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February 2011

Family Ties:

Martha Wainwright interview

Written by Krissi Weiss
 
Martha Wainwright is an enigmatic artist. She, on one hand, wears her heart on her sleeve, yet remains guarded about her private life. This dichotomy would become obvious during our conversation. I always like to find out where an artist is when I interview them over the phone and Wainwright is more than excited to tell me about her new home and studio that she is working in. "I bought this spacious rambling house in the ghetto which is great," Wainwright laughs. "It's a very different thing now, we moved from a one-bedroom apartment and now we have three stories… I want to make a record here and I'm also doing a television show that I shoot in the house so it's kind of like a house-slash-factory. I'm shooting a pilot for a cooking music show. It's an idea I've had for a couple of years. It's kind of like Martha Stewart gone wrong. The emphasis is definitely on the music." When I ask her whether she is a good cook, she confidently answers, "yes".

Having come from a famously musical family (brother Rufus Wainwright is a star in his own right, father Loudon Wainwright III is a successful folk singer and actor, and her mother, the late Kate McGarrigle, was a folk singer also.) I ask Wainwright whether she feels influenced by her family's diverse musicality. "I guess [I do] because I've always been around it there's a normalcy about it," she says. "I’m totally defined by my family and where I come from and my experiences in my childhood, but I guess everyone is." Having famously released a song about her fractured relationship with her father ('Bloody Mother F#*cking Asshole'), I ask whether she is accepting of the fact people feel the need to intrude into her personal life. "You know it's a good story so I understand that," she says with amusement. "But that being said, we are a very close family and all kind of eccentric and hopefully interesting… Also I am really happy with the connection to my parents and to Rufus because I'm definitely influenced by them." Enough said.

Her latest album, 'Sans Fusils, Ni Souliers, à Paris: Martha Wainwright's Piaf Record', is a startling divergence from her usual singer-songwriter, acoustic tunes and I ask how her voice has developed over the past few years. "I have an odd sounding voice," she says. "It's completely identifiable and I don't have any control over it, it's an unruly voice. But, I think it's definitely my best asset… I've quite smoking for the most part and it's not as husky as that now. People have always liked that about my voice but at the same time it really hurts and I'm really hurting my voice.”

So what are her plans for the Australian tour? "I'm starting to write songs again so that's nice and I’ll be performing them in Australia," she says. "I’ll see what people like and then I might record them."
 
Martha Wainwright's Piaf Record is out now through V2 Records. www.marthawainwright.com
 
This article was originally published in Rave Magazine: http://www.ravemagazine.com.au


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