Vulnerable And Authentic: Meet Pop-folk Songwriter Martha Clements

Martha Clements frolicks in Bohemian headdress and aubergine lipstick from Bristol to Australia.  The haunting English rose joins us for the low-down on song-writing, folklore and how she broke into the music industry.

Vulnerable And Authentic: Meet Pop-folk Songwriter Martha Clements

You were last interviewed on BBC Radio Introducing West, after you landed no.1 spot in the singer-songwriter iTunes chart with your debut single, “Her name’s December” with 5k streams. Have you always wanted to be a singer songwriter or was it a spontaneous venture? 

I remember I had my first ever solo in our local church and it was from then on that I found myself spending every single lunchtime at school in the hall just singing on the grand piano! That’s when a music teacher heard me play and suggested that I enter myself into singing competitions as a way to share my songwriting in front of an audience. I did but I never won and certainly didn’t imagine it would become a career! Then a few years ago, I was noticed by a recording studio called Puzzle Maker Studios at a competition. With their guidance, I’ve managed to make songwriting into a job and joined their artist development program.

You’ve said many times that you didn’t think success would ever happen to you. But there’s a reason for everything, so what do you put your industry break down to?

I’ve always craved melodies that pluck at the heartstrings, being a storyteller, but I found the music world to be over-saturated by the pop genre, kind of like an overgrown infant refusing to share its toys with the other kids. Oversimplified song lyrics, rehashed melodies and a dollop of autotune worked hard to distract me from forming any meaningful connection with music. However, after doing some soul searching, I realised that I really longed to create lyrically intriguing songs that immersed the listener. Then I just slotted myself and my music into that empty space and waited for people to notice.

At the beginning of your journey you said you considered yourself naive regarding the industry. What has been the biggest learning curve and how has it changed you?

I was green as hills! How’ve I changed? Well, I learnt to accept the reality of immersing myself in this harsh industry.  My mindset is very different now from when I first started. As you probably know, the music industry is massive! Just climbing the ladder means feeding algorithms, prepping playlists, getting social media-savvy, knowing who’s looking, where and when to keep the momentum coming your way! Even if you manage to learn it all – it’s being in the right place and time that makes or breaks you. That’s just the harsh reality emerging artists face in this industry!


You seem so girl-next door! What do you think makes you unique to other artists out there?

With some singers, you only see what they want you to see. Many women, especially, think they need to look “perfect” or they won’t be taken seriously as an artist, which is ridiculous as even if you play the piano, homeless with greasy hair, you are still a great musician! Not showing reality but only the polished slide of things just feels dishonest to me. As human beings, we shouldn’t be ashamed of our imperfections and it’s important for your followers to get to see how things really came together in the creative process. That’s why I try to show myself in as natural of a light as possible. I’m not all about the finished product.

Don’t get me wrong - waltzing in a bohemian headdress, aubergine lipstick with tangled hair in a field for an album cover – you will find me there! Yet letting people see me in a frumpy fleece, fringe scraped back, curled up at my piano with my cat, whilst making impromptu videos to share online is no taboo. 

Tell us about the song-writing process and baring all.

My writing ritual goes something like: Run a bath, lock the door and play, “Song of the week” on Spotify. Taking a snippet of a melody, or quote I’ve seen on Pinterest, I literally run down to the piano, hair in towel, and bash out a few chords until it becomes something I’m proud to show my mum!  But often, it’s my emotions from a walk in the woods, which end up being the sentiment that falls onto the piano.



Let's talk about music. What was going on in your life when you wrote your debut single, ‘Her name’s December’? Was there a vision or a story behind the masterpiece?

I hadn’t written anything for quite a while which was very unlike me, and I was doubting myself heavily until Danny McMahon, who works at Puzzle Maker studios challenged me to write a song by the following week. So there I sat at my piano, looking out the window, trying to conjure up an idea. It was around November, so the weather was awful, trees were bare, and everything seemed dire and miserable but I thought – If that’s all I’ve got to go off, that’s exactly what I’m going to write about! And ‘Her Name’s December’ was born! Sometimes, drawing inspiration from what’s happening right under your nose, or what’s happening presently in your life, is the best way to break writer’s block. I built December’s merciless character directly off the back of how I was feeling! I also tried to play on well known phrases such as ‘Don’t let the cold in’ with my line ‘light your fires and keep your windows closed, you can’t trust her to walk amongst your homes’. I like to play on phrases with my work, along with metaphorically speaking about things and using personification. 

