Sunday, April 06, 2008

Laura Marling interview

To read Laura's most recent interview with Bobbysix (from October 2011), click here, otherwise, enjoy our chat from 2008 below:

“People are kind of patronising but that’s because they don’t know what to expect. It’s a minor annoyance but, you know, I am young and people expect young people to be idiots.”

Laura Marling is not an idiot. In fact, the wisdom, passion and integrity with which the articulate 18-year-old English singer/songwriter talks about music proves that she is as far from being an idiot as it is possible to be. “It’s almost patronising when people say: ‘You’re pretty mature’ because it’s like, well, what did you expect? I put my heart and soul into it. It’s not mature; it’s just what it is.”

The “it” that Marling refers to is Alas, I Cannot Swim, her beautiful debut long-player of lovingly-crafted folk songs. Growing increasingly despondent at being part of an mp3 generation that uses “music for wallpaper,” she wanted to make an album that actually sounded like an album rather than a bunch of random songs to put on your iPod Shuffle. “I grew up to really appreciate sound and the making of a good record and it just seems a shame that people have lost that passion.”

Marling has been making waves in the UK since Jamie T saw the then 16-year-old’s second ever gig and asked her to tour with him. “It was bloody exciting because I was touring in my school holidays,” she laughs. She has since supported Devendra Banhart and, with her other project Noah and The Whale [whose frontman Charlie Fink produced Alas, I Cannot Swim], Jeffrey Lewis. She also appeared on the standout track of the second Rakes album. “They found me on myspace, messaged me and an hour later I was in the studio.”

While she is notably level-headed, the transition from being Laura Marling the girl from Reading to Laura Marling the person who appears on TV shows and has to do phone interviews with people on the other side of the world is still one that she finds most peculiar. “It’s incredibly weird. I don’t think it will ever stop feeling incredibly weird,” she admits. “You can’t help but feel that you’re losing some integrity but at the end of the day I want my music to be heard and I want to have a career.”

Indeed, Marling keeps it real to the degree that she no longer feels the need to wear make-up because, refreshingly in an age where style often rules substance, she says it doesn’t matter how she looks; she simply wants to create great art rather than achieve any level of fame. “I think success is what you make of it. If you don’t want to be a star then you’re not going to be a star. My idea of success is completely different to what people expect you to want.” Her ethos is unsurprising as, when we discuss her musical influences, she reels off a list of anti-folk musicians who don’t conform to the expectations of the modern-day music industry and care not for how many units they shift. “Bonnie Price Billy has always been a big part of my life. Jeffrey Lewis and Kimya Dawson are great. Diane Cluck means more to me than any of them though. What I love about her is the brutally honest lyrics, that amazing voice and the way of coming about a melody. I think anti-folk is quite an honest, endearing genre.”

Bearing in mind her disinterest in becoming The Next Big Thing, one wonders if Marling is ready for the possibility that she is going to sell a lot of records, considering the glowing reviews that her debut has received. “It’s not what I’m about and it’s not what I’ve ever intended to do,” she frowns. “In many ways it would be awesome because you’d probably make a lot of money and we all need money, but there is part of me that thinks anyone who sells a lot of records has been pushed. I would never want that and I would never want people to think that.” After a moment’s reflection, she adds: “I shouldn’t give a shit what people think but I just would never want that.”

When I suggest that selling records doesn’t necessarily have to go hand-in-hand with selling out, and that it is sometimes possible for an artist to be commercially successful while still retaining their integrity, citing Kimya Dawson’s recent success, Marling agrees. “I wouldn’t mind if it came about organically. Kimya Dawson hasn’t been pushed; she’s just in a great soundtrack. I think people are quite snobby about success. Even me saying that I don’t want that kind of success is quite a snobby thing to say. It’s such a vicious circle that it’d make my head explode if I kept thinking about it.”

Read the review of Laura's gig in Sydney's Hyde Park here.
Read the review of I Speak Because I Can here.


Ruan said...

I admire Laura.
I am as young as she is and her songs, they just inspire me.
Great Interview.
Thank you.

Anonymous said...

These songs are just great! I listen on my commute and I feel only somewhat sad that aint half bad

Bobby Six said...

Thanks for the comments. I am still in love with her album as much now as when I first heard it last year. A real talent indeed.

Ju said...

I'll always admire her... She's an icon of the music. seems really bad the fact she will never come to Brazil. but i'll wait =D