We need Banoffee like we need a Roll Up in our lunch box. Sure we’ll live without it, but it’s not really a life. The 24-year-old Melbourne-based musician who goes by Martha Brown on formal occasions caught our eye early on with her song and great clip for ‘Ninja‘ and since then has continued to provide the thrills. Joyous but reserved, pure but cautious, Banoffee taps into the symphony of human feeling with her delicate vocals and cosmic beats that hook into you like a raptor claw. Always representing the duality of thoughts and feelings, she balances sweet and dark like no other.
We chat to the free-wheelin’, genre-defying lady about her brand-new self-titled EP, produced by Oscar of Oscar Key Sung (out 22 August). If you like what you hear and read, head along to her East Coast tour in September. We’ll be the ones with the poster that says ‘Marry Me’.
What’s your favourite memory from where you grew up?
One of my favourite memories of growing up in Clifton Hill is how the drains used to flood when there was a storm. Small waves of water would gush down the streets and my sisters and I, along with the other children from the block, would rush out with boogie boards and rubbish bags and slide down the footpaths with water up to our knees. It ruled. Then one day some horrible men in yellow reflective gear came and put in new drains, and it all ended. It was horrific.
Who did you think was the coolest person when you were five?
How do you think going to a Steiner school shaped you?
Going to a Steiner School has had a huge impact on me growing up. I went to a very small school with only 300 kids and we all knew each other and looked out for each other.
Creatively, school encouraged every possible avenue; I played music, did craft, did blacksmithing and learned about nature and people’s connection with the land.
I feel like I learned a lot of life skills from school, and made life-long friends. The Steiner community is fantastically close and supportive, and it made me value community.
When was the first time you ate banoffee pie?
When I was 19 I had a dinner party at my house and I made one, purely because I thought the name was ridiculous. Turns out it was also delicious!
What instruments can you play?
I’ve played a few throughout my time although I may be rusty at a couple: viola, violin, recorder (ha!), guitar, piano and synths. Mainly synths though, and even that I’m really not very good at.
Where do you do your best writing?
In my music room in Clifton Hill, or when I go on walks to the park at the end of my street. Normally I find that I write best when it’s unplanned, if I try to sit down and write just because I feel like I need to, then it’s often an unproductive session and it can make me pretty grumpy.
Do you remember one of your best “bad” lyrics from when you first started writing music?
Oh my god, there are so many! Definitely from my band The Honeybees from first grade: “We are the honey bees, we like to buzz around, we are the honey bees we like to scream and shout” – I remember thinking that was genius.
Who or what taught you the most about music?
My parents took my sisters and I to a music festival every Easter as Kids, it was here that I first decided I’d like to write songs.
I remember listening to the stories people told through songs, and the way people swarmed around it like honey and realising it was a magic of its own.
I feel so lucky to have had those Easters up at the folk festival, and equally lucky to have such musical parents, even washing the dishes was a musical affair in my household.
Do you remember the first time you met Oscar? Why did you pick him to produce?
(laughs) The first time I met Oscar we had a little dance off at a tiny bar in the city, I was 18 and he a year younger – we danced to Jamie Lidell and then parted ways.
That was a long time before we began playing together though.
Musically, producing with Oscar was something that just kind of happened. I was making songs and he had only just recently gone solo also so we were helping each other through a weird transition.
Oscar and I grew a lot together musically as we discovered our musical tastes at similar ages when we were spending a lot of time together, because of this I think I felt like it was an obvious choice to get him in on the production.
I trusted him to respect my vision for Banoffee as well as calling me out on things that he thought were bollocks. He’s definitely been the biggest supporter of my solo stuff aside from my sister Hazel, and we still rely a lot on each other for feedback on our own projects.
Have you ever heard one of your songs come on while you were in public somewhere?
Never. Ever. It almost feels like people are all in on a big lie and I’ve never actually been played on the radio at all.
What’s the last thing you bought on the internet?
Tirzah’s EP that’s produced by Micachu. So bloody worth it.
How would you like to celebrate the Banoffee EP release?
With a rooftop party in the summer with all my favourite bands playing over a couple of days, and free banoffee flavoured ice-cream for everyone. Oh and maybe it’d be on ice and everyone would be on skates, or maybe just roller skates. Yes everyone would wear roller skates.
How will you actually celebrate it?
On September 10th at Big Sound in Brisbane, and then the 19th at Shebeen in Melbourne and the 20th in Sydney at Goodgod Small Club. A bunch of my friends are going to fly to Sydney with me and we’re going to have a big party to celebrate. Although I cannot provide ice-cream, summer and roller skates I am working out ways to make it special, these however are all top secrets.
Two new musicians you want to recommend to everyone…Tirzah and Mouth Tooth.
Which fictional character would you like to be besties with… Aang from Avatar: The Last Airbender. He has mad skills and appears to be a super sweet guy. I feel like he’d always have my back.
Your go-to karaoke song… ‘Heartbreaker’ – Mariah Carey
Dream sponsor… Kenzo or Comme [des Garcons], or something that I’ll always need like Colgate – I will always need toothpaste.
Your biggest gripe… People who stand still on the moving lane of the escalator! Moooove or step aside!
Something you’re embarrassed to admit… I thought the lyrics “cross I bear” in that Alanis Morissette song were “cross-eyed bear” until this year.
Something that automatically makes you laugh… Knowing I shouldn’t laugh – I often laugh when really sad things happen. It’s so inappropriate. I’m talking funerals, accidents… you get my drift. Bad things.
What you’re most excited about… Going on my mini EP tour, and playing in New York and LA in October!
The Banoffee EP is out 22 August 2014. Tickets for the tour are on sale from 15 August, find them in this magic portal of lightning bolts