If you’re asking yourself “Who is Hatchie?”, let me quickly break it down for you. She’s a singer, songwriter, guitarist, bassist, pianist, and clarinetist. She’s from Brisbane, Australia and she’s an on-the-rise dream pop artist. All of the above paints you a perfect picture of Hatchie, also known as Harriette Pilbeam, the laid back—but excruciatingly passionate—26-year-old musician. Her debut record, Keepsake, dropped this past June to rave reviews from fans and critics alike, similarly to her 2018 EP, Sugar & Spice. All fantastic pieces of personal, DIY work that deserve all the praise that has come its way.

Now that you have the cliff notes on the marvelous performer and lovely Australian lady that is Hatchie, you can feel free to read on with my interview with her and get a better, more in depth grasp on who she is and what she has been up to.

Keepsake is just about two months old. Time is already flying by. Critics have been loving it, as have I. But what have you found the reception to have been like so far?

I don’t know. I honestly haven’t really been reflecting on it much at the moment. I feel like I have moved past it myself, so it’s weird to think about. It’s been a super-positive experience overall, because as soon as it came out, as far as I’m aware, we have had nothing but good reviews. There was a really overwhelming response from people I know, as well, like other artists. Everyone has been playing it and listening to it and it’s all pretty surreal because it is the first big release that I have had. I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect because of that, but it was really positive.

That’s lovely and I’m so glad, because as you mentioned, this is your full-length debut. Can you compare the process of writing and recording your EP, Sugar & Spice, to that of Keepsake? How did you go into each of those?

They were kind of similar, but the timelines were different, really. With the EP, I kind of already had to—it’s a bit hard to remember because it was so long ago, and things had been stretched out over four years. But, I didn’t have to really sit down and write songs for it. That’s not to say that I had to force them out or write filler songs in between other songs for Keepsake, but I did kind of have a plan with it and know what kind of vibe I wanted. With the EP, I had songs that I had been writing for a few years and I really just happened to have thought, ‘Oh, I should just release these all together in an EP.’ Whereas with the album, I only had a few songs that were written around the time of the EP, but most of them were written afterward and with the intention of them being put on the album. They were all well-planned out and I spent a bit more time focusing on each one with that in mind.

That makes a lot of sense, and as a musician, you have to reflect on where you are in your life and where you want to go and apply that to how you want to create and release a record.

Totally! The similarities, as well, were that they were both mainly recorded at home and then mixed, rerecorded, and produced with the same producer in Melbourne. They were both quite DIY recordings. It was just the writing process that was different.

Speaking of writing, this album had three, all equally stellar singles, “Without a Blush,” “Stay With Me,” and “Obsessed.” 

Thank you!

You’re so welcome. How did these songs specifically get chosen to be singles for this record? Or did you know going in that some, if not all, of these would be best to draw people into your sound?

Yeah, they weren’t at all with a plan in mind to be singles. It was really after I had written them all that I was like ‘Oh, this is a standout and people with like this, this, and this.’ The only one, actually, “Without A Blush,” was one of the first songs that I had written for the album. We decided before the song was even recorded that it would be the first single, because it sort of just encapsulated all the different things that I wanted to introduce to everyone with the album. I thought, and I kind of wanted, but then I changed my mind, that I wanted the album to be a bit darker than it ended up being. I wanted it to be more like “Without a Blush” and “Unwanted Guest,” but as time went on I was really enjoying those more dream poppy songs and I didn’t want it to be too different than the sound that I already had been sharing with the world, so I kind of fell back into the dream pop side of things. I knew without the rest of the album being written, though, that “Without A Blush” would be the lead single. Then when it came to “Stay With Me” and “Obsessed,” everyone sort of looked at all of the elements that go into a single. The people that I work with who I talked to about what they thought would have the best response, whether it be from my fans or from radio stations or things like that. There is a lot of thought that goes into choosing them, but they are pretty easy decisions for me, personally. There is not a lot of back and forth, because I like them all so much, and I would love any of them to be singles.

A lot of people who make music say that what they create is their “baby,” so of course you don’t want to have to pick a favorite.

Yeah, for that reason it can be hard, but I truly would be happy for any of them to be a single.

Absolutely, and you were mentioning that your music falls in the dream pop category. Is that the genre that you have in mind when you are creating music? Or is it just the style that comes natural to you when writing and recording?

It’s a bit of both. A lot of the time I do have to think ‘I’m going to write this kind of song now,’ or I have started writing a song and as I’m demoing it, it doesn’t have any particular direction to it. Then, I’ll rework it and decide to take it in this direction or that direction. It’s a bit of both style-wise and it really depends on the song. It’s now natural to me. It used to be that I had all these dream pop songs in my head that I had to get out, but now that I’ve gotten a lot of them out, it’s like ‘What do I want to do now? What can I do now?’ 

Right, you’re evolving just as your music would be.

Exactly.

