Long time readers of Too Many Blogs will know the name Marika Hackman well by now. Her show at Soup Kitchen was reviewed in March last year, there has been a few A Song for the Day(s) dedicated to her and she’s also had many mentions in other posts and tweets.
After three EP’s, Marika released her debut record We Slept at Last in February of this year and it was a triumph. March saw her once again take to the roads and tour the UK for the umpteenth time (Hackman remarked at the recent Night & Day show that the show was her eleventh in front of a Manchester crowd).
This phone interview took place on the day of the Eclipse, three days before her UK tour was to begin. Before the questions started we spoke about how the clouds had ruined the morning’s experience, how just casually ringing an artist for a chat seemed a little alien to me and how busy the end of 2014 had been for her. “I had nine week run at the end of the year. In between making the album and my own tour in the middle of a run supporting Alt-J and then The Antlers. It was quite intense”. With the niceties out of the way, we began with the questions.
The album has been out a month. Are you happy with how it was received?
“Yeah! There’s been some incredibly nice comments from the blogs and press and that. It’s really really amazing. It’s funny because when you make something and you’ve been working so hard, there’s this huge wait before you can actually put it out. It has been sitting with you for so long that it doesn’t feel very fresh and you kind of forget that nobody else has heard it! Then it comes out and you start to get the feedback and forget that was going to happen as well. But yea, the comments have been really lovely and the stuff that I have read I have been really touched by”.
You hit number 60 in the UK album charts. Do the sales matter to you, or is it more about the record being liked?
“Not particularly. I care much more about what the critics are going to say than where it’s going to chart. I don’t think my music is that type of high charting genre”.
Yea, I mean, it’s no Taylor Swift!
“No no.. Oh, I wish!!”
Why the album title, We Slept at Last?
“It’s just a lyric that I stole from one of my songs. It’s my go-to technique. I really hate naming things a lot. It’s just from the last track track of the album, ‘Let Me In’. I did have around ten different titles that I was playing with that were all lifted from different tracks but then when I saw the picture by Glen (Erler) of the girl lying on the bed and knew I wanted that as the cover; “We Slept at Last” just jumped out as the perfect companion for that image. It just feels quite fitting. A big sense of relief, a sign of being able to let go and just… exist and be able to deal with that”.
Having spent 12 months promoting your EP tracks, the decision to release a brand new record with none of the previously released material was a brave one. Do you feel you succeeded?
“Yea I think so! It definitely succeeded more than if I had put ‘Bath is Black’ and ‘Cinnamon’ and ‘Deep Green’ on there in between all the new stuff. That would have just been a bizarre record! Once I made the decision to just do new stuff, I just sat down and wrote as much as I could then got it all together. I think I had twelve songs that were pretty coherent and they were all treated together at the same time in the studio rather than jumping around”.
You did it all in two months, correct? Did you learn anything new from the process? Other than to maybe not try that again!
“For the next record I don’t know if I’ll have two months free to be able to do that. I’ll use my time on the road to try and do some writing. I need to break the spell where I struggle to write while out on the road, because I must be able to. It was certainly an intense way of doing it although I’m not sure how good it was for my sanity! It was quite draining. Having to go into that headspace every day as well as the self inflicted pressure of ‘You’ve got to do twelve songs, you’re going into the studio in two months, get it done’. At least I know I can do that now which is a good thing. I know I can structure my day and write if I need to, but I will try and do it differently for the next one”.
There’s a mix of genre’s that you’ve tried out over your releases. Do you see yourself ever going in one direction or will it always be about experimenting with the sound?
“I always want to experiment. I don’t want to make the same kind of record again if I can, I want to push it somewhere different. Over however records I eventually make I don’t want any of them to sound the same. It makes it really exciting because going into it, I don’t know what the next one is going to be like. I just know that I want it to be different. There will always be the same atmosphere that my music creates on each one though”.
2015 is already looking busy for you but are you planning on toning it down once this tour is done and taking a break?
“Well after the UK tour I go straight into a European tour. Then it’s festivals over the summer. A bit more touring around that and then definitely more touring in the Autumn! I guess you could say that the short answer is.. more touring!”
Is there a question that you wish you’d be asked, but never are?
“Ohh! That’s a really good question. I don’t know. I’m usually focused on the ones I know I’ll be asked or the ones that I’d rather not be asked. It’s nice to talk about the music as opposed to the other rubbish I get asked”
Like the Burberry modelling?
“Yea! prime example. But.. I don’t really have a good answer for you right now. I’m sorry!”
Not to worry! What three songs from your catalogue would you recommend to a new listener, and why?
“I’d like to pick quite a diverse range. I’d pick ‘Cinnamon’, ‘Deep Green’ and then.. ‘Ophelia’! It’s quite a range and I think it’s three different snapshots of what I’ve done over the last couple of years”.
And finally.. Have there been any recent releases over the last few months that have caught your attention?
“Yes! One that’s very recent. A girl called The Japanese House who is really really good. Really unique and immediately likeable. I find it really hard to get into new music but I liked it right away”
And that was that. The interview was good fun and I extend my thanks to Marika for the taking the time out to speak to me. The tour is almost over now but you can still catch Hackman at a few UK festivals during the summer. Green Man and Latitude being confirmed thus far.
You can watch Marika Hackman become a werewolf in the video for ‘Animal Fear’ below. My favourite track from the recent release.