The birth of Martha May and her debut single

By Marcus Hyka

Marcus Hyka talks to Martha May, whose adventure in being a solo artist involves squid, band breakups and 60s French pop.

“I actually have a video of me filming a pod of big-fin glitter squid. They’re like tiny little squid, and when they turn sideways, they disappear. They’re like invisible.”

Aged only 22 years old, Glasgow-born squid fan Martha May has been a core member of the Scottish music scene for the past three years, allowing her to express her queer identity. After years of exploring and experimenting musically, the Wimbledon chef-turned-artist crafted her unique sound. Whilst charity shopping for overpriced denim before her first performance, The Glasgow Guardian spoke to Martha about her debut single, Hollywood is Dead, Guess This is The End, which releases on March 10th.

Martha’s journey as a solo artist begins after finding success with the indie band Pretty Preachers Club. This departure created a new voyage: “After our band split, I was ready to move away and isolate. I booked a ferry to Shetland in early December. I met up with my friend Reno Cole in Five Guys, and I told him, thinking he would find it funny. He convinced me to stay in Glasgow and start a solo music career, which I’ve always desired. Now, he’s my manager and biggest fan and best friend.”

Martha’s latest single has been described as “French-Indie-Folk” due to its fluidity and instrumentation, featuring Jack Heavenor on clarinet, Daniel Blake on bass, Ross Coulter on guitar, Ross Coulter on drums and Martha May on piano and vocals. This diverse collaboration of musicians and instruments makes up the musical cohort Martha May and the Mondays: “They’re my favourite instruments. The song relies on the instruments instead of computers.”

Musically, Martha has combined her classical, jazz and indie-pop knowledge to produce a unique mix of genres. Her primary influence was Mattiel, Bob Dylan and 1960s French pop. Describing it as “a Billie Holiday/Billie Eilish sort of fusion”, this single marksthe beginning of a new era in which Martha has the creative freedom to be her unapologetic self. The single is a refreshing change of pace for a young artist, looking at the melancholia and rebirth from letting go of platonic love: “I wrote the lyrics a couple of years ago; it was about being able to cut off toxic behaviours and relationships. I’ve recently added new lyrics about the loss of toxic friendships, a bittersweet but fucking cathartic process. One of my favourite lyrics from the single is about ‘micro-dosing friends’.”

On an intimate level, music provides Martha with a lifeline of creativity and radical positivity: “Making music brought me out of my darkness. In September last year, I was the lowest I’ve ever been. I never had a creative outlet, and I took it out on myself and my body, which is how impulsive behaviours start. As soon as I started making music again, it completely pulled me out of that and rebooted my life. I want to be an advocate for helping young musicians talk about things. Anyone can do this. You can literally make music on your phone. It’s super accessible now.”

Hollywood is Dead, Guess This is The End, is the first chapter of her brand-new story, ready to stain the brains of anyone who happens upon it. The single is the first of many she has in the pipeline and is only one component of her blueprint for the future: “I have a summer headline gig to be announced and an EP with a blend of eclectic bops. I want to gig constantly. It keeps me going. I’m playing gigs at King Tuts and Country to Country 2023 at the Ovo Hydro. I also want to end world cheuginess.”

We finish the interview, and Martha is still looking for a pair of jeans whilst she explains the mechanisms behind squid brains.

To keep up to date with Martha May’s upcoming gigs and musical experiments, give her a follow on Instagram:


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