On a dull September day I meet ST.MARTiiNS in Glasgow and we head north to Dundee, their hometown, for a day in their favourite spots.
In the car we begin to talk about everything that encompasses ST.MARTiiNS. They met at high school, aged 12, and instantly shared a passion for music, “we always knew music was what we wanted to do, more than anything else.” They started writing music together on weeknights after school and for the last ten years have continued to do so, currently in the flat they share in Glasgow’s Southside. Katie tells me how “Mark’s style has gone through several questionable phases and like a loyal mutt I have written parts for his, at times, shit songs.”
Katie goes on to discuss the writing process in the band, “Mark writes mainly all of the instrumental parts and I write the lyrics.” Mark talks of drawing influences from artists such as Glass Animals and Bombay Bicycle Club. “Mark always says he doesn’t write about anything in particular, but rather if he likes the sound of something and it moves him, he is onto a good song idea.” Katie continues, “my lyrics are all edited poetry I have written which is often personal responses to things I’m thinking and worrying about. When Mark’s song ideas are in their earliest form, they’re like my own personal soundtrack for whatever is happening in my life at that time.”
Mark and Katie began to develop the initial concept behind ST.MARTiiNS in 2013. They tell me how their natural disposition as perfectionists stopped them from rushing music to people’s ears when the pair didn’t deem it ready, or right.
The project floated midair until 2016 when Mark and Katie dedicated their time solely to the band. “ST.MARTiiNS didn’t come to a complete form until I finished my degree… we wanted it to be of a certain calibre before we shared it with others.” For three months, they applied the ‘9-5’ routine to practising and writing and this is when the live sound truly came to fruition. “Getting our live sound right was paramount to us. Our live performance definitely carries very dark elements and i think this is often overlooked on first listen. We are very deliberate with the guitar tones and electronic sounds we use, to create an unmistakable atmosphere.”
ST.MARTiiNS released their first single ‘About U’ in march of this year, almost 11 years after they first crossed paths at school in Dundee. Since then, they released their debut EP, Bad w/Her, in June.
Here is what we got up to on our day in Dundee:
“A few times after practise last year, we drove across the Tay bridge and spent hours on this part of Wormit beach. The area has a really specific feeling which I love, I would watch Mark skim stones when the water was still.’”
“I like to sit on the old foundations of the bridge which collapsed in the 19th century. The area makes me feel sad but is also peaceful.”
“My dad told me about times his friends would use the workers passages under the rail bridge as short cuts home after a night out in Dundee. I like to look up and imagine them in the 80s breaking any modern health and safety regulations.”
“Mark and I with Dundee in the background.”
“Standing outside my favourite flat I lived in during uni. The concept behind st.martiins was constructed here.”
“Me and my dog, Angus.”
“Since we were 13, Mark would cycle round to my parent’s house after school to write music in my bedroom.”
“Douglas Terrace is our go to when we are in Dundee. Most of our decisions, arguments and ideas have happened with this view in the background.”
“I’ve always been intrigued by artists who have hugely personal concept albums. Most of my writing begins with poems and Leonard Cohen who became an important artistic figure to me after Mark gifted me one of his poetry books.”
“Mark looking through the selection at Assai Records in Brought Ferry. We played a stripped back set there in June for BBC Music Day. It was the first time we had played our songs as a two piece, which was intimidating but so much fun.”
Words by Douglas Hill