Flower Power: Indie-Folk Starlet Billie Marten Talks Seventies Roots And ‘Flora Fauna’

Amrit Virdi

Billie Marten’s third album, Flora Fauna, sees her songwriting bloom with confidence and clarity. Using nature’s metaphors to explore personal growth and humankind’s precariousness, it is soundtracked, largely, by a departure from the pretty but safe acoustic sound of her previous long-lengths. Amrit Virdi caught up with the singer amidst a busy release week to delve beneath the daisies. 

Yorkshire-born indie-folk starlet Billie Marten, known for her soft vocals atop melodious guitars and piano backings, has amassed almost two million monthly listeners on Spotify, making her an established name in a busy music scene. Prior to the release of her third studio album Flora Fauna, which is now available to buy and stream, I caught up with the 22-year-old singer-songwriter to delve into the record’s inspirations and motifs, as Marten steers away from her usual folk sound in the 2021 release.

Speaking to Billie at the start of Flora Fauna’s busy release week, the singer’s hectic schedule was apparent as I managed to get a chance to chat with her as she claimed she was amidst “signing 3000 postcards of my face.” After a year lacking live music and human interaction, with Marten claiming that ‘music has obviously taken such a massive blow,“ this is just the start of a busy album cycle, one which has been timed “subliminally well” to avoid covid restrictions. “We’re heading out to do the record store shows next week which is mental. And the tour is supposed to be happening and everything is just rolling! So it will be amazing just to see some actual human faces again that aren’t my family or close friends,“ Marten muses.

“Nature’s in there, religion’s in there, crime’s in there, lust is in there – all the big ones”

With homegrown, nature-themed singles Garden of Eden and Creature of Mine hinting at the organic and authentic tone of the album, Marten describes the album as a chance for her to make use of a creative outlet. “I needed to get a lot of things off my chest, and I had spent many years writing about the same sort of thing, which was feeling like an anomaly in society and feeling a bit blue. I didn’t really want to extend that narrative any longer. I touch on it in some parts of the album, but it is definitely not the main narrative. And there were just quite a few frustrations I needed to get out, hence why the music sounds a bit different, and it’s a lot more at the core and instant and less floaty and lyrical. Nature’s in there, religion’s in there, crime’s in there, lust is in there – all the big ones,“ Marten expresses.

Given the two-year gap from the release of the singer-songwriter’s last studio album Feeding Seahorses by Hand, Marten is clearly at a new, expressive, and comfortable point in her musical journey, describing herself as a “lost soul“ during the creative process of her last album. “I was with a label I wasn’t happy with, and personally, I wasn’t having a good time, and this time around I’ve just made sure that I’m actively enjoying everything and putting my heart and soul into it, and kind of diving in,“ Marten admits when reflecting upon her musical and personal development.

Growing up atop a “classic 70s folk background,” Marten got into the guitar early on, influenced by the likes of John Martyn and Nick Drake; influences which are clearly visible on past albums Feeding Seahorses by Hand and Writing of Blues and Yellows. On Flora Fauna, however, Marten reveals, “I was taking more of a nineties grunge turn. But also the seventies, as I was listening to a lot of Can at the time. Just bands that focus on drum and bass instruments as the bed of the songs. Fiona Apple’s record came out at the start of the lockdown and that was such a pivotal moment for me. She’d made this thing that I wanted to make but she got there first! She’s always been a very strong female influence for me definitely.“ Much like Apple, Marten wants to be a supportive voice for her fans, stating that the take-home message of the record “really is about giving yourself a break sometimes and being honest with yourself and not really putting up with anyone else’s narrative. Stick to your own sort of thing.“

When reflecting on her career so far, Marten’s passion for music and for songwriting being creative documentation of her life is evident. “I think I accidentally stumbled into music and was just given a very lucky break early on, but I definitely cannot do anything else and I’ll always want to make music. I don’t know in what form that will take, but it’s ingrained into you, and every person that is a writer needs to constantly document, and that’s why we do it.“ And she has no plans on stopping anytime soon. In ten years time, Marten admits, “I’d love to be making music still and I’d love to be comfortable with who I am and carry on.“ To hear the evolution of Marten’s musical journey, which is set to go from strength to strength, Flora Fauna is available to buy and stream now to hear a raw take on the times we are living in.

Amrit Virdi

Featured image courtesy of Billie Marten via Chuff Media.  Images granted to Impact by their owners. Image use license found here. No changes made to this image.

In-article image courtesy of Billie Marten via Chuff Media. Images granted to Impact by their owners. Image use license found here. No changes made to this image.

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