Interview: In-depth with UK-based musician Marti West

Marti West, Simple Minds, Bon Iver, The Tallest Man On Earth
Marti West, Simple Minds, Bon Iver, The Tallest Man On Earth

Image credit: Daniel Israel-Quinn

Here’s what we learned about Marti West: He is a musician who loves the quiet solitude of the studio. He comes from a family versed in the craft of music. He was conceived in Tuscany, Italy. However, London has been the birthplace of his latest record ‘Nobody Knows Me (Like You)’, which is taken from a larger body of work, an album he has named Talking To Strangers, which will see the light on the 28th of April 2023. What else, you ask? Let’s have Marti tell us the rest:

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‘Nobody Knows Me (Like You)’ contains vintage ‘80s synth sounds. What inspired you to use this sonic palette?

I’ve always been a fan of ‘80s songs. These are the songs that my parents would play when I was a child, so in a way I feel very connected to them. When I began making this new album I wanted to combine my folky tone with those classic ‘80s sounds I grew up listening to, and I found it was a blend that I really liked – that was the starting point.

You mentioned that the song is about a breakup. What music do you listen to when you’re feeling heartsick?

I’m a wallower, so it would normally be something slightly depressing. Sad bangers are my go-to: I love Robin-esque tracks that seem so danceable on first listen, but when you dig a little deeper there’s a really sad story underneath it. I’ve always found that a really interesting dichotomy and something I’ve tried to incorporate into the new album. 

To those not familiar with you, how would you describe your sound?

Indie-folk with ethereal harmonies and a pop-rock flavour.

Which three albums have influenced you the most creatively?

Oh, tough one – I think this has changed a lot over the years, but on my album, the influences that might come through the most are ‘Lost In The Dream’ by The War On Drugs, ‘Circles’ by LÉON, and there’s always a bit of Paul Simon’s ‘Still Crazy After All These Years’ in there…

Tell us about the key pieces of equipment that you use to define your sound?

I recorded a lot of this new album on a Sennheiser 441. It’s such a joy to use – everything sounds great on it, and I think it contributed a lot to the overall sound of the album. A new element on the new stuff that I’ve really enjoyed playing around with is the iZotope VocalSynth 2. It’s a lovely little tool that allows you to manipulate vocal sounds in all sorts of ways, and it’s added a little layer of something different to each song.

Is there any “non-musical” ingredient that is essential to crafting your sound?

While I do love playing with other people, and being in the studio, I’ve always enjoyed recording most when I’m own. I think that imbues the recording sessions with a sense of solitude, introspection, and intimacy that comes through in the songs.

Studio work and music creation, or performing and interacting with a live audience, which do you prefer?

I’ve always felt much happier in my room, noodling around with a new idea than up on stage, so it’s got to be the first one for me.

What has been your most memorable performance so far?

One of the gigs I enjoyed the most was a little show I did in my hometown a few years ago. The audience was so receptive and created such a lovely atmosphere for me.

And which performance would you prefer to forget?

The Fleece, Bristol, 2016. The room was half empty, our gear was malfunctioning… awful. But it definitely built character, and we still laugh about it now.

Any new or emerging artists on your radar?

I’ve been listening to a lot of Madison Cunningham recently, who is a new artist to me at least. Also can’t stop listening to Holly Humberstone at the moment.

If you could collaborate with, or perform alongside any artist, who would it be? And why?

There are so many people I’ve looked up to over the years that I’d like to work alongside, but Dustin Tebbutt has been one of my inspirations for a long time, so doing something with him would be thrilling.

If you weren’t a musician what would you be?

Tricky one! I can’t really imagine doing much else at the moment, but I’ve always loved being out and about in nature so maybe a… gardener?

Tell us about any upcoming shows or releases you have in the pipeline.

I’m super excited about my new single ‘Somebody New’ that’s coming out on March 3rd, and then an album coming out on April 28th. It’s a little step in a different direction for me, so I can’t wait to hear what people think. The first single ‘Nobody Knows Me (Like You)’ just came out so have a listen to that to get a feel for the sound.

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