With Australia Day around the corner, singer songwriter Jodi Martin is launching her iconically Australian single Saltwater in My Hair these January summer holidays, with a relaxed coastal tour of Northern NSW, from Forster to Byron Bay.
Where did you grow up, and when did music all begin for you?
I grew up near Ceduna, in South Australia, 800 km west of Adelaide on the way to Perth, the last supermarket before the Nullarbor, and on the edge of the ocean and the desert.
I remember humming and singing since before I could talk, and being obsessed with Mum and Dad’s vinyl record collection. When I was four, I started making up little songs, and Mum loaned me her cassette machine to record them on. I think that was a big event, because soon after that I decided that I wanted to be a songwriter when I grew up. Songwriting became one of the most important things in my life from then on.
By the time I was sixteen, I had written quite a collection – and Kasey Chambers recorded one of my songs for the Dead Ringer Band’s album Homefires, which won them an ARIA Award, while I was in my last year of high school. The Chambers family were amazing, and they inspired me to keep writing.
How would you describe your musical style?
My musical style is best described as contemporary folk … similar to artists like Passenger, Jack Johnson, The Waifs or James Taylor.
I mix my love of folk storytelling and my contemporary folk sound, with other musical styles that inspire me, like blues, country, reggae or soul.
What inspires you as an artist?
What inspires me most as an artist is life. My songs are about life and people, and this beautiful and sometimes difficult world we live in. I love coming to understand deeper what it means to be human, and learning how to live and love the most fully that I can.
And when it comes to musical inspiration, I have to mention great songs. I love listening to great songs, and having a good cry when they move me! It feels amazing – and it’s healing. When people are moved to laughter or tears at my concerts, it makes all the hard work worthwhile, because I know how much it means to me when I experience other artists move me like that.
What’s the story behind the album, Saltwater?
The name of the album, Saltwater, has a double meaning – it represents the saltwater of the ocean, as well as the saltwater in tears and laughter.
The ocean has always been my healing place, and as a kid in a remote coastal town, our entertainment fell squarely on the shoulders of the sea. Just watching the sunlight through the water makes me feel better. The saltwater in tears is also important for healing – kids do it naturally. We can have tears when we laugh, cry, or even when we listen to a deeply moving song, or watch a beautiful movie. Life is an exciting and awesome adventure. And sometimes it can also hurt!
I have found that tears, whether they are laughing tears or crying tears are a powerful way to process life and stay really healthy no matter what happens! This has been something that I have personally experienced recently, because both kinds of saltwater have been part of my healing journey after losing my brother too young. I have dedicated the album and the Saltwater in My Hair music video to him. He was my close friend, my first ever co-writer and he also first taught me to surf when we were kids.
The album will be in available at shows, and in stores on Friday 13th February through WJO.
Tell us about the Saltwater in My Hair tour: where and when can we catch you?
I am launching the first single, Saltwater in My Hair, with a coastal tour of Northern NSW in January while Aussies around the coast are doing exactly that – re-energising with saltwater in their hair. I have packed my surfboard as well as my guitars, and the concerts will have an intimate “around the campfire” vibe, just like I experienced growing up.
I am looking forward to playing Coffs Harbour (Jan 9), Crescent Head (Jan 15), Port Macquarie (Jan 16), South West Rocks (Jan 23), Old Bar (Jan 24) and Pacific Palms (Jan 25). You can get all the details – and download a free song – on my website, at jodimartin.com.
What’s been the biggest highlight of your career to date?
One of my standout gig highlights was playing the Big Top at Woodford Folk Festival, in front of 5,000 people. The tent and amphitheatre just started filling up, and I had no idea that my music had connected with so many people.
My biggest career highlight of all happened recently, writing songs for this album with my friend and hero Arlo Guthrie in the States. Arlo played Woodstock, and his biggest selling album and movie was Alice’s Restaurant. I have been lucky enough to tour with Arlo several times now, and I have been greatly influenced by the way he weaves his songs and stories together on stage. He is a master storyteller, and brilliant at making people laugh and think and feel. Arlo has been a real mentor to me, and having the opportunity to write songs with him still has me pinching myself!
Arlo and I started our 3-week songwriting road-trip in New Orleans, spent a week writing in Florida, and then continued on the tour bus from one end of the country to the other, finishing in New York State and Massachussetts.
How do you like to spend your spare time?
I like to spend my spare time connecting with family and friends, surfing, ocean swimming, fishing, and being close to the sea. I also love reading, learning more about life and listening to music… and of course writing.
Anything else you’d like to share with our readers?
I want to say thank you to everyone who has been part of this journey with me by being part of the shows, and all of those who have inspired me with their own stories and experiences.
Because people get to know me through my songs and stories, I sometimes have the privilege of also getting to know them as well. In meeting people on the road, I get to be inspired by them and the journey they are on. I love people, and feel lucky to be able to connect through music.
See Jodie perform on Friday 16th January at the Glasshouse Port Macqaurie. Friday 23rd January Southwest Rocks Country Club