Winter has hit Melbourne, Australia with full force, but you can’t tell from inside The Worker’s Club, located in city’s hip neighborhood of Fitzroy. It’s an all-in-one bar, restaurant, beer garden and music venue, where the heat is being generously blasted over beer-sipping patrons engaged in subdued conversation. Meanwhile, rising star Hatchie and her band can be heard warming up behind a pair of stage doors decorated with the Rolling Stones’ logo. They sound just as good, if not better, than their recorded selves.
Hatchie, whose real name is Harriette Pilbeam, is a blonde, Brisbane-born singer-songwriter, and she’s come to chilly Melbourne to launch her world tour promoting her debut EP Sugar & Spice. The five-song album is characterized by dream-pop melodies with lyrics reflecting on romance. It’s a wistful but upbeat collection of catchy tunes that will continue playing in your head hours after listening.
I sat down with Harriette before the show, and prior to her upcoming OctFest performance in September. In true Aussie fashion, she was a friendly conversationalist, and much more comfortable with excessively high temperatures than me. Although she stuck with water to preserve her voice for the upcoming performance, I sipped a tinnie—Australian for canned beer—by Two Birds Brewing, Australia’s first female-owned brewery.
Between beer, Brisbane and being a star on the rise, Hatchie had plenty to talk about.
This is your EP launch, and the first stop on your tour. Are you excited?
I’m super excited. It’s our first headline shows, and we sold them all out in Australia. We’ve done a lot of supports and a lot of festivals, so it’s really cool to be doing our own tour now.
Is there anywhere you’re especially excited to go on this tour?
I love Melbourne and Sydney probably equally, I have a lot of friends in both cities. I’m excited for the Brisbane show, it will be nice to finish in my hometown. We haven’t done any shows in Europe before—I’ve been to the touristy places a few times like Paris and Rome, so I would love to do some more shows around there to go to places I haven’t been before. We’re also doing Pitchfork Avant-Garde in Paris, and I’m really excited for that.
We’re all mostly into lagers, the whole band, so we always request a lager.”
So, are you a beer drinker?
A bit [laughs] I’m probably not the best person to interview about beer. I didn’t really drink beer much until last year, and I’ve tried lots since. Craft beer is a thing in Australia, but I’m not really into it, though I’m getting there.
But if you had to pick a beer?
We’re all mostly into lagers, the whole band, so we always request a lager. But lately we’ve been requesting low-carb options, which is probably the least exciting answer ever, but when you’re on tour and drinking every night after a while it gets a bit heavy. Every night we’re just like, “I just feel so fat!” So at the moment we’re on low-carb, but I’m sure we’ll be back. When I go for low-carb, I go for a Pure Blonde, but most people are probably ashamed to say that. But that’s what we usually ask for.
When you go to OctFest, are you going to drink the beers there?
I hope so. I just need people to tell me which ones to try. When you enter the beer world, as I did only a few years ago, there’s so many options that it’s hard to know where to start. I’m excited to be given tons of options by some tastemakers.
Beer aside, I love your album. How did you get into the dream-pop genre?
I’ve played in bands for years with friends, but more like rock, songwriter-y music. Then, I got really into shoegaze and dream-pop music about five years ago. I’ve always loved pop music, but I didn’t want to do just straight up pop music—I wanted to do something more interesting for me. When I got into certain bands like The Sundays, Adorable and Ride, I realized my music could fit into this sound. With the music I was writing, I could have easily produced it as pop music, but I didn’t want to. So, the influences that I discovered really triggered it.
You’re a rising star with acclaim in Australia, about to conquer the rest of the world. What’s it like being in this position?
Even if you try really hard to continue to make music for yourself, there’s always going to be that little element where there’s other stakeholders, whether it’s a label, or fans, or even friends, because you’ve already put all your cards out on the table. I think about certain people who would like a song, or wouldn’t like a song when I’m writing, and it might not really change what I’m doing, but I am very aware of it. So it’s definitely coming into play with the writing that I’m doing at the moment. I’m definitely not writing for anyone in particular, but I know people will hear it and have thoughts about it. Even if it’s all positive, I’m still thinking about it.
When you were writing for yourself and producing this first album, where did you pull inspiration from?
A lot of it was being an emotional young woman. There’s my age, being in my first relationship, going through a lot of changes like graduating university, moving out of home, changing jobs, working jobs that I hated and always looking for something better. The balance of being really miserable and being really happy. Three out of the five songs are definitely about love, whether they were my relationships or not.
Does your hometown of Brisbane show up in your music?
I don’t know about Brisbane in particular, but the fact that I’ve always lived in my hometown for 25 years probably came into play. Feeling out of place where I’ve always lived, feeling bored because I’ve never left. Brisbane is a great city, but I’ve always lived there.
So, what’s next after the tour? What do you hope it brings for you?
It’s going to be a really great tour, these are the first shows we’ve played where all of my music was out. During the last show, not all of the songs on my EP were out. I think there will be a big shift in the audience knowing all the songs. I’m excited to move on to bigger venues and play even more shows overseas and in cities in Australia that I haven’t played in before. I’d love to be able to go to more places. The kinda crappy part about touring is that you usually only go to those cities for half a day. When we played in Glasgow a couple months ago we didn’t see the sun, because we got there at 5 p.m., played a show, went to bed, woke up and left at 6 a.m. I’m excited to get to be able to go places for longer.