Late last month, Marika Hackman dropped a brand new track. ‘i’m not where you are’ (all lower case, thankyouverymuch – Ed) is a solid gold banger, so much so when we found out the former Dork cover star had an engagement at this year’s Great Escape, we made a bee-line to find out more about what we should expect from that much anticipated third album, due to arrive Really Quite Soon.
It must be nice to come back and do festivals?
Yeah, it’s throwing me in at the deep end, but I quite like that. It’s a good challenge, and they’re always fun. There’s always something that happens that’s a bit awry, but y’know – it’s a bit of a test, and you go back into it knowing that later on, you’ll be touring with a much slicker operation.
The last record was about getting people involved; festivals are a perfect space to test that out?
Yeah, and everyone’s up for a good time, so it’s nice.
Where have you been?
I’ve been in my room., I’ve basically been in my bedroom for like year, writing, arranging, sorting out a record, and then in the studio making said record, for the last year or so. Now it’s all ready, and I’m just waiting for it to land. I can’t say when, but it will be coming.
Last time we saw you, you were like, ‘I’m going punk’?
Yeah, I was into that, we’d just tracked the first three songs on the record. It’s slicker, it’s more poppy, but I think it’s heavier at the same time. It also feels really raw. The lyrics are super upfront. They’re quite abrasive, it’s a hard listen for my parents, but they love it. In terms of the recording process, it was really immediate, but it was also very – I don’t know, it focusses on different parts in quite a singular way where they all have space to breathe. I spent so much time creating all these different parts, with all these instruments that lock in together, so it’s got a rawness, but it’s smooth.
What inspired that? The last one was quite urgent.
The urgency that came with the last record was the fact that it was not a live record. That’s the natural thing, so everything that we’re doing on top of that is to make it sound smooth and nice and great. This time around I was layering it all up again from the bottom, so the urgency just came from working fast and knowing what we’re doing, getting stuff down and tweaking it up as we went along. It gives it a real directness which I think is really key for music generally.
Did you know what you wanted from this record going in?
I knew exactly what I wanted, and I think I’ve achieved it with [producer] David Wrench, which is great. I knew that he would be the guy who worked with me to get that sound; he’s a mixing genius as well as being great at production. He can make shit sound as clear and fucking great as you can get it, and I knew that I wanted that to happen. Also within my writing process, I write everything, so we basically went in and re-recorded my demos. There was no real finding my way in the studio, which I did with my first record; this was like, this is what we’ve got, let’s make it sound fucking good. It’s a very different way of working.
It’s quite a confident way to go in.
Yes, I think that just comes when you’ve been working a career for eight years; confidence is a big factor. It really helps.
The first single’s ‘i’m not where you are’?
It was one of the last ones I wrote for the record; it’s a sad song. It’s big, and it’s poppy, and it’s got a big guitar solo – which is hilarious, I love a big guitar solo that is so funny – but lyrically it’s quite bleak. It’s feeling like I’m unable hold down relationships and connect with people in a longterm way, and ultimately always ending up alone, but it’s presented in this way that’s almost arrogant, but when you read into it, it’s really fucking bleak.
Why did you release that song first?
I think it connects well, and it’s a good lead into the rest of the record. Actually, I don’t know, you guys have no idea what’s coming next. It’s a good lead-in. It’s like opening the door to the world of bizarreness that’s about to come.
How shocking is this record?
It’s quite sexual. I think that’s why the shock for my parents comes from; there are songs about masturbation and fucking, lots of stuff like that. It’s a really funny record, I always approach everything with a sense of humour, so it’s natural that my songwriting when I’m dealing with themes and concepts that are slightly darker or more intense I generally approach with a sense of humour. I find it quite a funny listen.
Do you know when you’re announcing it?
We’re announcing in a couple of weeks.
And you’re excited?
I’m really excited. It’s that thing of sitting alone writing something, working on something, it’s a very lonely process, and it’s not a dialogue, and when you release it, the dialogue begins. That’s what you’re looking for – the whole point of being direct with your lyrics is because you want people to respond, you want to know how that makes people feel in whatever capacity, and then discuss it. That’s what’s exciting, as well as making music, but that’s what’s really exciting to me. I can’t wait for that to begin.
How did you find the dialogue around ‘I’m Not Your Man’?
I found that dialogue really exciting and I really enjoyed the conversations around all of it, and I found that I was learning even more about the record as I went along after I made it. Again it’s that confident step up, this is giving more of myself, and I’m more excited to talk about that because it’s digging deeper. When you tap deep into yourself as an artist, you tap into the stuff that’s deep in other people, and then you have a conversation that’s incredibly raw and heartfelt rather than skimming along the surfaces of ‘what were your influences growing up’, you know? It’s a much more stimulating way of talking to people.
Your fanbase too, there was a lot for them to connect to, that wasn’t around…
We’re doing that again in buckets. I’d say that the first single is like a segue into the sound more, but lyrically there’s a lot more intense stuff to come that I think people are really going to connect with.
Marika Hackman played the Fender stage at The Great Escape.
Words: Ali Shutler