Marika Hackman - Retina Television

Rising songwriter...

Soon to release her first mini-album ‘That Iron Taste’ on the 25th February, Marika Hackman talks to Clash about her various inspirations, the frustrations of being type-cast and what it was like to work with Alt-J’s Charlie Andrew.

Currently on tour with Ethan Jones and set to headline her own tour in March, 2013 will be a busy year for the young folk songstress who is keen to bring something a little different to the table.

Watch the video for 'Retina Television' exclusively on ClashMusic, then check out our short chat with Marika Hackman.

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Your new mini-album ‘That Iron Taste' is out on the 25th via Dirty Hit Records - can you tell us a little about what we can expect?
I don't know really... It's hard to think about songs that you've been playing and working on for such a long time from the point of view of someone who's never heard them. I think people should expect something a bit different to what they may expect from a folky looking girl with a guitar. We played with the sound of 'That Iron Taste' a lot, and had fun with it. I think it's a bit more abstract and darker than people would expect, hopefully something a bit different.

How would you describe your sound to someone who had never heard your music before?
Stripped back dark folk at the core, but with some grungy experimental overtones.

Who have been your biggest influences musically over the years?
Laura Veirs really inspired me to write when I was about 14. Her music has such a wistful and melancholic feel, and it was the first time I'd really felt that from an artist so I was desperate to try and recreate it. I was brought up listening to a cross section of great songwriters, Joni Mitchell, steely Dan, Simon and Garfunkel, Stevie wonder, to name a few.. I think that growing up listening to stuff like that subconsciously gave me ideas about song writing. More recently bands like Warpaint, Fleet Foxes and the Shins have influenced my sound.

There are quite a few female singer/songwriters out there at the moment - inevitably critics will want to compare you to them - what makes you stand out amongst the rest and does that type of pigeon-holing ever get frustrating?
It's very frustrating. Up until about a month ago I had only had two tracks out, yet people were still so desperate to compare me to people like Laura Marling and Lucy Rose.. I think it's unfair to do that to an artist before they've even had an album out. It's putting them in a box much too quickly, in fact putting artists in boxes and genres is completely unnecessary yet everyone seems very keen to do it these days. I wish people would just listen rather than trying to work out where a particular artists fits in the current musical landscape. I'm hoping the tracks on 'That Iron Taste' will offer something a bit different and people will find it harder to make comparisons.

What are you listening to at the moment? Are there any artists you are keeping a close eye on in 2013?
It sounds awful but I'm really bad at finding and listening to new music. When I do I get obsessed and just listen to the same record over and over again, which means I cut myself off even more. I just splashed out on a load of my favourite records so I've been re listening to all of those, Dusty Springfield seems to be on a lot at the moment, and I can't stop listening to Alt-J, I just keep finding new things on that album which I didn't notice before.

You've worked closely with Alt J's Charlie Andrew on ‘That Iron Taste - can you tell us a bit about what that was like?
So much fun. Charlie is such a laid back guy and has such cool ideas about production. We just stripped every song back and then experimented with different crazy instruments and built it back up like that. It was a very organic process, similar to how I work on demos at home. One track, 'Retina Television', doesn't even have any instruments on it at all. All the chords are sung or hummed and the percussive sounds are me jumping up and down and hitting myself. I think I was tapping my tooth as well. We tried a sort of shaker sound by me rubbing my hair next to the microphone but Charlie decided it sounded like someone having a wank in the corner, so that was deleted. We had a very short time frame to get the tracks done, so I'm looking forward to working with him again and having longer to experiment and get deeper into the songs.

You're currently touring with Ethan Johns - how is that going? You're also set to embark on a solo tour of the UK in March, are you looking forward to headlining your own shows?
It's going really well. Ethan is really friendly so there's been a nice chilled vibe. The shows are all to seated audiences so its nice to have crowds that are quiet and listening, makes a change from the rowdy lot I usually get as a support. I'm really looking forward to getting out and doing headline shows again, it's so nice to play to people who have come to see me, so it feels much more rewarding. The mini album will have just come out as well so I'll be interested to see what people think.

What are you looking forward to in 2013? Can we expect a full length album anytime soon?
I'm looking forward to doing my first gigs abroad and touring and writing and being in the studio! Everything really, I don't know what 2013 is going to throw at me yet, but I'm excited to see... I'm writing with a full length in mind at the moment so we'll have to see!

Words by Lucy Simmonds

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'That Iron Taste' is set to be released on February 25th.

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