Laura Beatrice Marling (born 1 February 1990) is a folk musician from Eversley, Hampshire, United Kingdom (UK). Her debut album Alas, I Cannot Swim, her second album I Speak Because I Can, and her fourth album Once I Was An Eagle were nominated for the Mercury Music Prize in 2008, 2010, and 2013, respectively. She won Best Female Solo Artist at the 2011 Brit Awards and was nominated for the same award at the 2012 and 2014 BRIT Awards.
The youngest of three daughters, Marling was born in Hampshire, England, to a music teacher and learned guitar at an early age. Her father, Sir Charles William Somerset Marling, the 5th Marling Baronet ran a recording studio, introduced her to folk music and shaped her musical taste, an experience that Marling later described as "a bit of a blessing and a bit of a curse. I couldn't slot myself into the age-appropriate genre". Marling was educated at Leighton Park School, a private Quaker school in Reading, Berkshire. Marling later revealed that during her secondary school years she felt uneasy around other people and was afraid of death—in 2013, Marling described her teenage self as "weird".
At 16, Marling dropped out of school and moved to London, where she soon joined a cluster of intertwined bands that were drawn to acoustic instruments and tradition-tinged melodies—the group formed a musical movement that was labelled "nu-folk" by the British press. Marling joined the original line-up of indie folk band Noah and the Whale and appears as a background vocalist on their début album Peaceful, the World Lays Me Down; however, she left the group before the album's 2008 release due to a dissolved relationship with a fellow band member. Marling also appeared on The Rakes track "Suspicious Eyes", from the band's 2007 album Ten New Messages, credited as 'Laura Marlin'. Marling would later collaborate with Mystery Jets and contributed guest vocals to the single "Young Love" that was released 24 March 2008.
Alas, I Cannot Swim
She was personally invited to tour with Jamie T after he attended her second-ever solo gig. She has also toured with a number of other musicians from the UK and beyond, including Adam Green from the anti-folk band The Moldy Peaches. She performed at the 2007 O2 Wireless Festival and also performed at the first Underage Festival in August 2007 at Victoria Park, East London, before releasing her debut EP "London Town" on WayOutWest Records.
Her debut album Alas, I Cannot Swim was released on 4 February 2008, and later nominated for the 2008 Mercury Prize. The album, as well as subsequent singles, were released on Virgin Records. The third and final single from her album, "Night Terror" was released on 27 October 2008, coinciding with a 6-date "Night Terror tour".
Marling's television appearances include The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson and Later With Jools Holland, performing "Ghosts" and "New Romantic" respectively. In 2008 she appeared on Russell Brand's Radio 2 show alongside her sister. She once chose to perform on the street after being denied entry to one of her own performances for being underage.
I Speak Because I Can
The follow-up to Alas, I Cannot Swim, titled I Speak Because I Can, was released on 22 March 2010. Produced by Ethan Johns, the album has a more mature sound and lyricism, dealing with "responsibility, particularly the responsibility of womanhood." The album is preceded by the singles "Goodbye England (Covered in Snow)", released on iTunes in December 2009 and "Devil's Spoke" on 15 March 2010. On 28 March 2010, I Speak Because I Can entered the UK Albums Chart at Number 4. It was also nominated for the 2010 Mercury Music Prize. In 2013, NME listed the album at 263 in their list of the 500 greatest albums of all time.
A Creature I Don't Know
Marling's third album, A Creature I Don't Know, was released on 12 September 2011.
Once I Was an Eagle
During October 2012, Marling completed the 'Working Holiday Tour' of the US as a solo performer. At the time, she announced that the fourth album, later named Once I Was an Eagle, was finished and was scheduled for a February 2013 release; however, this was later delayed until May 2013. On 8 March 2013, Marling confirmed that the album would be released on 27 May 2013, and would be released in the US one day later.
The fourth album's first single "Master Hunter" was released on 17 April 2013, while Once I Was An Eagle entered the UK charts at number 3.
Once I Was an Eagle is Marling's third album to be nominated for the Mercury Prize. The list of artists for the Prize's 2013 shortlist also included David Bowie and Savages.
In a radio interview in August 2013, Marling stated that she was recording her fifth record before Christmas. She has been previewing new songs in concert since mid 2012. These songs include Bleed Me Dry, Be Mine, David, "Rest My Troubles Away", and the speculatively titled How Can I?
Marling's former relationships include Noah and the Whale singer/guitarist Charlie Fink, from whom she separated in 2008, and Mumford and Sons singer/guitarist Marcus Mumford, from whom she separated in late 2010.
Marling moved to the Silver Lake neighborhood in Los Angeles, California in 2013. In an interview with The Guardian, Marling explained that she believes that Americans are "a lot more poetic" and also provided an insight into her perspective on relationships:
I sound awful saying it but I think it can be like that. I see a lot of people in unstimulating relationships. And not just boyfriend-girlfriend relationships. They find themselves in stagnant friendships. If people were a little less scared [of ending things] they'd get more out of life... You meet the right person at the right time and they fulfill a certain something in your life. You fulfill something in theirs. But there's a time limit to that. Unless you choose to be bloody good company for the rest of your life, do you know what I mean?