One of the things about doing telephone interviews is that you are never quite sure where the person at the other end of the line is or what they are doing. Are they sitting in a plush PR Company’s office or hanging out at home doing the laundry? My Skype call to Christina Martin in Germany started with a contact request and became, well, more of a long chat really!
Hi Christina – ready to talk any time you are.
OK Tony, just give me a few minutes, I’m brushing my teeth.
Hello Christina, thank you for taking the call
Thank you for giving me four minutes to finish brushing my teeth
Well, dental hygiene is extremely important when doing interviews with the press
We joke about this but I have fears of losing my teeth
Now that was something I hadn’t prepared for as part of my interview research!
Don’t you have dreams where your gums get completely lose and all of your teeth fall out?
No, I’m of an age when that happens naturally!
So you just accept it?
Yep – just get on with life.
Well, I hope I get to that point.
You are having way too much fun in Germany.
Yeah – but its not all fun, I still have the normal day to day music business struggles but somebody told me, not so long ago, there are no musical emergencies and I thought – that is a really good attitude to have.
We are having fun, its just a great feeling of gratitude and freedom to be able to play so much and not worry about work. And that is somethin I do worry about quite a bit when we are back home.
But of course we love touring in Canada, its a whole different ball game.
So tell me about Nova Scotia – I looks gorgeous, reminds me of Scotland in ways.
I’m probably going to say something totally wrong here, I don’t remember my history classes, but weren’t they somewhat connected at somepoint in the past?
Ah yes, the British and New England colonists wandering about!
We were in Britany, Northern France a couple of weeks ago playing and I found it resembled, very much, Cape Breton and that part of Nova Scotia. It is a beautiful part of Canada. I grew up in New Brunswick which is the forgotten province of Canada, just north of Maine and moved to, I guess emigrated to, to Nova Scotia after High School, left for a while then ended up laying my roots there and really building my career and my business from Nova Scotia. It is beautiful, we left the city of Halifax which is a wonderful city, to live two hours in the country on the Northumberland shore… it really is a great place. It is not easy to make a living there but you make your choices.
Do you suffer, as we do in rural parts of Suffolk, when you get to the country and discover you lose things that people take for granted – like internet connections?
Its not that great where we live. We complain about it daily – you have the same problem? I would have though that because your island is so densely populate that you would have fixed that problem by now!
No, there are parts of rural Suffolk, Norfolk and Scotland where you struggle to get a mobile phone signal.
Hey! We could start a support group, a Nova Scotia / UK internet support team.
Now that’s a thought!
But I also think… it reminds me once again going back to what your priorities are in life. I do have to spend so much more time on social networking online than I really ever wanted to as an artist and I’ve grown to really love parts of it and despise intensely other parts. But when the internet is down and slow… I just go do the other things that I love doing even more than being in front of my computer.
With social media being so pervasive, it is with us everywhere, does it ever get in the way of the creative process?
Yes, in the sense that… no and yes! For me its a complicated response that deserves a lot more thought because you can be really creative with technology and that’s where I am trying to find out how I can be creative and be myself. I have days when I feel like I’m a robot trying to say something and it is just not happening and then other days I feel quite free to say this or that or t o come up with an idea for promotion online. But if I am having to spend time on that it is taking time away from I really feel I should be doing – the priority, which is writing and creating and exploring the human condition and these types of things that I think I should be doing right now in my life. So technology is a distraction, you have to be really careful about the time you spend, you should get away from it and do other real things – get outside, work with your hands, write with pencil and paper. That is still my process in journalling is with a pencil, not even a pen!
Would it be fair to describe your writing style as confessional?
Yeah, sure – I confess to that!
Do you find the process drains you?
It is draining in itself, because when that process is happening there is an energy that is rushing through you and out, so it is exhausting. I can’t spend too much time intensely working on anything – for me it does take a lot of energy. But if we are talking about me confessing things… a lot of te time they are not necessarily about me, they are inspired by other people’s stories that resonate with me. But is also energising, a very fulfilling entity, then you rejuvenate doing other things in your day to day.
I find all of you lyrics captivating, normally when preping for an interview I will the artists CDs in the background – but today I had to turn yours off, not because there was anything wrong with them, but the lyrics kept distracting me!
