A Chat With: Marika Hackman
This summer I met up with the lovely Marika Hackman before her headline show in Montreal with The Big Moon. I had to interrupt her card game with the girls to go chat in the park about the artistic idea behind I'm Not Your Man's artwork, Iggy Pop tweeting her, what advice she has for young artists starting to create and much more!
You’ve been touring with The Big Moon and they also play as your band, how did that happen?
So, I met them a year and a half ago. I went to one of their shows and just thought they were really fun and I really loved the music. I loved their energy on stage, it was really exciting to watch but mainly I got a massive friend crush and after the gig we all hung out and went to the pub and became friends that night really quickly. When it came to record my album, I knew I wanted a live band sound but I didn’t have a band so I approached them to be the band on the record and they said ‘yes’ and we recorded the album together. It made sense to play the shows with them, when we can cause they’re also very busy but for this tour it made a lot more sense to have them out here with me and it's really fun, its how we recorded it. When I play with my other band we’re down a guitar so its quite a different show, it's weirdly heavier because I feel like we’re making up for the noise, whereas this, we’re playing all the parts we did as we recorded.
In your video for Boyfriend, I like how it goes from the guys in the band with all the girls being in ‘awe’ then to you girls playing, were you trying to put in that double standard of women vs men? How did that concept come about?
Yeah, I mean the lyrics to that song they kind of like flip everything on its head very quickly in terms of gender and sexuality. The opening line can be totally misconstruing and then you listen to the rest of the song and you understand it. So, I wanted to do that with the video and have the idea of like these guys playing on stage but doing a really bad job but they still have the crowd completely wrapped and starring at them. Then you follow the wires upstairs and it's actually us slamming the music behind the scenes which is kind of sometimes a representation of how things are maybe seen. I’m not like ‘girls are recording stuff and guys are pretending its theirs’ but it just seems like sometimes we take more the backseat so it was nice to make a point of that with a song that flips stuff as well. And the song is funny, its pointed and sarcastic and humorous in that way so I wanted the video to be like that too.
You had a project with Amber of Japanese House, is that going to be something or is it on hold?
Well, I did a Christmas EP and she helped me out. She’s my girlfriend and I needed some help with the production stuff cause she’s a wizard at that and I’m a bit rubbish so yeah, she helped me out with that. But yeah, maybe something in the future! But its hard to do the personal life and work stuff, like that environment of being creative I guess it could put a strain if you’re both like ‘no we should do it like this’ like you don’t really want that to back into your personal life but it was really cool, I love that song and I love what she did with it as well. So who knows, maybe in the future we’ll do an EP or something.
Which song is it?
Driving Under Stars! It's a Christmas song I wrote last year. I thought ‘hey, no one writes Christmas music’ or like there isn’t that many new Christmas songs they’re always rehashing the same old shit every year and it's getting pretty fed up so I thought I’d give it a go. Its this 80’s, driving home style thing.
Not long ago Iggy Pop tweeted you! How?
Yeah! That was really cool like my emails and stuff weren’t working so I didn’t get the notification being like ‘someone’s tweeted you’ so I just went on my twitter and we were doing a session and then Celia from The Big Moon looked up and I was just like ‘OHHH’ and she was like ‘what?!’ and I said ‘Iggy Pop just tweeted me!’ she was like ‘fucking hell thats so cool!!’ So yeah, he’s got six music show and six music have been so supportive! They’ve played all my stuff for the last 5 years you know they’ve really been behind me the whole way and he’s played my stuff before but for him to actually tweet me…it really shows he actually listens to the songs and its just really fucking cool.
If any celebrity were to go to one of your shows, apart from him, and you’re playing and you see them in the crowd, who would you freak out for?
Anyone from Warpaint I would freak out, that would be really cool. I’ve been a huge fan of theirs since I was like 19 and they’ve definitely inspired me in a lot of ways of how my sound has gone and evolved, I take a lot of inspiration from that.
Talking about sound, in another interview you said that this album is the kind of sound you imagined yourself playing why did it take a full album and EPs to come to that?
