FEATURE: Spotlight: Hatchie








THERE are a lot of great female artists emerging...

 PHOTO CREDIT: Sarah Louise Bennett

at the moment but, to me, Hatchie is one to watch closely. I think 2019 has been a really exciting year for music and so many great albums have been put out already. Hatchie is someone who definitely needs to be on your mind. She sort of combines the sounds of Kylie Minogue; Cocteau Twins, Kate Bush and Wolf Alice to create this stirring and evocative sound. She is sort of Dream-Pop  but there is Shoegaze and Alternative blends working alongside one another. The twenty-six-year-old, Brisbane-based artist has released one of 2019’s best albums – I shall come to that soon – but has been turning heads since her debut E.P., Sugar & Spice. Hatchie (Harriette Pilbeam) started singing as a child and fell in love with music from a young age. One can only imagine the range of sounds and records that the young musician would have experienced in her house. Hatchie picked up the guitar and bass in her teen years and the piano and clarinet later on. It is clear that there was a clear curiosity and desire burning. Early singles such as Sure (her second single released in 2017) tuned heads and announced her as an original talent and, in January 2018, Hatchie signed with Double Double. The Sugar & Spice E.P. arrived on 25th May, 2018 and received hearty critical praise. The five-track release (four previously fresh tracks and an additional track, Bad Guy) is terrific to listen to and contains many highlights.

Here, in this review from DIY, we hear about some of the musical influences that would have guided Hatchie:

‘Sugar & Spice’ cements her as the modern day successor to dream pop titans Cocteau Twins from the get-go. Robin Guthrie had already blessed her with a remix of ‘Try’ in 2017, but his influence shines through even more with the opening bars of ‘Sure’, as shimmering guitars wash through in layers. ‘Sleep’ is a climactic follow-up built around shuffling beats and heroic choruses, with a smoky hook that recalls Depeche Mode’s ‘80’s classic ‘Just Can’t Get Enough’. Later, the title track’s shoegazey guitars closely mimic the iconic, ethereal sound of My Bloody Valentine.

Harriette doesn’t possess the unique, wobbly vocal style of Elizabeth Fraser, instead opting for pure, uplifting pop hooks (it’s telling, then, that she counts Kylie Minogue among her influences). It comes naturally to her - “all my songs start with singing,” she says - which makes sense given the vocal strengths present across these five tracks. With a finessed production tying everything together, the end result is pretty ecstatic”.

In a year that has seen so many great women emerge and own, Hatchie can definitely be added to the conversation. She writes about love and heartbreak but can do it in a very fresh and original way – and ensure that it resonates and connects with the listener.

 PHOTO CREDIT: Kristina Wild

The incredible Australian artist is definitely hitting a high right now. Her album, Keepsake, was released on 21st June and it has definitely collected some big reviews. Here, in AllMusic, there were plenty of impassioned words:

On the album's luminous second half, Hatchie returns to the more familiar terrain of Sugar & Spice with the strummy ballads "When I Get Out" and "Kiss the Stars" as well as the irresistible finale "Keep." She also finds new nuances within her blend of dream pop and pop with a capital P -- somehow, "Without a Blush"'s swooning guitars and vocals have as much in common with Curve's "Coast Is Clear" as they do with Taylor Swift's "Wildest Dreams," while "Stay with Me" proves she's as capable of epic emotional climaxes as any chart-topping artist. Throughout KeepsakePillbeam develops the flair for pairing widescreen sounds with down-to-earth lyrics that she hinted at on Sugar & Spice. "Obsessed" is a standout, not only for its nagging arpeggiated synth hook, but for the clever way she dismisses her feelings while hinting at how deep they run. By contrast, "Her Own Heart" is unabashedly earnest and, with its clouds of guitars and piles of harmonies, one of the album's prettiest moments. As Hatchie exceeds the expectations set by Sugar & SpiceKeepsake reflects her growth into an even more confident and varied artist”.

