Billie Marten grew up in Ripon, North Yorkshire, England surrounded by the music of artists Nick Drake, John Martyn, Joni Mitchell, Joan Armatrading, Kate Bush, Loudon Wainwright III, and Chris Wood, Billie Marten learned from her sonic teachers; ingraining their lessons and stylings into her own stellar indie-folk numbers throughout an already expansive discography of three albums and three EPs. Billie is a singer-songwriter whose songs explore everything from social commentary, the struggle with modernity versus tradition, nature, mental health, relationships, and general voyeurism on the world as she witnesses it.
Recently, on April 7, 2023, Billie released her fourth record, Drop Cherries, via Fiction Records and Imperial Records. She describes the album as "a series of vignettes highlighting different pieces of a relationship while trying to fit them together. From celebrating moments of the mundane, through deep existential questioning, to the final resolve, which is the pure simplicity of sharing a moment with someone you love." Sonically, she also described her music as "ethereal grunge."
Coming up with a title for an album that encapsulates the entirety of what the songs are about can be a burdensome task, and it was somewhat that way for Drop Cherries, until a friend of her mentioned a phrase, then the title came to her immediately. "I never felt or heard or envisioned something that encapsulated the album until he mentioned the phrase, 'dropping cherries,' I suppose, he said. But for some reason, my brain went, 'drop cherries,' that's it, I got it!" she recalls confidently. Additionally, the album's title track was written much later, she shared. "The song came later and the song 'Drop Cherries' is right at the end of the album. It was written just a couple of weeks before we went into the studio. There's always one [song] for me that creeps up and finds its way in, rather I like it or not. It felt like the perfect amalgamation of all those things you feel when a relationship such as that, is the fact is the narrator of this story would do absolutely anything for his partner, and the included if that's going to Ikea and buying a green carpet and some cherries."
While Billie continued answering many questions about her brand new album, she was asked if she would record further albums on tape in the future. "I most definitely would do it again. I think it's the way forward, I think it's how music should be recorded. There's a reason why everyone did it and all the records that have ever been made were beginning on tape," she declares. She also revealed her second record was also recorded on tape in a minimal capacity: "The second album I also did on tape, but it was a smaller version, like a four-track machine. Obviously, the album is incredibly minimal, there were never more than four things going on at once."
On Billie's last releases she sang from a place of sadness and later on, detailing in songs the process of her coming to terms with these dreadful feelings. On the last album, she confesses she was lying about the full extent of coming over these feelings and the self-loathing and issues with self-trust she was having: "I think I was still kind of lying on the last album, in terms of processing what I was feeling and getting over those sadness depictions of myself. I think I was very much still in the self-loathing era and battling with self-trust, and the narrative here is much more stable." Drop Cherries is a lane into a new path, depicting the love you can have for someone, and to not be pretentious it all comes from direct experiences she has gone through. "I would say it's a more linear album. Any reference to myself as the writer is hopefully a universal feeling. I want to very much remind yourself you are good and you can do things despite what you feel. So it's a real joy to get this new tone," she shares.
Unlike Billie's previous albums and EPs that heard her singing about everything between social commentary, the struggle with modernity versus tradition, nature, mental health, relationships, and general voyeurism on the world, Drop Cherries sees Billie writing from a place of happiness and love for the first time, and it was something she was waiting to do when the right time finally presented it self. Now is that time. "It was something I actively wanted to wait to talk about because I knew that my experiences weren't necessarily the best ones or the right ones and a lot of that is kind of depicted in previous albums. I wanted more control in many ways on this record and in doing that my muse was something that only I had experienced, but it also became a communal feeling. So instead of talking about sociopolitical stuff, or nature, or things around me, I realized I was getting quite complainy and kind of stuck in a creative rut, so it was a blessing, I guess, to decide to just talk about someone else for a while. That was a relief," Billie reveals.
Over Billie's entire career since a teenager, she has struggled with maintaining staying true to herself and struggled with keeping creative control over her own songwriting of her music. "It's definitely something I struggle with. It's very hard in an industry such as music that's constantly evolving," she states. "Often, you can feel like your music isn't perhaps as relevant as it was on day one, especially if you're not a brand-new artist or an up-and-coming artist. I think it's harder to have a voice, but that is something that one puts on one's self and it's important to shed that and realize that if you're going for longevity and you're going for something you care about very much, there's little that will occur to deter you from that." She additionally shared some brief advice for others also struggling with staying true to yourself and creative control in terms of others who want to take a step into the industry, etc. "You know what is good and you must follow that instinct. I think I've hit that boundary of that instinct a couple of times and sort of writed myself as I continued. No one is allowed to change your musical opinion, no one -unless it's helpful- should be involved in the creative process," Billie concludes.