The solo project of Melbourne's Martha Brown goes from strength to strength.
We first came across Banoffee when she released her latest single Got It (listen HERE), which was kind of a shame-on-us situation because people have been hyping her all year, so consider the rest of the year spent making up on lost time. We start with an interview today, because she's on the verge of releasing her self-titled debut EP this Friday. You can stream it HERE, so chuck it on, and get to know one of the country's most interesting solo artists, full of quirky lyrics coupled with an ear for vintage synthesizers and modern R&B.
Hey Martha! So you’ve been playing shows since you were a young teenager! But you were more into the folky sort of songs before doing Banoffee, is that right? Is the sound that you play with as Banoffee something you’ve always been into? How did you develop that sound?
I have been playing music for a long time and my style has definitely changed, although I’ve always enjoyed listening to a lot of different genres. My parents listened to a lot of folk and country when I was a kid as well as R&B and soul greats like Janet Jackson, Whitney Houston and Boyz II Men. think my sound developed the way it did due to the instruments that were available to me at the time. I first learned how to play viola and guitar, so naturally the styles I learned were more true to the roots of those instruments.
I started playing folk, and learning Waifs covers to begin with. Later on when I discovered sampling keyboards such as my beloved SK1, I began to integrate these sounds into my song-writing and inevitably this changed my sound. I still really enjoy playing folk and country though, and I hope to include a variety of sounds on my next release.
What are some of your influences or inspirations?
Dancing is a big part of my life, and although a lot of my songs aren’t particularly “danceable”, rhythm and movement influence me a lot. I like playing with my words to see how they can sit differently on the beat, or playing with time signatures and tempo to reflect the feeling I have in my body. Got It, for example, started with the beat, which for me feels like it falls in steps, it resembles a stumble or a trip. The chorus is simpler and stronger and reflects a more powerful stance.
Inspiration wise – I’m inspired by so many musicians that it’s hard to zone in on just one or two. I think honesty is something that gets me more than any style, people who allow me to see little snippets of truth through their music are the people that get me writing.
I love Ninja! You’ve written such powerful lyrics. Can you tell me about the story behind that?
Ninja is a very personal song that’s helped me almost like a little side-kick through some difficult times. Its meaning can be open ended, and I really love listening to the way people relate it to themselves. For me, it reflects a personal conflict and a relationship with myself that I had to end. I’ve chosen to confront certain fears and self-doubts in my life much like I would an abusive relationship. Personalities are so multifaceted and ninja explores this and how sometimes the person hardest to please or to stand up to is yourself.
It’s about facing your inner critic, and telling it that you’ve served it long enough and its time for it to piss off.
Playing Splendour must have been pretty unreal! How was it for you?
Splendour was a lot of fun! It was the first time I’ve played solo at a festival and I really enjoyed the different energy. I often play very personal and low-key shows, and playing for an audience ready to sing a long and boogie was awesome. I had a great dance and met some fantastic people.
You were named one of InTheMix’s rising stars – is that encouraging or a bit nerve racking for you?
Both! I am so flattered and grateful for being on that list, although I feel totally unworthy. Especially with the words “rising star” ha, I am far from a star and much closer to words like “dag”. However, if I just throw away my self-doubt then I am encouraged by it, I really want to show people that their support is appreciated and that I’m worth the words they’ve put down on paper about me. When you work so intensely on something alone, it's easy to lose perspective and worry that maybe everything you’ve made is utter rubbish, I can’t tell you how nice it is when you get a sign that it might be okay.
Why the name Banoffee?
It’s an indulgent pie, and I indulge a lot in this project – I don’t think about trying to please listeners, or how to get reviews, it's purely for my enjoyment.
You collaborate closely with Oscar Key Sung, right? How did that come about?
When I decided that I wanted to give these tracks a proper chance I felt protective of them as they’re all very personal, so working with someone who knew me well was a must. Oscar and I have known each other for years and collaborated on various projects in the past so it felt right to have him work on the EP. We generally critique each other’s work before it comes out anyway, so I felt comfortable with him because I knew he’d tell me what was rubbish, and that I equally, could tell him to go stick it if I wanted to. It was so generous of him to work on this with me – what a legend.
What can we expect from your EP? Pretty exciting, it’s not far off!
Well… Shit I don’t know – I guess you can see on the 22nd! There is a lot of heart in it, and I hope some fun as well. I had a lot of fun making it. Oh god do people really answer this question? I have no idea what you should expect, I hope you like it!
You’re playing at BIGSOUND, which obviously is huge for you! What are you expecting from the next string of shows you’re doing?
I’ve never been to BIGSOUND but I’m super excited to play and to have it as my kick-start to the EP tour. It’s been quite a process playing around with the live version of the tracks on the EP and I’m really looking forward to playing them now that I feel comfortable with them. I’m also working hard to get a collection of tracks together for my next release so it’s a great chance for me to try some new stuff out.
What is coming up next for you? Anything particularly exciting on the horizon?
The horizon is looking prettttty busy and equally exciting! After this mini tour I’m heading over to America to play some shows and work with some other producers and writers. I’m particularly excited to play at CMJ and to meet my American team that I’ve only talked to over skype. After that I’ll be returning home to play a plethora of goodies over the summer – I’m cautious that some may not be announced yet. I’m not sure, so I’ll leave it at that. I’m working on some exciting projects for next year though and I can’t wait to be able to blurt.