Marika Hackman
'81 (Joanna Newsom cover)

As we wind down our Residency with Miss Marika Hackman, we had the opportunity to shoot over a few choice questions, in hopes of getting to know this unique and alluring artist a little bit better. From her musical upbringing to who some of her biggest influences were, check out what this indie UK artist had to say.

TMN: First and foremost, we can’t tell you how excited we were to have you as our Resident Artist for this month. You’re not only our first female musician, but also our first non-EDM artist. We realize we’re not the only blog that’s given you love though, so talk to us about what the blogosphere and Hype Machine means to smaller artists such as yourself.

MH: I think they’re incredibly important as they provide an instant platform for up and coming artists, especially those without backing from a label or management. It’s great to know that there are blogs with real clout in the industry constantly searching for new exciting stuff, and sharing it.

TMN: So, we have to imagine that you had a musical upbringing as a child. Were your parents musically gifted, or did they just notice your talents at a young age?

MH: yeah both of my parents play a variety of instruments, and my grandparents too. We always had music playing in the house when i was growing up so its been at the forefront of my life for a while. I started having piano lessons when i was about 4 which also gave me a musical understanding from a very young age, although i was never particularly good at it. i then went on to have lessons in the bass guitar and drums, so i guess my parents were keen to let me explore the more musical side of myself.

TMN: Walk us through being a teenage Marika Hackman. What were you listening to? What were you dressed like? What kinds of kids did you run around with?

MH: i think i had two or three versions of the same navy blue hoody so that i could wash them on a rota which meant i could wear one every day haha. quite the fashionista. I guess i was really getting into Laura Veirs at that point, and the Shins as well. I think i just had both of them on repeat for a good few years. I went to quite a progressive school and it was very small so there weren’t really any cliques or anything like that, so most of the people i hung out with just normal teenagers i suppose.

TMN: Fast forward to working with Dirty Hit. This label has churned out some really impressive artists. What does it mean to you having them at your back, supporting you along the way?

MH: Its amazing to know that i have people behind me who understand what i’m trying to achieve, and who are trying to pave the way for me to do that rather than put their stamp all over me. i guess it’s just nice to know that my artistic integrity will never be put on the line and i can knuckle down and focus on writing the songs i want to write.

TMN: Let’s talk about some influences of yours. While we feel like you have some classic folk influences like Simon and Garfunkel, we also see a little bit of a classic rock edge in you from the likes of say, one Stevie Nicks. Are we on point there, or way off base?

MH: i would say you’re pretty much bang on there. I was raised on artists like Joni Mitchell, Simon & Garfunkel and Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, but also bands like Led Zeppelin, Fleetwood Mac and Frank Zappa, which is quite a broad spectrum of musical styles. When i got a bit older i discovered Laura Veirs, Fleet Foxes, Warpaint and Bon Iver and fell in love with a whole new range of music. I think it’s good to have varied influences, i suppose its more likely that you’ll come up with something a bit different, rather than just emulating one favourite style.

TMN: Alright, let’s talk about the music scene you’re a part of in the UK. What kinds of venues are you playing at? What are the crowds like?

MH: i’m still playing smallish venues, sort of ‘room above a pub’ type places. I like playing quite intimate shows, and at this level i think its really nice to connect to an audience like that. The crowds have been great, especially at the london shows. I remember on my first headline tour, i was so shocked that even 8 people had paid to come and see a show, so its just getting more and more exciting that people want to see me play.

TMN: Switching gears a bit, are you excited to travel abroad and introduce your music to some new crowds?

MH: yeah definitely. All of the shows i played abroad last year were amazing, and it was awesome to be able to explore cities i had never been to before.

TMN: What’s the one city you’re most looking forward to playing live in?

MH: obviously the atmosphere of a show is so dependent on the crowd so it’s hard to tell how enjoyable it will be until you’re actually standing on stage playing. I’ve always wanted to go to copenhagen so it would be great to play a show there.

TMN: Talk to us a bit about your most recent EP, Sugar Blind. Was there a particular concept or strategy you were going for in this particular collection?

MH: not really. i just had a few songs that were ready to record and that i felt worked well as a set. i don’t really go into the studio having a watertight idea of where the tracks will end up, obviously i have ideas in mind but I like to work in a very organic way, which means those original ideas are pretty fluid.

TMN: On that EP you have the Joanna Newsom cover, which we recently premiered a video for. What inspired you about her music to make the decision to cover that?

MH: I love the uniqueness of her voice, and her use of medieval instruments and intervals. Her music is the perfect mix of beautiful and strange. ’81 is one of my favourite songs of hers, the melody is just incredible, and i enjoy playing it, so it felt very natural to take that into the studio.

TMN: Ok, before we head into some random questions, let’s wrap this portion up by just talking about what’s on the horizon for you? Touring plans? Is there an LP in the works?

MH: I’ve just finished my new EP called ‘Deaf Heat’ and I’m heading out on a UK tour in a couple of weeks … then going into the studio in april to record my debut LP, so that’s pretty exciting. I’ve been working with a band for the next string of live shows so i can’t wait to bring a bit more energy to my set.

TMN: Alright, we like to change gears and ask some random questions at the end of our interviews. Here we go: If you could trade places with any other person in the world for one day, who would it be?

MH: i guess it would be interesting to be plunged into a completely different world, so maybe an amazonian tribesman or something along those lines. or maybe George R R Martin so i could learn whats going to happen next in Game of Thrones.

TMN: If you could pick your very last meal, what would you eat?

MH: probably something with life-saving properties. failing that, a sunday roast.

TMN: What was your very first job?

MH: i’ve never actually had a nine to five type job, but i used to work behind the counter in my dad’s furniture shop. i went straight into music after leaving school.

TMN: Name three things that are always in your fridge, no matter what.

MH: my fridge is very rarely well stocked, so the things i do buy tend to disappear very quickly. as a result what’s usually left in my fridge, no matter what, is the wrinkly, everlasting, half a lemon, a rapidly hardening small block of cheese, and perhaps a bottle of wine if I’m feeling sassy.

TMN: What was your favorite childhood movie?

MH: hook. it was always my dream as a child to be able to imagine endless bowls of multicoloured goo-food. sadly i never mastered the skill, but at least i could watch it on tv.

TMN: If you could take a trip anywhere in the world, where would you go?

MH: theres too many amazing places in the world for me to explore, so i cant really narrow it down to one. i tend to have a constant yearning for my bedroom, i don’t know if thats because i’m inherently lazy or because i like my own space.

TMN: Alright, last but not least, if your music were an animal, what would it be?

MH: i decided to get some outside help on this one so i asked my mum and she said ‘a beast’ so i asked her to be a bit more specific and she said ‘a hairy beast’ then she started laughing and then said that my music would ‘probably be stripy’ and ‘lurk in the shadows’. i was going to say a hare but whatever.

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Marika Hackman