Marika Hackman talks new album, singing with Cara D and onstage style

“There’s not an instrument on there, it’s all sounds from my body…”

Marika Hackman has her own brand of creativity. After un-enjoyably learning instruments via traditional methods, she chose to find her own way to play; making sounds that weren’t meant to happen and making them fit with her particular array of doleful lyrics. The result is complete sincerity, a sentiment of utmost important to Marika and one that can be found on her debut album, We Slept At Last.

I’ve read that you choose to teach yourself to play guitar and other instruments you play, and haven’t taken singing lessons. Why is that important to you?

I was already being taught three other instruments and I just didn’t want to be taught anymore. I had always wanted to play guitar so I decided to do it on my own. Then I found that I’d developed my own way of playing the guitar, born out of the fact that I was too lazy to use all my fingers, so I plucked with my thumb and my index finger, which is not good, but it creates an interesting sound. With the singing- it’s just a natural thing. It was very private when I started, I was really shy about it. The idea of singing in front of anyone else would have freaked me right out, so I just developed it privately at home. I like the fact that my voice is just immediate, it’s like talking, but singing. I think for the type of music that I do, it needs to sound more honest and more raw.

You started writing songs at age five… what were the first songs you wrote about?

I have no idea. I’d love to say it was something really cute, like it was about my dog or something, but I think it was just me putting words together. It was obviously just something I’ve always needed to do, if you put an instrument in front of me, I want to create on it. I don’t want to play it, I want to write a song on it.

You played in a band with Cara Delevigne. What was the name of the band?

(Laughs). We had various names, we even asked our school to come up with a name for us and the winner would get ten pounds. I think eventually we were The Clementines, but it was very short-lived.

What’s your favourite song that you played together?

We did like to play Natalie Imbruglia, but I think my favourite was Sixpence None The Richer, Kiss Me.

You have a distinctly different style from them, but you’ve received comparisons with Laura Marling and other female folk artists, which must be very annoying. Do you feel pressure to step outside what you want to do just to separate yourself from comparisons?

I can see why you would draw comparisons – we both have untrained voices and sing about dark things, so it’s not frustrating in that sense. I think I just need to keep focused on what I’m doing and hopefully people will say ‘She’s an artists in her own right’ and not just lump her together with another female artist from the UK.

I found it really interesting seeing what you’ve experimented with on your upcoming album, like playing instruments you hadn’t played before and jumping up and down and hitting your head for percussion on ‘Retina Television’. What is a sound you plan to, or would most like to experiment with in the future?

I wanted to do one track where there weren’t any instruments. There’s not an instrument on there, it’s all sounds from my body, like tapping my teeth and jumping so there’s a really clunky percussive sound. I think creativity can come from making tight parameters, like not using any instruments, to force yourself to think in a completely different way. I’d love to make a fully choral album in the future, maybe five years down the track. 

Describe your onstage style…

Basically I just wear what I’ve been wearing that day (laughs). Or, for a bigger show, I will put on a big duster jacket, smart trousers, to look a little more impressive. I’m all about physical comfort, I need that for moving around on stage. 

Your album has been released in Australia on Friday the 13th. Did you plan that?

I didn’t know that! I think 13 is a great number, it holds a lot of power, so I love that!


Lazy Loading