Martha May: “I try to participate in London’s vibrant music scene as much as I can”
A few weeks ago, our very own Joe B got to chat to Dora hopeful Martha May ahead of her participation in the Croatian national final this weekend with the folk pop song Distance. As well as her song, Dora and Eurovision itself, Martha talked about her experience studying in London, the creation of her music video on the site of a huge Netflix series, and why she’s never been tied down to one musical genre.
You can listen to Martha May’s song for Dora HERE:
Thank you so much for chatting to us, Martha, and sretno for tomorrow!
Martha, congratulations on making the shortlist for Dora 2023! How do you feel right now?
Thank you! I have to say, I feel incredibly grateful and excited! I feel like this is a great opportunity for me to show my music to a wider audience, and I am definitely ready for it!
The bio on your website describes you as a “heartfelt songwriter” and a “born performer”. What does this mean to you, and how long have you known that you wanted to be a musician?
I think I’ve always known. I was a member of numerous choirs as a kid, but never took singing seriously until I participated in a musical at the age of 16. That experience showed me that I never want to leave the stage basically haha, and at that point I knew I would do anything to make music my life. I see myself as a heartfelt songwriter because I simply write what I think and feel, and it can be quite raw at times. When it comes to performing, I just consider it my greatest life passion. There is nothing more fulfilling for me other than sharing a song with an audience!
You’re from Split, but, and this is quite relevant for this year’s Eurovision, you moved to the UK to study in 2018, first at the University of Chichester and then at BIMM College in London. What’s your favourite thing about living in the UK, and why do you think it’s become such a hub for musical talent?
After my studies, I stayed in the UK simply because I love it there. There are so many opportunities for young musicians, and I think that is my biggest reason. In London there are endless open mics, live music venues, and networking events. I try to participate in London’s vibrant music scene as much as I can because it really is incredible!
Your music has covered several genres already, from Breakaway, with its 00s-style rock tones, to Little Me, which has more acoustic country elements. How would you describe your style to someone discovering your music?
This is a hard question for me, because I feel like I am still in search of my true unique sound. I would say the basis of everything I write is modern pop music. Through my entire life I enjoyed catchy, vibrant pop melodies sung by Lady Gaga, Abba, Lorde, Marina & the Diamonds and many others. In the last few years, I have started exploring the storytelling aspect of music aswell, including some folk elements into my music, being inspired by Phoebe Bridgers, Billie Marten and Hozier.
Now, let’s talk about Distance, your song for Dora 2023. What was the process of writing this song, and who/what inspired you to write it?
This song came into my life completely unexpectedly one day while I was doing my Master’s degree. I came home from a class, and being surrounded by all sorts of musicians that day really inspired me. I sat down to try and write a song, and started with writing out a couple of potential titles. One of them was Love You From A Distance. I was immediately drawn to it, and I wrote the song in about 20 minutes. The song is about a person that was once a big part of my life, but is no longer in it. It is about wondering whether this person thinks of me in the same way I think of them.
Was the song originally written with Dora/Eurovision in mind, or did that come about later?
Not at all! I was a baby songwriter at the time, with no expectations for my songs whatsoever. The idea to apply for Dora came almost a year later, when I was showing the recorded song to my friends and family. It sounded good, so I just thought, I have nothing to lose by applying, so I did! I’m so glad this was my way of thinking haha.
You’re one of a few acts who’s also given us a music video prior to Dora, and in your case, if you don’t mind me saying, an absolutely gorgeous one. For a lot of it, you’re walking around what looks to be a public park, or the grounds of a stately home. Where was it shot, and what was filming it like?
I am so glad you like it! The music video was made in a bit of a hurry, I literally found out about Dora about 2 weeks before the music video deadline. Thankfully, I worked with Shaun Dagnall, who directed and filmed the whole thing. Shaun’s vision was really similar to what I had in mind, and he took it upon himself to find all the best locations! We filmed in Painshill Park, where Bridgerton was filmed, but also in the beautiful Swinley forest, and a few other small towns in the UK. Working with Shaun was an absolute pleasure, and I feel we definitely did something magical with the time and resources we had!
With 17 other songs in the final, there’s plenty to be listening to and be inspired by, and I’m sure you’ll agree that this year’s Dora has a truly diverse line-up music-wise. Have you had the chance to listen to the other songs, or meet other participants, and if so, which are your favourites (other than your own)?
Oh I agree, this year’s Dora is gonna be amazing, and I love how genre-diverse it is. I would say my top three are Free fallin’ by Đana, Master Blaster by Detour and Kreni dalje by Eni Jurišić.
Moving on from Dora to Eurovision itself, how much of a fan of the contest would you say you are? What are your favourite memories of watching it in the past?
I am a huge Eurovision fan, I always make sure to not make any plans for the Eurovision nights haha. My favourite memories of watching Eurovision are preparing all the snacks with my flatmates in London, watching the contest, then loudly discussing our favourites haha!
What would it mean to you to represent your home country at Eurovision in your adoptive country?
It would mean the world to me. Competing in Eurovision is one of my biggest dreams, and I always knew if it were to happen for me, I would want to represent Croatia, my home country.
And now for some bonus questions for the fans to get to know you a bit better:
What’s your favourite thing to do when you’re not making music?
When it’s warm outside I love being in nature, whether that’s taking a walk in a park or swimming on the beach. In winter, I prefer reading at home.
If you could share the stage with anyone, dead or alive, who would it be?
Lorde, my biggest songwriting inspiration!
What’s the most interesting fact about you that not many people know about?
I am a big extrovert in real life, but I am terrified of talking on stage lol.
And, just to finish, thank you so much for chatting to ESCBubble, Martha. We’ll be looking forward to seeing you perform Distance in Dora 2023. Do you have a message for your fans in the Eurovision community?
Thank you for all your support and kind words, and my message will always be: Believe in yourself and your art!! Anything is possible, and if you want to be an artist, don’t let anyone tell you that it’s unrealistic!!
Dora begins at 8:15pm CET on HRT tomorrow evening – stay tuned for ESCBubble’s live blog!
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