British singer-songwriter Billie Marten is due to release her fourth record Drop Cherries on 7 April. Recorded entirely on tape in Somerset and Wales late last summer, the album explores the unpredictable, intense, and sometimes chaotic stages of being in love. Following the release of two singles from the album – This Is How We Move and Nothing But Mine – I spoke to Billie about what we can expect from the anticipated-record.
SO, BILLIE, YOUR NEW ALBUM ‘DROP CHERRIES’ IS COMING OUT IN APRIL. I WAS WONDERING IF YOU COULD TELL ME ABOUT THE MEANING BEHIND THE TITLE?
Every time I choose a title, there’s always some kind of meaning behind it, but this one in particular I think is quite lovely. I was talking to a friend, and he was telling me about this sort of love story, epic event that had happened to him. Long story short it was unrequited love, to do with her being from a Christian background. And in the middle of the story, this friend mentions that he would do anything for her, regardless of why they couldn’t be together. And she said, well, ‘sometimes our love feels like stamping blood-red cherries on a cream carpet’. The next morning, we went and bought a carpet and stood cherries into it. I just loved that idea.
DO YOU THINK THIS ALBUM DIFFERS FROM THE OTHER RECORDS YOU’VE PUT OUT?
I think it’s a combination of the first and second album – Writing of Blues and Yellows and Feeding Seahorses by Hand – but just knowing ten years more. It was great to have a different kind of musical environment too, just players and sounds and singing, it was a lot more natural. I found that during gigs I was struggling to sing over the music, so with this album I kind of sculptured it around the lyrics and it became something a lot more colloquial and natural.
YOU’VE PUT OUT TWO SINGLES, THIS IS HOW WE MOVE AND NOTHING BUT MINE. ARE THE REST OF THE TRACKS ALONG A SIMILAR PATH?
They’ve all got their own thing going on. We used a lot of different instruments that I hadn’t used before and everything was played live too so each track moves at a different pace. Drop Cherries is the last track on the album, and it goes very much back to basics – just a guitar, a little bit of piano and vocals – but it definitely goes places.
SO, EVERYTHING WAS RECORDED LIVE? WAS THE RECORDING PROCESS OVER A LONG PERIOD OF TIME OR WAS IT QUITE INTENSE?
Yes – well the odd shaker was added after – but in terms of the playing together everything was done live. It was quite an intense process – I think we did the whole things in two weeks. It was succinct, there was no time to mess around, and I think that’s what got the best takes out of it.
AND DID YOU HAVE ANY MUSICAL INFLUENCES FOR THE ALBUM?
I don’t think I could compare this record to a specific album. I think it was more about trusting my own instincts and tastes and not getting too caught up in the different current musical landscapes, which is something I’m quite conscious of. I’m not really doing what the world wants right now, but they’re going to get it anyway! The record is secure in itself, I would say.
DO YOU THINK YOU HAVE A FAVOURITE TRACK?
Hmm, a favourite track. There’s one called Arrows – which you will hear – which was written on the train back from a pre-production day in the studio. And for me, if you were to just read the lyrics and not even listen to the song, it kind of encapsulates the whole thing. Which doesn’t make much sense to you now, but it will. It’s about understanding yourself, having your own narrative and not being too influenced by other things.
AND IN TERMS OF HOW YOU WRITE SONGS, DO YOU USUALLY START WITH THE LYRICS AND THEN ADD THE MUSIC?
It’s very much different every time. Arrows was obviously a stream of consciousness, writing in a stanza and poetic kind of way and then fitting that to very minimal chords that suited the mood. Other times I just pick up the guitar or play on the piano – like on Nothing But Mine – and just play chords over and over again until things gradually fit together. It’s very much a guessing game.
AND YOU’RE GOING ON TOUR SOON, ARE YOU EXCITED TO REPLICATE WHAT YOU CREATED IN THE STUDIO, LIVE FOR PEOPLE?
Yes. There’s also a lot more room for experimentation with this album, and we can kind of lengthen out the songs for transitions which will be nice. I’m also playing a lot more than I was at the beginning, and I’m getting used to the fact that you don’t have to replicate songs in their entirety as they are exactly on the record. I’ve just got a lot more freedom with this one, and I can be kind of spontaneous. We’re going to switch from full band to just solo stuff too, so there’ll be a bit of everything.
Billie will be going on tour from May 2023, after the release of Drop Cherries on 7 April 2023.
Official image taken from: