Tuesday, 31 October 2017

Eight questions with Martha Bailey

We can't wait for our show with John Smith at St Barnabas Church, Oxford on 16th Nov, alongside his tour support Will Stratton we've got one of our favourite local artists Martha Bailey opening the evening. We caught up to find out more about Martha, take a read below...

1. First up, who is Martha Bailey?! How long have you been making music?

Hmm, still working that one out. For simplicity's sake, I am a folk enthusiast and singer-songwriter from rural Oxfordshire i.e. the middle of nowhere. I've been making music of a kind since I was 7 which is when I started learning classical guitar. I didn't take it too seriously, and my parents said I sung like Ethel Merman (they weren't being complimentary.) Thankfully something changed, and I started singing and performing around age 16, which is longer ago than it feels. I've been writing with intent since I was 20 - so 4 years now.

2. Tell us your biggest musical influences!

I don't know for sure what influences people can hear in my music, but growing up I listened to a lot of folk (Kate Rusby, Show of Hands), I worship Joni Mitchel, I love Joan Baez, The Staves and Nick Drake. I think Marika Hackman is pretty inspirational, her lyrics are brave and often a middle finger to social convention, or so it seems to me. I do have some Sugababes tracks on my running playlist, but I don't think they've made their way into my sound.

3. Your debut EP ‘A Different Time’ has been out for almost a year - how has the response to that been? We notice that it was produced by the ever talented friend of ours, Robin Christensen-Marriott… how did you meet and decide to work together?

I know, it's gone so fast! And I've learnt so much since then. I think I was afraid of releasing that EP as I'd never done anything other than crumby YouTube videos and demos before, so I just kind of plopped it on Bandcamp and then ran away. It's gone down well, as far as I can tell. I've had some airplay on BBC Introducing in Oxford and Radio 6, and a few nice reviews. I've also managed to flog most of the CDs I had pressed. Maybe that's got more to do with my sister's artwork though.

I met Robin due to a combination of Oli Steadman recommending him to me, and my sister Niamh meeting him at a music festival a couple of years later when I was ready to record. It was so great to work with Robin, his talent is endless. We'll be back in the studio in the next couple of months I hope...

4. Who is your audience and how do you connect with fans - all the usual social media?! Any crazy, fun, exciting stories about your fans are very welcome!

I have a loyal fanbase in my family and friends (perhaps they're just pretending but they're too far in now), and I really enjoy connecting with people at live shows, which I've been doing a lot of over the past few months. A lot of people who follow what I do are those I have met when I've been busking in Oxford and in London. It's usually busking that provides the best stories - a particularly bemusing event was when someone asked me to give him piano lessons so he could 'get to know me better'. When I told him, quite reasonably I thought, that I didn't have time and in any case wasn't a piano teacher, he lost his sh*t at me. That was weird.

5. We’re excited to have announced you as our opening act for John Smith at his Oxford show at St Barnabas Church. What should fans, and those who might be new to your music, expect from your set? We predict a rather beautiful night of music!

Not as excited as I am! It's going to be so good I can't wait. You can expect a couple of songs from the existing EP and a few that I've been working on recently which are a little different in content to those I've written before. You can also expect me to cough awkwardly and say 'ummmm' when I'm re-tuning.

6. Have you played a show in a Church before? Do you find that the setting for a gig has a big effect on the atmosphere of the show and your audience?

I've never performed solo in a church, although I have recorded some things in the past in churches because the acoustics are so wonderful. It's one of the things I'm most looking forward to about the gig I think, because those kind of buildings seem to create an atmosphere that's both very calm and quite intense all at once. It's certainly going to be a different experience to playing in a sweaty basement.

7. Describe your dream gig to us! Any venues that you’re desperate to play in the UK or further afield? Perhaps there’s an artist you’d particularly love to collaborate with?

Probably a good slot at Cambridge Folk Festival or somewhere similar. I've been to so many festivals and whilst being in the crowd is amazing I can't imagine what it must be like to be the act helping sustain that amazing festival atmosphere. I've got one festival booked so far for next summer, but I really want to make it a priority to play some more and do it properly for the first time. In terms of collaborating - I'd love to work with Billie Marten, she's a young singer-songwriter with so much talent and insight. Her songs are crazy beautiful and so well crafted, and when I found out she was in her teens it blew my mind as she sings like she has the maturity and life experience of someone much older.

8. The end of the year is fast approaching, so what does the rest of 2017 hold for you, and looking towards 2018?

Well the plan for the rest of this year is to take my foot off the peddle with the gigs and release a single. It's taken me a lot longer than I'd hoped, but I've only been pursuing music properly since I graduated last year and I've learnt so much since then, so it's not been time wasted. Next year I'll release another EP and this time I won't be scared of my own work!

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