Martha Bean by Simon McLaren.
Martha Bean is a hotly tipped singer songwriter with a classical training. An accomplished multi-instrumentalist, she has already played alongside some well known names such as Seth Lakeman, Bon Iver and First Aid Kit. I caught up with the Leicester based talent to find out more…
How did you learn so many instruments and do you have a favourite you return to when you are songwriting?
I was fortunate enough to grow up in a musical house – my Mum is a pianist and double bassist, and my Dad (who plays with me, too) a cellist. My Dad was also a music therapist for a few years, so we had a few other instruments around the house – guitar, clarinet, saxophone, percussion, etc – so I’ve been surrounded my lots of instruments from an early age. Since I moved out, I’ve found my musical instrument collection growing as I can’t resist the charm of a £20 banjo… I find myself more inspired by exploring and experimenting with different instruments – it keeps it exciting. The piano is my favourite instrument to write on because of it’s versatility and scale. I feel more comfortable in front of the piano than anything else too, since I’ve been playing it the longest.
How has your classical background informed the way your create songs?
I suppose it’s given me a totally different set of ideas and influences than most songwriters. My experience has really helped me with writing string arrangements too – something I love doing.
And how did your time at the Dartington College of Arts inform your music making?
Dartington gave me the freedom and the confidence to try totally new ideas in my music. It’s where I first had the chance to record my demos, and play them with other musicians. It was also where I first picked up the double bass, and I spent hours listening to Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday and Sarah Vaughan records. Those voices still inspire my singing today.
What is When Shadows Return to the Sea about?
The album is mainly autobiographical – I see the album as a kind of diary of my thoughts and experiences during my transition to becoming a full-time musician. The actual line ‘I can find myself when shadows return to the sea’ is taken from the opening track of the album, ‘When The Fear Comes‘ – a song about leaving my day job, not knowing whether I could survive it alone.
What is your favourite lyrical subject matter and why?
I almost always write from the heart, rather than telling a story. Writing songs is, for me, a form of therapy really! A way to process life’s puzzles – so my favourite lyrical subject is whatever currently plagues my mind.
Where was the video for Who Changed the Clocks shot?
We shot the video for Who Changed The Clocks at Fraser Noble Hall in Leicester, thanks to the generosity of the University of Leicester. The piano in the video is the same one we used on the album – an amazing instrument!
Who else plays with you when you perform live?
There are 7 of us in total (the line up depends on the gig / venue size, though):
Martha Bean – vocal, guitar, piano
Joel Evans – Wurlitzer piano, backing vocals
Adam Ellis – Bass, backing vocals
Joe Manger – drum kit
Rob Rosa – violin
Mirka Katariina – viola
John Bean – cello
When Shadows Return to the Sea by Martha Bean is out now, and the single ‘Bad Blood‘ is out in June/July.
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