Wanderlust: A Seat In The Sunshine With Marika Hackman

Wanderlust: A Seat In The Sunshine With Marika Hackman

The successes and insecurities that fuel her bold new album...

“Lyrics just kind of come out from anywhere but it’s always a constant delving to the self, so I guess it’s hard to steer that ship regarding where I am and what’s going on,” Marika Hackman tells me.

Sat in her East London home garden we comfortably make conversation and lounge in the sun, pretending we’re on holiday in the south of France.

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After years of playing music and writing her own songs, Marika has continuously added to her musical armoury and was only 17 when she wrote ‘Bath Is Black’, one of the tracks amongst her first album in 2013, an extraordinarily assured acoustic composition woven around wickedly dark themes of anxiety and lust. Following was four subsequent EPs and her 2015 debut album 'We Slept At Last', getting critics enthralled.

2017's sophomore album 'I’m Not Your Man' shifts away from her previous folk-leaning sound as Hackman embraces alt-rock’s sense of urgency. Bouncing back with newest addition 'Any Human Friend', Marika has once again surprised us all. Now completely ditching folk for something more ballsy and brave, she embraces her slick sassiness.

“I feel like it’s a really strong body of work and I’m really proud of it!” she beams. “It’s definitely my favourite thing I’ve done to date. Everything has been very different and they all have a separate special place in my heart, but this one feels the most established and landed piece of work I’ve done.”

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Agreeing that her musical journey has been one hell of a diverse ride, I watch her mull it over as the sun aggressively shines off her sunglasses. “It’s definitely my most direct work I’ve ever done so I imagine the type of questioning that invites is more personal as I’ve kind of already opened up the floor for that. Whereas, with my first album and EPs and stuff there was room for questioning but here there is a very clear subject matter.”

“I suppose also I’ve been around for quite a long time so it’s not about introducing myself as who am as an artist anymore. I think it will inspire different conversations generally but thematically at the core I’ve always actually been talking about similar stuff. Just about myself and using personal experience to try and connect, which is what humans do and engage by sharing our stories.”

Pausing to think she proceeds: “You get so wrapped up in it and it takes so long to write these things, but now I’m beginning to have discussions about it and hearing what different people think. The observations others are making is exactly what I intended. It sort of stands as a rainbow of what it is to be a human in all its sort of ugliness, beauty, humour, sexiness and seediness.”

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As the trees shimmer above us, I listen to Marika’s soft, calm voice intently. Relaxed, we slouch propping our elbows on the wooden table like two friends exchanging secrets. Intrigued by the title of her newest album, we go onto discussing inspirations.

“The name came from a documentary. I can’t remember the exact name but a friend showed it to me, specifically for that one quote used. It was shown on Channel 4 and they sent a bunch of four year olds into a care home with people who have Dementia and Alzheimer’s, basically to see what type of affect that had which was really successful.”

“There was this one moment where two little girls are discussing their experiences of the week and one of them asked the other if they’d made any friends. She agrees she had, even with the older people and then goes on to say ‘Any human friend’. It’s just so pure and simple, which kind of touched a nerve almost as there’s something so beautiful about it. I’d only really written half the record then but it just sort of fit so well.”

Swiftly moving onto lyrics, Marika continues to confide in me her thoughts behind the title track. “Lyrically it is very simple and short with a chance of being over looked, however, they are very moving. It describes how we have to dull ourselves down to fit in and not be noticed but accepted. We all have the right to be golden and to shine which is what I say and emphasis throughout. Placed at the end of the journey in which you’re yanked through, it stands for this quiet moment of reflection and acceptance,” she daintily smiles.

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Hidden beneath the optimism, Marika confidently channels her emotive personal experiences through a heartfelt approach. Love and relationships seem to be a massive theme threaded through her music, with much honesty about previous significant others.

“I think some people have false thoughts as obviously when Amber’s album came out, it was a lot about our break up and relationship so the majority are expecting tracks from mine will also be referencing that but this isn’t really the case. ‘Send My Love’ is the big track about that.”

When first listening to new single ‘I’m Not Where You Are’ you wouldn’t think it was so sad but it actually appears to be indirectly focussed on Marika’s insecurities.

“Weirdly I had the lyric for the chorus first as I was chatting to this girl in America who I hadn’t actually met yet but we were just, like, messaging. And I thought I could write about that as I was struggling lyrically for quite a long time as I meant it as I’m not where you are physically which was the starting point. Then it actually changed into something completely different, so it turned from being that physical thing, into seminal feelings.”

“I get a lot of feeling and attached when dating people and find it really hard to let go, so all of my past relationships suddenly became this idea that I’m never really in the same place with anyone I’ve been seeing which is actually really lonely and sad,” she nervously giggles.

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Disappearing to record and write, Marika hasn’t been playing live much like she was before. Briefly playing a few festivals to get back into the swing of things, she seems delighted.

“It’s been nice to start playing live again as it’s made me really excited for touring. Been great to be back with the band and we’re all really excited to get a new setlist up and running for later in the year. Just going to be getting out and hitting the road again for a year or two I guess, then I’ll sit down and write another one which at the moment seems like the most daunting thing in the world!” she says, as we both start to laugh.

Smiling, she finishes: “I’m just looking forward to the journey!”

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'Any Human Friend' will be released on August 9th.

Words + Photography: Lauren McDermott

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