HATCHIE – Interview

Foto-© Lissyelle Laricchia

Harriette Pilbeam, alias Hatchie, präsentiert mit ihrem neuen Album Giving The World Away, das vor kurzem erschienen ist, eine kompromisslose Offenbarung ihrer Selbst! Obwohl ihr Sound – eine schillernde Dream-Pop- und Shoegaze-Mixtur – bereits voll ausgereift ist, destilliert sie hier den Kern ihrer selbst in eine Platte. „There’s more to me than just writing songs about being in love or being heartbroken – there’s a bigger picture than that,” erklärt Pilbeam. „This album really just feels like the beginning to me, and scratching the surface – and even though it’s my third release as Hatchie, I feel like I’m rebooting from scratch.” Für Pilbeam beinhaltet dieses größere Bild, das hier erforscht wird, die Konfrontation mit ihren Ängsten nach Jahrzehnten der Abschottung, die Verwirklichung ihres eigenen Selbstbewusstseins und Selbstwertgefühls, die Übernahme der Kontrolle über ihre eigene Geschichte und ihren Platz in ihrem beruflichen und privaten Leben. Ursprünglich wollte sie mit diesen Songs eine energischere Richtung einschlagen – sie hatte die klare Vision einer Hatchie-Show, die sich in eine Tanzparty verwandelt und mehr Bewegung und Lebendigkeit in ihre Live-Shows bringt. Aber dann, zwischen Covid und den Lockdowns in Australien, zog sich Pilbeam mehr in sich selbst zurück, und diese Selbstbeobachtung und Selbstfindung diente als wahre Inspiration für die Platte. Auf dem letztlichen Ergebnis kehrt sie nun aber immer wieder zu demselben Thema zurück – verinnerlichte Scham abzubauen und Dankbarkeit und Beständigkeit zu finden, und endlich in der Lage zu sein, sich selbst zu vertrauen. Wir haben uns via Mail mit Pilbeam über ihr neues Album ausgetauscht – unser Hatchie-Interview:

You’ve said that you felt like you were rebooting from scratch for Giving The World Away and it seems like you want to distance yourself from the Dream-Pop corner that you’ve perhaps been put in for your previous releases. How was your experience making this one different from the last two, and what kind of influences were you pulling from?
I am so proud of my first EP and album and would never pretend to be a separate entity from them, I just have so much more to show for myself now and hope that people can see the bigger picture as being an expanded radius rather than a linear transition. I still love dream pop and think a lot of my music still fits into that genre, but I also think people get way too stuck on genres and terms and shouldn’t get so caught up with labelling everything with definitive terms. This record was written and recorded a lot more thoroughly because the lockdown allowed me to work on songs for weeks on end at home, rather than rushing through them to try to make the most of expensive studio time with a producer. I recorded most of it at home with Joe Agius, who plays in the band, does all my visuals and writes and records with me now, and we sent it over to Jorge Elbrecht in Denver to produce and co-write, and record drums with James Barone. 

I was still looking to a lot of the same references I was previously like Cocteau Twins, MBV, Kylie Minogue, New Order and Madonna with the addition of a lot more dark, introspective, dance, trip hop, or industrial artists like NIN, Curve, Electronic, U2, Saint Etienne, Air, Depeche Mode and more.
I’ve loved all of these artists for a long time, but wanted this record to suit a live setting more than my previous releases, so it was all about balancing being as loud and brash as possible with delicate lyrics.

I read that on this one you wanted to be more precise with your lyrics. A lot of the lyrical content of this album is about self-exploration and shame. The reception of your first two releases and your fast growth in popularity as an artist has perhaps meant that you are at the mercy of other people’s interpretation of you and vision of you. Do you feel like we can ever escape the way that other people see us? It seems to me that we are always at the mercy of someone else’s image, and I wonder if you talk a bit about how that is for you?
I totally agree, that’s definitely part of why I struggle so much with understanding my identity. I find it difficult to understand the difference between my perception of myself, and what I think other peoples’ perception of me is. At the end of the day it really shouldn’t matter, but I think with social media, and industries like this one that require you to constantly show a public facing version of yourself, it’s a struggle to be less aware of what everyone thinks of you in relation to not only your personality, but also you physically and socially. I think there are probably people out there who have successfully escaped these mind games, but I’m certainly not there yet.

