In Conversation:

Billie Marten

by May Robson
23 May 2022

Yorkshire born singer songwriter and Ten87 resident Billie Marten has been busy in the studio working away on an exciting new album. With her career starting at just 12 years old, signed at 15 and nominated for the sound of 2016 award, the indie folk singer-songwriter’s delicate acoustic sound continues to inspire audiences worldwide. 

On a cold and gloomy January afternoon she was kind enough to invite us into her world to talk about her musical process, her sources of inspiration and new endeavours in self-production on her latest project.

What are the key aspects of your process, and tools you need for writing music? 

The most important thing for me is an actual physical urge to write, I can't sit there every day and wait for something to happen, it has to be more of an instant feeling, knowing that I have something to say. Noodling around is also helpful however, and any ideas I get I'll note down for later use, but mostly it's spontaneous. Sometimes you have to creep up on it too, pretend you're not even trying to write. I need a good pen, my moleskine (classically), my '58 Gibson, and the inspiration of course.

Where is your favourite place to write music? And where do you seek inspiration when uninspired?

If I'm feeling uninspired, I keep quiet and go into my introspective self, ingesting lots of other peoples' work as reference, in search of that common creative thread. If music dies down I'll get really into reading and listening, and then the circle comes back around again.

At home our table sits in front of big windows, and the window is quite hidden from the world, so it's a great place to observe and write. I love to walk around London's busyness and green spaces, with my headphones in but not listening to anything, so I'm removed from society in a way and people don't notice me listening and taking in their character or their words. It's a great hack for new lines.

What’s the music that kept you going through 2021?

Lots of music has been heard, that's for sure. My favourite thing in the world is being a music fan, more than making it myself. Diane Cluck's album Oh Vanille / Oh Va Nil has been a real saviour, in terms of what one can make with so little. Gerry Rafferty's Right Down The Line has been on constant repeat, the band Coco who seem to have just arrived from nowhere are brilliant, El Michels Affair, DANGERDOOM, Sam Evian's new album, a lot of Labi Siffre and The Beatles back catalogue of course, and recently this girl PACKS from Canada who I think is real cool.

What are you working on? 

I'm beginning to feel out the next album, slowly digging my way into the production world, and just seeing how far I can get without asking for help in the usual places. It's a real experiment, and I lose faith sometimes and make daily mistakes, but it's getting there. I'm finding a lot of joy in simplicity and sparsity at the moment, amidst all the constant noise, so it's more about capturing the perfect recordings and what fits perfectly with the ears, tonally speaking.

How has your experience been being a part of the Ten87 community?

This is not a forced response I promise - it has been a real blessing finding Ten87. I felt immediately welcomed into the community and there are wondrous people hiding in the studio cubes, people with completely opposing tastes and musical backgrounds but somehow it really works. If you need to borrow a really specific piece of gear someone next door is bound to have it, and everyone is always on hand to help. There's no element of competition and you can be as close or as far removed as you like.

I put forward my song Liquid Love recently for the beat club, and it was incredible to hear so many peoples' interpretations of it. Little creative projects like that keep you going, and it's a real treat to be here. My work ethic has gone right up also!

Thanks again to Billie for giving us an insight into her musical world. We’re really excited about the new paths she is taking with her upcoming project, and can’t wait to hear it. If you are not familiar with Billie Marten's music already, go and stream her latest EP here, And check out her website, and socials on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.