VANCOUVER – You used to be able to find Marika Hackman playing quiet folk sets in small, smoky venues. Like a candle burning slowly in the centre of the room, Hackman would provoke a depressing sentimentality from audience members – but those days are in the past. 2017 has seen Hackman depart from her toned down ways, focusing on a more upbeat, poppy folk sound instead. Most recently, the Hampshire, England-born artist has teamed up with beloved record label, Sub Pop Records, to release her new album, I’m Not Your Man. Early reviews have been kind, and Hackman is excited to take her new stuff on tour.
I’m Not Your Man, released in June, seems to represent a step towards more freedom and simplicity for Hackman. “It was one of those things where I kind of let go a little bit more…I think when it came to actually writing, I was trying my best to push myself and the chord progressions to a weird abstract kind of place just to make them unique. I kind of just let the music flow, which is always going to give you something a bit more poppy and a bit more upbeat. I think I was less prone to overthinking it maybe this time around.”
The idea of ‘letting go’ is felt musically through the album’s range, sometimes offering wild jam sessions (“Time’s Been Reckless”) and other times sounding very tamed (“Apple Tree”). Hackman suggests that her newfound freedom can be attributed to being in a better headspace than she was during the recording of past projects, namely her 2015 debut full length album, We Slept At Last, which was charged with a much darker, melancholy sound. Hackman offers insight as to what brought on her positive mindset.
“I think that, over 2 years you grow a lot, and you grow into yourself and you find out more about yourself as a human being. On the last album [We Slept At Last], I had just come out of a long relationship and the photography is kind of heartbreaking on that album. This time around I was and am still in a very strong relationship and kind of just – I’ve been enjoying life and I left my manager and my label the day I started writing it. I don’t know, there was a lot of change and shifts, but I feel like it was all positive and very much all my decision and I felt very empowered by that. So yeah, I think it was very much a confidence thing, and I just came from being in a better headspace.”
We Slept At Last also lacked the instrumental accompaniment that I’m Not Your Man embraces. Hackman provides all the vocal and instrumental elements to over half the album’s tracks, with indie rockers The Big Moon supporting her on some of the other songs and her live performances. The whole gang is about to embark on a North American tour before heading back home to the UK for a couple more shows. Hackman admits to being weary of being on the road for long periods of time, away from her family and girlfriend, but she is eager to throw herself back into the fervor of tour life. To keep positive in the chaos, Hackman advises, “enjoying things while you’re doing them, and not wishing you were somewhere else.”
[Originally published in the August 2017 edition of Beatroute magazine]