Martina Topley Bird’s breathy sensuality and dream-like delicacy was recognized and celebrated early on by trip-hop pioneer Tricky, who would utilize her hypnotic vocals on his first three albums. Martina’s since taken flight with a body of solo work and further collaborations with the likes of Massive Attack (on 2010’s Heligoland), Gorillaz/Blur frontman Damon Albarn, and legendary gravel-throated vocalist Mark Lanegan.
Topley Bird’s 2003 debut Quixotic was nominated for Britain’s Mercury Prize and met with critical success, while her second album, the Danger Mouse-produced The Blue God, saw her work with Albarn to expand her artistic horizons. Some Place Simple, her latest album, is a stripped affair featuring four new songs as well as reworked selections from her existing catalogue, a bold reexamination.
We’ve paid close attention as Martina’s career has taken off both through her own solo work and through collaborations, and we were fortunate to spend a few moments speaking with the chanteuse about her love of food and various restaurants around the world.
Thanks for your time Martina! Where are you now?
Now in London. I’m a little frazzled now, but am looking forward to a holiday. Just finished doing two days of radio promo, interviews, and live performances in Paris. They’re pretty nice to me there. Have mini callouses on all but my pinky finger. Four strings are better than six (uke pride)!
You’re known to love sushi and Thai food: In your travels, are there any particular restaurants or dining spots that stand out as must-return places?
Trade secrets! I have a couple of friends—real gourmands—who can advise on places to eat the world over, so I go to them if there’s time to explore locally. Dainty Sichuan in Melbourne. Fogo de Chao in Belo Horizonte… moutherwateringly unbelievable. I feel naughty I can’t remember the names of some places.
How has your perspective on food changed as you’ve toured the world?
I love it even more! I’m a lot more present and sensitive to what I eat now, just because it has such an impact on your well being when you’re on tour. Experiencing local food is really something I look forward to on tour. And since we’re in each place for so little time it feels like one of the few ways to connect with a place.
How does it translate to your eating habits when you return home?
I’m more specific about my appetites when I get back home too. I want Szechuan rather than Chinese, Shabu Shabu rather than Japanese. I’m developing a bit of an obsession with Brazil now, first place in a long time I’ve been unfamiliar with local produce.
How important are your eating habits while you’re on the road? Do you have a personal philosophy on nutrition?
It’s tiring, so getting good fuel in your body is really important and stay hydrated. I think every hotel should have chicken soup (onion soup for vegetarians). People get ill so often when they travel.