Banoffee is Melbourne artist Martha Brown’s first solo project, after coming from the band, Otouto. Beginning as a bedroom project, Brown wrote personal songs she never saw going anywhere outside her bedroom walls. Now she’s gearing up to release a five-track EP with those songs and a little bit of help from fellow Melbournite, Oscar Key Sung.
As such, the EP meshes together delicate and personal songwriting with an RnB sensibility often straying into areas of electronica. Got It cleverly depicts two narratives with Brown dueting alongside a vocally manipulated male while Let’s Go To The Beach sees her embrace a deep-house instrumental. The rest of the EP sits in between those two with Brown’s organic voice and honest lyrics always in the spotlight.
We spoke to Banoffee ahead of her East Coast EP tour which kicks off at Brisbane’s BIGSOUND conference.
How did Banoffee come to be?
Banoffee started a few years ago when a band I was in called Otouto started to come to an end and I wanted to continue to play music. I wanted to start making music for me. It was a project to keep me entertained at the start. I wasn’t really sure I would release it. Alot of people have commented on it being quite an honest release. Alot of the songs are very personal to me. They were made in my bedroom for my own comfort at the time. I guess I kept making songs and started recording things and when people started showing interest I thought “oh hey, maybe I could make this a proper project”. And that’s where it started from there.
Are you finding it interesting to come from a band to do everything like shows and press by youself?
I think a bit of both. It’s pretty crazy being solo. In the band everything was split by three. Decisions were always split by three so there was always someone there keeping things in line whereas with me I worry I’ve lost perspective and I think “oh God, what if i’m writing absolute crap and I have no one to tell me”. But it’s also really enjoyable in that way because I get to make decision purely because they’re right for me. I have a lot more freedom and a lot more choice in that way.
Have you still collaborated with a few people for the EP?
I have. Four of the songs are co-produced by Oscar Key Sung who is also on the same record label as me, Two Bright Lakes, and we had a lot of fun with that. I wrote the songs but I wanted help with beatmaking and bringing a bit of his feel to the table. And then the last song, Let’s Go To The Beach, I actually co-produced with Sam Perry who plays for Architecture in Helsinki. That was a really fun song to make because I’m just starting out making more electronic music and that song is the most electronic on the EP. They put alot into that piece with me in making it danceable and what I really envisioned it to be. So, I did still collaborate and work with others along the way.
How did you move towards your RnB/Electronic sound?
I think I listen to a lot of music that is RnB and electronic influenced. More present people who are playing around now like AlunaGeorge, Pikachu and Jai Paul are that. I listen to that a lot and could hear the more soulful elements of their music coming through but I really loved the…I don’t know, there’s something about electronic music that is harsher. It doesn’t have the warmth that electronic music has and I really enjoyed adding that element to my music, especially after playing around with synthesizers a lot in the last couple of years and listening to a lot of synth music like College of Desire and ‘80s artists. I really wanted to bring those together. I’ve always listened to RnB growing up and I’ve always listened to country growing but synthesizers and electronic music is something that only came to me in the last five years. I was excited to bring those elements together and hearing other people do it, even older artists like Arthur Russell, I felt really inspired to mix it up and create something that brought together all my musical enjoyments.
[soundcloud width=”750″ height=”200″]https://soundcloud.com/banoffeeme/reign-down[/soundcloud]
Are there certain records that you keep returning to for inspiration?
Love Is Overtaking Me by Arthur Russell is a big one. I listen to that a lot. There are songs and areas that I go back to more than albums. There are quite a few Mariah Carey songs that I think are written brilliantly that I listen to again and again for inspiration. Aswell as late 90s, early 2000s RnB that included people like Ne-Yo and Mario. I think a lot of people think that it’s kind of easy, sell-out, pop/RnB but the production is amazing and the songwriting is really well done. So, I got back to that to remind myself that songwriting is important and a very big part of music to me to have a thought-through structure that goes with the lyrics and the instrumentation.
Have you found that working on your music in Melbourne and being around that scene has been inspiring?
Yeah, definitely. I think any city will be inspiring musically. The community has had a huge impact on the way I make music. Just working with such an array of musicians who make really interesting music like working with Nick Cousins since I was very young, like 14 until now has really helped me understand the instruments I’m using and more of the technical side of music. Nick taught me that you can love more organic sounding music like country music and folk and mix it with synthesizers and sequencers and put a beat to it and indulge in the two sides. Being a part of Two Bright Lakes has really helped me do that. If you listen to alot of the artists they mix a lot of genres together. They are not defined by one genre or one area of music and that’s really helped me.
A lot of overseas media and the moment are talking about how Australia is in this golden period for music. Are you noticing that?
Yeah, I think Australia is killing it at the moment and it’s really exciting to be a part of the music scene here. In Melbourne and Sydney and Brisbane, it’s really exciting to hear friends that have worked so hard, getting the appreciation they deserve. Like, watching Oscar Key Sung go up the ranks and seeing how internationally he’s doing so well and girls like Chela who’s now living in LA and being appreciated for her art and her hard work, that’s fantastic. These people really deserve it and whether it is that Australia is in the zone right now, I’m not sure it’s that we have gotten any better, I think that people are noticing there is some really great stuff going on here.
Are you finding it interesting to see when you release a song how many different places it goes?
It’s weird. It’s really weird. Yeah, I do find it interesting. It’s great. How the hell did people survive without the internet. I feel like I’m very much an internet artist. I don’t play live very often so the internet has really helped me. You can go into SoundCloud and go into statistics and it shows you where your music is being made. I have more people listening to my songs in America than I do here and that weirds me out. I’m like, “I don’t know any of them”. They’re not listening to me because they feel like they have to because they’re my friends.
Are you excited to take the EP into the live arena?
Yeah, I’m looking forward to it. I must admit, I’m quite nervous to play, just because I’m quite shy. But I’m really looking forward to playing songs and saying, “this is on my EP and you can get it now”. Instead of having one or two singles in my set that people know. This is my first release and I’ve never been able to say “this is from my EP that you can get online”, so I’m excited.
Where’s the visual influence from Banoffee come from?
Me and Alice Glenn worked very closely on all the clips and it was really like a close collaboration between her and I deciding what we wanted to do visually. Each of the clips for me have an element of fun but also a hint of meaning towards what the song is about. The wigs and sunglasses in Got It were about the two narratives that Got It has which is showing people who are in their element and people who can celebrate something that they’ve worked hard to be good at and that’s sort of the clips that go on in the lenses. But the other part is realising that you don’t who you’re close to and that can feel like a shock or a bit of an injustice. And the wig and the glasses was part of trying to communicate that sense of disguise.
Banoffee’s debut EP is out on Friday.
BANOFFEE AUSTRALIAN EAST COAST TOUR:
WEDNESDAY SEPTEMBER 10
BIGSOUND Music Conference, Brisbane QLD
FRIDAY SEPTEMBER 19
Shebeen Bandroom, Melbourne VIC
SATURDAY SEPTEMBER 20
Goodgod SmallClub, Sydney NSW