Christina Martin. Photo_by Scott Munn,
Christina Martin. Photo_by Scott Munn,

Five Questions With… Christina Martin

Acclaimed Nova Scotia-based singer/songwriter Christina Martin has just released a new single, “Lungs Are Burning,” the first taste of the forthcoming follow up to her 2015 album It’ll Be Alright.

Martin’s choice to release “Lungs Are Burning” now is in response to the rising Fentanyl drug crisis in Canada, which also inspired her to write the song with her primary collaborator Dale Murray. As she sings lines such as, “Got to go out and get some, baby,” in her haunting, Stevie Nicks-esque tones, Martin captures the desperation of “chasing the dream,” a message also brought home through Murray’s stately production.

Martin is going further to increase engagement and awareness by promoting the work of the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) on her summer Canadian tour dates, which bring her to Montreal on June 8 at Le Cagibi, and to Toronto on June 16 at the Burdock Music Hall.

Martin began writing and recording her own music while slogging it out on the Austin, Texas bar scene in the early 2000s, before returning home to Canada in 2003. Since 2008 she has been relentlessly recording and touring in Canada and overseas, building an audience through songs about loss and love, anxiety and perseverance. It’ll Be Alright marked a major creative step forward for Martin, confirmed by the album being named Pop Recording of the Year at the 2016 East Coast Music Awards.

“Lungs Are Burning” is available now through all major digital outlets, or by going to Martin’s official site

What made this the right time for you to release “Lungs Are Burning” as a single?

The song has been ready for awhile, and if you wait too long, you risk it not feeling as relevant anymore and it can turn into a sour experience. It’s been over two years since releasing my last record, so I think it’s time.

What inspired you to write the song?

I wrote it with Dale Murray after reading about the Fentanyl overdose crisis affecting Canadians. It’s not necessarily “about” the crisis, but it got me thinking and feeling a whole lot of things, and that’s what triggered something in me to wake Dale early one morning and ask for his help in writing this song. It started with the melody and line “Hearts are burning, hearts are yearning,” and Dale suggested we change the first “hearts” to “lungs.” I suffered a personal loss to a drug overdose in 2013, so this subject is always very close, and it hurts my heart to hear more and more people are suffering. It’s painful to think about the loss, and makes me wonder what’s causing so much widespread pain, addiction, and mental illness.

Is this track indicative of what your next album could sound like?

Not necessarily. I can’t really say what the album will sound like yet. And it’s always weird telling people “it sounds like this or that,” unless it’s an obvious disco record.  People usually hear different things than I hear in my own records. The other day I was called a “country singer” in a U.K. review, which was news to me. We are still working on the new songs in our studio, and the end result is always a bit of a surprise. You go in with a strong vision and notes, and then you hear those “great” ideas back, and some sound like shit, so you have to find a new idea. The studio is also where we end up learning how to better the songs and play our parts as musicians, so until we take a song to the studio, we really have only done a fraction of the work. I’m pulling my hair out right now on my guitar and vocal parts for many of the songs. Sometimes I wish someone else could just come in and sing and play ALL of my parts.

Your profile keeps increasing in Europe. What’s the biggest difference between audiences there and in Canada?

Audiences overseas are still buying more physical merchandise, but otherwise, people are people. Sure, in Europe there are MORE people, and in some countries the economies are either strong, or struggling, making it easier or more challenging to buy tickets, but in the places we usually play people are going out to appreciate original live music. In North America it seems people are buying more digital or streaming music. 

If you could change anything about the music business, what would it be?

I wish I didn’t have to think about the music business, I wish I could focus entirely on writing, recording and producing beautiful shows for people. But the guiding principle remains, never give up, even when you want to. Having Dale as my partner in all of this definitely helps. Everybody needs a Dale!


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