2017 Artist Survey: Marika Hackman

Hackman on 2017's Best Albums, the "Me Too" Movement and Sexual Harassment, Implanted Technology, and Inhaling a Fly

Jan 19, 2018 Photography by James Loveday (for Under the Radar) Web Exclusive
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For Under the Radar's 15th annual Artist Survey we emailed some of our favorite artists a few questions relating to the last year. We asked them about their favorite albums of the year and their thoughts on various notable 2017 news stories involving either the music industry or world events, as well as some quirkier personal questions. Here are some answers from British singer/songwriter/guitarist Marika Hackman. Her second album, I'm Not Your Man, came out in 2017 via Sub Pop.

For our annual Artist Surveys we emailed the same set of questions to musicians about the various sexual harassment and assault allegations, the "Me Too" movement, the chaotic first year of Donald Trump's presidency, the Charlottesville alt-right rally and racism in America, embarrassing moments, professional regrets, which Breakfast Club character they are most like, the end of the world, and much more.

Top 10 Albums of 2017

1. MUNA: About UAn honest and inclusive picture of the pitfalls, traps, mistakes, and highs that come from being a human person falling in and out of love. It's just a fucking banger of a pop record and you can dance yo ass off to it daily, nightly, and ever so rightly. 
2. Alvvays: AntisocialitesIf you wanna show your babe that you're not afraid to catch feels then pop this bad boy on.
3. Sylvan Esso: What NowThis is what I usually put on whilst I open a bottle of whisky with my spicy gals before heading down to The 3 Compasses (my local). Banger after banger.
4. Fake Laugh: Fake LaughIf you want to lie around listening to the most goddamn beautiful angel voice then pick up the Fake Laugh record ASAP. It's fabulous and also he's hot-2-trot.
5. Big Thief: CapacityBig Thief, I reckon all the greats; Patti Smith, Stevie Nicks, and PJ Harvey witch out to this album whilst they cast a sacred space in their magic circle during a full moon.
6. Francobollo: Long Live LifeWhenever I listen to this album it reminds me of good TIIIIMMEEESSSSSSSSSS!!!!!!!... Specifically when we toured together this year.  
7. Jay Som: Everybody WorksBaybee this album is absolutely fab! I put this on when I want to soundtrack my day as a late '90s teen movie.
8. The Big Moon: Love in the 4th Dimensionf I were a mayfly and only had one day to live, Love in the 4th Dimension would be the record I'd whack on to soundtrack my egg laying, e.g. the continuation of my species.
9. Grizzly Bear: Painted Ruins-Pucker up for some sweet tunes that will break your heart but also help build it back up again like a puzzle you can never quite finish at Christmas.
10. Julie Byrne: Not Even Happiness-Put your headphones on, have a cry.

What was the highlight of 2017 for either you personally or for the band? What was the low point?

Releasing I'm Not Your Man and seeing the reaction to it was of course a big highlight, but also touring the record has been so much fun. Getting out to America to play shows was an incredible experience, and getting to play Shepherd's Bush Empire on the last U.K. tour felt like a really important moment for me. One that I've been building up to for a long time. The lowest point was probably spending 15 hours in the Madrid airport because it had snowed back in London. Someone stole two of our guitars from the airport and then when I finally got home at 6 a.m. there had been a break in at my house and someone had taken my laptop with all of my demos for album three on it. I hadn't backed up.  

2017 saw sexual harassment and assault allegations against many men in the music industry, film industry, journalism, politics, and elsewhere (including Harvey Weinstein, Matt Mondanile of Ducktails and Real Estate, Brand New's Jesse Lacey, Kevin Spacey, Louis C.K., Charlie Rose, Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore, Democratic Senator Al Franken, and others). Why do you think the floodgates opened in 2017 and do you think any meaningful change will come from it or will sexual harassment and assaults continue to be prevalent in certain industries?

I don't know why the floodgates opened this year, obviously Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey's New York Times article was the key to opening them, and that was the culmination of years of work and an incredibly brave piece of journalism. I think once that had happened women across the globe finally felt like they had a collective power to share experiences of sexual assault and actually have them heard. I think that in any industry where you have a huge disproportion of power between the people at the top and the people starting out and trying to "make it" there will be an abuse of that power. This might not necessarily manifest itself as sexual harassment in the future, but I don't think that abuse of power will ever go away.

Which Breakfast Club character are you most like and why?

 

Because I haven't actually watched The Breakfast Club for about 10 years and can't really remember who any of the characters are I decided to take a Buzzfeed quiz called "Which Breakfast Club Character Are You?" It looked like the most legit one on the Internet. I got Allison Reynolds. I think I can remember her being pretty weird but maybe the least annoying? 


