The 80’s Invasion Tour will be back in 2017 and alongside Paul Young, Toyah and China Crisis will be the lovely Martika flying in especially from the USA and performing in the UK for the first time in over 25 years. The tour will take in 15 dates and starts on the 2nd March in Leicester’s De Monfort Hall and culminating at Liverpool’s Philharmonic on the 19th March. I’m hoping to catch Martika at London’s Indigo2 on March 16th but before then I was lucky enough to pose some questions on behalf of Essentially Pop. I hope you enjoy Martika’s answers as much as I did!
EP: Hi Martika, firstly let me say what an honour it is to be able to do this.
Martika: Thank you so much.
EP: I really appreciate you taking the time to answer a few questions for me.
M: My pleasure.
EP: I spent a lot of time playing soccer in California in the eighties and remember ‘Toy Soldiers’ being played all the time on KROQ.
M: KROQ, Pasadena…Yeah, that was the cutting edge station.
EP: So…back in 1988, your debut album spawned the classic track ‘Toy Soldiers’, a song that was a US number 1 and top 5 virtually everywhere.
M: Yeah…Wild, man.
EP: Many people will work their entire career and never have such an iconic track.
M: My husband calls me the luckiest girl he’s ever known.
EP: Did this put a lot of extra pressure on you or were you able to enjoy that early musical success?
M: I had some great times on the heels of the Toy Soldiers success, up until this very day… And yes, a lot of extra pressure came with all of that.
EP: You were just 18 when your debut album came out and you had been a child TV star in ‘Kids Incorporated’, what were your teenage years like?
M: I spent my teenage years in acting workshops, theaters, dance, television, film, recording and photography studios, radio stations, etc…
EP: Do you feel like you missed out on just spending time with friends and family?
M: I also spent a lot of time with family and friends, so even though I was very career driven & ambitious, things still felt pretty balanced.
EP: ‘Toy Soldiers’ felt like a song from the heart; I feel there is a very personal under current to your music writing which makes it timeless.
M: Thank you.
EP: I was playing your music just the other day and it is still fresh.
M: I’m glad that it still comes across that way.
EP: What influences you when you write?
M: I usually write about experiences that I really connect with, especially ones that I have strong emotional responses to.
EP: It was three years before you released ‘Martika’s Kitchen’.
M: ‘Martika’s Kitchen’ only began to come about after I had rested from the new fast-paced, jet-set lifestyle that my debut album forced me into, and I also needed to transition into adulthood in very practical ways at that time.
EP: With the success of the debut album ‘Martika’, was there pressure from the record company to release a follow-up quicker?
M: Communication within my inner camp and relationships at the label were also going through lots of changes, so I think I just tried to tune out the pressures for as long as I could.
EP: Your second album ‘Martika’s Kitchen’ was an ever-present in the car back in the early nineties for me and included a lot of purple influence.
M: Ahhh…You are a Prince fan, as well.
EP: I loved the sadly departed Prince and am lucky enough to have seen him play live in the UK five times.
M: His showmanship never disappoints.
EP: How did the collaboration with Prince happen?
M: A message from me to him, and then a meeting, an exchange of ideas, and poof… Paisley Park magic and songs are born.
EP: I’ve seen Prince perform ‘Love…Thy Will Be Done’ live.
M: It still blows my mind to hear him sing Love…Thy Will Be Done.
EP: He must have loved the track to play it.
M: I think that song really captures the sacred purity, the spirituality that we aspire to.
EP: Did he stay in contact after the collaboration?
M: We had the occasional conversations.
EP: It really was such a terrible loss this year to lose such an incredible musician.
M: We have recently seen some truly inspiring musical artists pass on.
EP: Your second album didn’t perform quite so well in the States.
M: Unfortunately, I did not do the necessary promotion at home.
EP: However in the UK and Australia the single ‘Love…Thy Will Be Done’ was number 5 and number 1 respectively and the title track and ‘Coloured Kisses’ did well.
M: Yes, I did get overseas a bit during that time.
EP: Was it the lack of success at home that stopped you releasing a third album or, if it’s not to rude to pry, were there other reasons?
M: There were many different variables at play, both personal and professional, which caused my recording career to be halted.
EP: In 2001 you were probably one of the first artists to realise the power the internet would wield over music in the coming years when you launched martika.net.
M: The internet felt to me like a more direct and undiluted way to reach people.
EP: What was the attraction of the internet as a medium to release music?
M: It seemed like a way to be more in control of things, to not have to play into the politics of the industry machinery.
EP: In 2004, Eminem sampled ‘Toy Soldiers’ on his single “Like Toy Soldiers” and this must have brought you to the attention of a whole new fan base, and reignited your old one, With all the other excellent creative stuff you have done since ‘Toy Soldiers’ does it slightly drive you mad that people perpetually link your name with just one song?
M: It’s all good because I had such a very short run…I guess I was just meant to be like a shooting star.
EP: ‘Toy Soldiers’ has a singer in the kid’s chorus who went on to big things.
M: I perceived Stacy’s aura to be super strong from the first time I watched her perform.
EP: Stacy “Fergie” Ferguson went on to Black Eyed Pea and solo success but was a co-star in ‘Kids Incorporated’.
M: She was obviously destined for stardom and I always remember her as a sweet, wide-eyed beauty.
EP: Do you guys stay in touch?
M: I haven’t been in touch with her in recent times.
EP: 2017 sees you going on tour with the Paul Young and China Crisis in the UK.
M: I’m so excited to be going on tour in the UK.
EP: What tempted you back to where you began musically?
M: There were performance opportunities that I wanted to jump on, and people have been wanting to hear me sing this material for a long time.
EP: I personally can’t wait to see you live but it must be quite daunting to be singing songs you wrote so young.
M: I can never stay away from performance for too long, and bringing this youthful repertoire back to life in a genuine way does prove to be a joyful challenge.
EP: Does touring make you nervous?
M: I do get nervous until I hit the stage, where I use all of that energy and tap into my creativity…I really look forward to just expressing myself and sharing my musicality with the audience.
EP: Finally, what does the future hold for you?
M: Professionally, beyond this next tour…Who knows, as I really just live in the moment as much as possible.
EP: Can we hope for another album?
M: It’s likely that there will be new music in my future, although it may be a completely new project and direction…I’ve been feeling very inspired lately.
EP: Martika, thank you for taking the time to answer my questions.
M: Thank you for your interest and good positive feedback.
EP: Good luck with the tour.
M: Yaaayyyy…Good vibes always!!!!
EP: I’m so excited to see you sing songs that are close to my heart and hope that you win many new fans over the coming months.
M: See you out there…Love and hugs!!!!