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Interview: Martika

Martika Press Shot

Throughout her epic career 80s synthpop sweetheart Martika has collaborated with Prince, co-written for Patti LaBelle, and been sampled in an Eminem hit. Before she finally returns to our shores for the highly anticipated ‘Totally 80s’ tour –  with 6 fellow superstars in tow, we caught up with the Toy Soldiers starlet to discuss everything from Eminem, Prince’s tragic death to modern technology and her upcoming visit!

Are you looking forward to coming to Australia?

Oh yes, very much so. I’m so excited; I love Australia! I was there two times – I promoted both my albums there, but I only got to be in Sydney and Melbourne. This time I get to travel around your country, which is so beautiful. There are wonderful people there who are so nice to me and my family. I have great memories of my time there so I’m really looking forward to going back and doing performances because I didn’t really perform my concerts last time, the audience never saw me sing live on stage. They’re all very beautiful theatres and a great line-up so it’s a huge deal for me. I can’t believe it, honestly. I’m so happy!

Is there anywhere you hope to visit while you’re here? 

I don’t know. I’m not really sure how much time I’ll have until I see the schedule and what my obligations will be besides the shows. I think there will be some time off here and there but I think once I get there and I know where I am, what day, and when I have some time, then I’ll figure out what the best places are to visit and if I can get a little taste of the towns we’ll be performing at. So I’m not sure exactly what to expect when it comes to down time.

For a singer, a lot of times when you’re touring you don’t really get a lot of time off. Even when you’re not scheduled for things you have to get a lot of rest because the voice can be very temperamental, so you have to make sure you don’t stay out too late. It’s kind of a drag sometimes when you tour for work because it’s never the same as being on vacation, but you do try to get a little bit in here and there. Even sometimes when you don’t get to go out it’s just fun to see it. I think I see most of the world from the car window, really. Seriously, I’ve just driven past fabulous places and it’s like, oh I’m just looking out the car window (laughs).

I’m just really happy to be there, you know? And I always get to meet so many nice people. I’m just so grateful I get to travel at all with music and I’ve been able to see the world thanks to being involved in the performing arts. This is a big event for me in my life right now so I’m happy.

How did you get involved in the ‘Totally 80s’ tour?

I’m not really sure how these things come about because usually I tell the people I work with not tell me anything. A lot of times things will come up but they don’t really materialise and then you get disappointed, so they know by now to not even bother telling me unless the contract is very close to being signed. I hear murmurings through the walls sometimes so I try not to pay attention until they tell me. I say, “just tell me where I have to be, when and what I’m expected to do,” and then I can start to figure out what I’m going to wear (laughs). So I really don’t know who approached whom and how it led to becoming a reality but I actually believe it’s really happening now so I should be in Australia in a few weeks doing my set, girl! I’m so happy!

What can fans expect from your set?

So I’m going to be on stage for a half hour and I’m doing Martika’s Kitchen, I Feel The Earth Move, Love Thy Will Be Done, More Than You Know and Toy Soldiers. There’s a band in Australia that’s rehearsing the music now and I’ll be rehearsing with them when I get there. It’s pretty much just me and them on stage; I’m not bringing a bunch of dancers or anything like that. I’ve never been the type to do my live shows with dancers because I’m a little bit more spontaneous on stage and I like to just go with my gut. I try to choreograph myself but it doesn’t always work because I like to freestyle and have a lot of energy.

When I get on stage I’m like a child on the playground, I just want to play up there. I feel so comfortable on stage. Once I get there I feel a real rush of energy and feed off the crowd and I just love it. I just love to have that experience with people and to see their beautiful faces light up and make them happy; that’s really what it’s all about!

This particular concert will be nice because it’s a nostalgia night and so I know people will really be in a great mood. There’s so many wonderful acts that have big hits. I just think it going to be a huge sing-a-long. I’m last to hit the stage so I figure by the time I get there people will have probably spent quite a lot of time singing at the top of their lungs and just being really in a party mood.

As your music is very synth-orientated, do you ever wish you had the music technology we have today back in the 80s?

Wow, I never really thought about that! I guess that would have been nice (laughs). We have so many things available that you can utilise and just pull up. Probably anything you can think of, right? I don’t know, I’m just happy to sing a song, you know? To just work with different people in the creative arts. I love collaborating with talented people and musicians and everything and I was never the one to programme the sounds so I can only imagine that the producers and the people I worked with back in the day would probably love being able to access so many sounds as they can now; everything is just so cool.

