Interview and photos: Banoffee in Redfern
Martha Brown, better known as Melbourne-based musician Banoffee, hung out with us in Redfern Park recently. Phil Erbacher took the photos and Travis Jordan asked the questions:
Riding the wave as if it came as some kind of accident, Melbourne’s charismatic and talented Banoffee is blossoming in the Australian music scene following the release of her second EP Do I Make You Nervous.
Banoffee, who dances elegantly on the border of genres from trip-hop, to trap, to RnB, is a product of a lifetime of influences. She appears as this sponge (in the best way possible) that has absorbed every little bit of musical interaction over her life time and squeezed it out into her music.
Originally a viola player who “used to just want to be in the symphony orchestra,” Martha Brown began to play guitar and write songs at 15, gigging in a band with her sister called Otto Outto. Banoffee in her entirety “wasn’t that planned” she explains.
“When the first EP came out it was a trial. I’d never played or made that type of music before and showed people,” she says. “I just had no confidence as a musician on my own after being in a band.”
She feels comfortable knowing, “Banoffee is something I can slip in and out of that is really separate to my life.”
No stranger to the festival circuit, she has landed herself on the St Jerome’s Laneway Festival for 2016. Having always wanting to play the festival but avoiding being over-ambitious. “I’m excited to do the other cities, not only just doing Melbourne. There’s something really fun about playing festivals.”
Other than loving the mentality of festivals, she’s looking forward to catching Shamir and Grimes while on the tour. She prefers to edit her sets to make them more festival friendly.
Like her career in electronic music, a follow up album wasn’t always on the cards until the immense amount of positive feedback that followed the release of her self-titled EP in 2014.
As with many artists she had many obstacles to overcome with the release of her follow-up record, she says “I felt a lot of pressure with this EP to make something that continued in the same vein, the same genre.”
“I started freaking out about people not liking this if they liked the first album. I realised I needed to shake that off and just make music that made me happy. I don’t want lose confidence in what I’m doing and restrict ideas that often are bizarre but can, you know, can work out.”
When asked about her influences, she says, “I listened to a lot of different music growing up. Country really inspires me lyrically, I enjoy the way people in country can tell stories and paint imagery… my dad used to say a song will mean something to someone if they can envision what you’re doing.”
She continues, “I love playing around with phrasing. I always I go ‘I would love to rap’, but I can’t. So how can I sing a rap?” This appreciation of multiple genres is what allows her music to appear as if it doesn’t identify to any set labels.
The five track EP titled Do I Make You Nervous in its element is a great album. With Her is a great opening track and you can really see where this concept of a song as a mechanism to tell a story takes form. It is one of the more acoustic songs, but the percussion still maintains that RnB element. The hook gets in your head and stays there for the afternoon.
Body Suit is like some sort of cosmic mix of trap percussion, vocal samples and ascending synthesiser. It’s one of those songs that incorporate so many sounds into one space, but is successful in doing so. It has a very Bat for Lashes vibe (as does the rest of the album) and it’s the synth and the industrial hi-hat flams that help shape this.
Fall Fast has a little bit of every song, dabbling in syncopated claps and electronic percussion (that are much more “boppy” in this instance), call and response vocal samples and a pulsing synthesiser harmony. Something that has definitely been given more focus is Banoffee’s vocals; not only range and skill but songwriting ability.
The new EP is out now on iTunes and Bandcamp and you can catch her the following venues:
17 Oct Rocket Bar, Adelaide w/ Joy Sparkes & Tracy Chen
22 Oct Black Bear Lodge, Bris w/ GXNXVS & DJ YUMO
23 Oct Goodgod Small Club, Syd w/ BUOY & Baby Face Thrilla
30 Oct Howler, Mel w/ HTMLflowers, Alice Ivy & Air Max ’97
Banoffee will also be at all national stops on the St Jerome’s Laneway Festival early next year.