Marika Hackman and the Power of Influences

I'm Not Your ManLondon-based Marika Hackman has always worn her influences on her sleeve, with Syd Barrett leading the pack. His psych folk can be heard on her debut single and first demo, “You Come Down”, and reviews from the time are littered with references to the Pink Floyd man. On her second album I'm Not Your Man, Hackman duly reinforces her taste in music through melody, layered distortion, and feedback (lead single and opening track “Boyfriend” providing a great example).

There’s more to this record than comparison to the late great Barrett, however. The 25-year-old has taken her influences – amongst them Syd, but also femininity, gender stereotyping, sex and sexuality, and y'know, her life – to create a kind of music that’s entirely her own. Wonders will never cease: the girl makes music.

Hackman’s choice of a bolder production could come as a surprise. For her debut, We Slept At Last, she employed producer Charlie Andrew. The collaboration with the one-time Alt-J conspirator comes through loud and clear. By-then established songs are included on the debut, but each track is touched by a fresh alt-pop sound. When the album was released in 2015, the sharp jolt of loved psych folk tracks transformed was begrudgingly accepted by most. Only live shows acted as a reminder of Marika's roots, by returning to the eerie yet captivating and stripped back performances she had become famed for.

In comparison, the halcyon days of the '70s music scene and albums such as The Madcap Laughs come through loud and clear on I’m Not Your Man, whose opening track “Boyfriend” even starts with a carefree chuckle. Tracks like “Violet” and “Round We Go” slow down to reveal an underbelly full of the echoing sound of an electric guitar, feeding the perception that this album hails all things lo-fi, even if it was recorded in a plush studio somewhere in London. It’s no wonder Hackman has signed to Sub Pop Records to release the record Stateside.

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Music isn't the only thing that's been pulled to the front of Marika's admirably crowded head. Long known as a fan of art and once an art student in Brighton, it's no surprise that the front cover of I'm Not Your Man is as intricate as the music within. Analyse the Tristen Pigott artwork with a fine tooth comb, Hackman promises, and you'll find references to the songs and also Pigott's work. There's even an interactive website to help listeners understand the concept. This may be a step too far for readers who prefer their music to strictly entertain, but it's an interesting idea nonetheless and one that many will no doubt appreciate.

Lyrically, I’m Not Your Man swoops in with a heady charisma that screams of the talking forests and lakes that Hackman's work once revolved around, but it doesn't revel in make believe. Likewise, ideologically the biggest influence on I'm Not Your Man is not, ironically enough, two men in the form of Barrett and Pigott. It's Marika herself. The album has already been heavily publicised as a record about sex and sexuality, and early singles "Cigarette" and "My Lover Cindy" reinforce this. While it's true Hackman has used the space to explore femininity and feminism, her personal experience and honesty seem to be a more poignant theme for this writer.

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Let's make things clear: I'm Not Your Man is more than a homage to the music and art scenes that have influenced Hackman. This is the sound of a talented individual calling to rank, to produce a comprehensive snapshot of her mind. It's an obvious thing to say: music will always influence musicians. What matters and makes great art standout is the creator's ability to prioritise their own version of events. As Hackman herself states of the I'm Not Your Man recording process: “I felt more bold and confident to stop hiding things, to stop talking about water, lakes, and trees when I just wanna write about the fact that I've broken up with my girlfriend.”

I'm Not Your Man is the purest form of Marika Hackman recorded, and for DrunkenWerewolf, that's an extremely exciting concept.

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