Catching Up With Hatchie, Australia’s Favourite New Dream Pop Queen
Words by Claire Barley.
Just shy of a year since releasing her first single, Brisbane artist Hatchie (Harriette Pilbeam) is gearing up for Friday’s release of her first EP, Sugar & Spice. Despite all four of her singles to date receiving huge acclaim and even kudos from Cocteau Twin’s Robin Guthrie, Pilbeam manages to remain incredibly humble. Speaking to her on the phone in the UK, it is clear the success of her previous singles hasn’t detracted from a sense of accomplishment and excitement about her EP’s impending release.
“It’s really exciting, it’s been a long time coming,” she says. “I kinda eased my way into this project two years ago and then this last year has been so fast… I’m really excited and proud to finally have it out; it’s a big moment for me.”
Prior to launching her own project, Pilbeam cut her teeth playing in friends’ bands, a member of Brisbane four piece Babaganouj and formerly part of Go Violets. After receiving an electric guitar for her 21st birthday, she wrote ‘Try’ not long after, which marked the beginnings of Hatchie.
“I got an electric guitar for my 21st birthday, I wrote ‘Try’ and then it all started”
“I got an electric guitar for my 21st birthday, I wrote ‘Try’ and then it all started,” she recalls. “Before that I was writing songs for my other band Babaganouj and I was writing songs for myself just as an outlet, but when I wrote ‘Try’ I was like, ‘this needs its own project’.”
Sugar & Spice as a collection of songs is pure bliss, a lush, dreamy release with a hugely polished and cohesive sound. Given the maturity of the release, it is unsurprising to learn that it has been a few years in the making. Despite ‘Try’ being written in 2015, Pilbeam waited until June last year to drop her first song.
“I didn’t want to rush it,” she explains. “Even though I knew that I wanted to [start a solo project], I was at university, I was living at home, I was working a job that I was really unhappy with, and I was in another band and all these things were going on in my life… when I waited between writing and recording ‘Try’, I started writing ‘Sleep’ and ‘Sugar & Spice’… the sound kind of evolved over the next year.”
She affirms that being familiar with the music industry and waiting to fully develop her sound has helped her keep a level head while launching as Hatchie. “I think it’s definitely worked in my favour, A, that I’ve waited this long and B, that it took this long,” she says.
“I think it’s also made me a lot more patient, and understanding that some things will work in your favour and some things won’t, and that’s fine. It’s made me have very realistic expectations and it means that every really good thing that happens to me like all the Pitchfork [reviews and interviews], being over [in the UK touring], all the stuff with Robin Guthrie, are like a total blessing for me and I’m incredibly grateful for it.”
Many of the songs on Sugar & Spice contrast introspective lyrics with euphoric, bright melodies and production. Pilbeam explains that this was as much informed by the influence of bands she loves as the simultaneous feelings of vulnerability and empowerment involved in finding your place in the world.
“There’s definitely a bunch of bands that have influenced my sound, particularly Cocteau Twins, Sundaze, Beach House, Wild Nothings.”
“I just wanted to write music that replicated really happy feelings…. feelings of love, feelings of being really up and feeling like high, so happy you’re excited. I’m a big fan of people matching melancholy, sad, introspective lyrics with really happy, lush fluffy sounds, which is quite common in dream pop music.”
“I think it’s really interesting and I think it’s really telling of life as a young adult, kind of not really knowing how you’re feeling and maybe feeling happy on the outside and really unhappy on the inside, it’s definitely something that I’ve experienced for a lot of my life. So it wasn’t intentional, but looking back it’s very true to me and very true to a lot of the artists that I look up to.”
Having already spent the first part of the year playing SXSW in America and playing a 3 week run of pretty much back to back shows in the UK, Pilbeam shows no signs of slowing down once Sugar & Spice is out in the world. Arriving home on Friday, she will truly hit the ground running, with the EP being released while she’s still in the air. “We get home at 5pm on Friday so I’ll be on a flight for most of [the day]”, she laughs. “Can’t wait to turn on my phone to all those notifications!”
With a support slot locked in for DMA’s on their upcoming shows and her own headline tour kicking off in early July, Pilbeam hints that there is more of the same to come for the rest of 2018. “I’m probably going to be writing and recording as much as possible, which I’m really excited about, and definitely be doing a lot more touring”, she says.
At once a mature and incredibly catchy release, Sugar & Spice cements Hatchie’s status as one of Australian music’s most exciting young talents. The EP is out 25 May via Ivy League Records, available for pre-order here.