Although Hemming’s connection to ‘90s alt rock might not be quite so glaring as many of the best indie artists of recent years, there’s certainly still a pretty profound connection to that golden age of “alternative.” The singer/songwriter’s solo career actually began on VH1’s Make or Break: The Linda Perry Project and just a week and a half ago it was announced that she would serve as the support for Chris Cornell’s Acoustic Higher Truth Tour (which hits The Merriam Theatre on October 15th). Hemming is Philadelphia [and Philadelphia-ish – she’s currently spending a lot of her time in Doylestown]- based songwriter Candice Martello, who was actually chosen for Linda Perry’s reality TV experiment as one-half of punk duo Omar but, in light of Perry’s encouragement, made the existentially heartbreaking decision to disband and continue on as a solo artist (although former bandmate Nick Fanelli remains not only on great terms with Martello, but her current tour manager). Well, Martello not only began a new musical career on the nationally televised musical competition, but she went on to win the thing, whose prize was a record made with Perry (who co-produced the album with the songstress and co-wrote one of the tunes). That album, Hemming’s self-titled debut full-length, is out July 24th, courtesy of Custard Records. Additionally, Hemming will be performing this Thursday, July 9th, supporting Jay Brannan at World Café Live.
Late last week Candice Martello and I got a chance to chat about her recent career whirlwind… which just happened to be televised… I inquire about her experience on the TV spectacle and Martello tells me that, although it worked out exceptionally well, it certainly wasn’t her dream circumstance.
“The most overwhelming part for me was the television show, because that’s never something I’ve wanted to do, but after that, it was all great. I mean, I loved being in the studio and it was all about the music. But even not necessarily being excited that it was a TV show, it was an opportunity I couldn’t really shy away from. These days Reality TV is just another means to achieving your goals as a musician.”
Martello also tells me that Linda Perry turned out to be the ideal studio partner, something she had trepidation about: “She was perfect. The sound is so simple. My biggest thing was I didn’t want to be overproduced, because she’s done some really pop stuff, and there’s a little bit of a folk sound to me and I was a little worried she would turn me into a Mumford & Sons and I hate that kind of music, but we wound up with really pared down and simple tracks.” However, despite having a more simple sound, she admits that ‘90s alt rock was definitely present in the recording sessions, even if just sentimentally: “We had The Breeders and Pixies in mind when recording. We wanted a bit of nostalgia, but also a new sound.”
And when it comes to the sound of Hemming, Martello proudly admits (with a bit of a chuckle) that it tends to be on the bleaker side: “The album’s revolving around unrequited love and that kind of stuff… botched relationships.” She also tells me that her live show, which is generally her on her lonesome, reflects similar sentiments: “It’s a sad set. The songs are sad; people cry sometimes. It’s a really emotional set.”
Candice Martello tells me that the most important thing for Hemming for the time being is touring and getting her sounds in the hands and ears of the largest number of individuals: “This album’s been recorded for two years almost, so I just want to get it out and have people hear it. I’d like to keep tours happening, maybe a headlining tour, but we’ll see.” But it’s obvious that she’s most excited about her 30+ dates opening for Soundgarden frontman Chris Cornell: “I still can’t really believe I’m going on that and playing these really gorgeous, seated rooms. It’s really insane and I’m really overwhelmed [laughs].” And when I ask if she was personally a fan of Soundgarden growing up she admits that while it took her some time to come around there was certainly a familial influence regarding the seminal Seattle grunge rockers: “My brother was a huge fan and I remember the video of “Black Hole Sun” terrifying me [laughs]. It scared the shit out of me, but then it became my favorite video [laughs].”