Majka Voss Romme has already broken numerous hearts with the emotionally fraught, gossamer-fine music she’s made under her pseudonym Broken Twin. Her highly-anticipated debut album May is out this month through ANTI-. Self-produced and mixed by Ian Caple (Kate Bush, Tindersticks, Tricky) and Brian Batz, May is sure to be making deep waves over the summer with tracks like The Aching and Sun Has Gone already making people weep.
As with all new artists, she’s had to fend off numerous comparisons to already-established acts in her own bashful way. The names of luminaries like Hope Sandoval and Elizabeth Fraser have been mentioned in reference to her elegiac, searing vocal talents – proof if any were needed that this is an artist to get excited about.
She makes up part of the incredible line-up scheduled to hit musicOMH’s stage at The Great Escape in Brighton in May, after a year of touring with Daughter and James Vincent McMorrow. She’ll be joined by many other stunning new acts that we can’t wait for you to hear.
Before she gets swept up in the tide of the British summer, we caught up with Majke for a few getting-to-know-you questions ahead of her inevitably successful album release …
Can you tell us a bit about how you became Broken Twin? What kind of musical background do you have?
I grew up playing piano and singing with my father. We went through these classic pop songs, like The Beatles’ Here, There and Everywhere. I loved that and when I got older I started sitting by the piano by myself, making up small songs. Then I started playing with a good friend of mine. We taught ourselves to record. That’s when I really started putting all my time and energy into writing songs. Slowly this evolved into the work I’m now releasing.
What kind of music do you find most inspiring? Some artists make a point of not listening to music when they’re recording, others swear by it. Where do you fall on that spectrum?
I listen to a lot of different music that I find inspiring, but when I worked on the album I didn’t listen too much to anything. It wasn’t a conscious decision – I was just working hard on the record and had music around me all day. I couldn’t really take in anything else.
There have been a lot of reviews that compare you to a lot of artists ie. Hope Sandoval. Do you find those comparisons to be complimentary or unnecessary pressure (or both)?
It’s a little strange with comparisons. I understand why people do it – especially when something is new to them. But it’s funny to me, cause often I’m compared to names I’ve never really listened to – sometimes never heard of. But well, people compare with music they know well and I’m just happy if they compare me to something they like. Then I take it as a compliment! Even if I can’t see the connection.
How long do you think it took from your first idea for May to signing off the album as ‘complete’? Was it an easy ride?
I’ve been working on the album for over a year, but some of the sketches were almost three years old. I guess, since I’m a new artist, you could say that I’ve had my whole life to prepare for this album. But that doesn’t really lower the pressure!
Making this album has been everything but an easy ride and I’m grateful for that. At times it’s been a difficult and draining process, but I’ve learned so much from it. I wouldn’t be without that experience now.
Can you tell us a bit about how you work in the studio? Like do you have any set routine?
I worked in different studios and at home, trying to combine both processes, so there was no set routine. I’m very compulsive when I work on my own, so working in a studio with other people was kind of new to me. Challenging and good. I’ve learned a lot from all these great people.
Sun Has Gone has a kind of tenderness that a lot of people find in Lou Reed’s music – do you find it easy to convey depths of emotion in your songs or is it something that you have to work at?
Thanks! I don’t know. I honestly never think about it that way. If I convey anything or not. I try to just write. When I don’t think – usually, that’s where the magic happens.
Do you find it easier to compose something in the studio or to play live? How well does the live medium allow you to convey the meaning of your songs?
I love to write, but it’s a very solitary and inward experience where you allow yourself to forget everything and everyone else around you – including yourself. When you play live there’s people, so there’s a different kind of energy, which you have to relate to. I still try to forget myself like I do when I write and let the music convey it’s own meaning for those listening.
Your cover of Johnny Thunders’ You Can’t Put Your Arms Around A Memory was incredible, what made you choose to cover that particular song?
Thank you! I stumbled upon the song at some point and instantly loved the title. I also really love his version, but figured that if I did it, I would do something completely different with it. I like when covers don’t replicate the original, but take the song somewhere else. I mean, I could never deliver a slightly out of tune vocal the way he did it! It’s amazing, but that’s his voice.
Are there any other songs that you haven’t written that you’d love to record?
Oh yes, there are many. For instance the Tim Hardin song: Reason to Believe. I’ve played that one live.
You’re playing musicOMH’s stage at The Great Escape this year, along with Lyla Foy, James Bay, Oy and Sea Change. Have you heard of any of those guys? If you have, what do you think of them?
To be honest I haven’t heard of them – but I’m always really late at discovering new music! I hope I can catch some bands while I’m there, though. That’s a great thing about playing good festivals – you get to hear a lot of acts you’ve been too lazy to discover. I’m looking forward to that!
Are you excited to be playing the festival? Your appearance has got a lot of people interested.
Definitely! I’ve heard so many great things about this festival and I’ve wanted to go to Brighton for quite some time now. Also, I’ll be playing with a band, which is still kind of new to me. So I’m very excited!
Finally, how close are you to what’s happening in Denmark? Are there any bands/artists that we should keep an eye out for?
Uh, I’m not the most up to date person when it comes to Danish music. Chorus Grant has released a very fine record! And I love Under Byen, but they’re old news. Good news, though!
Broken Twin plays on musicOMH’s stage at The Great Escape in Brighton on 9 May 2014. The album May is released through ANTI- on 28 April.