“I was obsessed with the Spice Girls when they were massive,” Marika Hackman laughs down the phone, her voice growing in excitement as she continues. “I actually went to a friend’s party that was Spice Girls themed and we all pretended to be them and learnt a dance routine, but I wet myself. I was Sporty Spice in this instance so luckily I was wearing tracksuit bottoms, but I kind of ruined the night.”
She’s talking about “one of the most influential bands of [her] childhood” because her new album, I’m Not Your Man, pays homage to the girl group. There are no “zigahzig ahs”, no Mother’s Day ballads, but at the end of ‘BlahBlahBlah’’ – a track not worlds away from Warpaint’s moodier, more atmospheric cuts – there’s a big reference to ‘Say You’ll Be There’. “Straight away I was like ‘Oh shit, that sounds like the Spice Girls doesn’t it?'” Marika recalls. Ultimately, she decided to keep it in as way to show her respect to “one of the finest girl bands ever”.
Much as the Spice Girls preached girl power in the ’90s, the follow-up to Marika’s 2015 debut We Slept At Last is from a similar school of thought. I’m Not Your Man finds her changing tact from poetic enigma to a straight-talking boss who’s not afraid to put herself out there and showcases a more “empowered and brave” person singing about sex and the ideas of femininity and sexual identity as openly as you would with your closest friend.
On opener and lead single ‘Boyfriend’, she details hooking up with a woman who’s in a relationship with a man, observing that “it doesn’t count” because of her gender with sarcasm heavy lines like “He knows a woman needs a man to make her shout”. ‘My Lover Cindy’, meanwhile, finds her smashing the stereotype of women as romantic and proper with a chorus that declare her a “greedy pig” wanting to “suck you dry”.
“I was like ‘No, fuck it’ because it is actually really important to have these conversations”
“When it was first coming out, I was a bit tense as to whether it would have a huge impact on my personal life,” she says. “But then I was like ‘No, fuck it’ because it is actually really important to have these conversations. Obviously it’s a personal thing to me and I am a woman and a sexual being and I’m in relationships with women. I’m happy that I had the confidence to do that.”
It makes sense, then, that the 25-year-old would invite the band to play on her record with her. Their shared connection and friendship can be heard throughout, screams, laughs and chants littered across the album. As a five-piece playing live, they lift Marika’s songwriting up with the euphoric, ecstatic energy it deserves, but might have been harder to find if she’d recorded it in the same way as her debut – painstakingly layering instruments up in the studio. Musically, things have taken a shift too. Frustrated at not being able to let rip on stage with her folky gems, she took a leaf out of some of her friends’ bands’ books and decided now was the time to have fun with her music and her audiences. One such band was The Big Moon, who Marika “fangirled” after a show and ended up becoming great friends with.
“I loved making that first record,” Marika says. “It was really enjoyable to me, but this time around it was just more fun. I didn’t necessarily feel like I was in the studio. It felt like hanging out with your friends.” As its June 2nd release approaches, she’s feeling “excited and intrigued” to see what people make of it, while her only goal is to bring people “a sense of empowerment and fun”. With such bold, confident songwriting and honest lyrics, she shouldn’t be disappointed.