Candice Martello is a force to be reckoned with. As someone who won VH1’s “Make or Break: The Linda Perry Project” musical competition show that sought to highlight raw, authentic talent, she is now plowing ahead with a new musical name, a new sound, and a new musical trajectory.
After winning a recording contract with Perry’s record label Custard Records [alongside Anjuli Stars], Candice Martello adopted the name Hemming for her musical project.
She went on tour with Rachael Yamagata [along with The Dove & The Wolf] and is currently about to head on tour with Soundgarden’s Chris Cornell. Her sound is definitely something to experience. A clash of the Pixies, mixed with Elliot Smith, Patti Smith, and Cat Power, Hemming’s sound is emotional, raw, and authentic.
I had the sincerest pleasure of experiencing some of Candice’s burgeoning talent for around 2 to 3 years when we were in high school together. She was in a different punk band and for anyone who ever had the privilege of experiencing even a glimpse of Candice’s musical abilities at any point in her journey, it was quite evident that music was her calling.
While some now know Candice from VH1, I will always remember Candice as the first person who ever rode in my car after I got my license, despite the fact that I hit a curb and knocked off my hub cab. For me, she will fondly be remembered in the hazy hot days of my high school summer memories as “Canned Rice” [a nickname I gave her] as we danced in a parking garage with friends to reggae music and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs.
However, now, she is Hemming, a musical genius who is about to contribute her voice to the legacy of America’s musical tradition.
Wear Your Voice had the pleasure of interviewing Hemming during the hectic week of her first self-titled debut album release. We are excited because we feel that Hemming will certainly change the ways that women are represented in music culture.
WYV: I know that you used to be in a punk band in high school called “Infectious Radio” composed of all women. Could you describe how that experience helped shape who you are today musically?
H: It made me realize my passion for songwriting. I loved having a creative outlet that I could express myself though. I only wrote a couple songs for that band. It gave me a safe place to be myself and create.
WYV: I remember I met you in 10th grade in a math class and what stood out to me the most about you was your dark hair and overall dark vibe which was refreshing given the overall aesthetic of the students in the school. How did living in a small suburban town like Doylestown shape your identity as a musician?
H: I was a bit of an outcast in high school, I was shy and angsty, not exactly the most popular or the prettiest, but I had my band and that was all I really needed then. Doylestown was a nice place to grow up. It’s a nice place to raise a family, but I knew I wanted to leave as quickly as possible because it was too small for me. I felt suffocated and needed more diversity. I wouldn’t say it shaped me as a musician. I didn’t really fall into myself until I moved to Philadelphia.
WYV: How did your artistic identity change when you moved to Philadelphia?
H: I just started to become a person in Philadelphia, I stopped worrying so much about what people think and started finding more like minded people I could be myself around. I was in school for photography and just writing music in my dorm room for fun. My musical identity started to form when I separated from my high school band and started writing on my own.
WYV: From Infectious Radio to Omar, you seem to have previously done punk music. How would you describe your style of music now and when did you start writing songs in that style?
H: I don’t know how to describe my music. Most of it is like a rainy day. I listened to a lot of punk bands in high school and always had fun playing that kind of music. It helped me gain some self confidence and learn how to project my voice.
WYV: How has touring helped you develop your stage presence? What did you learn when you were on tour with Rachael Yamagata?
H: I learned to just be myself on stage, which is a very nervous, somewhat funny, very sweaty person. I’m not like that all the time, only when a room full of people are all staring at me. Touring with Rachael gave my first look at life on the road. She was very kind to me and I will be forever grateful for that experience.
WYV: What was it like to “come out” on national television?
H: Very uncomfortable.
WYV: You made your second television debut on The Talk recently. Describe that experience. Did your time on“Make or Break: The Linda Perry Project” make it easier to be in front of the camera?
H: Its very different to perform on a talk show compared to being on a Reality TV show. So no, being on Make or Break did not prepare me to play on live television. It was fun though, basically a long time of me nervously waiting and freaking out, then I played and it was over really fast.
WYV: You are going on tour with Chris Cornell from Soundgarden which is huge. Your success is coming at you pretty quickly. Do you feel prepared for it emotionally or do you ever have moments of fear because your life is changing so quickly?
H: I’m very excited about that tour. I still can’t believe it is happening. It certainly seems very surreal and I am pretty nervous but I think it will be a huge learning experience, and I am looking forward to meeting him. It will for sure be emotionally exhausting, every show is emotionally exhausting for me because I really put my heart out there with my songs. I also get overwhelmed sometimes when I don’t have enough time to myself so that will definitely be a challenge.
WYV: How do you feel like your music and overall image will re-define and/or challenge the ways that women are portrayed in the media?
H: I don’t know that I really have an image. I don’t have a gimmick or a dance routine or anything like that. I’m just me and I focus on making good music. Hopefully one day that will be celebrated in the media instead of who wore what, dressed best or who had a nip slip at the super bowl.