Q+A: 5 minutes with Marti West

From his birthplace in Tuscany to his musical haven in the UK, musician Marti West travels the route of classic songwriting with his latest single ‘Nobody Knows Me (Like You)’, keeping to the essentials: drums, guitar, vocals, and good ol’ ‘80s synth lines.  The whole thing feels very vintage, with a crisp twist. Furthermore, the record is the first single to be shared from his forthcoming album Talking To Strangers, which is slated for release later this year (the 28th of April). That said, we got to know Marti West better: 

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Set the tone for us. Why the arts?

Woah, straight in. Well, I grew up in a musical family where there was always a lot of value placed on artistic expression. Nowadays, it’s mostly just that it’s a really addictive feeling. There are these moments when I’m writing or recording especially when an idea I’ve been struggling with suddenly clicks. That’s one of the most exhilarating moments I know and probably why I keep doing it.

Which comes first when you’re producing – the sound or the idea?

Always the idea.

Does your material feature any collaborations?

Not yet!

What’s on your current playlist?

At the moment it’s The War On Drugs, Perfume Genius, and a lot of LÉON.

What techniques do you experiment with to get your original sound?

Up to now, my sound has always been quite stripped back. But on this album, I’ve tried to be a bit more ambitious. The experiment this time has been to create a bigger sound–think synths, ‘80s drums, and vocoders–and combine it with where I started: folky harmonies and storytelling at the forefront.

Take us through a day in the recording studio.

It’s been quite a methodical approach to recording: start with the foundation of drums and vocals and then build the arrangement around that. Normally it’s a case of making a pot of coffee and noodling with synths and guitars until I find an idea that adds something to the track without taking away from something else.

Any emerging artists on your radar?

Madison Cunningham, Riga Tiger, Vargtimma.

What gets your creative juices flowing?

Normally it’s listening to music. If I ever feel stuck in a rut or out of ideas, I can just stick on Discover Weekly, and pretty soon I’ll hear something that flicks a switch in my head.

How have you refined your craft since you entered the industry?

Well, hopefully, I have. Obviously over time you collect different gear, different mics, and all that stuff which can help you make more choices, and get the sound you like. More broadly though, I’ve learnt to listen better, to take my time, and that–most of the time–less is more.

Break down the news for us: what can we expect from you this year?

There are a few things in the pipeline, but mostly I’m really excited to put out my next album this spring. I’m also working on a new music video that I’m really excited for people to see.

Famous last words?

Not much more to say except that I can’t wait for the album release. This collection of songs feels a lot more personal than my previous stuff, which can be a bit scary, but mostly I’m just so excited for people to hear them!

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Image credit: Daniel Israel-Quinn