We sat down with May 2023 Artist of the Month Martie Faye. Learn more about her journey as an artist, her experience at Music Forward, and beyond.
Tell us a little about yourself and how you decided to become a musician.
I am a Filipino-born singer, New England-raised songwriter. Being from a culture where singing karaoke is a part of every family gathering in the Philippines, that’s when I first realized how fun singing is. I was five when we moved to the United States, and eventually, I was able to join choirs and ensembles at church and school. In high school, I was able to join the select choir and was able to perform on local TV, and travel around town to sing with them. My experience with choral singing influenced the way I arrange and add harmonies.
I tried for years to learn the piano and admittedly I’m still a novice. But I found my stride with stringed instruments. I’m a big fan of Dodie and was inspired by her to buy a ukulele when I was about 16. I taught myself chords and eventually figured out how to strum and finger-pick. Then I started crafting songs on my little uke. I had all these lyrics in my head and I wanted to figure out how to convey those stories through song. When I moved to Los Angeles four years ago, I bought a six-string and taught myself guitar as well.
I had been introduced to some producers and began working with them on some material. When I was at their studio for the first time to record, we worked on one song (Magnetize) for almost 12 hours. But it didn’t feel like work, it felt like the fastest 12 hours of my life. And I wanted more. When I felt that hunger to create in the studio, that’s when I knew I wanted to do this for the rest of my life.
What is your creative process like, and how would you describe the music that you typically create?
Before I was a songwriter, I was a poet. With my background in poetry and short fiction writing, I tend to focus on crafting the lyrics first and then building the production around them. Usually, when a lyric pops in my head, a rhythm and melody come with it. Sometimes lyrics will be inspired by conversations with friends, or born out of journal entries, or can even be a twist of a common phrase like “Heart of gold, you’ve got one too / My safe harbor with a beautiful view.”
I’d describe my music as folk-pop, with a touch of chamber pop, anchored in singer/songwriter sensibilities. I love the storytelling aspect of folk music, and incorporating choral-like harmonies and orchestral instruments to create a lush sound. I write almost everything on guitar and then when composing and arranging, I like to make sure I have a good rhythm section to keep the song moving. I also like experimenting and trying to incorporate different sounds into a song that aren’t always used together. Learning to produce my own music has been such a liberating and creatively fulfilling experience because I get to combine lots of different sounds.
Growing up, who or what were some of your inspirations (musical or otherwise)?
Growing up in Western Massachusetts with English as my second language, I loved reading as a way to expand my vocabulary and nurture my imagination. Along with YA books and classic literature, I was immersed in a lot of Romantic-era poetry. So lots of Emily Dickinson and Robert Frost. I also got into Spoken Word Poetry in high school, with Sarah Kay being a standout. I’m also a huge musical theatre nerd so I fell in love with how songs could expand and drive a story forward.
Sonically, I’m inspired by music with great, driving percussion that really makes you feel alive. I find inspiration in clever, fun lyricists and evocative production that all come together to tell a story. More than that, musicians who paint word pictures. But also music that’s just fun and artists who like to experiment without taking themselves so seriously.
The Beatles, Fleetwood Mac, Taylor Swift, Lorde, Coldplay, Queen, Beyoncé, and Lana Del Rey were on constant rotation growing up.
How did you get involved in Music Forward?
During the lockdown, I was looking for virtual gigs to do because I had just released my debut EP “Reaching Out For A Lullaby.” Somehow, I came across the Music Forward website and saw the application for Virtual Open Mic Fridays. After signing up, there was another program suggested to me on the page. It was for an upcoming music production program in partnership with Apple called “Today at Apple Creative Studios LA.” At the time, I was still learning how to produce my own music but it wasn’t at the level I wanted and I was intimidated by the technical aspects of production and audio engineering. I signed up for that program too and hoped for the best.
I’m grateful to say I was accepted to both programs and the rest is history!
What would you say is the most important thing you have gained from your Music Forward experience?
Aside from a wonderful community of musicians and mentors, I’d say the most important thing I gained from Music Forward is definitely the confidence in making my own music. Not only through the technical skills gained from the TAACSLA Program, which helped demystify the production process. But also with how everyone I’ve met at Music Forward is so encouraging of our growth. Having that community behind you is so valuable as an artist and young professional.
What has been your biggest career highlight so far?
After the Today at Apple program, I was contacted by Nalini about an upcoming internship opportunity. It was for a touring band where I would have the chance to travel, learn, and work with their crew. As a self-taught musician, I jumped at the chance to learn a new and different side of the industry from seasoned pros. After an extensive interview process, I got the news that I was selected!
To have traveled and worked with an incredible crew for an amazing band is such a dream my younger self could never have fathomed. I’ve made wonderful memories and great friends and connections. And because of Music Forward, I can say that I am a professional in the music industry!
What’s next for you and your career? Do you have any new projects or performances coming up?
While on break during tour last year, I had a traumatic accident and needed to be hospitalized for two months. I had to relearn how to walk and am still on that healing journey. Songwriting has been a therapeutic part of my recovery and my upcoming EP “Anniversary” will touch upon the messy emotions that come with dealing and healing from trauma. It will be released on the anniversary of one of the surgeries that were instrumental in my rehabilitation, so I’m excited to reframe that day from one of pain and mourning to one of celebration.
Finally, how does music move you?
Almost all important moments of my life so far have been underscored by music. Whether it’s listening to music as I studied, or listening to music in recovery, to creating and sharing stories with the world. It’s amazing how music can connect us and unite people from so many different backgrounds. And I’m so grateful to be part of this community and have the ability to move people the way my favorite artists have moved me. Music moves me by motivating and inspiring me.
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