By Michael Swanger firstname.lastname@example.org
singer-songwriter Martine Locke
uses music for self-exploration
Playing and writing music, says
Australian singer-songwriter Martine
Locke, is more than just a way
to make a living, it is the means
by which she explores her soul.
And if getting to know the truth
about herself were the only criteria
she used to judge her new album,
"On the Verge," she
would call it a significant inroad
to a lifetime journey of self-exploration.
"This album takes me one
step closer to the way I want
to sound, it's a true reflection
of who I am," the 36-year-old
musician says. "It's about
the journey and getting more in
touch with the things that make
"Unique" is one way
to describe Locke, whose folk-rock
sound is a hybrid of Ani DiFranco,
Melissa Etheridge, Carol King
and Alanis Morissette. But perhaps
the most accurate description
of this redheaded Aussie is her
tag line "Independent by
Name... Independent by Nature."
During her career she has been
a one-woman operation: artist,
publicist, manager, booking agent,
record label owner and producer.
In 1994, Locke released her debut
solo album, a self-produced effort
that sold well in the Outback.
Two years later, she formed The
Velvet Janes, an acoustic duo
with Rose Parker, which released
four albums on Locke's record
label Passionfruit Produce and
sold more than 80,000 copies.
And in early 2004, following the
release of her second solo album,
"Fly," she moved to
San Francisco to immerse herself
in the American folk music scene.
"I had been dreaming about
coming here for years," she
says. "I knew it would take
me out of my comfort zone with
all the great players and writers
here and it would challenge me
to get better."
Locke credits her homeland for
giving her a start in the music
business by helping her gain confidence
as an artist. She maintains a
residence in Perth and tours Australia
during the summer with The Velvet
Janes, noting, "It gives
me an excuse to go to the beach
and play music."
But, to exercise a clichè,
her heart is in San Francisco,
a city where progressive social
and political ideals thrive. It's
where Locke feels most at home
when it comes to creating her
music and exploring herself. "I'm
spoiled because people are willing
to think outside of the box,"
she says. "I feel very lucky
to be at the hub of all this activity."
That kind of comfort, for example,
helped her decide to include "If
I Were A King" on her new
album. The song addresses the
issue of homosexual relationships
and even includes a verse about
gay marriages: "If I were
the pope, prime minister or president,
I'd write a law that said you
can love who you will.... If I
were a boy, do you think they
would notice quite as much as
they seem to do now?"
"I remember thinking 'I'm
not going to record this, it's
too vulnerable,'" Locke says.
"Then the first time I sang
it in public, half the room cried,
so I realized if it's touching
people that deeply I'd better
put it on the album. It's about
loving who we want to love regardless
of the consequences and regardless
of public opinion. I struggle
with that and I have friends who
struggle with that."
Love isn't the only complicated
topic Locke tackles on "On
the Verge." There are also
songs about death, politics, growing
older and celebrating life. They
are songs she likes to share with
kindred spirits at her live shows.
"There's something about
having the courage to go one step
further to say, 'This is me and
this is my life and hopefully
we can find something in common,'"
she says. "I think it goes
back to my tribal roots. I'm always
searching for those people to
become part of my community and
my family." CV
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