AN ACOUSTIC folk artist is gearing up for Reading’s Are You Listening festival this Saturday.
Billie Marten, from Ripon in North Yorkshire, will be joining the likes of BC Camplight, Katy J Pearson, TV priest, Eat Daddy Eat and many more for the main event happening across the borough.
Artists will perform at Face Bar, Milk, Oakford Social Club, Purple Turtle, Rising Sun Arts Centre, South Street Arts Centre, Sub89 and Upstage Mini at The Roseate Hotel.
Prior to the festival, Billie has been touring across the UK throughout September.
And she said it’s a “dream” to be back on the road again.
“I’m excited to perform at Are You Listening and just can’t wait to perform live music again after so long,” she said.
“It’s going to be great to come to Reading as it’s somewhere we haven’t toured yet and we’ve had so many people say how excited they are for us to be coming to the area.”
Billie started singing from the age of eight, where she began posting cover songs on YouTube.
After one video went viral, she signed to Chess Club Records, a division of Sony Music when she was just 15-years-old.
She went on to do her first supporting tour with Lucy Rose.
Billie said when doing the tours in the early stages of her career everyone was “so welcoming”.
She said: “It’s wonderful that people in music tend to come together and there’s people I supported in their tours a few years back who I now consider my friends.”
Inspired by the likes of Nick Drake, Joni Mitchell, Joan Armatrading and Kate Bush, Billie said she grew up with music in the family.
After receiving her nomination for the BBC Sound of 2016, Billie has continued to receive radio support from Annie Mac, Huw Stephens, Phil Taggart and Greg James with multiple playlist adds at BBC Radio 1.
Following her previous albums Writing of Blues and Yellows and Feeding Seahorses By Hands, Billie released her third album Flora Fauna, earlier this year.
It is a more mature album that was built from bass and rhythm.
The songs mark a period of personal independence for Billie as she learned to nurture herself and break free from toxic relationships, and a big part of that was returning to nature.
“I’m very proud of this album,” she said.
“Musically, I was trying to push the boat out a bit more and my narrative further.
“We started writing the album in summer last year and there was no pressure at all, it was just very much an experiment in songwriting for me.”
Ahead of the Are You Listening festival, Billie has just finished her September tour, her first one since the pandemic hit.
“It’s just wonderful to be back, “ she said.
“You just can’t take these things for granted and I’m making sure we are all enjoying every second of it,” she said.
Billie’s set for Are You Listening will be performed at South Street Arts Centre from 10pm until 10.45pm on Saturday.