I find it hard to take time out to just listen.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
I don’t like to look too far ahead. I think in an industry like this, it’s so impossible to know what’s going to happen next that it’s stupid to set goals in the distant future. I like to focus on what I’m doing at the moment, and what I’m doing next, which is going on tour with Ethan Johns and then working towards a full length album.
What can audiences expect from your live shows?
Because I’m playing solo they can expect stripped back versions of my songs in their rawest forms. My shows are pretty intimate which I think is a good thing. I hope people feel like they’ve seen something a bit different when they leave my gigs.
Which new bands would you recommend?
I’m still blowing the Alt-J trumpet but I just love them so much! I’ve been listening to HAIM as well, I like that funky thing they’ve got going on. Also everyone should check the 1975 out because they’re awesome guys who write a cracking tune.
Questions by Josh King