My Secret Life: Martha Wainwright, 36, singer-songwriter

'We were the odd ones on the block'

My parents were… one of my parents was Kate McGarrigle, the other is Loudon Wainwright III, both artists and songwriters.

The household I grew up in… seemed to me like a palace. It was a Victorian house in a nice neighbourhood in Montreal. We were certainly the most bohemian and odd ones on the block. It was a rambling, falling-down house with a studio in the basement. Me and Rufus had our own rooms. At night-time we would try to out-sing the other one. He, of course, won every night.

If I could change one thing about myself… I would be less lazy. I think I'm coming out of it now, being a mother.

You wouldn't know it but I am very good at… cooking. I'm the kind of person who could make something out of what's in your fridge.

I wish I had never worn… There's a couple of high-waisted, crotch-digging, bulky, baggy shorts that I've seen in some photos – at that awkward period of 13, in the early Nineties. Wrong.

What I see when I look in the mirror… An extension of my mother that I never saw before. The gestures, the features, the grey arriving right on time. A transformation into the next phase.

It's not fashionable but I like… Antiques Roadshow.

My favourite work of art… Joan Snyder recently painted something for me, called Tell My Sister, which is a song my mother wrote. Her painting is very feministic, it's vaginas and all this stuff. It opened my eyes to a type of art I would not necessarily go towards.

My favourite building… Le Corbusier's little church in the south of France [Notre Dame du Haut].

A book that changed me… The Master and Margarita.

Movie heaven… Probably something that is long, subtitled and about death.

My greatest regret… Not being nicer to my mother. I could have been a better daughter. I figured I had more time and would become better as I got older. And I did turn it around in the last few years.

The person who really makes me laugh… Arcangelo, my son. He's just started to talk, so it's absolutely hilarious. Everything is "money", "wine", "up and down" or "ears". So everything has taken on a totally new reality.

My five-year plan… To be out on the road with two tour buses, so one could be dedicated to the little school I would like to start. I would have to hire musicians with kids the same age as Arc. Basically, it's like starting a circus, minus the tattoos and piercings.

What's the point? To be happy, to eat and drink, and make love.

My life in six words… Loving, easy, free, chaotic, lucky, colourful.

A life in brief

Martha Wainwright was born in New York City in 1976. She is the daughter of folk musicians Loudon Wainwright III and Kate McGarrigle, and the sister of fellow singer-songwriter Rufus. She grew up in Montreal and began her musical career performing with her mother, releasing her eponymous debut solo album in 2005. Her third studio album, Come Home to Mama, was released last month. She is playing the first date of her UK tour at the O2 Shepherd's Bush Empire, tomorrow. She lives in Brooklyn, New York City

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