The nature of mind, and the mind of nature are my primary inspirations, informed by years of silent meditation retreats.  I also draw on family history, bringing a mature perspective to both the shadow side of life and the possibility of transformation, in songs that range from ethereal and hypnotic to driving acoustic rock. 

Music and art have been life-long passions.  For most of my adult life I've worked as a designer and visual artist.  Although music was "on hold" career-wise, my joy in it never faded.  Several years ago I decided to rededicate myself to this somewhat neglected area, dusted off my guitar, found a great vocal coach and started anew.  To my surprise and joy, I found that the expression I enjoyed as a visual artist quickly emerged into songwriting.  And further, that songwriting and performance allowed me to inhabit my creativity even more powerfully and directly. 

The process of songwriting is still somewhat mysterious and miraculous to me.  I find inspiration in the strangest places, when I am attuned to the world around me the ideas, the metaphors, the stories seem to arrive synthetically.  That is to say that I often feel as though I am a receiver as much as a creator, and that my job is really to practice the skills needed to present the music well, and keep myself open to what wants to be expressed through me.  Each song feels like a gift, and with each one I wonder anew at my great good fortune. 
Feral Girl is my first studio recording.

Q&A With Gail Martin

Q:  How did you first get involved in singing/songwriting?
A:  As a teenager, I wanted nothing more than to be Joni Mitchell.  So my early training on guitar focused on finger-style playing.  I sang in the park, sang in chorus, sang in my bedroom.  I  performed in a folk trio, called (somewhat embarrassingly) Rainbow. I pursued a career in art and design. In 2007, after many years of exhibiting visual art, my love of music re-ignited when a friend asked me to sing backing vocals on his CD. Unfortunately, that musical opportunity didn’t last.  After a low period when I didn’t know how I would continue (at the time I hadn’t touched my guitar in decades) I realized that I could make music independently, that I could pick up where I left off as a young adult and build on it.  I must have learned 100 cover songs in the next couple of years, and that training period, combined with the feeling for imagery that had informed my artwork, led me to writing my own songs.

Q:  What/where/how do you get inspiration?
A:  I have been practicing meditation for many years and I take time most years for a silent retreat of between one to six weeks. I go to a place in rural Massachusetts that allows me to spend a lot of time in nature, and many of my songs grow out of this opportunity to deeply connect to the nature of life and existence.  I’m fascinated with this world and the workings of the mind, how to heal our deepest sorrows, and how to be happier, and I try to share what I learn in the songs.

Q:  Who are the artists who most influenced your style? 
A:  Singer-songwriters such as Joni Mitchell, Patty Griffin, Eliza Gilkyson, Joan Osborne, and Vance Gilbert.

Q:  Which is your favorite cut on FERAL GIRL and why?
A:  The title cut is my personal favorite.  A few years ago, I discovered that at some point of the process of becoming a well-civilized young lady, a part of my personality had been exiled to the depths of my subconscious. I came to call her my feral girl. As I explain in a note on the CD, if I hadn’t recovered the spirit and courage of this part, I wouldn’t have been able to do this work.  So I dedicate the album to her.  Not to mention that the song itself is a rocker!  

Q:  How is songwriting different from/similar to the visual arts?
A:  I was actually very surprised to find how connected song-writing is to visual art, and how quickly the ability to write my own songs emerged. I think in images and images drive both endeavors.  All those cover songs I learned also served as a crash course in writing. The other big surprise was that I felt music allowed me to be even more expressive than visual arts, enabling me to engage on a deeply energetic as well as imagistic level.

Q:  What was most rewarding about the creation of FERAL GIRL?
A:  The biggest thrill has been opportunities to work with talented local musicians. I never found a satisfying way to collaborate in the visual arts, and so art-making was a mostly solitary and sometimes lonely process.  When I began to work with other musicians, I was delighted. All the talented people that came in to record on the CD brought so many wonderful musical ideas to the project.  It’s like borrowing other peoples’ genius! After so many years of working alone it almost feels like cheating.  Accompanying me on FERAL GIRL are Peter Warren; co-producer Larry Luddecke of Arlington's Straight Up Music studio; Susan Robbins and Marytha Paffrath of the internationally known women’s world music ensemble Libana; local lights Valerie Thompson, Beth Cohen, and Jim Gray; and nationally known singer-songwriter Vance Gilbert.