‘Oh boy’ was somewhat of an experiment, a walk into the unknown but reached 5k streams and charted no. 2 in the singer-songwriter charts and no.45 in all genres! Did you really want to go in that direction?

‘Oh Boy’, is the most popish song I have ever written! I actually wrote the song for another artist at the studio and happened to post a tiny stripped back snippet of the song to my Instagram. Within a day it reached 1.5k views so I thought if that’s what people would like to hear next, why not give people what they want! It was an experiment as it was very different to anything I’d ever written before but it’s not a style and direction I will be permanently going walking. ‘Lunar Eyes’, was the song where it all began and it’s a sound I want to keep.

‘Lunar Eyes’ is an unusual name for a song! What’s the scoop?

The phrase ‘Lunar eyes’ comes from when I was younger. I used to talk to the moon. Looking up at night time, I’d see the moon shining her light on me whenever I couldn’t sleep and I felt it was like a guiding light. So in ‘Lunar Eyes’, the moon became a metaphor for that feeling you sometimes get of missing someone who is far away, someone you can’t meet but who you hope is out there somewhere waiting for you.

That is a bit like lockdown! Sounds quite spiritual too. Do you consider yourself to be a religious person?

I was brought up going to church and I like to use God as a reference in my songs as I think it puts things in perspective. I wouldn’t say I’m religious, but I am certainly a spiritual person.

That inverted vibrato technique when you sing – all natural? Or did you develop it to express more emotion in your songs?

All natural!!! On my first YouTube video in 2013 – I had it back then! It does help me express myself more, like an added emotional texture that makes your hairs stand up on end. I think the reason that I convey so much emotion is because I live my music! When I sing, I am transported to the story that I am telling. Guess it’s because I’ve always used music as a release, nothing has changed now that I have become a “proper” performer. At heart, I am still just the schoolgirl who escapes to her piano during her free periods. 

Who's your go-to music Guru?

Girls slurped over Justin Bieber but my nose was trapped in a folklore anthology and my ears plugged into Birdie. I remember it clearly. It was 10pm on a school night and I heard a lyric of hers playing on my pink flip phone, “the people help the people'' and I just thought, “oh my gosh! That’s the most beautiful thing I’ve ever heard! I wanna do that!” I get compared to Florence and the Machine due to my emotional vulnerability, which is a big compliment. Aurora, I admire her courage. She can be who she is without caring what others think of her, it’s very freeing. Authenticity is what paves the way for us to find truth in our music and helps us, as humans, realise that what we are thinking and experiencing has a purpose.


Creativity, connecting and coping in a new normal is for musicians and performers across the globe a challenge. In what shades of grey has lockdown impacted your music career?

Lockdown has been full of massive ups and downs, however, due to everyone living through their phones, I’ve managed to go from 1,000 to 4,000 followers in a year! That wouldn’t have happened as fast without lockdown! I’m missing out on performing and growing genuine connections with my fans at gigs though.

Events and gigs are cancelled! What encouraging words can you give to young people trying to get their foot in the door?

While the industry’s on pause, keep yourself busy as this will help you mentally! Get online! Post as many videos as you can and covers are great if you have writer’s block! Build your following! Write! Immerse yourself in where you live and find new inspiration to write about! Check out what others are doing online! Plan Facebook Live or Instagram performances! Plan what you’ll be doing when we come out the other side – then you’ll have made it through while still keeping things ticking over! 

Big plans for 2021! Can you give us a sneaky teaser?

Along with ‘Oh Boy,’ I’ve got my new EP on the way!!! I can’t mention dates just yet. I have also started writing for next year so watch this space!

Check out Martha on Spotify here, and follow her Instagram page to get listening.

Header Image credit: Jonty Fuller 

Header Image Credit: Jonty Fuller


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