Claire Martha Ffion McKay, AKA Martha FfIon is a singer-songwriter from Warrenpoint who now lives across the water in Glasgow. Martha has just released her second album ‘Nights to Forget’ which is jam packed with dreamy pop and lyrics with a punch. We had a chat about the new album, inspirations for Martha’s song writing, and of course- the weird reality of 2020.
Firstly, hello! Can you tell us a little about yourself and how you started out?
Hey! I’m Claire Martha Ffion McKay – I create music under my middle names.
I’m from Warrenpoint in County Down but have been living in Glasgow for the past 11 years. Though I’ve always loved music, I only started writing songs when I was 18 and learned to play guitar. When I was starting out I played at Open Mic nights all the time which really helped me cut my teeth. I self-released my first EP, ‘Go’ back in 2014 which led to me working with some Indie labels – Lost Map (based on the Isle of Eigg) and Turnstile (in Cardiff) – on my next releases.
‘Nights to Forget’ has just been released, congratulations! I love the title track, it’s a dreamy, melancholy, feminist summer tune. What’s the story of the song?
I love that description! Thank you so much!
When I wrote it, I was reflecting on the way in which objectification has harmed me or held me back. The song was also inspired by the bigger global movements happening.
“I wanted to highlight and deride some of the dangerous ‘off-the-cuff’ comments often made about women in these situations.”
I feel hopeful that things are getting better and that people’s eyes are being opened. I wanted the ending to reflect that hope and to feel empowering and defiant (“I won’t owe you anything”).
Who, or what are your biggest inspirations as a songwriter? Do you write more about your own experiences or the world around you?
I used to try and avoid writing directly about myself. I’ve often used storytelling as a way to explore my thoughts and feelings through others – whether they were real or fictional characters. On ‘Nights To Forget’ the writing is definitely a lot more personal, although I still tend to focus on how that relates to the bigger picture.
Musically, my inspirations change all the time but I never tire of listening to LCD Soundsystem or watching them live. I’m also completely in awe of polymaths like FKA Twigs who can write, produce and perform to the highest standard and in the most creative way. She has really raised the bar for everyone else!
How has launching an album been for you in the strange new normal of 2020?
There are the obvious obstacles, like not being able to play live or do any press in person but lots of it has been weirdly normal – interviews like this, for example!
I’ve actually loved having the album campaign to focus on during this weird time. It was a conscious decision to go ahead with the release despite all that was going on. I wanted to share the album while it still felt relevant to me. Who knows what the world is going to look like in 2021.
Other than the title track, have you got a recommendation for a song from the album readers should start out with to get a feel for your style?
‘Universe’ is one of my favourites from the album. A lot of my melodies and song structures are inspired by classic ’60s pop and this track fuses that style with my love of more contemporary sounds and textures. It’s a good bridge between my first album, ‘Sunday Best’ and ‘Nights To Forget’.
The track ‘Nights to Forget’ is featured on The Jumble Magazine Local Music Playlist, which you can check out here.
Interview by Sam Dineen