London-based, Portuguese singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, Marta Per, perfects her sound with her new EP, Fragments & Fingerprints. A delightful mosaic of pop, jazz and rock, the four tracks represent her both as an artist and a person. Using her signature brand of confessional lyrics and delectable dark humor, she reveals fragments of herself. And with an eclectically designed thumbnail to tie into each track, the four layers conceptualize the theme of each track.
Congratulations on the release of your EP! It is a very affecting collection of songs. Can you expound on the significance of its title and your artistic vision for it?
Thanks a lot! Fragments & Fingerprints is a collection of pieces of my identity – my musical identity and my personality in general. I put my all into it creatively and each track shows different sides of me – sides that I don’t show often, apart from in my music, and that maybe aren’t so flattering but that I needed to express somehow.
I also had an urgent need to have something out there that shows who I am as an artist and these tracks were that for me, each of them in its own way – my love for rock, jazz, confessional lyrics, humor in lyrics, changing time signatures, funkier or catchier sounds, it’s all in there!
The artwork for the EP is very interesting! How does it coincide with the theme of the songs and what does each tier represent?
The top part represents a messy brain processing all the situations that the songs are about, kind of like the world that the EP happens in, and there are little references to all the tracks (like the kaleidoscope from Nobody’s Friend). The bottom part is the reaction – how all this manifests, like a discharge of energy. The lightning representing the heavier or angrier parts of the EP and the rain as the more mellow and sad side of the songs. It was drawn by my brother João Pereira (@lekodraws on Instagram) and it felt so great to collaborate on the concept.
The album opens with Take A Deep Breath. It addresses the reticence to move on from our messy past. An acoustic piano motif forms the backdrop for jazz flavored rock grooves. With luscious looms of dark melodies, she portrays the emotional struggle to do the right thing. As she sings, “Take a deep breath and let it go”, she follows it up with “I am never letting go.”
Nobody’s Friend is strung together by dancing piano melodies. Flush with vapors of haunted melodies, Marta builds a haunted house of loneliness. The deviant whimsy and casual darkness in the vocals rings with chaos and pairs well with dissonant arrangements and ominous guitar solos.
What were some of the artistic challenges you faced/overcame in writing and performing the EP?
I composed all the parts and played everything except the drums and some backing vocals, which was fun but tiring. I’m a bit of a perfectionist when it comes to getting the exact performance that I envisioned, so it can be really time consuming and exhausting, and I needed a lot of breaks. Sometimes, I couldn’t bring myself to open the project for weeks at a time, because I’d get so tired of hearing the same song thousands of times. You lose perspective after a while. I also made many mistakes which took lots of redoing things. It was definitely a huge learning process.
Your ruminative style and confessional compositions are overcast with your unique brand of dark mystique. Tell us a little about finding your style and sound. And what do you want your listeners to take away from it?
I think about this a lot – how confessional do I want to be, how much do I want to hide behind metaphors and weird words! I guess the sound on this EP really is a friction between a need to be seen for who I am and at the same time being kind of scared of that, and that’s very representative of a specific phase of my life.
I think I’m slowly becoming more direct in my music, because I’m growing and becoming less afraid of what anyone thinks. The artists I really connect with are the ones who aren’t afraid to do that. I’d like the listeners to interpret the songs in any way that makes sense to them, but to me they’re an attempt to define myself and a search for connection. I’d love it if they provide any relief for anyone who listens.
The Run opens with a neo-classical piano showcase. It rises and falls like a skyline, against a dark velvet backdrop. A progressive influx of glinting acoustics and beats drive it into a dominantly rock soundscape. It is vibrant with vulnerability. Be it the confessional vocals or the evocative electric guitar solos. The track draws us deeper into the layered musical psyche of the EP.
Who are some of the artists that helped you understand yourself as a musician, and inspired your creative process?
Mainly Paramore and Fiona Apple, for very different reasons. Paramore were my obsession as a teenager and really shaped my idea of being a musician for a time. They got me into rockier music and the confessional sort of lyrics, and the use of songwriting to process situations. Fiona Apple was a later discovery and I love how experimental and bold she is. I’m taking baby steps to incorporate that more in my writing because just listening to her feels so freeing, but her influence is on this EP, especially in The Run.
There’s also a Portuguese musician, Jorge Palma, who I grew up listening and really shaped my piano playing and probably how I express myself in songs in terms of lyrics and harmony.
Other honorable mentions: Steven Wilson, Twenty One Pilots, Queen, Fleetwood Mac, Muse.
Hostage concludes the album. With undulating guitar acoustics and bare vocals, the song is different in that it is more intimate – artist to listener. And the artist has seemingly reserved her most revealing track for the last. Thinking out loud in a room of levitating acoustics and breezing synths, Marta puts on a bedazzling emotional performance; ending it with dramatic wails of melodic guitar.
What can we expect from you this year, with respect to releases, projects, collaborations, etc.?
There’s a Deluxe version of the EP coming later in March and I’ve been recording EP #2 as well, so there’s lots of music coming!
The EP is available for streaming on Spotify, YouTube Music, Amazon Music, and Apple Music!
You can listen to the Fragments & Fingerprints EP by Marta Per here –
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