The Verse’s Imara Williams-Simpsons interviewed Marika Hackman at The Haunt on 13th November 2017.
The Haunt, right on Brighton’s seafront, kicked off the first gig of Marika Hackman’s UK tour, supported by Our Girl. The snug, sold-out venue had audience members finding the best spot to view the stage between the upper and lower level of the venue, whilst others found comfort in standing on the wooden seating area. Marika Hackman played a range of old and new songs from albums We Spelt at Last, released in 2015, and I’m Not Your Man, released earlier this year. She also answered a couple questions before she went on stage.
What drove you to put out music? Why did you start?
No idea really. I’ve just always written music. I’ve learnt instruments from when I was really little, from the ages of about four or five and I started the piano. When I was learning the piano, I found reading music quite difficult but I also learnt by ear and it was my natural instinct to just write, like, every time I was sat in front of it. That moved on when I started to play the bass and drums, I just started to write. Then when I picked up the guitar I felt like I could actually be the kind of song-writer, front person, rather than being on the drums or something. I don’t know where it came from but I’ve just always just done it, so putting it out to the world and having people hear it felt like a very natural thing. I might as well as I’m doing it anyway.
Do you have some first fond memories of when you first started out? Such as gigs or random events?
Yeah, I mean my first gig when is quite a funny one, I was only sixteen. I was in a club in London and the promoter offered us some beers. We were all kind of like ‘oh yeah, yeah, cool’ kind of think, ‘yes’ and then they were like, ‘hang on, how old are you guys?’ We said sixteen and they were like ‘oh shit’ because technically it was illegal that we were in there, let alone playing, but they didn’t tell anyone and let us play. But I was absolutely shitting myself, yet it was so much fun. So yeah, that was like my first gig kind of story. Generally, what happens when you’re touring is that is kind of all merges into one, especially when you’ve played fifteen festivals or whatever. It becomes so hard to remember what happened where because we just have so much fun all the time and it gets really difficult to work out what went on in each specific place. But generally, it’s just kind of normal hanging out with the friends.
Over the past festival season where there any that stood out for you?
Haha, having just said that…yes, there definitely were. We did a couple abroad, in Barcelona. For both of those shows it was the first time I had ever played in Spain before. When we did the Barcelona show we walked out onto the stage and it was outside, kind of in a city square. I thought there’d be a few couple hundred people as I thought no one would really know who I was out there, but the square was completely full. I think it was about seven thousand people or something, just loads and loads of people. And that was really awesome, just loads of fans hanging around afterwards who had brought cucumbers and stuff, just random things from the artwork. That was really cool. So that was a really stand out moment, even just in my career. To have and see a moment like that was really cool. And End of The Road and Glastonbury were great because we stayed there for the whole weekend and just had a nice time.
What was the process of deciding to include an acoustic bedroom version Boyfriend on the deluxe album of I’m Not Your Man?
It’s just a nice way of playing the song and showing the bare bones of it, showing off song-writing basically because the idea of that song obviously is a big heavy grunge thing. Having a stripped back version of it shows you where else the song would have been capable of going. I think it’s nice for people to hear stuff that is a bit more intimate in a way and not what is being played on the radio all the time and what people hear all the time. It was just offering a little insight into the way that my brain works. It also helps bridge the gap between my last record. It’s a way to lead people into my recent record as some people are very attached to my older sound.
Where do you draw your inspiration from? Music-wise or other elements.
I found really hard to work out where I draw my inspiration from. Like I was saying earlier, I’ve always just wanted to write. It’s usually just really personal stuff, like I’ll fancy someone loads or I’d just have broken up with someone. It’s often quite romantic. I’m a hopeless romantic, obsessed with relationships. No tin the sense that I always want to be in a relationship, that makes me sound really desperate. I’m just fascinated by the way people want to co-exist so much. I find it really interesting and humans are really fascinating when you find that, and throw in lust. It’s kind of a petty mix. I also write about my worries about the world and where we’re heading. I see song writing as a way for me to work out what is going on in my brain rather than me thinking that I’m going to write a song about how people should vote for Labour or whatever. Like, that doesn’t go into my head. From personally experience, I think in a certain way and the lyrics come from that. I think everything goes in all the time. I listen to a bit of music but no too much. I like silence a lot and I don’t get a lot of it in this job. I try and read, at the moment I’m going back and reading all of the Game of Thrones again. I like escapism a lot of the time. My songs are a bit of escapism as well.
What is your favourite part of putting your music out?
I love hearing what people think about it. Something with this record, that I’ve never experience before, is hearing people sing it back. Especially as before it’s been so quiet and insolent, if someone started singing my songs it would be really jarring. Whereas know, because the music is louder people are singing stuff back, dancing and actually moving to something you’ve created. Actually, watching that happen in front of you, rather than just knowing that all these people have gone and listened in their bedrooms, that’s a very very rewarding feeling. That’s what makes shows super fucking fun! Like watching people really enjoying it. That’s my favourite bit. I just like knowing what people think. You’ve worked so hard and put so much of yourself into it. Taking so many years to create and I find it really strange when people shy away from reading reviews, not wanting to know what anyone else thinks, because there happen and that’s fine. I know I’m happy with it and I’m proud of it, but I just like to see what everyone else thinks, even if it’s negative, it’s still interesting to me. Sometime things can hurt a little bit, but it’s over in five minutes
What advice would you give for other people who want to put music out?
If you want to put music out, just because you want to put music out and you enjoy that and you’re not so much thinking about a career then keep going. Whack it on, sound cloud, make a Facebook page, go and play mic nights and things like that. If you want to think about it in a more career sense thing, don’t put everything out there straight away. Like, I think I’ve changed so much. It’s not like I’m not proud of anything I’ve put out, but the stuff before I started working with labels and things like that when I was around eighteen, seventeen, which I had put on line has now all been deleted. I would actually be quite embarrassed if that was all there, because I was like a kid. I think it’s good to hold a little bit back and just give people an idea of what you’re about and kind of just really know what it is that you’re about. If you’re happy with it, I think that is the most important thing. You should be really proud of what you’re doing. Never put something out that you fell a bit iffy or half-arsed about. You’ve got to be totally in it!