I think it was a confidence thing. It's a lot less scary to sit at home and write a song on your own and just realized with a guitar and your voice and you can fool around in the studio and it can turn into something else but at the basis that’s what it is. And so it's a lot more daunting having to visualize a song before you’ve finished writing it and arranging it. This time around getting all the parts written and all the rehearsals in, is something that felt like a real challenge, but I felt confident enough to do that. I’ve been doing the solo stuff for a really long time, I can do that so I knew I can do it. When I think back to when I started I was so scared to perform and stuff, I was shaking and I wouldn’t of been able to carry on then as now I felt completely ready to get into this.
Tell me a bit about the album’s artwork and aesthetic
I was kind of inspired by my friend Tristan Pigott who did the artwork. His paintings are all quite bright, flat and they play with perspective so it creates a visual world and it feels real in one sense because it's so realistically painted but also unreal and surreal. I knew when I started writing this album that I would love it if he would be up to doing a group portrait sort of thing and he said yes. I spoke to him a lot before he settled down because obviously he then spent three months painting it so if we hadn’t gotten everything sorted before that and I see the big reveal and it's not right, that would be devastating for both of us. So, we had a lot of chats from the references from the lyrics and the themes in the record that could potentially go into the visual. I really like that with the physical thing of buying a vinyl and being able to open it and to be able to look at that and understand so much about what you’re going to be jumping into before even listening to the music and then listen to the music and go back and find more things. I like artwork that you can look at for hours and keep finding new stuff so that was really important to me, and it all came together which is good.
So the artistic direction of both was really linked together
Yeah totally! He had influences that he put on there as well that he uses a lot in his artwork. Like, he’s fascinated by cucumbers and he does loads of work on that so we brought that in and there’s a post on the wall that’s a reference to my last record but it's a play to a reference of another artist. We really collaborated in that sense but he’s the genius and did the actual painting which is very hard.
What’s the most honest or direct lyric you’ve written for this album?
Um, I think in I’d Rather Be With Them when I say ‘I’m so fucking heartless I can’t even cry’. It’s a while ago I broke up with my ex, its like 5 years ago now, and it was really sad, it wasn’t nasty but it was a case of falling out of love and it was tough. When it actually came down to it I found it impossible to cry cause when I get overwhelmed with emotion I can’t really let it out, so that lyric definitely feels like a really direct thing to do with that and its very much a representation of me and I do find it hard to show emotion.
In your interview with Interview, they asked you about a criticism and you said that someone said that you were “jumping on a bandwagon talking about your sexuality” do you think comments like that towards women writing their songs about personal experiences and sexuality affect them later on in their art? I think it could. It would depend where I was. I think if I would’ve been more frank with my sexuality in my first record or the EP’s before that and someone would’ve said that it might’ve affected me more. I’ve been doing this for a very long time now and the reason why I could be more honest-the thing is the records before are honest but they’re shrouded in metaphors whereas this one is much more direct and the reason I felt I could do that is because I felt this confidence, so a comment like that, as much as it pisses me off in the moment, it's not gonna be one of those things that i’ll think that generally people think that because the feedback from everyone else has been like ‘thank you so much for writing a song’. Essentially not making it the sensual focus, its just talking about experience that is shared and that’s what’s important to me, I don’t want my sexuality to define my music but my music is personal so obviously I will be sharing experiences and I think that’s a really good thing because people can go like ‘hey someone else feels the same way and I feel like I can relate to this a lot more’. You know, I used to watch films like romances and stuff and I never got that into it, I didn’t really get it but then if I watched The L Word or something like that I’d be so fucking invested cause finally I had found something I can relate too. So its cool to think I might be doing that for other people.
I was going to say ‘how do you get past those comments’ but there’s so many better comments out there
Yes exactly, and meeting people at shows as well who come to tell us things afterwards. That’s the nicest when we see people face to face who share their experiences with you and you realize ‘yeah I’m really happy that I’m doing this’ like I’m really happy I’ve chosen to go down this route.
And for younger people starting out and making music and getting comments and stuff what’s something you can tell them?
I think if you really have faith in what you’re doing and you think your output is good and you truly believe in that, I think it's a case of just letting it all wash over you. It's really easy to get caught up in that sort of stuff but it's totally pointless if you feel like there’s more growth in you, if someone makes a comment and you don't agree with it then that means next time you write you might take that into account and push harder in the opposite direction which is kind of like embracing it to a certain extent and using it to grow and also not letting it affect you. If you use it creatively to prove they’re completely wrong then that’s a good thing but if it dents your confidence and it makes you feel like you shouldn’t carry on then that’s not good.