Premiere: Meet Martha Marlow, who makes orchestral pop with Don't Want To Grow Up
The Sydney musician's new single is a stirring blend of indie, pop and orchestral brilliance unlike much else out there.
It's always worth celebrating when an artist can bring a distinctly new twist with their music, and Martha Marlow is someone who seems to be going above and beyond to demonstrate that with her work. It comes natural to the Sydney musician, growing up amongst a cultural household that would blend classical favourites with acts like The Beatles and Billie Holiday; acts whose imprint remain wedged within Marlow's work even if its centres itself around more modern-day inspirations like Julia Jacklin and Weyes Blood.
It's a wide-ranging combination that shines on her debut single Don't Want To Grow Up, which premieres on Pilerats ahead of its official release tomorrow, March 19th. It's a swelling four-minutes that navigates musical ebbs and flows as somewhat of an artform, capturing this indie-pop heart of her work but also how it moves amongst washes of folk and classical - the latter particularly shining through striking orchestrals that give Don't Want To Grow Up this distinct edge, setting it apart from almost everything else we've heard lately.
Don't Want To Grow Up feels like the perfect introductory moment to Martha Marlow, emphasising her journey through musicianship and how it's reaching a new peak with the launch of her own solo work. There's also the potent intimacy amongst there too; how her work acts like a vessel to deconstruct and break down moments of her life and the world around her.
"This is a song about the allure of love, and all the trouble that it promises," she says on the single, which takes into her account her experience in adulthood with chronic pain - and everything that can bring. "I’m looking at those innocent days in the rear vision mirror- the moment just before falling in love, with all its confusion. There is a sense of humour that comes with it, I’m saying ‘I’m not ready yet, I’m not ready for this great affair to begin. I want to cling onto the freedom of innocence'."
It's a wonderful moment that if nothing else, should you introduce you to a wonderful musician worth paying attention to. So, take a dive into Martha Marlow's debut single Don't Want To Grow Up below to do so, alongside an introductory interview that introduces her to the world.
Tell us about yourself?
I’m a singer-songwriter and a painter; I studied at the National Art school of Sydney and grew up on the East Coast in Sydney in a musical household. My father is a double bass player and music has always been a huge part of my life ever since I was child. In our house we have music embedded in the walls - quite literally, I’ve grown up in the same house that the Bee Gees lived in before they moved to London! I also have a deep love of reading. I guess I’m an introvert and love a quiet life as I also live with a chronic autoimmune disease, so music for me has always been a place to retreat into, a place of refuge and solace.
What’s your music like? What does it sound like? What kind of themes does it usually cover?
Well, to me, it’s authentic, original, and reminiscent of those epic albums from 1970’s. The themes I like to explore are vulnerability, hope, longing, introspection. I believe very much in the importance of having a strong and original voice especially as a young woman coming up in the music industry of today.
I’ve been influenced by a lot of jazz and people like Nina Simone, Stevie Wonder, the Beatles, and more modern artists like Radiohead, Bjork, Weyes Blood, Genesis Owusu and Phoebe Bridgers.
What are your production and writing processes usually like?
I love storytelling, and I hope that through sharing my inner world I can connect to audiences in a meaningful way. So when I enter a recording studio for the most part l try to record live - that means playing the guitar and singing at the same time and choosing the best take, rather than relying on heavy editing. I think it’s important to keep the intimacy of the song intact - and to try and capture that in its true essence. I then build up the production around a song- using live instruments. For me, the production elements should always be about bringing out the character of a song.
Can you tell us a bit about this new single, Don’t Want To Grow Up?
It’s open and upbeat- you get a feel for my open tunings and rhythmic guitar style. It features a seventeen-piece string ensemble and is about the allure of love, and all the trouble love always promises. I’m looking at those innocent days of my youth in the rear vision mirror- the moment just before falling in love, with all its confusion. I’m trying to evade being captured by the feeling of falling in love itself. Although, there is a sense of humour that comes with it, I’m saying ‘I’m not ready yet, I’m not ready for this great affair to begin. I want to cling onto the freedom of innocence.’
What do you have planned for 2021?
A lot! Health permitting of course, but I’m putting out my first debut album Medicine Man later in the year and I’m hoping to do a small tour at some point. I’m also having a works on paper exhibition at the Annette Larkin Fine Art gallery in Sydney sometime in the coming months too!
What do you want people to take away from your work?
I really hope that people are moved. I think this album is reflective and mostly introspective, it's a window into my inner life. So much work has gone into the quality of every aspect of this album. I hope that the authenticity of both how the album was recorded, and of who I am, shines through and resonates with people.
Where can we find more of your music?
On all good streaming platforms and on social media.