Now you can really make a record in your bedroom. Even though people were doing it back in the day I think technology has now made it so you can do it on that level; it’s just so different now anyway. But I think in the end the creative process hasn’t changed too much. To create a song is probably the same as it ever was in a way. 

What did you think of Eminem’s version of Toy Soldiers?  

I liked it; it’s really cool! I liked how they used that snare drum and looped it around. It’s just trippy to hear Eminem rapping over my voice and singing that chorus is so cool. I was very honoured that he wanted to sample my song like that. I had known some other artists who had been sampled before so I was like, cool I’m in the club now of artists who have been sampled by the youth. I love it! All these kids now just don’t even know my career from before but their mums will be like, “that song Like Toy Soldiers by Eminem – that’s her!” They will be like “oh my god, she’s singing on the Eminem record. That’s so cool!” I’m like, “yeah, kind of (laughs).”

Did he contact you personally to ask if he could use your samples for his chorus?

They had to contact me for permission but I can’t honestly say that Marshall Mathers called me on the phone, no. Actually I think my mum may have been the one to say something about Eminem wanting to sample Toy Soldiers but I thought she was just teasing me. I thought one of my friends was trying to Punk’d me or something! At first I thought it was just insane, out of all the songs. Especially because Eminem is a global superstar – huge, right? So it was just super cool to get that phone call and of course I said yes, I didn’t hesitate. There’s a certain quality that comes from a certain artist so you just don’t worry about it. You just know they’re going to do something cool and it was just fun to hear it when it was finished.

As some people might not know, one of your biggest hits ‘Love Thy Will Be Done’ was co-written by Prince! Were you shocked when you heard the news of his death last month?

Yes, it was so sad! I still don’t want to really believe it’s true. I know it is but it doesn’t feel real yet. I just don’t really remember a time when he wasn’t with us. I wasn’t probably even double digits in age when Prince came out. We were just little kids! He’s just always been in our lives and I can’t believe it. He was young and I just thought he would be doing his shows into his eighties. I just pictured he would be like James Brown and just rockin’ it until old age, you know what I mean? I was just very sad and am still in shock with the rest of the world and the Prince fans. It was a sad sad sad day.

Aside from the upcoming tour, what does the next few years hold in store for you?

I don’t really know. I’m not even past the tour yet so I don’t have a huge vision of what I’ll be doing. I just kind of take it easy. I’m pretty laid back in life and I’m not that ambitious anymore like when I was a youngster trying to make my splash in the world. I just feel like if I can have any music or creative endeavour, I’m super happy. A lot of the things I’ve worked on over the years have been extremely low profile but I’m always going to be a creative type and work on music.

This tour has been a lot of fun to prep for and I’m so excited to do it. When I get back from the tour I’ll probably just unwind from it and get on with life. I’m pretty much just like a housewife, really. I’m very homebody; I cook and clean and garden. It’s not really too exciting of a life but I love it, you know what I mean? I’m just not really jet-setting around. To have the opportunity to do a tour on this level is incredible. Being on stage for me is just really natural. I’ve been on stage since I was a little girl and it’s just one of my favourite places to be even to this day.

I don’t usually spend too much time without going in a studio and recording. Probably next year I want to get in there and record some new stuff. There also seems to be gigs every year now since I kind of put myself out there to sing my old material again. I just started singing these songs again in the last few years; I hadn’t really sung them so there’s been opp      ortunities that have come up from just me putting myself out there, so who knows? Maybe there will be other shows next year, I don’t know yet! We’ll see!

Totally 80s Tour

Eatons Hill, Brisbane
Jupiters Theatre, Gold Coast
Polaris Theatre, Melbourne
Enmore Theatre, Sydney
Royal Theatre, Canberra
Astor Theatre, Perth
Thebarton Theatre, Adelaide
Wrest Point, Hobart
The Palms of Crown, Melbourne
The Palms of Crown, Melbourne
Revesby Workers Club, Revesby
Civic Theatre, Newcastle
Penrith Panthers, Penrith
WIN Entertainment Centre, Wollongong

Get Tickets HERE