I have been chatting with the fabulous Ella Hooper…
about her new track, To the Bone, and what its story is. She reveals whether there is more material coming up; how solo life compares to being part of Killing Heidi; which artists inspire her – Hooper reveals how she is feeling about heading to the BIGSOUND Festival this year.
I ask the songwriter which artists and albums are important to her; if there are new artists we need to keep an eye out for; what her favourite career memory is; what she hopes to achieve before the end of this year – she ends the interview by selecting a classic cut.
Hi, Ella. How are you? How has your week been?
Great thanks, love. Busy, busy, BUSY but I can handle it. As long as it's creative, I love it. Just don't ask me to do my tax - which, I actually have to do soon. But, I'm ignoring that and having a ball bringing this new single out instead!
For those new to your music; can you introduce yourself, please?
Hellooooo! I'm a frontwoman, singer-songwriter; media person, lover of smart, well-made Pop and Rock and, actually, any and all other genres (I have made a Country record) and I'm embarking on (another) new phase where I fully step into my solo artist potential after years in bands (some very successful) and I'm feeling AMAZING about it.
To the Bone is your new single. Can you talk about the background of the song?
Well, for me it's a bit of a battle cry; the war being with myself (always!), trying to gee myself up to break away from or break down old structures and limitations that no longer serve…to step up and out into the world in a different way. A more empowered way. Even if less people 'like' you, who cares? Don't they say it's better to be respected than liked? That's how I'm feeling. Time to ruffle some feathers.
Is there more material coming later in the year? What are you working on?
Yes! I have two more tracks finished and ready to go. They're slightly rockier, with more distinct guitars -and two more bubbling up after that. I'll try and get another single out before years-end and then we will see! I can't wait to release this new material. It feels like my best work, but singers always say that don't we?
How does life creating as a solo artist compare to being part of Killing Heidi?
It's brilliant for the responsibility and creative freedom it brings. Making decisions on your own is very liberating but can, at times, be challenging. No one to bounce off to make the final call: it's all on you, all the time! Eek. I miss the camaraderie of a band at times, but it seems that forms pretty quickly in my backing bands too. Before you know it, it feels like a band and people are farting and burping in the van...ahhh, lovely.
I am really enjoying having both acts active at the moment; it's like the best of both worlds. My teen self revels in K.H.'s high-contrast Pop-Rock simplicity and my adult self feels fully expressed through (I think) the more complex songwriting and themes of my solo stuff.
Are you still involved with Killing Heidi? What have you brought from your career there to life as a solo artist?
Yes! We are doing some reunion shows here and there that have been going amazingly well. It's a nice treat to bring it back after so many years on ice and be able to sell out shows and play big festivals with a band you broke up ten years ago. Crazy. It's definitely influenced my want for a more kinetic, rambunctious solo set.
The Killing Heidi energy is so good for getting the crowd going; the new Ella Hooper solo stuff doesn't sound like Killing Heidi but it does have a strong back-beat; slightly higher B.P.M. and aim to get the floor full and party started. Still angsty after all these years!
I believe you are heading to the 2018 BIGSOUND Festival. How does that rank alongside your career highlights?!
It'll be good. Not sure if it will rank as a highlight but maybe more of a new beginning? It's something I've wanted to do as sometimes my career feels quite back to front. I'm keen to treat this next release as though I'm a new artist, hence doing showcases. They've booked me some bloody massive rooms though, so obviously my reputation precedes me (haha).
Who are the artists that inspire you and led you to get into songwriting?
It's the classics, I hate to say! Beatles, Bob Dylan; Joni Mitchell, Neil Young. Then I came of age in the '90s and it was Smashing Pumpkins, Hole; Veruca Salt, Nirvana and then onto Liz Phair, Ryan Adams and PJ Harvey.
What do you hope to achieve by the end of 2018?
I'd love to put another single out, make a super-high production value live clip and finish recording the rest of the material for this 'batch'. Also, secure some OS travel plans for the New Year! I'm coming! Basically, prep for world domination next year. Haha.
Have you got a favourite memory from your time in music – the one that sticks in the mind?
I've had some wild ones. Getting a birthday cake onstage at the Big Day Out (massive festival in Aus.). It was my seventeenth birthday, our song was number one in the charts and I was inviting Coldplay and the Red Hot Chili Peppers to my birthday party. What a trip. The funny thing is I totally dropped the ball and didn't tell them exactly where the party was and apparently they were looking all around Melbourne for it that night. You become fast friends on these tours.
Which three albums mean the most to you would you say (and why)?
Bob Dylan - Another Side of Bob Dylan
I use this album to calm me down and take me back to childhood when it's all too much sometimes.
Smashing Pumpkins - Siamese Dream
Because I fell in love with intelligent Rock music to it.
Then it's a toss up between any Nina Simone, Astral Weeks by Van Morrison and Blue by Joni Mitchell
Because they all made genius-level albums by the bucket-load. HELP!
If you could support any musician alive today, and choose your own rider, what would that entail?
Ladyhawke - and I would be a great fit I reckon. Her recent album, Wild Things, was really uplifting and I think that's brave and cool. We both love those '70s and '80s references too.
I'd have coconut water as always on the rider. The good stuff, not from concentrate.
Can we see you on tour soon? What dates are coming up?
No dates to reveal as yet, but I’m hoping to lock some in soon. Stay tuned. I love touring. I'm made for it.
What advice would you give to new artists coming through?
Protect your individuality. Your 'quirk' is what gives you an edge.
IN THIS PHOTO: Gena Rose Bruce/PHOTO CREDIT: Rhea Caldwell Photography
Are there any new artists you recommend we check out?
IN THIS PHOTO: Hannah Cameron
Do you get much time to chill away from music? How do you unwind?
I get a bit! Not enough. I head to my hometown (a tiny little country town hours from the city) and hang with my mum or my old friends who have farms there now.
Finally, and for being a good sport; you can choose a song and I’ll play it here (not any of your music - I will do that).
Stand Back by Stevie Nicks. What a banger.
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