Gold Hand speaks with Marika Hackman about her aspirations and what it's like to sign to Subpop
By: Alexa Ace
I was nineteen the first time I saw Marika Hackman perform (I'm now 22). My girlfriend at the time surprised me, and we ended up catching the train to a small town in England called Aldershot. That night was so important to me, and to watch Marika Hackman grow as an artist means even more. I instantly fell in love, and would like to point out that she is one of my most favorite artists to date! In fact, I'd like to say both her and Courtney Barnett equally, are two of the biggest inspirations behind Gold Hand on my behalf. Their secluded sense of wander, female empowerment, and artistry have taken my own creations to the next level.
Early August of 2017 I flew out to New York City to watch Marika's last show on her first American tour with Subpop. I was actually guest-listed by Subpop, and the entire night ended up being an absolute dream. I was in New York for less than 24 hours, all to see this show. I ended up talking to Marika for quite sometime over her inspirations, upcoming winter tours, and her rapid growth.
This interview means so much to myself, and to Gold Hand!! So much. Still can't believe it's even a thing.
Check out my images from the Brooklyn, NY show, and the highlights from our interview below.
Hi Marika! I must say, to speak with you is a bit unreal for us. Here at Gold Hand you are one of our (+my) biggest inspirations. So to begin, we’d like to talk to you about your songwriting process. As an early listener, I first fell in love with the sensuality and softness of “Drown,” off your debut album, “We Slept At Last.” Is there anything in particular that has inspired your sophomore album, “I’m Not Your Man,” to have more of an upbeat, garage type feel? How and where do you find inspiration?
i think it was just a growth in confidence over the last five years or so. i think as an artist you open yourself up to more criticism when trying to write upbeat music, and, for a long time, i was very comfortable writing music on the more melancholic end of the spectrum. When it came to writing I’m Not Your Man i knew i wanted to challenge myself and to try and push the boundaries of what a ‘Marika Hackman’ song is, but also i wanted to have more fun on stage and be able to express myself musically in a whole new way.
How would you describe your personal musical style?
i think that the body of work i have created throughout my career has spanned many different genres but i feel that my latest stuff is a blend of grungey pop-rock with a sense of humour, who knows what will happen next...
The first time I saw you perform was in April of 2015 in a small English town called Aldershot. I believe there were no more than 50 people in the room. However, the second time I saw you perform was at this years SXSW at the Urban Outfitters showcase. I was taken back by the amount of people that knew the words to “Boyfriend,” and the audience must have been around 200 or so. How does it feel to look into the crowd and know that people from all over the world are consuming, and relating to your music?
well obviously it feels pretty good. playing live and watching the audiences grow and seeing your music connecting with more and more people is what i find most rewarding about being a musician. I think it’s because its such a clear visual representation of how far you've come from playing to 10 or 15 people a night, and feels very rewarding in that sense.
What are some of your goals?
my main goal in life is to be happy, so i feel incredibly lucky to have found something that i find so enjoyable and be able to live off it. I just hope that it keeps growing and i can continue as a musician for the rest of my life.
Who are your biggest musical inspirations?
growing up my parents introduced us to stuff like Led Zeppelin, Steely Dan, Pink Floyd, Prince, Stevie Wonder, Joni Mitchell… basically just a whole bunch of insanely good songwriting. When i got a bit older i started listening to stuff like The Shins, Laura Veirs and Joanna Newsom and i think they really influenced my older songwriting style. Then after i left school i got into stuff like Beach House and Warpaint and from there i’ve been trying to bring elements that i love from everything that i know.
Gold Hand Girls is a platform that helps to empower women in the music business/production side of the industry. One of our biggest goals is to encourage women to pursue their musical dream, even if the women to man ratio isn’t in their favor. As young music business entrepreneurs ourselves, we’ve noticed a lack of estrogen and want to make a change. As a female in music, have you ever felt restricted by your abilities (we hope not) due to your gender? If so, how have you dealt with it?
i feel that i’ve been incredibly lucky with my experience of the industry as a woman. I’ve worked with a wide range of men and women and have never felt like i was being undermined in any way or treated differently due to my gender. Sometimes i felt, particularly earlier on in my career, the the media would try and portray me as a sort of ‘kooky folk siren’ which i didn’t identify with at all, and felt a little bit like i was being shoved into a tried and tested ‘female singer-songwriter’ box. Apart from that the only other way its affected me is having had a lot of my interviews be driven towards a gender discussion rather than just talking about my records, which can be frustrating, particularly when men just get to talk about their work.
If you weren’t a musician, what would you aspire to be?
i’ve always toyed with the idea of being a carpenter. Something about the creative aspect mixed with mathematical logic appeals to me, and the physicality of working with wood. The frustrating thing about song writing is that so much of it feels like pulling something out of thin air. there’s no identifiable starting point or template to work from, so the idea of working on a tangible piece with a clear start and finish point would be a relief in many ways, but also with room to express artistic flair as well.
Congratulations on signing with Subpop!! They are one of our most favorite US independent labels (aren’t they everyone’s??) hehe. What’s next on your agenda?
thank you! They’re an amazing label and it feels pretty fucking cool to be a part of that now. i’ve got a UK tour coming up in november and then more touring in 2018 and festivals in the summer. i’m spending most of my time writing at the moment, which is daunting but exciting to start thinking about what i’m going to do next.
Lastly, what advice would you give to a women aspiring to become a part of the music industry- whether it’s on stage, production, or business? What’s the best bit of advice you’ve ever gotten?
i think being able to say no is a very important thing. you shouldn’t just jump at every opportunity that comes your way, and should think about whether it solidifies you’re artistic vision or not. Also being nice to people is important, obviously if someone’s giving you shit then definitely stick up for yourself, but showing people that you’re keen to work and easy to be around will make them think of you first when a job comes up. you don’t want people spreading the word that you’re a dick, because it really is a tiny tiny industry and everyone knows everyone.