She was just 16 when she was included on the BBC's Sound of 2016 poll, and first attracted attention via her YouTube videos at the tender age of 12. Billie Marten is clearly the sort of musician who'll make you wonder what you've done with your life.
Now 20, the folk-peddling songwriter known as Isabella Tweddle to her mum recently released her second album, 'Feeding Seahorses by Hand'. Her tour hits Dublin's Sound House on June 27th, so we caught up with her to answer entertainment.ie's Big Questionnaire.
What’s the music that you listened to growing up, that you still listen to today?
Whatever my family were listening to, so a lot of '70s folk, John Martyn, Joni Mitchell, Nick Drake, Simon & Garfunkel, Joan Armatrading [as well as] the classics of Pink Floyd Kate Bush, Beatles, The Who, etc. Newer influences would’ve been people like Antony and the Johnsons, Joanna Newsom, Radiohead: all the good stuff.
When did you first realise you wanted a career in music?
I still haven’t decided that yet, but it does feel pretty comfortable. It was all an accidental process. Keep you posted!
In three words, describe the minute before you walk on stage.
Restless head vomit.
How do you wind down after a gig?
Usually laughing a lot about what just happened, unravelling the good things and the experience we just had, and then I guess you pile in the van and head to the next place to do it all again. The wind down can only start once you’re in your bed alone again.
What’s the one song you wish you’d written or recorded first?
'A Case Of You' or 'Couldn’t Love You More'.
What song of yours are you most proud of?
I’m proud of them all; a song is always a surprise when it comes out of you and the sense of achievement each time is like nothing else. I try not to rate myself and in picking favourites I feel like I’d slip back into self-criticism.
What’s your favourite venue to perform in?
I really love old theatres and churches, places with high ceilings but ones that still feel warm. Actually, one of my favourites is the opposite of that – the Hebden Bridge Trades Club, but only because the welcome is always overwhelming and they are proper music people.
Your best and worst gig so far?
The worst could be some festival on the Isle of Wight a few years ago. We had to line check whilst Dick and Dom were custard-pieing small infants. It went all over our gear and then we had to walk on and play an understated emotional set whilst calculating what just happened.
The best would have to be Dublin Workman’s Club a while back. I was super scared and lonesome because I had to fly over and play alone but, they made me feel so welcome and the venue felt like an old French Jazz club. Circle tables, red tablecloths, candles, some girls taught me how to play one of my own songs on guitar ('Teeth') and we sang it together. It was lovely.
Whose career do you envy, and why?
No one’s, because they aren’t mine and I can’t have theirs.
Vinyl or digital downloads?
Both, very important to stay current and keep old traditions alive simultaneously. Otherwise people would still be listening on Mini-Disc and that’s no good for anyone.
Give your thoughts on Spotify in three words.
Big old library.
You can only have three albums on your phone/in your house at any one time - what three would you pick for today?
'Solid Air', 'In Rainbows' and 'Hunky Dory'.
Name one piece of music memorabilia that you wish you owned.
Kate Bush’s dogs from the 'Hounds of Love' cover.
Name one record, one book and one film that everyone should hear / read / see.
Penguin Café Orchestra – 'Penguin Café Orchestra', Mary Shelley’s ‘Frankenstein’ and 'Funny Girl'.
Pick the director and lead actor(s) for a biopic about your life.
Childhood would be something like Dakota Fanning in welly boots holding a cat. Adulthood? I don’t really know - are there any blonde actors from Yorkshire? Someone said I looked like Eddie Redmayne once, so maybe him. And I’d like to film most of it in elderly life, so probably someone like Maggie Smith or Joanna Lumley, or Olivia Colman when she gets nice and wrinkled. Whoever directed 'Goodnight Mr. Tom', or 'The Good Life', that would suit.
You’re ordering take-away, what do you get?
Curry from Mother India in Glasgow - only, they’d have to deliver to me 200 miles down the road. But I bet it would still be warm.
You’ve been given €100,000 to spend, but only 1 hour to spend it. What do you buy?
I’d knock everyone else off the waiting list and bag myself a nice allotment, fill it full of seeds and everyone could have some of what would grow. Then I’d give the rest to the bees.
Describe your perfect day off.
Fresh book, fresh raspberries, picnic blanket, seaside, long grass, sleep.
Tell us, in one sentence, why we should come to your gig.
I will give you cake. And it is free.
The gig, which is not free (but reasonably priced at €13.50 plus booking fee), takes place at The Sound House, Dublin on June 27th. Tickets are on sale from usual outlets now.