Laura Marling is the youngest of three sisters. Born in Eversley, Hampshire - a small, affluent town near Reading and just on the outskirts of London - she credits her father with first exposing her to Folk music artists like Neil Young
and Joni Mitchell
. As a music teacher and recording studio engineer, he was also the first to put a nylon-string acoustic guitar in her little hands. Music was always a big part of their family, and starting around age 5 he began teaching the young Marling how to play.
When she was 16 years old, Laura Marling packed up and moved to London. She quickly met other like-minded musicians and soon became an integral part of the small but burgeoning indie folk scene. Along with artists like Mumford & Sons, Noah and the Whale and Johnny Flynn, Marling's sound combines British Folk traditions with the melody and guitar work of '60s and '70s American Folk music. The British press quickly labeled the movement's sound "nu-folk," much to Marling's dismay who calls the name "painful."
Laura Marling was part of the original line-up of Noah and the Whale and is featured as a back-up vocalist on their debut record Peaceful, The World Lays Me Down. But she split from the group and lead singer Charlie Fink - to whom she was romantically linked - before the album's release to focus on her solo career.
With her first album, 2008's Alas, I Cannot Swim, Laura Marling made a big splash in the UK music world. The album was produced by Noah and the Whale leader singer Charlie Fink. Recorded when she was just 17, the album would go on to garner much critical acclaim, including a nomination for the Mercury Prize, an award given each year for the best album in the UK and Ireland.
For most young people, turning 21 is a big deal. In 2011 Laura Marling did just that, but her year was perhaps a bit more spectacular than average. She was nominated for and won both the Brit Award for Best Female and Shockwaves NME Award for Best Solo Artist. Appearing shocked and a bit frightened in front of the Brit Awards crowd at the O2 Arena in London, she began her acceptance speech with an innocent, "Thank you, my name is Laura." In September she released her third full-length record, A Creature I Don't Know to much critical attention and acclaim. Although she has yet to have a major breakthrough in the US, A Creature I Don't Know peaked at #4 on the UK charts.
Whatever great novel Laura Marling is currently reading, its influence is sure to come out in her songwriting. On 2011's A Creature I Don't Know, the song "Salinas" is inspired by her fascination with the life and works of American author John Steinbeck. You'll also find the recurring character of Sophia, the ancient goddess of wisdom. Her presence on the album is inspired by the Robertson Davies philosophical novel The Rebel Angels. Davies' work has continually captivated Marling and she often cites his influence on her work in interviews.
Laura is a descendant of the politician and cloth manufacturer Sir Samuel Marling (1810-1883), and daughter of the fifth baronet Sir Charles William Somerset Marling.
Mumford & Sons
spent times as Marling's backing band in their early days. Marcus Mumford and Marling dated for a time.
Marling's left wrist is tattooed with the Latin phrase Nulli Praeda Sumus, which means "We are prey to none." She explained in Daniel Rachel's The Art of Noise: Conversations with Great Songwriters: "It's heinous, ridiculous, but I love how antiquated it is and that it's been our family motto for hundreds of years. I'm a big sucker for things like that."
Laura Marling moved to Silver Lake in Los Angeles, California in 2013, during which she took a break from music to become a yoga teacher. She admitted to The Guardian that she wasn't very good at it. "You need to know a lot more than I know to do it well," she said.
Laura Marling is an introvert, a characteristic she began to feel it at 14, when she observed a gulf opening between herself and her peers. "I mean, I had friends, I was a nice guy," she told The Guardian. "But I was just not into stuff they were into – getting dressed up and going to clubs. I like to be in bed early. And I got my strength in solitude, I found public events and parties very draining. And I still wish I wasn't like that because I feel quite boring."