Soul Singer Stops Sugarcoating
Interview with Martin Sexton
Contributing Writer: Garret K. Woodward
If there were more people in the world like Martin Sexton, the word utopia comes to mind. Smelling every rose he passes by, the Northeast troubadour‘s latest release, “Sugarcoating” (Apr. 6 on Kitchen Table Records), is another treasure trove of harmonious folk melodies coated in a blend of soul and passion- as unique as the man himself.
Crafted amid the mystical Adirondacks, the 13-song album brings forth social awareness and the practicality of individual freedoms. Yet, after a recent correspondence, the “aw shucks” musician isn’t politically passive on what truly matters- he emerges a genuine patriot of not only the music industry, but the country as a whole.
Garret K. Woodward: What was your approach coming into this record?
Martin Sexton: My approach was to make an album that included songs of varying genres glued together with the idea that we as human beings are much more the same than we are different from one another.
GKW: Where do you draw inspiration from?
MS: Everywhere, everything. From my kids and family, to strangers on the road as well as art, music, movies, particularly a film called “Zeitgeist”.
GKW: As I listened to the record, the usual optimism I expect from you emerged from the speakers. But, then I heard the title track, a song about 9/11 and the state of the country. Why did you feel the need to write “Sugarcoating”?
MS: I think as an artist I am merely a messenger. Sometimes I have messages of joy, and sometimes I have messages of troubles. In the past few years, I have had an awakening and I see now what I didn’t see then and I sing about it.
GKW: Did you vote for Obama?
MS: I didn’t vote Democrat or Republican because when all is said and done both of those parties are owned by the same multi-national corporate powers. I believe the perception of only having those two choices is false and contrived and attempts to fool us that there is a difference. I believe in the Constitution of the United States, and neither party serves that in my view.
GKW: Is it tough, even for you, to be optimistic nowadays? Or is optimism all we truly have to keep us sane?
MS: I believe that ultimately love will conquer fear.
GKW: You tend to find yourself writing and recording quite often in the Adirondack Mountains. What does that area evoke from you and your music?
MS: I derive great strength and energy from those healing woods. There’s a certain magic there that sinks right into my soul.
GKW: You tour pretty relentlessly. What do you like or dislike about being on the road?
MS: I love being on the road. I love everything. From the characters, to the BBQ in the out-of-the-way places, to the sushi in Vancouver, to waking up to a kick-ass cup of coffee in London, to going to sleep and waking in different place every day and playing my music for people who want to listen. To me, that’s a dream come true. What I don’t like about traveling is handing over my Bill of Rights every time I enter an airport, which is why I prefer to keep it on the ground.
GKW: Are you satisfied where you are in your career? Where to now?
MS: I do derive a certain satisfaction in the knowledge that the career I built is based on solid ground. It is not based on whether or not a corporation places a song in an advertisement. It is not based on whether or not I have a hit on Top 40 radio or how much attention I get at traditional media outlets, or how much money my label is going to spend to promote me. It feels good to be truly independent and beholden to no one. What’s next for me is to continue trying to bring people together through my music.