Friday 31 May 2013

Artist To Check Out: Marika Hackman

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When I caught up with Marika Hackman for a quick chat at the Purcell Room in London all the way back in February, she had just completed a tour with Benjamin Francis Leftwich, was finishing up one with English record producer, engineer, mixer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist Ethan Johns, due for her first headline tour, and getting ready to shoot off to SXSW. It was also coincidentally the day her mini-album ‘That Iron Taste’ was released. In light of  the video release for her first track from the album, 'Bath Is Black' sitting in our inbox, we'd like to give you the chance to get to know her better, check out the video, and see if you can catch her live at any of her summer festival dates.

TSOC: For those who are yet to hear 'That Iron Taste' what can they expect from it?

MH: Um, it's sort of like… the songs are their own, stripped back, have got like a folky root. But umm it's kinda more experimental and over the top… we played around with it… we were kinda just playing in the studio coming up with different ideas and things. There's some electronicy sort of instruments on there. It's not your average sort of folk record definitely.

TSOC: 'That Iron Taste' was produced by Alt J’s Charlie Andrew and you worked with Johnny Flynn on some of the tracks. How much would you say their musical style has influenced the outcome of 'That Iron Taste'?

MH: Umm, I think you can hear the difference between the records, you can hear the ones I did with Johnny have got a more folky edge to them even though they are still a bit more abstracty. They've got that like more kind of earthy feel whereas Charlie, you can tell he's got that more kind of abstract brain, like he's much more open to playing around with things, so yeah you can tell the difference, but then the songs themselves keep it all kind of together. Well, I like to think that anyway!

TSOC: What’s your favourite song from 'That Iron Taste'?

MH: Umm, that's a tricky one! Umm, I think I really like 'Plans'. I love playing it and it’s so sort of sad. Umm, then I dunno, I kinda like go through phases of preferring different ones because obviously I hear them a lot and I heard them a lot in the process… I can get bored of them very easily… Like 'Cannibal' I'm kind of sick to death of hearing. Um so yeah maybe 'Plans' or 'Retina Television' the sort of more stripped back ones which are probably not the kind of obvious singles but the kind of more albumy tracks. I like those ones.

TSOC: Which of the four elements, (Earth, Wind, Fire and Water) can you most relate to?

MH: Oooh… well I should say… I'm an Aquarius which is an air sign but it deals with water so I could say either of those two. Fire, definitely not. Um… uh… [thinks] Probably… that's so tricky! Maybe like earth. Like, solid, kind of like country lass, you know, keep your feet on the ground. I think earth is a good thing to be. It keeps you in perspective and stuff like that. All the other ones are great but they kinda sweep you away whereas earth keeps you solid and grounded. I think that’s the most practical one [Laughs].

TSOC: What do you hope people take away from listening to your music? 

MH: That they've heard something different. Different, that's like still accessible, you know like, not overly experimental but they feel like they've heard something new. I would love for people to say that.

TSOC: As a self-taught multi-instrumentalist, what instruments can you play?

MH: Um, well there's the guitar, um, drums, bass, singing obviously, bit of piano, um, bit of autoharp. Like things, I've got a mandolin as well. I just kinda, I can't really play any of them to a very high level but I can play them enough to make records with them rather than sort of live.

TSOC: Do you play by ear?

MH: Yeah, I can read music and stuff but I was so slow at it, like I gave up learning the piano because I found it too stressful… It took me ages to read the notes so I was just like there's no point in doing this!

TSOC: Have you got a favourite lyric to any of your songs?

MH: Umm, I quite like on 'Cannibal' the opening one where it's like “Have you seen my nose? I cut it off last night. Let's just hope it grows, I'd hate to look a fright" [laughs] because it's kind of slightly witty, it's dark but it's joking at the same time… it's kind of like a grim nursery rhyme fairy tale but like, yeah it's kind of almost taking the mick out of itself.

TSOC: You were one of the faces of a Burberry eyewear ad campaign last year. How did that come about?

MH: Um, that was because I went to school with Cara Delevingne who's like suddenly exploded into being the model of the moment which is great um, but yeah she um, she just showed the guys at Burberry a video I had done… an acoustic video and they happened to be casting for that campaign so it was just that age old thing of people you know putting in a good word for you and it happened.

TSOC: Would you want to do any more modeling in the future?

MH: Um, it's a very strange world and I don’t think I really fit in. Um, I mean it was kind of a good eye opening experience… I did enjoy it but um, I think I'd like to focus on the music for now. Maybe it's um… It's quite lucrative for a living but not as a passion.

TSOC: You're hosting a “dead or alive” dinner party and can invite three famous musical faces. Who is sitting at the table?

MH: Oooh… well you've got to have Kurt Cobain on there, and Dusty Springfield. I'd love to chat to Dusty, she would just be awesome. Then… let's think who would the last one be, erm dead or alive *sighs* that’s a tricky one… [laughs] I think I'd probably just choose Johnny Flynn because he’s such a nice guy! [I then asked if it was just because Johnny is Marika’s friend] [more laughter] Yeah it would be nice to have someone there I knew! Or either Charlie. Charlie or Johnny. Someone with a friendly face there to chat to these two sort of legends!

Marika Hackman's website

Stream or buy the EP

Catch her live:


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