I don’t listen to music when I’m working because of that, its a distraction. As a young girl when I listened to something I wanted to get right into it, I want to be able to absorb the lyrics, to sing along – just concentrate on it. I enjoy music by myself primarily, unless I’m going out to a rock show, but it still fees like they are talking to me even thoug to the artists they are talking to a sea of people as one.
Lets talk about the new album “It’ll be alright” – do you sit down to write an album or do you gather songs together and they become an album?
I think for the most part it is a gathering of songs. Sometimes songs are written in the process of putting together the songs for an album, like new songs that are inspired by the process or a bit of a song is taken into the studio and develops later on based on what’s been happening with the band or other recording processes. For the most part I’ve got songs in the works that we feel fit an album concept.
For this album, from the very beginning, I felt that it was very important to me that we always had the live show in mind with the band. Because one of my goals was to play more with the band, I was really missing that and trying something new. We took a lot of risks along the way in order to to make that happen and to stay true to that. In the process of recording the band was involved more than ever from the beginning, not in the writing of the songs but in development of the songs and rhythm.
Lets talk about some of the songs.. no, it’s not fair to ask you if you have a favourite…
…that’s a fair question, sure, go ahead…
OK, have you got a favourite track on the album?
All of them! (laughs)
I deserved that!
You know what determines which song is my favourite, it depends whats going on in my immediate circle or in my head space so when this album was in the process of recording, for me the song “Reaching Out” was my favourite because of the deep connection I had to it and the meaning behind it and I felt it was a song that has the potential to resonate with more people because we all lose people we love and we all feel that sometimes we could have done better jobs. A lot of the times we can reach out and do a better job at taking responsibility for not just ourselves but people we love or sometimes strangers around us.
Onward from that I think the title track “It’ll be Alright” I thing will always be close to my heart because in this line of work, taking so many risks, not knowing what the outcome is going to be. I feel self employed people, especially people I the arts but is not just us, are constantly taking big risks – it feels like you are running shards of glass through your blood stream sometimes! Thats pretty dramatic, but you are doing this thing because you know or feel you have to, you don”t know how its going to work out, you just hope that it will be alright. Oftentimes we’ve used that line quite a bit this last year through a lot of the challenges and risks we’ve been going through even amongst the band saying “Don’t worry about it, It’ll Be Alright!” When you say that you are showing support for someone when things are not going so well.
Speaking as a self employed person that should be our anthem!
Yeah – don’t worry Tony, if you are havin’ trouble, call me, I can repeat this line to you.
If you could get the whole band and yourself to sing it to me that would be even better.
Hey, that’s just what we are about to do in the UK!
Yep – you play just five dates in the UK, the last of which is at the John Peel Centre in Stowmarket where I saw you last year. It was just yourself and Dale then, we are looking forward to hearing the full band sound.
They are great, we wanted to bring another guy, another guitar player but I couldn’t afford it!
We need to sell more tickets then.
Or I need to do more work to become more popular!
I have seen you likened to Stevie Nicks of Fleetwood Mac, how do you feel about that?
I don’t know how true that is, I love Stevie Nicks. I am a huge fan of her music – but don’t start asking me about her album titles because I hate it when people do that, I don’t album titles from anybody! She, as well as artists such as Tom Petty and Annie Lennox have been strong role models for me because of the presence they bring to a stage. There is a consistency and a confidence in what they are delivering and I have always admired that. I do aspire to be that kind of artists whether I am playing a duo show or a band show…
hello? …skype fails!
…Hey that was our internet over here that got cut off – sorry!
Now where were we?
I don’t know the last bit you heard but its a cool comparison.
Having Dale as your producer must help?
Yeah – he’s my partner in everything. We work really well together, that doesn’t mean we always smile and tickle each other in the studio. Because we are married – I don’t know if you knew that, we do sleep together! We like a lot of the same music, its great that we both agree on those kinds of things and we’ve built our life around our careers and our business. We are very lucky, maybe someday we will change our minds but I don’t see that happening right now.
I’m tempted to say “It’ll be Alright”
Well, we feel it will be and that’s all that matters right now.
You are touring all over Europe – do you have any pet hates when you are on the road?
I really hate it when I catch a cold, I have to think long and hard, probably a million things will come to mind after I get off Skype with you but I’m pretty happy just to be working. When I can’t find healthy food, that’s difficult, and when I get sick then I turn quite miserable and grumpy and its hard to enjoy touring.
UK Tour Dates
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