To my delight, folk singer / songwriter Laura Marling picked up the Brit for Best Female Solo Artist this year after being nominated for a Mercury Award two years in a row. So as I was doing some research on her, I stumbled upon some interviews she had done in the past and it occurred to me that perhaps this artist that I hugely admired might not be the artist I had envisioned to be. To say the least, she seemed at first glance to be shy, but even more than that, reserved and if I dare say so cold in her responses.
This sort of attitude unfortunately often comes across as removed and mysterious. To those however that are used to outgoing and warm individuals around them, people like Marling can seem aloof.
Today nonetheless I stand corrected. After reading this fascinating article dates back to last year in the Sunday Times, I finally have come to understand that this cold and awkward attitude of hers is due to nothing more than pure shyness. Dan Cairns, the interviewer states in his article :
The singer’s relationship with Noah and the Whale’s Charlie Fink ended, inspiring his band’s break-up album, last year’s The First Days of Spring. And Marling’s fear of death and her social unease, both of which she describes as “crippling”, began to loosen their grip.
On our snowbound walk in the country, shortly before her birthday, in between the pauses that seem to act as staging posts between reserve and candour, Marling tries to describe what this thawing felt like. Her words, when they come, do so in a rush, as if hurrying to squeeze through a briefly opened window of opportunity.
“Well, Nick Drake was painfully shy,” she begins. “He almost died of shyness, in a way. What I’ve figured out in the past couple of years is that you can be shy, but you can also step it up a notch and, you know, be on the level with people. I think the shyer, more insecure people, the really artistic ones, with loads of integrity, loads of pride, often get things done by being an arsehole. It might kill them inside, but that’s the only way they can do it. Everybody who is creative has that to an extent.” And that gave her licence? “I think I had it in my head that it was okay to not talk to anyone unless I needed to, and that I could get away with that.
But, actually, part of being a good human being is communication and respect. I think the point that I’m trying to make, trying to prove to myself, is that you can be good and kind and easy enough to be around without compromising your artistic integrity. Why did it take me so long to understand that?”
The interview took me back to uni, when I realised that a classmate of mine (we were in the same acting program) – never spoke to anyone unless she had to. I found her very peculiar at the time and found it very hard indeed to hold a conversation with her. However, through this crippling problem of hers came a ray of light every time she went onstage. It was like someone had turned on a switch to her soul and perhaps like Marling, was afraid of loosing that magic if she opened up to people in her personal life. The stage was her outlet, her life, her fire. What would happen if she suddenly started interacting with people and then her stage presence burned low?
Thankfully today, her immense talent still burns on and like Marling, she seems to have grown into her own skin and realises that social awkwardness and introversion was always to her more of a hinderance and a clutch rather than a true outlet.