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Interview: Marika Hackman


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A Marika Hackman gig is a gig where you come out feeling like a) a Sylvia Plath poem or b) Sylvia Plath. There’s a beauty like no other lingering in her exposed brick lyrics; meaning and power and emotion cowering in every cobwebbed corner of every lyric.

The sound is incompletely complete and completely incomplete, an amalgamation of what should and shouldn’t “be” in music, to form, what I consider, one of my favourite sounds.

Having previously toured with alt-J and best friend Sivu, Hackman is currently on the road without her band for a stripped back tour. This is where I meet her before her show in backstreet Birmingham.

“We’ve just done the two shows, with tonight being the third, but they’ve been so great. I’m doing it solo so it’s going to be more emotionally charged and intimate. It’s more fun with the band but holds more meaning like this”, she tells me as we chill on some funky smelling leather sofas.

As mentioned before, the singer-songwriter previously toured with Sivu last year. If you haven’t checked this guy out, you definitely should.

“It was amazing, one of my favourite tours”, she tells me. “He’s a good friend of mine and it was cool to be hanging out with him on the road and playing our duets together”.

Having previously interviewed Sivu, we drop in conversation how he raved about her as we chatted in a similar setting.

“He’s so sweet”, she bursts out and throws herself back on the sofa. For someone who creates music so deep and poetic, you wouldn’t expect such positivity and life amidst the meloncholy.

From one tour to another, we chat about her tour supporting alt-J last September.

“That tour was fucking amazing,” she begins.

“They’re the biggest shows I’ve ever played with a band I love. It was just a dream from start to finish and they had AMAZING backstage catering. Every night we ate the most amazing food which really does make a difference when we’re all on the road”.

Which leads to THE question, what do singers and bands eat while they’re on the road?

“I try to be healthy”, Marika tells me.

“I don’t eat gluten or sugar which means when I’m on the road I don’t just plough through sandwiches and donuts”.

Such talk blurs into us chatting about the best vegan restaurants in Birmingham and where to find them. 

It is this kind of stark honesty and realism that seems at odds with an artist who has definite star-quality. This quality was picked up on for a campaign with British fashion institution Burberry a few years back.

 “It was an experience”, an ambiguous statement which you know is going to lead into something rather sassy.

“I’m not into fashion and don’t like being prodded and poked with makeup brushes. I did one campaign and people still think I’m a model because of it. I’m not a model,” she makes clear.

“It’s a fashion crowd. They’re into sunglasses not music and it gets used against me further down the line. They didn’t treat me badly but not with all the glitz and glamour it looks.”

“It’s a good platform but maybe not the right platform. It just looks very alluring to new artists but doesn’t really do anything. Luckily I met my manager that day so there were some good aspects of it all.”

“Making records and touring is much more important to me as a singer”, she concludes and catches her breath.

The chat continues regarding the Burberry campaign with me asking what advice she’d give to new and upcoming musicians.

“My manager told me very early on that it’s about the things that you turn down that are more important you don’t have to take every opportunity that comes your way. It’s ok to say no. Some things comes my way which, from the outside, would’ve looked incredible but for me they don’t fir. That’s not what I’m about”.

This leads to me mocking her slightly, exclaiming how that means I won’t see her being the face of Coca Cola any time soon.

Fans of Marika know that she went to school with and formed a band with current top model, Cara Delavigne.  

“We were at school together and everyone in my school was in bands, I was in, like, four at the time,” she reminisces.

“We had a really nice rehearsal space. If you were in the music crowd you’d spend all your free time there. I don’t know, it’s one of those 15 year old things, but it’s kinda important to go through that because you learn to perform”.

Such musical reminiscence took me back to my own background, concluding in me shamelessly telling Marika how I was part of an African drumming band before she shouts back in a half laugh/half exclamation on how she did the same.

From djembe to song writing, Marika tells me about the darker side of her music, in which she labels as “abstract-grunge-folk”.

Trying to comprehend such a genre without listening to Marika will indefinitely result in concussion or worse, so make sure you check her music out.

“I write about whatever’s going through my head and I sift through and to the dark stuff out which keeps me sane,” she tells me.

“Melodically there’s a lot of optimism and hope in some of my songs. When I was writing the pieces, I had just came out of a really long relationship and moved to London. It was lonely which has made quite a lonely album”.

Make sure you check out Marika’s debut album Sleep At Last and prepare to be blown away.

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