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Marika Hackman

Pretty Loud

Jun 01, 2017 Photography by James Loveday (for Under the Radar) Marika Hackman
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Marika Hackman‘s sophomore album, I’m Not Your Man, is mainly about relationships with women. (The romantic kindalthough she does credit her mom and female friends for helping her navigate life.) But the British singer/songwriter does have a guy to thank for her taste in rock-her brother, who beat her into the world by two years.

“If you’ve got an older sibling, everything they’re into and play, you have to listen to because they put it on and you don’t get a say,” she laughs from her home in North East London. “Or you want to like because you want to be cool like your older sibling. It’s a nice mix of annoying and really beautiful. He really liked Nirvana and Red Hot Chili Peppers. Those kind of things were really common when I was seven or eight.”

It’s Cobain and co that Hackman finds herself having the most in common with these days. (And not just because, like Nirvana before her, she’s signed to Sub Pop.) I’m Not Your Man sees the former folkie teasing out larger sounds with the help of her backing band, fellow Londoners The Big Moon. The album kicks off with anthem to hidden love “Boyfriend,” where she announces over a garage rattle, “I’ve got your boyfriend on my mind.” The volume is only turned up for “Time’s Been Reckless,” which includes a “Smells Like Teen Spirit”-style hook, Hackman shouting “1, 2, 3, 4 tell her that you love her more.”

She attributes the shift in sound to getting older. At 25, Hackman’s ready for her work to reflect her forthright spiritnot paint some idealized picture. It didn’t hurt that unlike her debut, We Slept at Last, which she wrote in two months, she was given nearly a year and a half to explore sounds and ideas.

“Early on in my career I was quite a meek character who plays spooky folk,” she recalls. “But if you actually listen to any music I put out before this record, there’s folk in there but it’s not just folk at all. There’s electronic stuff, there’s grunge. All of that is still in there. But by the time I got to this record I was ready to push rock to the foreground. The industry likes to have their female artists as safe characters. They’re not out to challenge, they just want us to write pretty songs. It’s quite narrow.”

Up until now Hackman’s live shows have all been fairly subduedsave for the time she accidently swallowed a fly on stage. (“I carried on,” she laughs.) That’s about to change as she introduces more I’m Not Your Man cuts into her live set.

“When you’re playing sad, introspective music the crowd will have their own experience,” Hackman muses. “You’re not going to start singing along or scream. You’re just living out whatever the music conjures up. I’ve finally written music where you can bounce and cheer and sing it back. Have a good time all in a room all together enjoying a band. And the band can enjoy it with you. I think that’s my rock star fantasy.”

[Note: This article originally appeared in Under the Radar’s Spring 2017 Issue (April/May/June 2017), which is out now. This is its debut online.]

www.marikahackman.com

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