Content from: Alice Martineau's If I Fall - CD Single
Alice Martineau - If I Fall Single
August 2002 (single released 4th November 2002)
alice grew up in a musical family. Her grandmother was a concert pianist, while her uncle made his name in the 80s producing the likes of judas priest and Def Leppard. Surrounded during childhood with music by artists such as Elton John, the Rolling Stones and Queen, its no surprise that Alice admits she's been yearning for pop stardom from an early age. After years of singing and her being confined to the bathroom, a teenage Alice decided to take some singing lessons. "I discovered that I really could sing," she recalls. "So I started writing music to go with those words -- I can play the keyboard well enough to write on it, and I havbe quite a natural ear for music."
With her older brother on guitar, Alice recorded "some crappy demos" and sent them to labels. Thus began a ten-year mission of near misses, raised hopes and crushing disappointments. In once instance she recorded backing vocals for another band's demos at london's roundhouse studio. "It was my first taste of being in a studio," Alice smiles, "and I just loved it -- that was the point when I decided , 'this is what I want to do with my life'." She also discovered that performing on stage -- even with the likes of Robbie Williams in the audience -- "was a buzz unlike anything else, somewhere I could feel totally relaxed and at home." But by the time 2002 rolled around, Alice had begun wondering where it all might lead. At which point, Sony came-on-board. "Until then," she says, "I was beginning to think that having CF would mean nobody took me seriously."
Cystic Fibrosis has been with Alice since she was born; she's already exceeded doctors' original prediction of a life unlikely to go beyond early teens. The condition usually requires a heart and lung transplant, but one in ten CF patients will also require a new liver, too. Which is where we find Alice. She's got a special pager thing. If it goes off, as one day she's hoping it will, she has two hours to get to the Hospital, where a new heart, liver and pair of lungs will be waiting. There follows a twenty-hour operation ("Fortunately," She laughs, "I'll be asleep") which has been performed just five times in the UK, and has been sucessful only once. Alice is keen to look these statistics in the face and give them the finger. "I'm obviously quite a severe case," she admits, "but five operations is too small a figure on which to start building statistics."
Alice is similarly dismissive of letting the CF turn her into any sort of victim. "A lot of people have said, 'poor Alice,' patting me on the head. I just think, 'oh please!' I hate being called brave or any mention of that word. The last thing I want is for people to see me as a victim. The thing I would hate is for people to just go 'There's an ill girl! Who's a singer songwriter!' And really, as I hope people will realize when they hear the music, I'm a singer songwriter who just happens to be ill."
As she says, the tunes speak for themselves. Alice's first single is 'If I fall' (released November 4th) - a swirling wide-eyed paean to childhood, the vocal tones invoking thoughts of bjork, beth orton and dido. "it's about living a really simple life in blissful childlike ignorance," she smiles. "Of course now, you're a bit older and the reality of life hits you, will you have someone there for you? You're questioning everything, and everything's just very complicated."
Alice says that in order to really want to sing, or perform, "you have to have something that's driving you. Something insecure." Of Alice's catalogue of tunes - 'daydreams' (released November 18th) -- simple, classic pop songwriting -- most are about lost love, or loss in general, and they're mainly autobiographical. 'baby's fine' is a searing tirade about seeing a cheating ex-partner with their new girlfriend ("little creature, I'm gonna teach ya a trick or two I learnt from you"), while 'breathe tonight' is about grabbing a moment with both hands. "You don't want to breathe," Alice explains, "because you don't want to lose the feeling, you don't want to be a moment away from where you are now. Its about the transient nature of life." Life's transient nature is explored no less eloquently than in the beautiful 'inside of you'. "Its very morbid," Alice laughs. "Its about being dead, being an angel and living your life again through someone you love. It was written for my boyfriend." Though Alice's lyrics are deeply personal, they can also bristle with warmth, optimism and humanity. "People can take whatever they want from my songs," she says, "They all have very different levels. I don't think about my words being sacred. They're there for people to enjoy and use."
Like most of us Alice still finds hereself lost in the woods, and, like most of us, music is often the answer. But alice's music is no longer the sound of a girl desperate to escape. Her songs are the sound of young woman marvelling at every bird, tree and blooming flower, like the bold blossom tattooed on her arm, "discreet but pretty," is her summary of the tattoo -- it symbolizes her nature, she reasons, because, "I'm quite sweet, but there's a hard side to me too. When you first look at it you don't see the flower. Look a bit closer and you'll realize what it is."
She could just as easily be describing her music. It's music that demands another listen and which, on every one of those listens, reveals a hidden depth, offering new flourishes of emotion and flashes of truth, however uncomfortable that truth may sometimes be.
"I just think, if something's meant to be, it will be," Alice believes. "That's my philosophy in life. With my transplant, if it's meant to work, it will work. Just as it has done with my music. It's in the hands of the gods."