Christina Martin

Canadian musician Christina Martin recently swung by York as part of her current UK tour. A first-timer to the city, we took the opportunity to find out more about the show and her single Lungs Are Burning, written against a backdrop of a Fentanyl addiction epidemic currently taking place in her home country.

You’re embarking on a UK tour at the end of the month. Are you excited for the tour?
Absolutely. It’s a privilege and a pleasure to represent Canada overseas playing music on different stages.

You have a gig at The Basement in York on 25 June. Have you played in this area before? Are you looking forward to visiting York?
That’s right, I have been added to the bill with Annie Keating Trio and Dan Webster.  My friend Rudie Humphrey is introducing us to York. Rudie is a writer for many hard-core-music-lover magazines, like Americana-UK, and host of the acclaimed Horseshoe Lounge Radio show.  I’ve never been to York so it will be great to finally experience it.

The first gig of the tour is being held in Cheshire on 24 June, at The Studio. You’ll actually be performing for Fat Pigeon Live, which is an online streaming platform that showcases and streams live music online. Have you ever done anything like this before?
I’ve done interviews, and performances at award shows for streaming and television, but nothing quite like Fat Pigeon Live in UK.

How did you get involved with the Fat Pigeon Live project? Did they approach you first, or was it the other way around?
Chloe Chadwick, the artist who is featured June 25 at the Fat Pigeon Live night, got in touch with me about performing. So I have her to thank for making the connection with Fat Pigeon Live. But first, Rudie Humphrey introduced me to Chloe, so I am indebted to him.

You currently live in Nova Scotia, in Canada. What is the music scene like there, and how do you find gigs differ between our two continents?
I’m not really familiar with the ‘scene’ here, as we chose to move away from the city years ago to work and live in rural Nova Scotia. But we have found there are great listening room venues and small theatres in many small towns and villages around Nova Scotia, like the Marigold Theatre in Truro, the Evergreen Theatre in Margaretsville. There is a plethora of great singer-songwriters from this part of the world, and although the music scene faces challenges with live music sales, people still appreciate going out to hear live music.

When we tour in UK, I find we get the larger audiences in rural areas, because there’s just so much going on in the larger city centres. The UK has an abundance of fantastic talent in a much smaller territory, so when playing the bigger cities, it’s more challenging getting people out to hear you for sure.  But we love playing cities like London, Manchester and Brighton.

What sort of stuff are you influenced by? We hear you’re a big fan of Bruce Springsteen and Tom Petty, is that something that comes across a lot in your work?
I think these artists do come across in my work.  We reference their music from time to time in the studio when we are trying to get sounds.  When I was a kid, my father played all kinds of music and had a large vinyl collection. We listed to Motown, rock, pop. As a teenager, I listened to what was popular on the radio, but found artists like Annie Lennox, David Bowie, Tina Turner and Michael Jackson to be captivating.  I love Tom Petty and Bruce Springsteen, Fleetwood Mac, Cindy Lauper, Madonna and Roxette, so mostly American and British pop and rock music, if the song and usually the singer caught my attention, I was hooked.  In my early 20s, living in Austin, Texas, I was introduced to Americana music, and singer songwriters like Shawn Colvin, Patty Griffin, Townes Van Zandt, but also admired stellar bands like Wilco and The Jayhawks, and that’s when I started writing my own music. I think I always dreamed of being a rock singer who could tell a good story with heart, and over the years I’ve tried to write more with my electric guitar.

You’ve just released a new single, titled Lungs Are Burning. What can you tell us about that? We hear it’s about the Fentanyl addiction that is currently raging through Canada – can you tell us more about that?
Lungs Are Burning was written with Dale Murray. I had been reading about the Fentanyl overdose crisis in Canada, and it really hit home, since I lost my brother to an opioid overdose in 2013.  The song itself isn’t ‘about’ the crisis. The lyrics are a personal expression of reaching, of loss, and of longing for something to fill a big hole.  I didn’t expect a song to come out of it, but I remember waking early one morning singing the melody and the words ‘hearts are burning, hearts are yearning’, and then later that morning Dale suggested we change the first ‘hearts’ to ‘lungs’.

We hear you also have a new album due for release soon. What can you tell us about that, and when can we expect to be able to hear it?
I’m working on my new album now, but it won’t be released until late in 2017. It’ll be my strongest work with Dale Murray, but that’s all I can tell you, since we are in the throws of it and it’s usually a surprise to us.

Why do you think people should come and see you perform, and what can people expect from a Christina Martin show?
Better to ask that question to a Christina Martin fan perhaps. I just play the songs and hope that people will connect with some of what I have to say.  On this UK tour I’ll be playing with a band in London, Brighton and Essex shows, and that’s very exciting for me because I love to turn things up and rock out! But for people who enjoy the more acoustic/stripped-down versions of songs, we have plenty of duo shows on this upcoming tour.  I get a bit more chatty at those shows between songs. It’s all fun!

Any last words for the fans?
Thanks for listening, and I hope to see you at the upcoming UK tour dates!

Lungs Are Burning by Christina Martin is available now.