Interview: Hatchie releases debut EP 'Sugar & Spice'
Image: Alex Wall
All Things Nice
Brisbane singer-songwriter Hatchie (real name Harriette Pilbeam) first started gaining attention for her dreamy, shoegaze alt-pop in 2017 with the release of her debut single ‘Try’. After signing a record deal with Ivy League Records, second single ‘Sure’ saw her career gain serious traction with Pitchfork naming ‘Sure’ one of the best songs of Q1 2018, performances at SXSW and signing international record deals in the UK and US. With her debut EP Sugar & Spice released today, Women In Pop sat down with Hatchie to find out more about her career, her music and what is next for the girl from Brisbane.
Hi Hatchie! Congratulations on your first ever EP Sugar & Spice, it is amazing. Can you tell us a little bit about the writing and production process?
Thank you! So, I write the songs myself and I also have a pretty good idea of how I want the production to sound. The first songs I recorded were ‘Try’, ‘Sleep’ and ‘Sugar & Spice’. I did a demo for them and my boyfriend Joe, who does all my videos, artwork and most of my photos, helped me develop those demos into more fully formed songs – he really helps me form a good idea of what I want when I get into the studio. We then took ‘Try’ to [Australian producer] John Castle and we recorded it in his studio in Melbourne in 2016 - which was a full year after I wrote it! After we put ‘Try’ out, I had a better idea of how I wanted the songs to sound, I wasn’t sure of how poppy or gazey I wanted to be. Then at the beginning of this year, we went and finished off ‘Sleep’ and ‘Sugar & Spice’ with John and did ‘Bad Guy’ as well.
The EP's had quite a long gestation period, 3 years. Was that just the natural flow of things?
It’s been intentional how long it’s taken, it’s been my choice. I wanted to wait until I was ready to release music and I knew I could dedicate a lot of my time to it. It also never felt like something I could do. When I was younger I thought music wasn’t something someone like me, or someone from Brisbane did, I guess because all the pop artists that I knew of were American or British. They didn’t look anything like me and I never had any exciting physical traits, I was very normal looking. It was only when I wrote ‘Try’ that I realised that I did have a really good shot at music so I may as well give it a go - I shouldn’t let appearance dictate whether or not I should become a musician. So I really don’t mind how long it’s taken. Usually when an artist takes ages to release something, it’s because someone’s stopping them, but I’ve been very in control of the timeline and it felt natural for me.
Do you have a favourite track on the EP?
I have different favourites for different reasons. ‘Sugar & Spice’ is my favourite to perform. It’s so lovey-dovey that I forget there’s a melancholy part – ‘you don’t call me baby anymore’ - that flips it. But I think ‘Bad Guy’ is the underdog for me, it has a bit more depth than the other ones. I had no idea what I wanted to do with it because it was just an idea for ages and not a full song. We had a lightbulb moment one day when we just really figured it out and we were like ‘Okay this is how it should be!’ I think because of the development process ‘Bad Guy’ is my favourite.
What was the inspiration behind the lyrics to ‘Bad Guy’?
It’s about having the same kind of problems with somebody over and over again. My boyfriend and I were disagreeing about something and kept having these fights about it. I kept trying to figure out who was to blame every time we had a fight, who was the bad guy in the situation. It got to the point where it doesn’t matter who it is - this is happening. That’s where it started from, and then it grew out into its own song that isn’t really about anything in particular. But that ‘bad guy’ phrase is what started the song.
You are about to do some touring, both as support for the DMAs and also your own headline shows. Are you looking forward to it?
I am. I like touring. I’ve been doing so much international tours so to do an Australian tour is cool because you can go home after three days! I’m super excited to be playing at beautiful, big venues with DMA’s and smaller venues for my own shows, it’s going to be really cool.
What’s your favourite thing about playing live?
I think when people know the words and they sing them back to you. We had one really good show in Brisbane a few months ago where everyone knew ‘Sure’ and that’s something that’s never happened to me before. It’s really cool getting to hear the songs in different ways from how I think they sound.
Do you take performing live as a chance to experiment with the songs?
Definitely. Whenever we have a song that we play live before we record it I’m like ‘Thank god we played that live because I would never have figured out it’s really hard to sing and we need to change the key or this part doesn’t really work or this part works really well and we should do that again in another song.’ I don’t experiment while I’m on stage and do any weird things, but we learn a lot about the songs and then come back and change them around a bit after touring.
After the release of Sugar & Spice what’s next for Hatchie?
I’d definitely like to record an album and do a bunch more shows. For now, I’m just focusing on the next couple of months of shows. But, I’ve been working on a big stack of demos and I don’t want to really wait until someone says ‘You’re recording an album at this time you should write this many songs.’ I’m just continuing to write when I want to. I’ve been writing a lot but we’re really just focusing on touring at the moment and all the shows.
You are famously a huge fan of Kylie Minogue, do you ever see yourself going down the full pop route and recording a Kylie-style track?
I don’t think I’d ever go that far. Not that I have a problem with that, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with pop music and I don’t think it has to be a guilty pleasure. But, I think for me personally, I’ll always be into guitar-driven music and more alternative writing and production than super hi-fi pop. I don’t think I’ll go more pop than I have. But, if we meet in two years, things could be completely different!