You’re a phenomenal songwriter, I think, no matter the genre they ended up being. But when you write your songs, do you hear a melody first and then base your lyrics off of that? Or is it that you write down lyrics and then put them to music?

It’s definitely the melodies first. Sometimes the lyrics come up around the same time, but most of the time I put the lyrics in afterward. I’m much more of a melody person. That is almost always how the songs come to me.

I feel as though that makes a lot of sense for who you are, because you are a multi-instrumentalist with a hand on various instruments.

Yeah, it’s how being a musician for me is, since I love songwriting, but it’s not all I do.

Kind of going off those musical talents of yours, how did you come about them? How did you get into music?

My whole family is musical, so we all did lessons from really young. I was singing from when I was like six or seven-years-old around the house, as well as in choirs and doing lessons. I was always in it and I always loved it, but as I got older I took on more and more instruments and did more and more lessons. When I was in Year 12, which is like a senior year at school here, I think three of my five lunchtimes were taken up by music lessons, and almost every morning and afternoon, before and after school, I was doing chores and symphonies and bands, so I was very deep in it when I was like a teenager. I did take a step back from it afterwards and took a breather, because I felt like I had gotten a bit sick of it because it was always lessons and competitions and it wasn’t very fun. I wasn’t enjoying it as much anymore, so I took a step back for a moment before getting back into it a year or two after.

You want to be able to do something artistic on your own terms. I more than understand that.

Exactly! That is what it was feeling like at that stage, but I knew I would always go back to it because I have always loved it.

Absolutely, you’re a born musician and artist. Actually, your album artwork for both your EP and your full-length are stunning and creative, yet intriguingly minimalist. Who designs them, or how did the final covers come about? Do you have a lot of say in that?

Yeah, I do! My partner, Joe [Agius] is in my band and he helps me with the recording process, as well as having done all of my artwork. He’s done all of my videos, almost all of my press shots, and all of my album artwork. He’s really the one who has that artistic talent. I have ideas, but I can’t execute them at all. I can’t use any programs or anything, so he really deserves the praise with that. We usually brainstorm it together and then he goes away and does something and then I’ll tell him what I like about what he’s doing so far and what I don’t like so much, but then we come to a conclusion together. 

With the album artwork in particular, I just knew that I wanted it to be either not my face or like a really blurred out version of my face. I did not want it to be a straight up portrait. He was just playing around with a photo that was actually just like an outtake from a press shoot that we had done with our friend, Sophie. She took that photo, but Joe was editing it and was messing with it for a few hours and going through all these ideas, and we almost settled on a few other ideas for artwork, but they were a bit more complex. They had a lot more going on with the  patterns and angles of my face. Then we were taking off on a flight from an airport and he just showed me his laptop and said, ‘What about this?’ It was pretty much exactly what you know as the album artwork now. I saw it and was like ‘Yeah, that’s perfect.’ It was just so simple and good. The color scheme was perfect, too. He just really stumbled upon it after hours of working on it.

Things like that happen for a reason, you know? It truly does, in my opinion, connect to the album and its style and message. It’s simple and personal, but also in depth, for there is more to it than just a face, as you said.

Totally. That’s what I was sort of hoping people would take from both the cover artwork and the songs.

Now, I know that Australia is your home, but you’ve done quite a bit of touring and traveling over the years between solo jaunts and band tours. Do you find Australia has welcomed you and your music the strongest? Where have you been to that you found the crowd’s reception to maybe be the most surprising? 

That’s a good question, because America has been so good to us and we hadn’t been expecting to even go to America so quickly and be doing so much there. To be doing these tours is amazing, like Echoplex in L.A. means so much to us. A couple of the venues we’re doing are definitely bigger than we had been expecting to be playing in America. Australia was a bit slower, but we are playing those kinds of venues here, as well… and selling them out. It’s hard to say, because it really depends on what you judge it on, because you can judge musical reception on radio plays, as well, as we have pretty solid radio plays in both Australia and America. I think, without looking at the numbers of it, I think it’s a pretty close ties between both countries, which is very surprising to us.

As long as you are enjoying yourself, your band is having a great time, and everyone who is coming out to the shows has fun, that’s all that matters. It’s all about how you absorb the music and take in that moment.

Totally! I think it also depends on how the audience consumes music. I find that in America, especially, audience members want to meet the artist after shows and have conversations with them and talk to them, which is really lovely. You don’t really get that as much in Australia. I don’t know if everyone is a bit more like ‘Oh, it’s just so and so,’ and it’s no big deal. I’ve been playing in bands and have played shows for years and people don’t really look and go, ‘Oh, that’s Hatchie!’ It’s not like that. They treat the artist a bit differently [in Australia]. It’s a bit more casual, whereas in America, everyone is really excited to meet you and they treat you as this special being rather than just a person. I don’t know how to explain it, but people are really much more excited in that regard in America, which is an interesting difference. It’s humbling and special in both places in both regards.

Be sure to catch Hatchie tonight—Wednesday, September 4—at Rough Trade NYC in Brooklyn!

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