22 year old singer Marika Hackman is extremely beautiful, incredibly talented, and has been making music since the age of 14, when she was in a band with classmate Cara Delevingne. On leaving school, Marika studied fine art in Brighton before deciding that music was the one for her and dedicating her life to weaving dark and bewitching stories through the countryside with her voice and her strings. Things certainly seem to be going well so far, with Hackman having already won several Sound of 2014 polls, found a studio buddy in the form of Alt. J’s producer, and toured extensively with Laura Marling. Completely enchanted, we invited Marika to take a stroll around London with us.
Already her #1 fans, i-D are pleased to present the premiere of Call Off The Dogs, one of four stunning tracks from Marika’s forthcoming Deaf Heat EP. LISTEN HERE
Talk us through a typical day in your life.
A day at home is pretty chilled out. I get up at about 7… well, I set my alarm for 7. Some days I might go for a short run, have a cup of tea and some breakfast. Then I just sit in my room with my guitar and play it and practice and practice and write songs! I’ll have a break for lunch – chill out with the parents for a bit and then go back and do more. Then crack open a bottle of wine at about 6pm, and it’s pretty much like that every day! It’s very relaxing. It’s a nice routine to have. Obviously on tour it’s a bit different.
That sounds dreamy! What’s your song writing process like?
It’s actually quite varied. I’ve worked out that I write in two different ways but they work very well together. Sometimes I get songs that just strike and they’ll be written in a day and just done and that’s it. But they usually happen when I’m doing the longer process of getting ideas then working on them for ages. But in that time, the strikers can hit! I’m not going to be able to write a song if I’m not sitting playing my guitar, so in order to have the conditions there, I have to spend all day sitting playing my guitar basically.
Your lyrics are often quite dark and abstract. When you write music, are you creating characters and stories or writing about your own experiences?
I suppose anything that I write is gonna be about me because it’s coming from me completely - from within me. But it’s almost protective to make it abstract isn’t it? It’s a strange thing, this industry… having to totally put yourself on the line and have people listen and judge. I also love words and love to play with them. I’m quite drawn to the darker side of things.
Today we’re premiering your new track, Call Off The Dogs. Can you tell us a bit about it?
I wrote that about a year ago and it actually hasn’t changed from the demo very much at all. I feel like there’s something quite sexual about it… sex is a definite theme. Obviously it can be anything to anyone who listens to it though.
What can we expect from your Deaf Heat EP?
It’s funny actually, the songs are all quite different. When I was in the studio it was quite an emotional time for me so I was trying to focus everything on the music. They definitely have a darkness to them. The EP opens with a completely choral song before going into Deep Green which is tribal and quite intense. There’s a Lykke Li cover on there as well – I Follow Rivers. It’s very different to the original though.
How did you start working with Charlie Andrew, the producer behind Alt. J?
I Just rang him up! I loved the Alt.J album, I thought it was so interesting and so clever. I don’t want to make classic folky records, I want to do something different and I felt like that with the sound that he created, it would be fun for us to try and meet in the middle.
You’ve been touring with Laura Marling? How was that?
Yeah, we did Australia for a couple of weeks and then Europe. In Europe it was just her and I so I got to know her a bit. Just watching her play made me feel more comfortable about performing. She’s so relaxed when she’s standing on stage, and I realised, well, why do I have to get nervous?
Did her album Alas I Cannot Swim soundtrack your teenage life too?
Yeah, I went to a very small school and that whole nu-folk crowd, particularly Laura and Johnny Flynn, were playing all the time when I was 15/16.
And now you’ve worked with them both!
I know! It’s crazy! If you went back and told my 15 year old self that I’d be touring with Laura and Johnny would be making records with me, I wouldn’t believe you.
You’re about to head off on a headline tour, are you excited?
I’m so excited that I’ve got a band with me! I can’t wait to stand on stage and hear the songs in their true capacity. I mean, I love playing solo shows as well. It’s nice to have the contrast between the record and playing live, but it’s just gonna make the show so much more energetic. I’m looking forward to having something different and a bit new to show people. It’s me and two other guys who set off all sorts of live samples and stuff from the record.
Your brother, Hackman, is a producer. Do the two of you work together?
Yeah, he took the family name! We both know we’d like to work together properly at some point, so it will inevitably happen down the line once we’ve both forged our own paths. He’s super super talented though, so I look forward to it.
So you and Cara D used to be in a band together?
Yeah, me and Cara played together at school. It was really fun but just like, Natalie Imbruglia covers and shit – classic 14 year old stuff. I started on the drums and then I moved over to bass and singing because I wanted to write.
And are you guys still friends?
Yeah! I don’t see her loads cause she’s so busy but we’re still in touch.
If you could have anybody else’s voice, who would you pick?
It would be great to have Joni Mitchell’s range, with the smoothness and tone of Dusty Springfield but the grit of Kurt Cobain.
If you could join a pre-existing band, who’d you join?
I’d love to join Warpaint, but I feel like I wouldn’t have the cool factor. I’d just be like, ‘Guys, you carry on doing what you’re doing and I’ll just stand on stage with you!‘ That’s an aim in life though, to hang out with them.
What’s the biggest compliment you’ve ever received?
Someone said I was the love child of Kate Bush and Kurt Cobain. That was awesome.
What's the plan?
Just to plough on with writing. I feel like if I can get that bit right, everything else that follows will be how I want it to be. I’m going in the studio to record my album in April. It’s gonna be good.
What do you reckon the album will be like?
I seem to be on a dark streak. I’d like to do some more stripped back stuff as well but keep it a bit weird and abstract. We’ll see how it goes!
Are there any other genres you’d like to explore at some point?
Maybe a bossanova band, that would be fun. Like, cha-cha-cha-cha-cha!
Deaf Heat EP due for release 14th April.
Catch Marika Hackman at Hoxton Bar & Kitchen on Tuesday 18th March.