Fresh from wowing the crowds at Wireless, rising East London songstress Phoenix Martins performs an acoustic version of her new single ‘Heart Strings’.
Goldsmith graduate and emotion-evoker Phoenix Martins takes inspiration from legends like Springsteen and Aaliyah, but her sound nods to 90s garage patriarchs like Shola Ama and Kele Le Roc. And from if the video for her debut track ‘Heart Strings’ is anything to go by, she’s aiming to be the whole package too – creative direction, vocal accomplishment and all. (Massive light flare not necessarily included.)
Phoenix exclusively performed the track for Wonderland Sessions and told us how she yearns to follow in Beyonce’s Glasto-playing footsteps, as well as take the road and do a tour of hospitals. We’re game if you are…
What have you been up to in the run-up to releasing your debut material?
Over the past couple of years I’ve been working on projects at the Roundhouse in Camden and been lucky enough to have been on the road and worked with artist such as Ebony Bones, Noisettes and Fyfe Dangerfield as well as taking part in Damon Albarn’s cross-cultural collaborations project ‘Africa Express’.
Have you always been highly passionate about music?
As a kid I was so passionate about short stories writing… Through this I guess I began applying my stories to song developing my passion for songwriting. They go hand in hand.
You live in East London – has the area shaped your sound in any way?
A great deal, East London is rich and diverse in its culture and mix of people. There’s always something going on. There are great markets, pop up Art Galleries and all sorts of festivals. I’m really excited for Lil’ Kim to come to the city to play at Lovebox this weekend. Not in a million years did I think I’d witness that!
You seem to be influenced by everyone from Aaliyah to Springsteen. How diverse is your interest in music?
I’m interested in sound art and sound installations. I Love Brian Eno and the work he creates, especially the healing installations he’s designed for hospitals to relax patients. I had the opportunity to sing for patients in East London day centre and at the Royal Brompton Hospital with the Roundhouse Choir. These experiences have inspired me and I would like to one day organise a hospital tour performing stripped back sessions for patients and their families.
Tell us more about the single ‘Heartstrings’. How was the track born?
Have you ever loved someone or something so much that it hurts? You can’t get out of bed because you dream about them and wake up wishing they were with you! The song is about love but knowing you have tried to make a relationship work and have to let go. It delivers a positive message too, about making a fresh start and moving on.
Who’ve you been working with on the record?
The awesome Joe Fields & Nick Carter. Guys responsible for working with Ben Harper, Mystery Jets and Neptunes! It’s been a real joy working with such talented people who have a great taste in music.
You seem pretty style-savvy. Who or what inspires the way in which you choose to dress?
My mum is a massive influence. I’d say that Audrey Hepburn is a style inspiration as well as Aaron Francis Walker and East London Designer Shopfloorwhore. Sometimes I think image can be translated through music itself. Radiohead are a prime example.
What would you have liked to have achieved by this time next year?
I really want to play next year’s Glastonbury and Green Man Festivals. I’d also like to be in the position to be working on a new album!
Words: Shane Hawkins (Follow Shane on Twitter @piccadilly_boy)