DIVA spoke to the queer singer-songwriter about her new EP Worlds Within Worlds
BY ELLA GAUCI, IMAGE BY HOLLY MCCANDLESS-DESMOND
Nestled in Finsbury Park’s beloved pub The Faltering Fullback, Molly Burman was engrossed in the weekly pub quiz. It was a Monday night at the “usual” after all. Standing in the smoking area while her friends took a drag, someone approached Molly for her number. The rest is documented in her song Friday Pretty, one of the tracks on her new EP Worlds Within Worlds.
The London-based singer-songwriter has been making music since she can remember. Her debut single Happy Things has over 1 million streams on Spotify alone, and her loyal fans have already been busy streaming her new tracks (Potential is already a fan favourite).
We sat down with Molly to dissect her new EP and the struggles of being a queer musician starting out.
How did you get into music?
I have a pretty musical family. My dad is a guitar teacher but he used to be a bassist in bands and he’s always done music with me. My mum is also a singer and all of my family friends are really musical. I’ve always done music. I think the first performance I did was my school talent show.
I’ve always been a songwriter. The moment that I realised that it was something you could do as a career I was like “Why would I do anything else?!”
What were some of your musical inspirations growing up?
Adele’s album 19. I had that on my mp3 player. I loved Adele so much and I would pretend to be her. My parents also played a lot of Beatles and Bowie when I was growing up so I absorbed it all.
You’ve got a very distinctive sound – how did you find your voice as a musician?
Up until recently, I would only produce with my dad. We started when I was six or seven, but we seriously started when I was 13. Back then I didn’t realise how music production worked. I always loved having a live band sound in my music – that was always really important for me to have in my music. Recently I’ve been working with other producers which has helped me elevate my music as they bring in new aspects to my sound.
Are you really close with your parents? Do you see bits of them in your music still?
I still live at home with them (London house prices are crazy!). My mum is Irish and sometimes she says she can hear an Irish twang in my singing. There are always little aspects of them in my music. I’m so lucky that I have their encouragement because I know a lot of people have parents who beg them not to be musicians. My parents are like “Someone in the Burman family has to make it”!
What was the process like creating your EP Worlds Within Worlds?
In the beginning, I didn’t realise that I was working towards an EP. Some of the songs like Beautiful People were written in lockdown. Those were written in my room and written purely out of emotion. Those songs are very self-reflective. There are ones about feeling completely numb, feeling like you don’t deserve love, and then being like OMG I’m queer. Those songs are really introspective.
Potential, Pretty Friday and Three Way Heartbreak are the more angry songs. Writing them was very therapeutic. When I had a whole catalogue of songs I realised that they all work quite well together.
How did it feel to listen back to those songs you wrote in COVID two years later?
Really weird. I wrote my song Let Down during a relationship where I wasn’t happy. That one makes me crease because the first lyric is “I hate myself today”. Jesus Christ – that’s a bit heavy. It’s sweet to listen back on. I feel sorry for little me back then. It’s also nice that I can sing them and pair them with some more happy songs and sing them with the knowledge that I don’t feel like that anymore.
I really like Potential and Friday Pretty – I feel like everyone has had that experience. What’s been some of the responses that you’ve had since you released it?
People really like Friday Pretty – that’s the one that my band likes playing the most. It’s all a true story – it’s about a pub quiz that I do at The Faltering Fullback. The bartenders heard the song and they loved it. It’s nice to release fun music where you’re taking the piss out of yourself.
How does your queerness come into your music?
It’s not just about how my queerness comes into my music, but how music came into my queerness. Before I came out as queer, all my friends were queer and were all watching Drag Race and listening to these queer playlists. I started listening to Ru Paul and their playlists with these queer artists and I felt opened up to the community. Everything made sense. Even music itself helped me see who I was.
While most of my songs are all about men because that has been my experience, I wanted to do a song about how I fancy everybody. It was super liberating.
I saw that you were a part of LOUD LDN – what is that and what has it been like working with other queer artists?
LOUD LDN is a collective of female and non-binary artists who are based in London. It started out as a group chat to create a sense of network. It can be so lonely for women and minorities in the industry because we’re made to feel like we have to fight each other for a spot (even though there seems to be endless space for white, indie male bands!) It grew and grew and I made amazing friends. It’s a place where you can get hyped up, get advice, and go on nights out. I feel lucky to know the people I’ve met.
What have been some of your favourite moments?
I hit one million streams on one of my songs which I literally wrote when I was 16. That was surreal and so unexpected.
The most recent gig I did for my EP had all my friends there and they had all already learnt the lyrics. I was close to tears. My dad said “Molly, that is up there with one of the best gigs I’ve been to in my life. You’re ready – you’re ready to be massive.” I felt so accomplished.
What are some of the big challenges as a new artist?
Breaking the mainstream. It can be really daunting. At times you think, do I even have a chance if I don’t have this massive industry backing? The main challenge is feeling disheartened sometimes.
What are some of your bucket list aspirations?
I want to be on Just Dance! If one of my songs was on that, my life would be made. I would love to play a show at Ally Pally – I used to be a bartender there. The main one is to do music full-time. That is the absolute dream. I don’t want to be a bartender anymore.
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