Newcastle based musician, Martha Hill – 2018 winner of the coveted PRS Women Make Music award – writes observational alt-pop that is both hard-hitting and catchy as hell. Last month saw the release of her Be Still EP, pre-empted by the single ‘Pick Me Up’.

“I wanted my debut EP to be a self-portrait; something to introduce me and my music, and I feel like Be Still does just that. It’s all about navigating who I am as an individual and also in relation to the world around me- all the different people, relationships, situations, mental states. It’s all about being in your early 20s and just trying to suss it all out. It’s also an exploration musically- I like to touch on lots of different genres, the only common thread really being my voice and my story. In-keeping with the theme of exploration, each track more or less was written and recorded at completely different times with different people, giving it a laid back and journey like quality.” 

As for her playlist: “When I was 17, I left home to go and busk my way round Europe. I did this on and off for quite a few years and had so many amazing experiences- living in squats or wild camping and hitching around, or staying in hostels and busking. There are a few songs now that when I hear played, just transport me straight back to those years.”

1. Ben Howard – ‘Old Pine’

“I worked on a little farm in the South West of Portugal for a bit, and this song basically described our whereabouts perfectly. Also, there was a massive pine tree nearby, and if you climbed right to the top then your head stuck up out of the forest and you could see all the treetops- it was magical.”

2. Wildbirds & Peacedrums – ‘The Drop’

“Such a beautiful song. It has that lyric ‘of suddenly being left all alone, like waking up in a foreign country, your language cannot stand by its own, and you’re realising Oh God I’m lonely.’”

3. Third World – ‘96 Degrees In The Shade’

“Haha. Lived with a family in Portugal for a bit, and the guy had this sound system blaring out across the valley where we worked gardening or moving rocks or whatever, and he was always playing loads of reggae and psytrance- this tune was on his playlist and when it was too hot (which was a lot) we used to bring it up.”

4. George Ezra – ‘Budapest’

“It’s just a banger.”

5. Adele – ‘Someone Like You’

“I owe Adele a lot for this tune- it basically paid for my existence for years! My number 1 busking classic, people love it and it’s a lush song to sing.”

6. Otis Redding – ‘Sitting On The Dock Of The Bay’

“Another busking classic, such a beautiful song. I must have played it twice a day, four/five days a week for about six years and I’m still not sick of it! Totally timeless- one of those songs that takes you off to somewhere else.”

7. Rusted Robot – ‘Send Me On My Way’

“I mean you can’t be a 17-year-old hippy and not rate this tune- it’s a total anthem.”

8. Manu Chao – ‘Bongo Bong’

“Loved playing this song around Europe- Manu Chao are an international band so it was one of those tunes that everyone knew, no matter what country they were from. They sing in Spanish and French as well as English.”

9. Bob Marley & The Wailers – ‘No Woman, No Cry’

“I think this song has to be the most powerful tune I had on my rostra in terms of bringing people together. There was this homeless guy who used to come and have a dance every time I played it, and everyone knows the lyrics- drunks would sing along or random people would smile. It’s such a good tune for crossing language barriers.”

10. Pink Floyd – ‘Wish You Were Here’

“There’s a lot of saying goodbye when you’re traveling about. You stay intensely with a group of people or a family for months on end, and then you just leave and know you won’t see them again. This song used to remind me a lot of my family and my friends back home, every time I sang it I got a bit sad for the people I wasn’t with!

Martha Hill kicks off her 12 date tour at Dundee’s Wild Rover, this Friday 4th October, finishing up at Cafe Kino in Bristol on 3rd November. Catch her headline show at East London’s Sebright Arms on 2nd November.

Be Still is out now. Watch the video for ‘Pick Me Up’ HERE.

You can listen to all Ask the DJ playlists on the FMS Magazine Spotify CHANNEL.

Find Martha Hill’s playlist below and HERE.

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