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You collaborated with Jorge Elbrecht, Dan Nigro and Beach House drummer James Barone for Giving The World Away, what was your experience of that, what did they bring to the album and how much of it was recorded in-person vs. virtually?
Dan Nigro’s involvement was only on Quicksand, as I was unsure how to finish the song after working on it at home. Joe and I got a rough structure and final lyrics for the song down in Brisbane before flying to LA in February 2020 to finish recording it with Dan, as well as write This Enchanted and Lights On with Jorge, and Twin and Sunday Song with Tony Buchen and Zach Fogerty, respectively.

Jorge produced the album over email, and he got James Barone on board to play drums because they’re friends and were both stuck in Denver during lockdown, while Joe and I were writing and recording on the other side of the world in Brisbane.

It’s impossible to say how much was recorded in person vs virtually, a lot of the album is made up of stems from the demos I made, or were replaced while Joe and I recorded, or by Jorge on his end because he had ideas he wanted to add in or could play better than myself as I’m more of a singer and bassist than anything. Everyone has distinct talent and knowledge they brought to the table. Jorge in particular has an amazing understanding of ’80s, gothic and industrial sounds, and Joe and I loved experimenting with genre-bending using all different instruments, pedals and plugins at home.

A symptom of the pop idiom that you work in is that the hooks and chorus’ are addictive. Do you know immediately when you have written a part for a song, or does it stay with you for a long time before it become fully fleshed out? Do you start with synth lines or vocal melodies or a mix?
I write songs completely differently every time, sometimes I start with a vocal melody, or a lyric, or a guitar line, or a beat, or a chord structure. Some songs are written in one sitting, some take months of fleshing out and trial and error. I went through a few different versions of Take My Hand and Quicksand, because I was really sure about the melodies as soon as I wrote them (the easy part for me) but I took much longer to settle on their structures and lyrics, because one slight change with either of those can turn them into completely different songs, so I wanted to get it right.

Even though you have collaborated with lots of people, Hatchie is very much your project. Do you have a specific schedule or time that you work? How do you keep yourself motivated, and how do you deal with any lack of motivation or artistic blocks?
Nothing in my life has a specific schedule, to be honest! It’s impossible with things like different interviews every week, working casual jobs at the same time, having managers and record label offices that work in different time zones, balancing my personal life, changing touring schedules and then trying to squeeze in time to create. I honestly find it difficult to stay motivated at times but I find reflective journaling and forcing myself to push through writer’s block are two essential parts of staying creative. For a big portion of this record we were stuck at home in lockdown, so there were a few months there when I was able to wake up in the morning to journal and exercise before spending the day from around 9-5 working on music, which was amazing.

Do you write things down from interactions you have with other people’s art? Like when you’re reading or listening or watching? What are some things that have really moved you recently?
Sometimes I write down quotes or interesting concepts from movies or books to remember but I often forget to write where they come from, so when I consider working them into a song I’m not sure if I’m at risk of ripping someone off or if what I’ve written down is my personal interpretation! I honestly haven’t had time to consume anything other than trash TV lately as I’ve been moving house and travelling.

You said, quote: “you had the distinct vision of a HATCHIE show turned dance party, inviting more movement and vibrancy.” You’re about to go on an extensive US tour – how exactly is that idea going to manifest? What’s it going to look like? It’s obviously going to be different to the way it was before quarantine: how are you feeling about it?
That isn’t a direct quote from me, but yes, I was hoping to make a fun record that made people want to move. I wrote songs that were more suited to a live show, that made me feel energised and excited to play live and hopefully do the same for my audience. We’ve incorporated a light show that reflects this and matches the music, so I’m really keen to see how it goes!

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