Melbourne artist Martha Brown aka Banoffee, has certainly spread her wings locally and aboard over the past year, with her vintage synths and modern R&B stylings, that can be found featured heavily on her self-titled EP which was released via Two Bright Lakes / Remote Control in 2014.
We caught up with Martha ahead of her performance at this years Sugar Mountain Festival.
I read somewhere that your moniker is an ode to your musical indulgence and aesthetics. Have there been rewards and sacrifices in pursuing Banoffee?
Both are constant.
I find a lot of things rewarding, sometimes I feel like I’m a child who purposely expects no birthday presents, so that when they get a pencil wrapped in brown paper, it feels like the best thing in the world.
Sacrifice is just a must in the music industry, I have more control of my project than some because I’m a solo artist, but that also means that I have to risk humiliation a lot which is scary – and humiliation comes bountifully to a big mouth like me.
In saying all of the above, – I love what I do, and its worth it.
You’re very passionate about social justice. Would you consider your music self-empowering or want it to empower others?
My music empowers me, but every song does so for a different purpose. It’s really nice when I hear that someone has taken something useful from one of my tracks, but I don’t write them to be that way.
I guess songwriting for me is explorative and when I’m exploring feelings or situations that confuse me it probably results in something that someone else out there can relate to.
I have no idea what I actually consider my songs to be – I’m so involved with them that I can’t see them objectively. To me they are just a big part of me and a big part of most of my days.
I love hearing what they mean to other people because I get a little glimpse into what these weird things must look like to another.
As an individual, you have a distinct aesthetic. Is there anything staple in the way you present yourself, either stylistically or musically?
No staples – but I have favorites.
I love playing with vocal layers and there are a lot of harmonies in my music. Stylistically I guess I’m a lot less committed, have you seen the video clip to Pink’s song “get the party started’? She is standing in this big wardrobe dressing up as different personalities, and each day she looks like a totally different person – I often re-enact that at home.
I like following a hunch with my style musically, and that can change every day.
Clothes are expressive for sure, but I like to just express how I was feeling that morning – there’s no deeper communication going on with my aesthetic visually!
Your track ‘Let’s Go To The Beach’ is such a fierce and soulful blend. Were there any musical influences that helped develop its production?
Ah Thanks! LGTTB was a group effort, I brought the song to Oscar Key Sung, Sam Perry and Haima Marriott and all three have influenced it.
The final production was done by Sam and Haima, and I for one can hear them and the changes they made all over the track.
Sam and I listened to a lot of old soul, disco and 70’s funk music around that time (Sam is a fantastic musician himself and makes mental electronic music) and I definitely think my desire to be as strong as Grace Jones influences the song, although you can’t really hear her as an influence.
Melbourne songstresses are killing it right now in the industry. How do you feel about being part of this culture?
I bloody love it!
It’s not even about our city for me – it’s about the fact that the line that was drawn decades ago that separated “pop music” from “alternative music” has been wiggled all over the place, and with the internet killing us and making us at the same time, the amount of interesting production coming through is so exciting.
Melbourne is a fantastic place to live, and I’m so proud of us for making a mark musically, but I’m not a patriotic person and I’m more excited about the fact that music is creating change in the world.
Women’s rights, indigenous rights, media rights, the right to information, political change, gay rights, the list goes on – music is there, and its opening up minds that we all thought would be closed forever.
You appear very close with other devoted musicians like Oscar Key Sung, Chela and Remi. What’s the best thing about being inside the Melbourne music and fashion community?
All of the above are great and hardworking people- I think the best thing for me is feeling supported in an industry that is really intimidating.
Without realizing it, we are all giving each other little leg ups as well, whether it be wearing an Australian brand or featuring each other – each of these little gestures helps to showcase the makings our community.
Your music is very minimal and new wave R’N’B. Have there been aspects of recording that have been difficult or exciting?
Difficult for sure!
I don’t have the money to work in big studios, so a lot of my ideas have to be filtered down, simplified or just chucked out.
The exciting thing about this is that having a limited array of equipment forces you to be creative and find good stuff where you thought there wasn’t.
I record everything I make firstly without a mic just straight into my computer. It’s often during this process that I hear a clap or gasp in the background that I can sample and make an important part of the song.
Is there any acts or artists at Sugar Mountain you’re looking forward to meeting?
There are a lot of people I’d like to meet, a lot of visual artists are really exciting this year and if I bumped into Nas I might spew with unworthiness.
However I hold no expectations – Its hard to actually meet people at festivals believe it or not; Everyone IS running around like headless chooks and most of the time you’re there to get ya shit done and then you’re out.
I feel very honored to share the space with these people though and I hope I don’t spew on Nas.
Anything exciting planned for 2015?
I’m going to release an EP soon so a single will be out at some point in the near future – again exciting and risky. The birthday present scenario from question 1 can be applied.
I’m also planning on going back to the States and over to the UK. If these plans happen (I recently sideswiped a Porsche, so my bank account is looking pretttttty shite) then my year will be super exciting.
Banoffee will perform at Sugar Mountain on Saturday 24th January.
Sugar Mountain – Victorian College of the Arts – Melbourne
Nas performs Illmatic, Body/Head (Kim Gordon + Bill Nace), ODESZA, SWANS, Ariel Pink, Soul Clap, Horse Meat Disco, The 2 Bears, FunkinEven, Nick Monaco, Iceage, Dan Deacon, Terrible Love feat. Kirin J Callinan, How To Dress Well, Midnight Juggernauts MJX Pty Ltd , Bo Ningen, King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard, Twerps, Dexter, NO ZU + Sal P (Liquid Liquid), Chela, Banoffee, Oscar Key Sung x Cassius Select, Rat & Co, Slum Sociable, Wax’o Paradiso, LA Pocock, Noise In My Head
Leif Podhajsky, Hisham Bharoocha, Ash Keating, Abby Portner, Robin Fox | Nonotak
Johann Rashid, Cara Stricker x John Kirby, Keith Deverell, Ghostpatrol Sean Morris, Cornelius Brown, Poppy Lane, Confetti System
Food and bars:
Hammer & Tong | The Beaufort | Ike’s Rack Shack
Rockwell and Sons
Raph Rashid – Snack Stand | Uncle + more