Before she joins The 1975 and Charli XCX on the 2020 Laneway Festival bill, Hatchie is looking forward to hitting up the coastlines of her youth on the Somersby Secret Garden tour.

The Brisbane dream-pop singer (real name: Harriette Pilbeam) will be playing the Sandstone Point Hotel (January 17), White Rhino in Surfers Paradise (January 18) and The Boundary Hotel in Brissie (January 19) over one massive weekend of cool tunes and good summer vibes.

And she’ll be doing so with none other than former bandmate Paddy Harrowsmith, who makes summery indie-rock under the Green Buzzard moniker, in tow.

Before heading off on the Somersby Secret Garden tour, Hatchie spoke to DANI AMAYA about dream collaborations, lessons learned from her 2019 debut album Keepsake, and her lifelong love affair with Kylie Minogue.

(Tour photography by Joe Agius)

You’re headlining the Somersby Secret Garden east-coast tour with Green Buzzard. What can people expect from these shows?

We’re going to be changing up our set a bit, adding some other songs from the album we haven’t really played yet. It might be one of the last chances for people in Queensland to see us play other than festivals for a while.

Any new songs or surprises you’ll be unveiling?

We’re working on putting some more tracks off the album into the live set for the first time on this tour. We thought about adding a fun cover to the set, but you’ll have to wait and see.

The gig series is centred around the “spirit of sharing”. Is there something your fans don’t know about you? Or maybe something you’ve been keeping from your bandmates?

I’m pretty private online in comparison to a lot of other artists so there’s actually quite a lot that my fans don’t know about me. People probably have no idea that I still get bad stage fright before most shows. It’s why I don’t talk much between songs – I’m too busy freaking out about the next song.

For this tour, you’re teaming up with Green Buzzard. Paddy used to play guitar in your band, so I imagine there’ll be a lot of camaraderie? 

Oh yeah, it’s going to be a fun three days. Our current guitarist [David Gauci] is also from Sydney, so it’s always fun when we all come together and catch up about the last couple of months we’ve spent apart. They’re all sleeping over at my house so it’ll be just like old times.

Do you have any standout highlights from your 2019 US tour with Girlpool?

To be honest, I just remember eating a lot of food. But there’s certain cities that I really love, or states. I love North Carolina, and it was cool to go back to Austin cause we’d been there for SXSW and didn’t know what it was like outside of South By [Southwest]. It was obviously a lot more relaxed and just really nice. A lot of the standout moments were meeting people after the show, because I’d never really had that really great connection with meeting fans after shows until this tour, so it was cool.

What do you find the most exciting about touring?

It’s just so sick going to places that I would never go to otherwise, like Arizona. It’s a state that I would never really visit … The drives are probably weirdly my favourite part even though they’re also the worst part because they can be so tedious, boring and repetitive. We did two days in a row of 15-hour drives between the three of us. We got up at 5 or 6am, drove all day til midnight, went to sleep, got up at 5 or 6am the next day and did the same thing, but it was beautiful. It was all through the midwest, so through Montana and Minneapolis. There were these beautiful mountains and the scenery was changing every few hours from forest to kinda more desert-y to snowy. So weirdly, the hardest part for a lot of people is the driving, but it’s my favourite part. 

It sounds really beautiful, the ever-changing landscape. 

Yeah, totally.

Photo: Sophie Hur

You worked on Keepsake with John Castle, who produced your Sugar & Spice EP [2018]. What felt different this time round going into the recording process?
I think I knew what I wanted a bit more this time ‘round, because I had a lot of time, and I obviously had a lot of time to plan the EP as well. I had a bit more experience with recording my own songs [this time]. Before Hatchie, I’d always recorded in bands where we’d record one or two songs of my own. But it was mostly recording other people’s songs and kind of just being like, “Oh that’s your song, you just tell me what to do.” This was the first time where it’s been, “Oh this is my song”, and I really am in charge of everything and I get to decide everything. I guess it was just adjusting to that.

When I did the EP, I still needed a lot of help with making decisions on how things should sound. But this time around most of the demos were completely finished and solid, and I knew exactly what I wanted … I was maybe a bit more confident this time round, which is good.

Although you’re more confident now, do you feel external pressure of thinking, “This might not be what people want”, versus the music you want to make?
Totally, and I have times where I’m more aware of it. With certain songs I’m juggling between, “Oh f**k it! I don’t care if anyone likes it or not, I’m putting it out”, but also I really want to give something to the fans. I released a song called ‘Obsessed’ and it’s super poppy and super simple, and it’s a lot less dream-pop and shoegaze-y than my old music. There was definitely a moment where I thought people are going to be like, “What the hell is this? I’m not into this!”, especially because I have a lot of older fans that are strictly shoegaze fans. There’s always a little bit of, maybe not pressure, but awareness of that. I don’t think it’s really affected my decisions that much but I’m definitely aware of it, just figuring it out now.

“Through the process of this project happening, I’ve realised that it’s in my own best interest to do things that really terrify me.”

