Interviews

Billie Marten on Attenborough, taking chances, and returning to nature

Billie Marten spins a web you won’t want to break free from. Her gentle confidence and lush tones stick right to your conscious.

Every now and then, you’ll hear a new song and be so intrigued, so immersed, that you can’t listen to anything else for the rest of the day. Creature of Mine, a single from Bille Marten’s third LP, Flora and Fauna, had this effect.

Since the age of 12, the British singer-songwriter has garnered prominence with her hushed vocals and thoughtful perspective. We had the opportunity to talk to the blooming folk artist about Flora and Fauna, delving into the deeper meaning behind the imagery.

Billie Marten

HAPPY: I can’t wait to hear your third album in full. Would outside in nature be the ideal listening condition?

BILLIE: Well thank you! I’ve had a few people tell me they’ve gone off to a distant hill or river to listen to it, so perhaps, but personally, I think it might be a good driving album. Travel always goes hand in hand with music.

HAPPY: The lead single Garden of Eden has such a prominent rhythm section. How did it feel singing to that in the studio?

BILLIE: Oh it was such a liberating experience, I remember getting so excited when we had that verse rhythm rolling, and my body wanted to move and expel all this pent-up energy.

HAPPY: I love the vivid lyricism in the track as well, like “blooming louder by the hour”. Did anything inspire the flower metaphor?

BILLIE: I genuinely had the image of that stock time-lapse footage of a flower blooming, like something off of Attenborough, and all the imagery grew from there, I felt like I was metaphorically brushing those little bits of soil off my head and growing through the ground to reach the sun. The song is all about ‘more’ and ‘evolvement’.

HAPPY: Congrats on Creature of Mine too, it sounds so lush and emotionally complex. What were you feeling when you penned it?

BILLIE: Thanks very much, lush was the feeling I was going for. The day me and Rich [Cooper] wrote this one I was feeling particularly fed up of the scene I was in, and in a non-macabre way I wanted to experiment with a feeling of leaving it all behind momentarily, and then I thought who I would take with me, and this song came out of that. I wanted to be treated better and I wanted to do that to the world as well.

HAPPY: You mention recording with Rich Cooper who’s worked with The Temper Trap, Sex Pistols, and plenty of other big names. How was that experience?

BILLIE: He’s one of my oldest and greatest friends, so it’s always a natural and familiar experience with him. We work very well together and things come quick, so it would’ve been a crime not to do this record.

HAPPY: Where did you film the music video for Creature of Mine? It looks like such a gorgeous spot!

BILLIE: It was! Quite the bizarre day, as it was the first working one we’d all had in over a year, so working with a team of 20 plus people, was a bit of a shock. But we got into the groove quickly and I remembered what it was like to be on the other side of the camera again, the location was a dream – a working carp fishing centre in Kent, complete with lovely lifeguard fisherman helpers in case of my drowning.

HAPPY: The white dress and Connies in the video is an iconic look. How much of a creative role do you usually play in bringing your videos together?

BILLIE: It has to come from me and a partner, there’s a different sense of ownership and pride in your work if you know it’s come from yours or your friend’s brain, in the past I’ve played more of a subdued role in the video department and it was absolutely necessary for that to change. So here we are! Converse and corsets!

HAPPY: Garden of Eden and Creature of Mine both mention “dropping pennies” in the lyrics. Is there a connection there?

BILLIE: Well spotted – I was ensconced by that image at the time of writing this album because it means a lot of things; an idea forming (which was what was happening to me actively whilst conceiving this thing), the loss of something or someone you loved down the grate/gutter, and taking chances – throwing something out there and seeing what comes back to you. These were all ideas I was experiencing at the time.

HAPPY: You mentioned that if the album were a painting “it would look like flora and fauna”. What’s your relationship to nature?

BILLIE: It’s my everything, it’s something I’ll never forget and always return to, nature is a healer.

 

Flora Fauna is out now via Fiction Records / Virgin Music Australia. Stream or purchase your copy here.