entertainment

Rising singer Martha Hill on sending up men in positions of power in 'Empire' video

The Newcastle-based singer-songwriter tells Attitude she's inspired by her experiences as a queer person in the North East.

2021-11-26

Words: Joseph Ryan-Hicks; pictures: Provided

With the release of her latest single, the witty social commentary ‘Empire’, Martha Hill is proving herself to be a stand-out voice in British LGBTQ pop.

After gaining support from BBC Radio 1, Spotify, and countless other music publications, the Newcastle-based singer-songwriter is set for big things.

We spoke to the up-and-coming artist about her Scottish upbringing, the concept behind *that* video for ‘Empire’, and how identity in the world around her inspires her music.

You recently released your new single ‘Empire’. What can you tell us about it? 

'Empire' is all about men in positions of power. [It’s about] how they act as if they're doing an amazing job whilst in the middle of a catastrophic climate emergency, and how once they've f*****d the world, they'll probably run away to their little bunker in the Highlands.

The accompanying music video is quite arresting, too. Where did the inspiration for it come from? 

I wanted to do something a bit daft and satirical - I absolutely had my heart set on the stick-on moustache and wig combo. The director James Ayling and I played around with some ideas, and we settled on the concept of pig masks. I love the Animal Farm feel to it… All these old pig men fighting over Monopoly and cards.

Tell us a bit about your upbringing. Were you always interested in pursuing music? Where did that passion stem from? 

I was brought up as one of six children in a town called Dunoon on the west coast of Scotland. My Mum is the local church organist and go-to school pianist, so we were brought up around music. I played trombone throughout school and started writing songs and teaching myself guitar as a teenager. My friends and I were in bands, and all wrote songs and shared them with each other. I remember wanting to be a singer when I was a child but thinking there was no way in hell that would happen!  

Who are your biggest musical influences and why? 

To be honest, I think it’s to my own detriment that I don't have a couple of really strong influences. I tend to be inspired by what's around me - meaning that the musicians in my local scene and in my band have a much larger effect on me than any of the "big name" artists.

Do you have any LGBTQ-specific artists who inspire you? 

Christine and the Queens is class. There's an amazing MC and spoken word artist in Scotland called Joy Abacus, and I love her work. Mandidextrous is class if you're into raggatek [laughs]. Also, Lil Nas X, obvs.

What was the first song/album you were obsessed with? 

Avril Lavigne's Let Go album was and is an absolute classic.

Where does your inspiration come from lyrically? 

Again, I'm inspired by what's around me. My own experiences in the world, being in the North East and the strength of that identity, being queer, my relationships with those around me. Lyrically, I'm really into King Krule and Sam Fender at the moment. They're so poetic and beautiful.

If you had to choose one of your own tracks to introduce the world to the ‘Martha Hill experience’, which one would it be and why? 

[Laughs] I love the "Martha Hill experience"… It sounds like I should open a really shan theme park [‘Shan’ means bad in Edinburgh slang]. I don’t know. The sound ranges so much. I'd say, "Grilled Cheese" and "Blindfold" are the sort of bookends to the sounds that I explore - so it would have to be an a-side/b-side affair I reckon!

Martha Hill’s latest single, ‘Empire’, is available to stream now.

The Attitude December issue is out now.

Subscribe in print and get your first three issues for just £1 each, or digitally for just over £1.50 per issue.