Hatchie

I read a tweet where a fan was excited for your album launch and you replied that you’d been sitting on the tracks for years. Do you have stuff in your back pocket and then know when you’re ready to release? How does it all come about?
With my first couple of songs, I sat on them for ages because I was just so nervous about putting them out. I kind of really had to force myself to put them out because I was so scared. Not of them not doing well, but not going how I wanted it to. With this album, it’s partly because there’s been such a long lead up to me finally doing my own thing, but it’s also because we have a two year plan of like, “This is when these singles will come out, and this is when the album will come out, and this is when this comes out”, and I’m sitting on the edge of my seat. We finished recording in December [2018], so it’s part of the plan to wait six months. It’s not like anyone’s not letting me release music. But it’s definitely weird. I go a bit stir crazy.

That fear of not releasing things in case they don’t meet your expectations, is that something you’ve had to let go of in your musical career?
I guess it’s something that I’ve let go of now. Now I’m in it, it’s happening, it’s begun. There’s no point in holding back anymore, I just need to do things. I’ve never really been a “yes” person. I’m always the least optimistic person in the room, and the most realistic person in the room… I very much play it safe. But now, in the last 6 months, I’ve been really pushing myself to do things; to get stuff done, and to just do things that scare me. Because then it’s like, “What if I just do the same thing over and over again for the rest of my life?” I’d regret it.

Through the process of this project happening, I’ve realised that it’s in my own best interest to do things that really terrify me. To just make myself do things that seem scary in the moment but then afterwards I’m like, “Oh my god, imagine if I didn’t do that!” Sometimes it’s shows. When we did those Kylie Minogue A Day On The Green shows, I was terrified and I almost said no. How crazy would I have been if I said no to that? Just because I was scared? I was like, “I dunno. People aren’t going to like us – we’re not poppy enough, we’re not dancey enough.” I just stand there with a bass guitar, it’s not like a show. Now, if I hadn’t done that [A Day On The Green] I would be kicking myself. I’m really learning from that, from those kinds of things, it’s good.

Leaning into what you said about getting out of your comfort zone, I read an interview where you said you didn’t do a lot of situational writing, and that you wanted to challenge yourself. Sugar & Spice is a lot about love, with Keepsake – especially ‘Her Own Heart’ –  was that deliberately branching out?

Yeah definitely, that one was a writing exercise. I had an idea for a song and I started writing it from my own perspective but then I thought, “This isn’t any different from my other songs – there’s nothing really special about it if I just write it from my own perspective.” It kind of made me hold back from saying anything too personal. So then I decided to write it from another person’s perspective about somebody else, like a character, rather than about myself and it just opened the whole thing up. It made it a brand new thing for me. I learnt it’s not that hard to twist it, and look at things from a different perspective and make it a lot more fresh or interesting, even just to myself…

What else is Keepsake about? There seems to be more emotion, where did the ideas for those songs come from, aside from getting out of your comfort zone? 

I actually read the first review of the album … I said I’m not going to read reviews, but someone sent me that one and I think they put it in a really good way. They said, “If the EP is about falling in love, then the album is about everything that comes with that.” Kind of like, pulling apart everything that comes after that – whether it’s to do with the relationship or just about growing into a young adult. I really wanted to write about friendship on this album as well, which I did in a couple of songs like ‘Kiss The Stars’, ‘Obsessed’ and ‘Unwanted Guest’…

[But] it’s hard to look back and figure out what I was thinking when I wrote them because I wrote some of them so long ago and they’ve taken on this new form now. Sometimes I don’t remember how I started that song or where I got the idea from. It’s really difficult to put into words. I think there’s a lot more depth to these lyrics – even if it may not sound like that to other people. That’s what they sound like to me, because they’re less about just me and more about situations, other people or feelings, rather than things that happened to me.

Do you have any ideas yet for the next record?

No, no grand plans. Just a few little song ideas and a few little things I started working on, on tour. I think I’m just so excited to write for the sake of writing and not for an album … There were a couple [songs on the album] where I was like, “Okay, what’s missing from this album? What can I do to bridge the gap between these two songs? What could these new songs sound like or be about?” I’m really looking forward to just writing whatever comes into my head and not being like, “Oh, this has to match this. Or this has to be for this.” Also writing for other people, which is something I’m really interested in and want to pursue this year. So hopefully, we’ll see.

Who would you ideally love to write for?

I don’t know. When we were writing ‘Stay With Me’ and we were just having fun, we were like “Okay, let’s imagine this is for Kylie Minogue or King Princess.” I’d love to write super pop music for pop stars, music that I feel like I couldn’t pull off live. I love Charli XCX. She writes so much music for other pop stars, but also she’s just so cool, so I would love to write for her, or write with her, or write for someone she’s written for, cause it’s a similar path that I want to go down. We’ll see, it’s very early days. I don’t see myself moving to LA tomorrow. [Laughs]

Who would your dream collaboration be with, aside from Charli XCX? Maybe someone Australian?

I think it would be really fun to do a Confidence Man remix, they’re also on Heavenly Recordings, but I don’t know about a proper serious collab. I’m sure there’s someone. I’d love to do super dooper pop collaboration with The Veronicas or Mallrat.

What are you looking forward to most on the Laneway Festival tour?

I’m excited to do a touring festival, we don’t get to do those often. It’s great because you get a few chances to see your favourite acts, especially if the set times shift in each city and you are clashing with someone you want to see at one of the dates. I can’t wait to see Charli XCX and The 1975.

You’re playing a special DJ set in the Somersby Secret Garden at Laneway Festival. What’s your go-to artist or track?

You are guaranteed to hear any song by Kylie Minogue because she’s my favourite artist ever, and we always find a way to throw her into every DJ set.


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