Marika Hackman Q&A: “Kathy Acker changed my creative outlook”

The musician talks Game of Thrones, John Bonham, and The Jungle Book.

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Marika Hackman was born in Hampshire in 1992. She started playing the drums aged ten and guitar aged 12, and released her debut album, “We Slept at Last”, in 2015. She has toured with artists including alt-J, Laura Marling and the 1975.

What’s your earliest memory?

I must have been younger than four; I remember waking up in bed and I was absolutely terrified. I have no idea why. It was that weird pre-dawn light and I think I had a fear of the dark from that point on.

Who are your heroes?

I was obsessed with John Bonham when I was about ten and learning the drums. I asked my drum teacher to show me all the Led Zeppelin drum parts every lesson. As an adult, I’ll stick with the drum theme and say Stella Mozgawa from Warpaint.

What book last changed your thinking?

Blood and Guts in High School by Kathy Acker changed my creative outlook massively with regards to how I write lyrics. The directness of her sense of shame about sexual issues was particularly inspiring for my latest record.

Which political figure do you look up to?

I’m feeling pretty disenfranchised with political figures at the moment. But there are a lot of inspirational women coming to the fore, such as Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Jacinda Ardern. I’m looking forward to seeing how they shape the future of politics.

What would be your Mastermind specialist subject?

Game of Thrones. As nerdy as it sounds, it’s been a big part of my life.

In which time and place, other than your own, would you like to live?

I would have liked to have been a teenager around the time I was a baby – but I might have a rose-tinted view, from the way my parents describe their life in the 1990s. It feels like there was a sense of optimism, which has since come crashing down.

Who would paint your portrait?

Peter Doig – I like the serenity of his work. I imagine he’d paint me as a small figure among a large natural landscape, which would reflect my feelings of human insignificance.

What’s your theme tune?

You know in The Jungle Book, when Baloo sings, “Well, it’s a doo-bee-dee-doo”? That’s been in my head for about five years.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?

Turning things down is just as important as taking opportunities. You can’t say yes to everything, and trying to keep everyone happy is never going to make you happy.

What’s currently bugging you?

I have bad knees from playing football like an idiot.

What single thing would make your life better?

I don’t believe in giving that much weight to single things. That’s a sure-fire way to make yourself unhappy.

When were you happiest?

Probably when I was around 16. I was a melancholic child, but I started to settle into myself as a teenager – before becoming a highly anxious adult.

In another life, what job might you have chosen?

A gardener or a carpenter. I like the idea of manual work combined with logic and a dash of creativity.

Are we all doomed?

Of course. 

“Any Human Friend” by Marika Hackman is out now on Sub Pop

This article appears in the 16 August 2019 issue of the New Statesman, The age of conspiracy