Tilston is daughter of revered songwriter Steve Tilston, and stepdaughter to
folk singer Maggie Boyle. Over the past few years she has achieved recognition
within the “new-folk” and festival scene, gaining a large word of mouth
following in the UK and beyond. She
performs on her own or accompanied by her eclectic band The Woods. As a solo
artist Martha has toured with Damien Rice, Fairport Convention, Roddy Frame,
Hem, Nick Harper and her father, Steve Tilston. In January 2007, she was
nominated for Best Newcomer at the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards Her albums are: Of
Milkmaids and Architects (2006), Ropswing (2006) Bimbling
(2004) and Rolling (2003).
Q: Do you think of your
lyrics as poetry?
A: Yes, in a way, but the
tune is so intrinsic to the poetry of a song that the lyrics wouldn't
necessarily work without the pentameter of the melody. I write poems as well as
songs but they go in a different books, and I rarely show my poems to anyone.
Songs were a way of being a writer without anyone checking my spelling ...
Q: Do you think it is
important that songs rhyme and if so why?
A: I enjoy the way rhyme can
be an inspiring restriction, but its importance isn't important.
Q: Do you think song lyrics
must conform to recognized song structures such as clear rhyming schemes,
choruses, refrains, hooks and bridges or that songs can also be like free verse?
A: No, it can work in or out
of established form, I enjoy it when creativity explores and challenges form.
It’s hard to resist safety sometimes but truth, imagination and courage make
experimenting worthwhile, even if we retreat back into our “verse, chorus,
verse, chorus, middle eight and out” shells at times.
Q: When you read poetry in
school or elsewhere did you recognize any connection to the music you enjoyed?
A: Yes and no
Q: Was there anything about
poetry in books that influenced your songwriting?
A: Probably, I studied
Shakespeare and wasn't aware at the time , but perhaps something in the rhythm
and metaphor may have seeded in me, somewhere.
Q: Why do you think songs
are more popular with people than poetry is?
A: I'd start by saying
neither is more worthy than the other—we need it all at the moment! But song
is a double whammy, music speaks every language on this planet with melody/
tune, evoking an understanding of the mood of a piece without the necessity of
understanding the lyrical imagery. With spoken poetry the reader can express
emotion and aid imagery with tone of voice and performance. On the page,
however, poetry only speaks the language of the language it speaks.