Tell us about the best and worst dates you've ever been on.

 

I've only ever been on one date and it was pretty chilled, we went to a sex exhibition at a gallery and then had dinner and nothing catastrophic happened. Also we'd already kissed at a party before we went on the date so I think that probably took any awkwardness out of the proceedings. Apart from that, I had Tinder for about a week, but every time someone spoke to me I couldn't be arsed to respond, but also didn't want to be mean, so I would just delete the entire app all together. I never met up with anyone from it obviously.


What's the most embarrassing thing that's happened to you in front of your bandmates?

Oh god. We were playing a show in Nottingham and I came back on stage to do a solo track for the encore and my guitar sounded really weird. It was super tinny and harsh so I figured maybe one of my pickups had gone and just got on with the song. The next day in soundcheck we were going through everything to work out what the problem was and we realized it was something to do with my pedal board. I had left my wah pedal on. That was it. The most rookie mistake in the world. I went so red and my sound engineer just laughed at me for a while.

What's your biggest professional regret?

I think regrets are a really strange thing. I like to think that everything that has happened to me throughout my career, good and bad, has gotten me to where I am now, and right now, I think I'm the happiest I have ever been with the music I'm making and the team I have around me. If I was wrapped up in thinking "I shouldn't have done this or that" I wouldn't just be enjoying the things I've achieved, and it would be pulling my focus off of writing songs and playing shows.

 

If you heard that the world was ending in one week who would be the first person you'd call and what are some of the things you'd do in that week?

I'd probably ring someone with a car because I'd want to get to the airport pretty fast before everyone in London lost their shit, and the trains would be fucked because who wants to drive a train when there's only a week left. I'd get everyone I love on a flight to Finland and we'd go and hang out at our super remote house in the woods and get drunk and play games and not have to worry about people going nuts.

Would you be open to having your phone and other technology implanted into your body in the future?

 

Absolutely not. I'm paranoid enough as it is about my technology monitoring me, without it actually being underneath my skin. It's bad enough that an iPhone is already like another limb and we're so dependent on having them with us at all times, but at least we have the option to throw it off a cliff and remain some sort of anonymity if needs be. I find it fascinating that every sci-fi film or book presents a dystopian future borne out of humans taking technology too far, yet we're still racing down that track knowing that it is fraught with danger.  

 

If you could time travel what advice would you give to your childhood or teenage self?

Don't cut your hair off. You're about to get very chubby and buck toothed so growing out that freaky little mullet thing is going to be an absolute nightmare.

A 2017 Wall Street Journal article pointed out that music critics have been giving less and less full on negative reviews of late. In the era of streaming when almost any album can be easily accessed, do you still find value in music criticism and have music critics gotten too soft?

I think that often it's the idea that journalists want to get behind something because they think its going to be big rather than wanting to support an artist just because they love the music. Everyone's very conscious of what's buzzy and "relevant" and I think blogs like to show that they're in the know and not behind the times, but I also think that means a lot of shit bands have a huge amount of press because of this snowball effect and everyone's too scared to say anything negative. It's a bit like The Emperors New Clothes.

Tell us about your worst/most disastrous show as a performer. And what about your best show?

I've never really had a complete catastrophe of a show, there was one time when I was playing in a church in Sydney and I inhaled a fly right before the chorus of a song. That was pretty weird, but I just snorted it out and carried on so it was fine in the end. My best show was probably on the last run of touring in the U.K., we played a gig in Manchester and the crowd were really rowdy and fun, a girl flashed her boobs at me.

If you had to rename your band or stage name due to a legal dispute, which new name would you pick?

People are usually wildly excited by the fact that my drummer is a womaayyan so she suggested Female Drummers, which is actually a pretty good band name and would definitely prepare people for the shock of seeing a lady behind the kit. My bassist also suggested Buzz One Out because masturbation comes up a lot as a topic for discussion in the back of the van.

Who most influenced your musical tastes as a child and teenager (be it a family member, friend, teacher, etc.) and what do they think of the music you make now?

It would probably be my parents seeing as they dictated the soundtrack to the first 10 years of my life. They both have really good taste so I grew up listening to a really diverse range of incredible songwriting. I feel like they're probably the most biased humans on the planet when it comes to liking my music but I'm preeeeetty sure they're fans. Either that or they're fabulous liars. I think sometimes the more sexual side of my lyrics might be a bit gross for them to hear, but mum has specifically said that I should never worry about offending them with stuff like that, so expect album three to be loaded with sauce.

Besides the environment and global warming, what most worries you about the future of this planet and the world we're leaving to our kids and grandkids?

Sex robots. I mean that's just a disaster waiting to happen.

www.marikahackman.com

 

 

 

 

 

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