We Went To The Beach With Banoffee
To talk about women vibes.
Melbourne-based Martha Brown aka Banoffee has been making music that makes us want to be her best mate for a little while now. She just dropped a new album called Do I Make You Nervous full of good R&B/glitchy electronic/bass sounds and tracks that we can totally relate to. So, in the name of making friends/IRL hangs we took her to the beach when she came to Sydney to talk about boys, dancing alone and women vibes.
Amrita Hepi: I felt like when I was listening to your EP, I was a fly on the window going on all these different and intensely personal car trips with you. Can you tell me about 'With Her', the new single?
Martha Brown: Oh, that's really nice! Sure. 'With Her' was recorded in Sydney — actually in Tamarama — in my friend Luen's studio with Oscar. It's actually the most literal track I've ever recorded. It's pretty much [about] exactly what you think: infidelity and that loss of ego you get when you realise you're not as free-spirited and carefree as you wanna be; you thought you had everything together but you're actually the fool in the situation. I liked referencing Mario in that track and just flipping it on its head.
But I recorded 'With Her' quite a while after I wrote it. When we did record it, I was going through quite a hard time. I don't know if you can hear it but I actually sobbed through every take of that song. We'd have to do a take then go outside and chain smoke, have a breather, go inside and do another take. It's the first time I've been like, "IT'S FOR THE ART!" [Laughs] "Just let it go."
I feel like Banoffee in the past has always been about being the strong one and being above the sort of vulnerability that other people enforce on you, and I wanted to make it clear that you can't always do that and that's OK... And how we managed the production on that was that I liked the idea of [it] being quite satirical, so it's got a bit of a dance beat behind it. Like, you know that song by Robyn 'Dancing On My Own'? You're singing along to it feeling really empowered and then you realise the what the lyrics are and you're like, "That's fucked, I'm dancing on my own!" Sorry Robyn!
But thanks Robyn — you get me, girl!
Thanks Robyn! So I guess it's just like acknowledging that things can be shit but let's dance to it.
Listening to it made me question my own past actions and experiences, and want to know more about yours.
I wanted it to sort of function so it would create flashbacks. You know that feeling when you start going over the past couple of months and you see it differently? And you go, "Oh my god I thought this was going on but I was wrong. I was completely rose-glassed there and it's completely different." So that was the imagery in the verses — just creating that feeling of ruminating over things and going: "Omg omg omg... I was wrong, this is fucked." But they're all real memories and I tried to keep it as true to my real narrative as possible, because I never do that. I'm always hiding things in metaphor and making things quite layered and I decided I wanted to do a song that was exactly how it was for me, and get it out there.
Now the film clip was epic.
Naw, thank you!
Did you have quite a clear idea of what that would look like when you were putting it together?
Sort of… Me and Alice Glenn made that clip together. Alice has done all of my film clips so far but I went to her thinking it wouldn't be possible.
They are the best ideas usually.
Yeah I was like, "So I wanna have it in a pool and I was wondering whether we could have dancers in the pool? And I know we don't have a budget but how about shooting it underwater?" [Laughs] Alice is really amazing — she doesn't let limitations get in the way of an idea ever. She is fantastic to work with because she's super fast and super productive and she'll have an idea on the day and just go with it like, "Screw the plan, this is looking great, let's just do this." So we came up with the idea together but it definitely progressed as we directed and worked together. And that clip is really her baby and I wanna give her massive credit for that because she just nailed it so much. It was a collaboration, it depended a lot on Aisha's choreography and what that was gonna bring to the table.
At the start we looked at getting synchronised swimmers. I looked at a lot of synchronised swimming teams but a lot of ethical issues came up for me as far as what age group the girls might be. Wanting them to feel comfortable on camera, you know? Having something they could be proud of [instad of] in 10 years time looking back on it and going, "Oh god I made that decision as a 10-year-old".
Yeah like asking the 10-year-olds to listen to the song and see what they think it's about?
Oh yeah! I have an 11-year-old niece and I do it to her all the time — and she's actually pretty spot on. She's a very smart girl, she really gets into 'Ninja' a lot and I feel she really gets that track. But she's just starting to get into boys and it's really lovely listening to her version of love and remembering how exciting that was; so I don't wanna tell her about what 'With Her' is about, I don't wanna ruin it for her.
And what are you listening to at the moment?
Oh god so much, but in all honesty — and I'm gonna tell you guys cause I think you'll get it — [I'm] so nuts about Justin Beiber's new song!
Me too! He should never not have pan pipes in a song!
Oh my god, the clip needs to be trashed. And I feel like whoever made that clip has just done something to their career not in a good way. Im obsessed with Kelani at the moment and a lot of UK artists. Im really digging that so many women are just nailing it in music at the moment — Tink, Twigs, Kelela and there [are] a lot of women just really coming up in the ranks. In Australia, too, the amount of female musicians and producers... And the funny thing is that people talk about it like it's just started to happen, and its like, "No they've always been around dude you're only just starting to notice." Sui Zhen, killing it. Felicity Yang, absolutely killing it. She's a Melbourne producer. Maya Sereswati, MIA... The women vibes are just going off right now.
Do you have any dream collaborations?
Oh god — so many! Tink. Tink has been on my radar for so long, I'd love to work with her. I'd love to work with a rapper. I mean there are a lot of people who are dead or just completely unavailable — Arthur Russell, Erykah Badu… I've been talking a lot about Michachu she's someone I really respect as a producer, she also makes music under the name Michachu & The Shapes and she's from the UK. I toured with her in my old band and I've been trying to somehow use that as a way to woo her like, "Hi do you remember me from six years ago? I was 19 and really drunk". But she's amazing, Björk has written articles about her, people go crazy about it, she's just done an album with Tirzah... Some of the people I'd like to work with aren't epically famous but they are just out of my reach, which hurts even more I think. Goals though; life goals.
I heard something the other day I want to run by you… The idea that you're gonna be an artist for a long time, maybe your whole life and to just keep going at your own pace...
Yeah, like, just slow down and just enjoy where you're at, which is hard to do. Especially if you have team who are encouraging you and supporting you, which means constantly making you focus on the future, so you keep moving. And that can sometimes mean that you don't appreciate where you're at. That happens a lot to me — thinking that I should be better than I am, or I should be doing better. And I just have to stop and be like: I didn't think I'd be able to do this as a job and I am so let's just go with that for now.
And what's the remedy that pulls you out of those not so great moments?
I think what pulls me out that headspace is live shows and that people really put their time and effort into buying tickets and showing up. That's something I'm super grateful for and you never get used to it. You should never get used to the fact that people are showing you support and encouragement especially in a small city where it can be really dog-eat-dog. It's nuts the support coming out of Australia, it's something to focus on and it's great.