NewTracks New Artist: Babe Martin

NewTracks New Artist: Babe Martin

Knocked For Six In BHX is the ethereal-sounding debut single by Tāmaki Makaurau artist Babe Martin, aka Zoë Larsen Cumming, maybe best known thus far as a frequent contributor on and off air at 95bFM. Produced by and recorded with fellow songwriter and producer Jazmine Mary, the song features on NZ On Air Music‘s NewTracks compilation this June.

What’s your full name, where are you from and what instruments do you play?

I’m Zoë Larsen Cumming. I was born in Tāmaki Makaurau, Aotearoa (Auckland, New Zealand) but grew up on Ngunnawal Country (Canberra, Australia) and in Geneva, Switzerland. I’m a vocalist and play piano.

Was any high school or other music training especially important to you?

Absolutely. I grew up singing in choirs which was the best singing training because it makes you listen and think as part of a team. I started piano lessons through my primary school, and my primary and high school music teachers in the public school system were totally imperative to fostering my love of music, which is so life-changing and important.

Any other projects that we might know you from?

No, this is my debut project!

What’s the background story to Babe Martin then? 

The backstory of Babe Martin is long but oddly relaxed. I’ve written music for an incredibly long time and absolutely love the music scene in Tāmaki Makaurau and Aotearoa. Volunteering at 95bFM when I was new to Auckland was really the trigger point. I knew I wanted to reach out to like-minded musicians so I asked Amelia Berry if I could buy her a coffee and pick her brains about who would be a musician of a similar style to me. She recommended I reach out to Jazmine Mary, and three years later Jazmine has produced this beautiful EP, and first Babe Martin body of work, with me.

How has your music evolved from your beginnings in songwriting to now?

I’ve been writing for a long time, so my lyrics have matured and become more succinct. I just think I’ve polished up how I’ve always liked to write. It’s still me, but more honed. But I’m aware there’s more honing and changes to come, as there always will be.

How and when did you come up with the name for the project?

Uggh, it took such a long time. I toyed with a lot of different artist names as I knew I wanted a pseudonym (including that of my cat, which thankfully a kind and honest friend advised against). I wanted a name that I wouldn’t get sick of (though time will tell) and Babe Martin seemed both sensible and vaguely glamorous enough to last me for a while.

Aside from this release, what’s been the highlight to date?

Playing the Sunday Sessions at The Hollywood, Avondale with the wonderful Kat Tomacruz on cello was lovely. It was a great, sunny afternoon in a gorgeous venue.

What makes Knocked For Six In BHX stand out for you as a single?

The stillness of it. It really lingers, intentionally. It’s a slow burn. A real fade-in.

What is the story behind Knocked For Six In BHX?

At its core, it’s about living apart from people you love and the inevitable goodbye after catching up. It’s about family, airports, and old feelings you’ve not felt in a while sneaking up on you when you least expect it. Growing up I travelled back and forth between Ngunnawal Country (Canberra) and Tāmaki Makaurau, so there were lots of goodbyes and hellos. Knocked For Six In BHX describes having that airport feeling I had as a child sneak up on me as an adult.

What’s your favourite moment, musical or lyrical, of the song?

“Where’s my sister, where’s my brother.” Family is very important to me. I love the layers and layers of cello and how they sear and pine (shout out to beautiful cellist Antonia Barnett-McIntosh and Jazmine Mary’s expert production and mixing). I also enjoy how it’s been described as a cryptic title, because I was almost worried it was too obvious when I wrote it, haha.

Who did you write/record/produce the single with and where? 

It was recorded in Jazmine’s home studio in Parau. We’d spend most of the time chatting and eating their food out on the porch, to be honest. One time they made me weed soup (weed as in garden weeds). I’d also always leave my sodas in their fridge by accident, and they’d never accept my Crunchy Bar offers. We have different palates. I still have their bone broth recipe though!

What would you like listeners to take away from this song?

Funnily enough, I never thought about this when making it. Maybe if they use it as a backdrop for their own thoughts that would be nice, or as a way to get to know me a little better.

How do you generally work out what song would make a good single?

Ask my friends.

Who else is in your team?

I’m with Sunreturn Records who I have loved since the beginning. I’m really stoked to be a part of that team. Zac Arnold is amazing.

Can you please name three other local tunes that would fit well on a playlist alongside yours.

  • Jazmine Mary: Seagullstudent radio network
  • Womb: The Dove
  • Flo WilsonPrelude to Requiem

Have any previous NZOA applications not gained funding or been included on NewTracks? Got any advice for others out there?

No, though that’s because this is my first proper release. It feels pretty nice to be included for my first song! This project was made with the help of NZ On Air’s New Music Development Fund, so thankfully Jazmine, as producer, took care of all that. My advice would be, ask people who know more than you for their advice as it can seem like quite a daunting process if you haven’t done it before.

Are there any musical blogs, Youtube channels or podcasts you’re super into?

Ooh, anything local would be my first port of call! When I first moved back to Aotearoa at 19 I learnt so much through AudioCulture. I like listening back to interviews from any Student Radio Network station too if I’m not up early enough to listen, haha.

Any last words?

Thank you NZ Musician! You rule.

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