In the Middle with Marika Hackman

Hollie Griss talks to Marika Hackman about her inspirations and the ever- evolving music industry that simultaneously fails to accept change. Self discovery and acceptance are at the forefront of Hackman’s mind as she dives into her past drivers.

“I can do this thing that I like to call ‘the upstanding worm’,” Marika Hackman says as she ripples around the backstage dressing room of the Brudenell Social Club. “It’s like a body roll, but ‘the upstanding worm’ is the Marika Hackman trademark name for it.”

On a rainy day in the midst of her UK tour, the 27-year-old singer/songwriter dropped by Leeds for a spot at Hyde Park’s most treasured venue. Stepping out of the miserable outdoors and into the warmth of the Brudenell, I sat down with her to talk touring, the album, and ‘otherness’.

Aside from her ability to do the worm, Marika is also an incredible musician, and has been touring following the release of her latest album, Any Human Friend. With more of a pop-rock edge to it than her previous work, Hackman speaks about how the album has utterly transformed her live experience. 

I wanted to write music that people could jump and dance along to

“When I made the last record, I said I wanted to open up my live show,” she said. “Part of the reason I wrote that record was because I wanted to write music that people could jump and dance along to, and the live experience really shifted for me”.

“Even more so now with this album, the crowds are just nuts and I love it. It gives you so much energy onstage when everyone is just bouncing around and having such a good time, and hearing everything you’ve written solo in your room sung back to you. It’s just the most fantastic feeling.”

Upbeat, witty and brazenly honest, Any Human Friend is quite a contrast from the early days of the stripped-back, mysterious That Iron Taste – but in some ways, Hackman explains, rather than change, she’s simply returned to the original seeds of her music career.

“When as a kid I was thinking about myself as a musician, envisaging my future and that childhood dream that I had, it wasn’t playing alone with an acoustic guitar. It was fronting a band and doing guitar solos and singing big choruses and having people singing it back and dancing. It was actually only when I got a bit older that I got into the darker, more acoustic side of music, at the same time as I started my music career. “It’s funny it’s kind of come full circle and I’m back, nearing what I envisioned I would be doing as a 7-year-old.”

“I think it was a natural progression. I don’t like sticking to a certain genre or even the idea of a genre existing and having to be defined by that. I’m not scared of making an album that sounds completely different and the people who have listened to my first albums being like, ‘oh she’s changed, I hate this new stuff.’ I’d rather just plough on and do what I want to do,” she continues, as we delve into the lyrical content of the album and the significance it has to both her and her fans.

It was actually only when I got a bit older that I got into the darker, more acoustic side of music, at the same time as I started my music career

Prior to her 2017 album I’m Not Your Man, Hackman kept her sexuality somewhat hidden. Now, with Any Human Friend, her sexual identity and an exploration of it lies at the forefront of her music. She discusses this progression and its impact on her relationship with fans.

“The switch happened when I wrote ‘Boyfriend’ on the last record and then touring that album and seeing the response to that song in particular. I had a lot of queer people coming up to me and saying that it had really helped them in their lives and helped them work out who they are and that they hadn’t really heard it in that way before. I realised that being really honest and direct affects people a lot more. I then also realised that my own sexuality and my own personal experiences are potentially deemed sort of ‘other’, and that I should be using my voice to speak about that and hopefully open it up to being something that’s more acceptable.”

Hackman is calm and captivating as she discusses the intricacies and changes in her music, and glimmers of bashful joy shine in her eyes as she reflects on the incredible reaction to her latest work. Honest, expressive and enchantingly clever, the Marika Hackman of Any Human Friend is not afraid to put herself out there, touching the lives and loves of her listeners, and is set to continue her music career with an unwavering authenticity. In short, she’s bossing it.

Marika’s Mixtape:
The influences behind her ever-evolving music:

+ Laura Viers
+Joni Mitchell
+Simon & Garfunkel
+Brian Wilson
+Cat Power
+The Japanese House

[Header image courtesy of NME]