From exclusive interviews, live performances, special collections and more, we’re celebrating music all month long. We talked to the bands and artists playing our upcoming UO Live in Austin shows about their musical beginnings and the places they’re headed next. Click here to read more from our favorite musicians.
Encouraged to pursue creative endeavors from a young age, Marika Hackman hails from a very artistic family. The daughter of two animators, sister to an electronic dance producer, Hackman picked up guitar at the age of 12 and has yet to put it down. She taught herself to play and composed songs after school, which was Bedales, a Hampshire school infamous for educating some of the top tier of society’s children, including Cara Delevingne, with whom Hackman formed a brief, but passionate, cover band. Flash forward to now, with a handful of EPs, a holiday record, and a debut album to her name, Hackman is set to release her next album I’m Not Your Man out March 31 on London’s AMF Records. Her latest single, the grungy “Boyfriend,” is streaming now, with Hackman’s vocals soaring over pals Big Moon, who stepped in as backing band. Hackman took a moment out of her busy schedule to chat with us via phone from London about her musical start, the upcoming record, and advice for aspiring artists.
Photos by Mafalda Silva, interview by Kat Harding
What inspires your songs?
It’s lots of stuff really; I think usually I draw on personal experience or personal feelings, but then I can kind of exaggerate them a lot, so I might have a feeling about something, I might kind of fancy someone a little bit, but I kind of can then really pull on those feelings and turn it into something a lot more intense. So generally, my music is quite kind of self-obsessed and introspective, but I throw in a few cultural references in there as well. My worldview is pretty dim, so I like to throw in observations about the world as well.
When did you first start playing?
I come from a very musical family; my parents are both really into music and my dad used to have a studio in the 80’s and my brother is a musician as well and I think it was just one of those things where I felt very naturally drawn to it and that’s probably because of my home environment. And then when I kind of decided to pursue it my parents were very supportive and they said, that’s fine if you don’t want to go to university, you can have a go, might as well take a stab at being a musician. But I think it’s just always been a really natural pull to kind of be at home and write music and it just it felt like something that I just needed or wanted to do from a really young age.
What artists and bands are you currently loving?
I’m kind of lucky because I have a few very, very talented friends who have records coming out later in the year, but I’m lucky to get to listen to them early. So I’ve been listening to a UK band called Blaenavon a lot who are some friends of mine and it’s a really, really fucking good record and I their new single “That’s Your Lot,” I just had on repeat. I’ve actually been listening to Amber’s (Bain, aka, The Japanese House -- check out our interview with her here!) stuff as well. She’s got a few new tracks that are going to be coming out and I’ve been lucky enough to hear those. She’s just amazing. And yeah, just kind of lots of different things. This might be a bit of a curveball, but I’ve really into that song “Sexual” by Neiked. I think it’s such a good song and I play it all the time. It’s my go-to dance song when I’m out. I fucking love it! I just love it. It was my birthday a few days ago, we were out I had a birthday party at a pub and the DJ put that song on and everyone was going crazy. It’s just so much fun dancing.
So many of your shows toward the end of 2016 were selling out. What does it feel like to play to a sold-out room?
It’s my favorite feeling that I have doing what I do apart from the feeling when I’ve written a song. Playing to a sold out crowd is just, you feel really lucky and special and you just want to put on a great show. And it’s really exciting, while nerve wracking. And because I’ve been doing it for the last five years, and touring that whole time, and seeing the growth in that and starting off playing to rooms of like, ten people, it’s incredibly rewarding to now be playing shows that sell out. It’s very, very rewarding.
You’re slated to play at major festivals the Great Escape and Larmer Tree Gardens. How does it feel in front of a crowd that big? Do you still get nervous?
It’s funny I think this time around I’ll get nervous again, because it’s all new material, I’ve got a new band, it’s a very different sound, but for the last few years I was touring the first record (2015’s We Slept at Last) and that was a very comfortable record for me. It was very instinctive, quite calm, very introspective record, whereas this one is much more fun. It’s a lot more grungy, and I’m kind of pushing myself out, so I think I’m going to get nervous again and I think that’s a good thing. I think once you get over that kind of “first song nerves” and the adrenaline kicks in, then you can wield it and use it to your advantage. So, I’m quite excited about having some pre-show nerves. And yes, festivals are really quite nerve wracking, because you have such limited time to get comfortable. You kind of get thrown on stage and you gotta do it from there and then walk off.
What is your new album like?
It’s heavy. It’s still got, I would say, the link through all of my music that I’ve released up to this date. There’s something that connects it all, I think it’s just my songwriting style. I don’t know what it is about that, but you can hear there’s a link. I feel like I can really play around with genre quite a lot, so this record is basically a record that I wrote because I wanted to have a bit more fun, you know, and have fun playing shows. I want to have a kind of shared experience with the audience rather than everyone just experiencing their own introspective thing and so I’ve written something that is heavier; it’s a lot more fun. It’s a little bit more pop-y, but it’s still obviously if I’m writing it, it’s not full on pop. And it’s kind of like, when I was little, I pictured myself being in bands like Nirvana or the Red Hot Chili Peppers or something like that. I didn’t picture myself being like Joni Mitchell. And I’ve written a record that kind of takes me another step forward in the bracket that I want.
You’ve been making music for a while now. Do you have any advice for aspiring artists?
I think my advice would be if your heart is really in it and you’re in it for the long haul, then just keep on going, because you will start to see results. And certainly, stick to your guns; be confident about your artistic vision and don’t let anyone else tell you what you should be doing. I think if you stay really true to your vision, eventually people start to get on board and I think it gets really dangerous when people start getting told what to do very early on and they kind of just completely lose their way and the whole thing crumbles. I think just stick to it!
See Marika this month at UO Space 24 Twenty for UO Live in Austin. Click here for more schedules and information.