The first thing that I noticed about your music is that there’s this really poetic element--this emphasis on lyrics that stands out from a lot of other stuff out there.
I’ve been writing poetry my whole life. I don’t have any formal training with music. I just wanted to make my poems real. And that’s why a lot of my music is really minimalist, too. In a lot of the music I hear today, there’s too much focus on how music sounds and not what it’s saying. I love trap music, but if you were really listening to the lyrics of a lot of this stuff, you probably would not fuck with it. Just be cautious of what you’re listening to. I try not to hide anything with a catchy beat.
That’s interesting. So you’re coming at this from a background in writing?
I’ve just been really taking my time and learning the craft. I want to understand what the words mean to me because I feel like this is the only place I really get to be vulnerable and seen in a soft light, because a lot of people think I’m a really hard bitch. That is a part of me, but I have an emotional side, too, and it’s important. But my biggest goal here is to make art that is beautiful rather than just for entertainment.
There’s a totally different kind of power in being vulnerable.
Yeah. And it has really been a journey of self discovery as well. I was making music when I was coming out of a really dark place in my life, and music saved me—deciding to take that next step and stop being a pussy and make my own art. It made me leave New York, and if I didn’t leave when I did, I don’t know how happy or even how alive, I’d be right now.
How old were you when you left New York?
I was 23. I left New York mad funny. I was helping out at this label, and I just got this big ass check from Reebok because I was sponsored by them for a minute. I was like, "Bet," and then my taxes came in. So I went to LA. I had taken the Amtrak down, and that’s where I met all these people I was hanging with down in LA. I drank lean for the first time. I met a really great photographer who did a shoot with me, they were shooting a movie on the Amtrak, I met the people I started making music with...
...So you were just like, "Fuck it, I’m staying in LA"?
Yeah. I was only supposed to be there for three weeks, and down to week three I was supposed to get a plane ticket home because I was mad broke. I had spent all my money on alcohol because, you know, that’s what I do. I was trying to find a job, so I texted a bunch of people and I was like, "If none of these people text back saying I’m gong to hire you, I’m just going to have to go home." But I got a job, and I was like, "Damn, that’s a sign. There’s no way in hell I’m not supposed to be here."
And you liked the music that was happening?
The music was too good to leave. I wasn’t recording before, but there, people were giving me a chance.
You got your start in modeling. How does the transition to performing feel?
It feels different as fuck. It’s not hard shit. It's just that you have to have a good face on, don’t have a stupid face, and don’t fall. I don’t do runway that much either, and with photoshoots, you can just keep doing it until you get the right photo, but if you fuck up live… Yeah, that’s it. And when it’s not my shit, I’m really good under pressure. But I mumble and stutter and shake on stage, which I guess kind of works for my sound and shows that vulnerability, but I don’t fucking enjoy it. It’s hard. You’re up there showing your emotions, your feelings, and your breakups to a bunch of people you don’t know. That shit is really scary. Some types of music are harder to fuck up, you know? You go there for the energy, and you’re probably going to have fun. But to emote like that—just you and the audience—is brave. And I’m going to get over it, if I could just stop throwing up after every show [laughter]. People will be trying to talk to me and I'll just be like, "I gotta go." They’d be like, "Is she drunk?" It’s like, nope, I just have the worst anxiety ever.
What genre do you fall into, if any?
I used to be intergalactic soul, but it has evolved. I’d say it’s alternative soul now if I had to categorize it, but even when I say that people ask, "Oh, you mean like The Internet or PartyNextDoor?" It’s like, uh no, actually. Stop comparing artists. Stop that shit. Realize an artist's influences.
Was music a big part of your life growing up?
I was raised Jehovah’s Witness, so there was a lot of singing in church. Later on, I tried to form a girl pop band with my friends, like on Disney Channel. I’ve always had stage fright, but I managed a band when I was a 16. I’d be standing in the hallway outside class on my sidekick trying to book a show. But all that shit kept me out of trouble growing up, because the neighborhood I lived in was pretty dangerous. If I hadn’t found music, I don’t know what the fuck would have happened.
Check out Marti’s work with Drunk Magazine, listen to her on Soundcloud, and look out for her latest release coming this April.