INTERVIEW: Hatchie releases debut album 'Keepsake'
Image: Lisa Businovski
If there is one thing that has defined the Australian music scene in the last few years, it has been the wave of female talent emerging from a relatively small population, not only creating some of the most incredible and creative music in the industry but also attracting critical acclaim from around the world. Australian singer-songwriter Hatchie (full name Harriette Pilbeam) has been one of those artists going from strength to strength and attracting praise from major outlets including Pitchfork, Spotify and The Guardian. Her hypnotic dream-pop sound was showcased last year in her debut EP Sugar & Spice and today she releases her debut album Keepsake.
The warm and fuzzy dream-pop of her previous releases is still much in evidence, with many tracks sonically harking back to the shoe-gaze sound that emerged from the UK in the 1980s and 1990s (think Cocteau Twins, the Sundays, Mazzy Star), but Hatchie has also experimented with a wider palette of sounds. ‘Obsessed’ rolls along with a bouncy synth beat and distorted vocals, while ‘Stay With Me’ also adopts a more electro-pop sound, but in contrast to the ‘falling in love’ theme of Sugar & Spice there is a distinct melancholic tone: ‘Why won't you stay with me? / Cause I'm not done / I've come undone’ she sings. It is an album where Hatchie is not afraid to show a more vulnerable side of herself, with soft, heartfelt ballads like ‘Secret’, and the dreamy melodies but brutal lyrics of ‘Without a Blush’ where she details the heartbreak of a failed relationship. “You and me, we were destined to fall apart….Said you wouldn't see nobody but you lied / If I could kiss you one more time / Would it make everything alright? /I didn't wanna end the dream” she sings.
Keepsake is a beautiful, engaging collection of music and perhaps more importantly, it is a pure representation of Hatchie the artist. Creative, unique, moving and utterly mesmerising, this is one of 2019’s most impressive debut albums. Tune in and bliss out.
Hi Hatchie! Thanks for chatting with. First off, you are a big Kylie fan and earlier this year you supported her at her Brisbane show - that must have been an amazing experience?
It was surreal! She was so lovely and a true showgirl.
Debut album Keepsake is out today which is very exciting! It’s a fantastic album, can you tell me a little bit about the creative process?
It’s difficult to describe, because these songs were written separately over a long period of time. I wrote them mostly by myself, other than ‘Stay With Me’, which my band-mate Joe wrote and I helped him finish. Most songs were written and demoed by myself at home on my laptop before taking them to the studio to finetune with Joe and John Castle, my producer.
How long have you been working on the songs?
I wrote them over a period of about two years.
There is a really nice variety in the sounds on the album, with some songs incorporating a dance pop sound. Was that an intentional shift or something that grew organically in the studio?
It was definitely intentional. I wanted to move away from the strictly dream-pop corner I’d set up for myself with my EP Sugar & Spice. I planned on trying a bunch of vastly different sounds with this, and I honestly wish I’d experimented even more than I did, but I’m glad I set up some stepping stones towards further experimentation down the line.
Was there a message you wanted to get across in the songs?
Not really – I just wanted to write about things other than romantic love, like friendship, personal anguish, mental health.
Do you have a favourite song on the album?
My favourite is probably ‘Unwanted Guest’ or ‘Secret’.
Releasing a debut album is a pretty big milestone in any artist’s career path. Does this feel really special for you?
It does! It feels unreal. I’m honestly ready to keep putting out more albums ASAP. I finished recording this one so long ago, I already have a bunch of ideas I want to explore in the future.
You have been attracting major attention from the music press worldwide, including prestigious publications such as The Guardian, Pitchfork and NME. You were also showcased on huge Spotify billboards around Australia. How does that kind of attention affect you? Is it validation? Overwhelming? Inspirational?
It’s all those things! I get overwhelmed by it all the time. My natural reaction is to just think, “Oh that’s so cool”, thank the people who helped me achieve whatever goal I’ve reached, and move on to the next one. I worry that makes me sound ungrateful, but I’m just not a very celebratory person in general – I don’t love my birthday, and I rarely jump up and down excitedly about anything. I guess I’m introverted, and I worry about everything. I feel uncomfortable sometimes, like I don’t deserve a lot of the complimentary comparisons that have been made. I often wonder why I deserve to do better than another artist perhaps working harder than me. I have to remind myself to take time to look at everything I’ve achieved and remember how hard I have been working towards these goals for years, and that I have really wanted this since I was a tween! Perspective is important, but comparison will kill you. There’s a fine line!
You recently toured the USA in April with Girlpool – how did you find those shows?
Really rewarding! It was the first tour where we actually had a really consistent, strong connection with the audience singing along every night. It was super sweet meeting people at the merch desk afterwards, something I hadn’t really participated in before because I honestly didn’t think I had those kinds of fans.
For most of the world, Keepsake will be brand new in June but for you it was finished, I’m guessing, many, many months ago. Are you already thinking about, or writing, new music?
Yes! It was finished in December. I have a few ideas in the works but hardly anything written or recorded because we’ve been away from home so much. I find it hard to get work done on the road.
What does the rest of 2019 have in store for Hatchie?
Loads more touring, a collaboration or two, and hopefully some down time to see my friends and family!