Martha Da’ro: A True Visionary

Life’s trajectory has so many twists and turns; it is natural to be scared to live, to experience loss, pain, disappointment, and judgment. The list of phobias is endless due to the overwhelming exposure to negative factors. With the unveiling of ‘Philophobia,’ the debut album by the multidisciplinary artist and actor Martha Da’ro, she dedicates ten songs to the fear of being in love. 

The term ‘philophobia’ is not often used in a casual conversation, but it is the topic people discuss on a daily basis; the fear of being heartbroken, the fear of rejection, and the fear of being ghosted and replaced all come down under the fear of love, the core reason of our emotional agony, and needs to be added to our active vocabularies instantly.

Matha Da’ro’s ‘Philophobia’ offers a visionary cinematic take on the subject and all that surrounds it. When asked what specific live event inspired this sonic love rally, Da’ro simply says: “Life.” No further comment is needed, knowing life’s unpredictability and inevitable chaos.

Hailing from her apartment in Brussels, Martha Da’ro checks in with Noctis soon after she celebrated the release ‘of ‘Philophobia,’ selling out her Brussels show and landing a new acting role: “There was this audition I did for a series that I’ve been looking forward to, and I just got the answer that I got the part. So a girl cannot complain today,” she eagerly shares. 

The star of the party, the ten-track jewel ‘Philophobia’ is a result of a clear vision, symbiotic collaborative relationship, and a true embodiment of ideas coming to life. The second track and the latest single out of the record, ‘Flesh,’ intends to depict the overwhelming surroundings of powerlessness. Bringing us behind the scenes of her recording sessions, Da’ro uses the track’s focus on the crippling loss of control to detail her creative process: “I was a resident at this venue called Trix. They also have music studios. It’s a lovely place to create and meet other artists. It was often just me and Aram Abgaryan who produced Philophobia. The most fun part of the creative process was that we talked a lot about life and how we visualised ideas/stories to find the right sound. For example, for Flesh, we would imagine this big city after night; it’s summertime, the moon is full, and there you have this character full of sweat in their bed, unable to get out of it. So then the question would be: How would the bass sound describe the numbness of that character?”.  

The entirety of ‘Philophobia’ is a perfect mirror of an important chapter of Da’ro’s life, with sonic chronicles of her deconstruction and impeccable visual detailing. Everything from light production to makeup and choreographed movements and mimics exemplifies Da’ro’s outstanding creativity: “The visual part of my work comes in a very early stage; I use it to create the music. So, the ideas are often all ready by the time I finish a song,” Da’ro explains. 

Conceptualising the fear of being in love, Martha Da’ro questions, challenges, and respects the journey of where ‘Philophobia’ took her. She elaborates: “As an artist, I constantly try to understand/ explore parts of myself. For Philophobia, it was not so much about exploring a dark part of myself but more about trying to understand my relationship with “love”. There is a part of me I thought I had figured out, but life reminded me I didn’t”.

‘Mr. Fear’ is one of the hit singles and offers a grand case of Da’ro’s inward-looking revelations: “It’s time to let you go/ But it’s so hard to say goodbye/ And when I push you away/ I ask you to stay/  Against your friends, you say ok/ I guess that’s my toxic trait.” And the vulnerable ‘Pretty Ugly’ lets you into a corner where no one is allowed: “Would you take me as I am?/ Would you take my ugly side?/ My pretty pretty ugly side.”

Lyrical vulnerability is the form of emotional expression artists have perfected over the years. The question is, though, what about the real-life applications? Da’ro shares: “When it comes to music, that’s the easiest thing for me to put my walls down and dig deeper. Putting my lessons into practice in real life is the most challenging”.

Speaking of life lessons, one of Da’ro’s stepping stones was her involvement in the multilingual hip-hop collective ‘Soul’Art,’ where she spent three years and launched her solo career in 2018 with her debut single ‘Summer Blues,’ still feeling their support; she elaborates: “Being part of Soul’art was the best “school” I could have wished for. But at some point, you start to feel that the way you want to express things creatively evolves, and then comes the moment you need to explore and find your voice. That’s what I did, and up until now, I still feel their support”.

Aside from her stellar musicality, Martha Da’ro is an actress and recently starred in the French mystery thriller Netflix hit series Lupin; she spills the tea on her character: “I play Fleur Bélanger, an ambitious journalist ready to do anything to find Lupin (Omar Sy). The best way to prepare for a role is to understand who they are without judgment. I don’t think I would chill with someone like Fleur in real life, making it even more fun”.

The genius Martha Da’ro creates is not a coincidence; it is a well-thought-out concept with immense reach, giving chart-toppers a run for their money. Within the first discovery of Martha Da’ro, you cannot look away; her body of work is more than impressive and captivating on a new level. ‘Philophobia’ is a start-to-finish masterpiece, instrumentally rich, thought-provoking, and ethereally honest. 

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Photographer : Cyprien Bourrec

Stylist : Gloria IYARE 

Assistant stylist : Kate HOUSH 

MUA : Jessica Nzeyimana Van Geersom 

Hair : Axelle HUSIKAMA

Words: Karolina Kramplova