DIY were back for another taste and were deeply impressed by Keepsake:

As Hatchie, Brisbane native Harriette Pilbeam provides the soundtrack to falling in love. She floods your ears with dreamy melodies, sugary tones and lush vocals, nestled in a perfect middle between Cocteau Twins and Alvvays - though commanding an artistry entirely her own. Having already released a slew of strong singles, the debut LP from the Australian musician veers away from the sometimes-sickly sweet sound of her older work.

She ventures out into pulsating basslines and deeper, darker ‘80s synthpop while still being able to turn virtually every sigh of a melody she breathes into an earworm. “If I could kiss you one more time, would it make everything alright?” she wonders on ‘Without a Blush’, before pleading “Give it a try,” on ‘Unwanted Guest’. She writes and wears her heart on her sleeve, half-singing, half-sighing through her songs with wide-eyed candour, shining through such swoon-worthy dream- pop. At some point, you’ll wonder if it was Hatchie’s heartache and pain that was written about, or your own”.

Maybe it is the dreaminess of her music or the fact, as some reviewers have noted, Hatchie provides comfort and wide-eyed gaze at a time of turbulence…it is very good she is in the world and providing music that can lift us but make us reflect at the same time. Even though Hatchie is writing beautiful music, her subject matter has changed and she has definitely evolved since her debut E.P. In an interview with Rolling Stone, Hatchie explained how her music has altered in the last year or two:

During the past year or two, Pilbeam became acutely aware that her music was being viewed primarily as a vehicle for expressing romantic infatuation. Early songs like “Sugar & Spice” and “Sleep” were bright, synth-heavy depictions of the near-delirious early rush of love. “Just come see me in my dreams,” she sang in the latter, “No wonder I’m smiling in my sleep.”

But when she began writing Keepsake, Hathchie knew she wanted to change course.

“As a young woman, I was like, ‘What is this saying about me that all my songs are about this?'” she says. “There’s nothing wrong with that, but I put a lot of pressure on myself to not write about that, which is silly because it’s what everyone writes about.”

Some of the best songs on Keepsake make explicit Hatchie’s ongoing process of sorting out the parameters of her own work. “You can call it an obsession/Call it anything you want to,” she sings on the opening standout “Not That Kind.” It’s a line of winking self-awareness for an artist who’s become increasingly aware of the importance of self-definition, even as she’s realized that her creative persona is ever-evolving.

“I feel like I’m changing so much every six months,” says Pilbeam. “Even this new album feels like a past version of myself.” Since the recording of Keepsake, she’s found herself writing unadulterated dance-pop. She enjoys these early stages of writing, before she needs to conceive of her work within the framework of her career to date”.

In some ways, Keepsake is Hatchie starting over or discovering who she is. It is clear that her new album has been taken to heart and the author cannot help but feel pleased with what she has accomplished. Hatchie has an Australian tour coming later in the year but I hope there are dates in the U.K. coming up.

 PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images

Many people here would love to see her perform and, with Keepsake still fresh, hearing those songs live and in-person would be an amazing experience. I am going to follow Hatchie closely but, if you are new to her work, go back and listen to Sugar & Spice. Although Hatchie has since adopted a new lyrical and musical approach, I maintain the E.P. is fantastic and a great window into an artist who was making some early, impressive moves. This year has been a competitive and thrilling one for music and it will be hard to call the best albums of 2019 come December – I do think Hatchie’s Keepsake needs to be in the mix. She has this wonderfully rich and engaging voice that brings you into the mix and, in a way, sort of unites you with other artists; musicians she grew up around and still adores. She is only just begun and I do think there will be a lot of great albums coming from Hatchie. It is clear she is doing something different and wonderful and, at a very angry and divided time, Hatchie is giving us music to soothe the soul and warm the heart – although there are tears and soul-baring moments to be found. The spectacular Hatchie crosses boundaries and genres and you cannot help but fall in love with her music. If she does come to the U.K. and plays some shows, make sure you go and see her as it is an experience…


YOU will not want to miss.


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