The Wild Flowers, comprised of frontwoman Jessica Martins, bassist Natasha Dow and drummer Joe Max, are a rock/pop-punk trio from Caldas da Rainha with a modern take on the classic rock and grunge sound from last century.
“It’s all Natasha’s fault,” Jessica Martins said about the formation of the band to The Portugal News. Natasha elaborated, explaining that “after my late husband passed away, I wanted to continue with music. He wanted me to do so too.” She originally wanted an all-girl band to feel more comfortable, and invited Jess to join.
They quickly realised they didn’t have a drummer. Jessica was good at drumming, but her skills would’ve been used much better fronting the band. Luckily, she had been playing with Joe Mac in a previous band and had more faith in his drum abilities. Turns out he was good.
None of them started off as rock’n’roll musicians. Joe is the most familiar with the genre, having started a punk rock band at 14, but before then he played trumpet and horn. Jessica, meanwhile, admitted “I had an older sister who took piano lessons and was jealous of her, so I decided to just teach myself piano.” From there, she picked up any instrument she could find and started learning it. She and Natasha both involved themselves in choirs, Natasha having come from a background in piano since the age of 4 after being discovered by her teacher as being “very good” at playing the triangle. As for rock, though, she only started playing 8 years ago.
Their first single, released July 21st, is titled “Shady Lady,” and is about “That other side of our brains, the devil on our shoulder” to which we all occasionally fall victim. “It’s that more indulgent side,” Jessica Martins explained, “everybody has it, not everybody listens to it. It’s not necessarily a bad thing, just less perfect. It’s about not letting it take over, but letting it come out sometimes, I think it’s healthy.” The song is inspired by another song by Jessica’s old college friend which he wrote for her with the same title. “I stole the title and built my song around it.” It was one of those projects that comes out in 10 minutes, she said. As per the sound, it has the feel of 90’s punk rock and grunge like Weezer combined with the sound of the female-fronted bands from the 70s, such as Blondie and the Runaways.
“Shady Lady” is part of the self-titled “Wild Flowers” EP, coming out August 11th, a collection of all-original songs recorded in Portugal with Nelson Rodrigues, who has been a big help to the band during this initial phase of their existence. It’s been described as a “very fun,” “diverse” EP, with “upbeat, slow jam, and rock’n’roll,” along with a ballad sung by Natasha Dow. “Joe did all his drums in 1 take,” the band praised.
Joe explained that they’re not trying to take themselves “too seriously.” “If we can bring smiles to 2-year-olds and to 90-year-olds, that’s amazing.” Their agenda, they say, is to play shows, have fun, and “inspire people, whatever the situation.” They’re still serious musicians, of course, and write songs with emotional lyrics too. “I’ve found writing my feelings down is good therapy,” Natasha said.
According to the band’s experiences, starting a music career in Portugal has been a mixed bag. Natasha has been here for 17 years, the longest of the three, and back then the expat community in the country didn’t exist yet, but according to her, “music has brought an international language.” Joe enjoys how it’s possible to “find the time,” it being “easier not to be tied down.” However, it’s been hard to find venues to play at. “There’s not so much infrastructure for original music, it’s hard to find clubs everywhere.” “Me and Joe are used to showing up to venues with all the sound, lighting, and whatnot ready,” Jessica elaborated on their struggles coming from countries with highly developed music industries, “now we have to do it ourselves. Music is seen as more of a hobby here than a profession.” Thankfully, the band have noticed the situation get better as studio music becomes more popular among the Portuguese population and the foreigners in the country. “The Algarve has great venues, though,” Joe praised the southern region, namely the Pizza Party in Monchique, Porca Preta also in Monchique, Baixa-Mar in Tavira, Casa das Virtudes in Faro, and the Silves Garden Café. The band is open to playing all over Portugal, wherever they and their original music is accepted, so feel free to invite them to put on a show.
The band has an upcoming tour in the UK, which features 8 shows over the span of 10 days. “It’s very expensive to go on tour,” Natasha explained, as the artists only get a cut of the ticket sales. Thankfully, Natasha has family and friends in the UK, who are able to offer the band some accommodation. Additionally, they’ve recruited her stepson’s band to play as their support act to draw in more people who come for the local act. Their main fundraising capability comes from merchandise sales.
After the tour, the band will return home and get back into the studio, already working on their next project. “We already have to be looking towards a tour in what will probably be Spain,” Joe said, “we already need to be thinking about the next few after that. Once the ball is rolling, just keep it rolling.”
Natasha and Joe were once in a band, and one of their songs was called “Flores Silvestres,” or Wildflowers in Portuguese. The lyrics talked about how “wildflowers can’t be stopped,” how they “still bloom in the darkest of situations” and “grow just about anywhere.”
At the moment they’re doing pretty much everything involving the band themselves but have expressed their desire for help with the cover art from someone such as a photographer or graphic designer, as well as for any sponsors who may be willing and able to fund their efforts.
Furthermore, they will be having a Wild Flowers EP Release Party on Sunday the 13th of August at Rex Bar, in Óbidos. The event starts at 3pm and is of free entry, featuring new merchandise to buy, a round of trivia, and face painting.
Main image by Christy LeLait
Star in the 2015 music video for the hit single “Headlights” by German musician, DJ and record producer Robin Schulz featuring American singer-songwriter Ilsey. Also a journalist.