A while ago I set myself the task of making sure to check out some of the best emerging musicians out there that now appear to be making inroads musically speaking in 2019. And so, it’s my pleasure to thrust forward to your attention one of Australia’s rising talents, the Sydney-based singer songwriter, Annie Hamilton. Since releasing her breathtakingly arousing debut single Fade in 2018 (and supporting the likes of Jack River), Annie Hamilton has gone from strength to strength this year impressing upon us not one but two new singles – My New Tattooed Chameleon and now more recently her third single, Kitchen – a sprawling stunner that sees Hamilton hit upon her burgeoning solo guise with the versatility of a veteran. Having said that, on the eve of her Kitchen single launch show this weekend, Annie Hamilton drop by to chat with us briefly about her new single, life as a solo artist and playing electric guitar. Here’s some of what we talked about.
Annie, why is music so important to you? Do you ever think about stepping away from it to pursue another art form?
I have always loved music and have played music since I was little – nothing can beat it really. I still continue to pursue other art forms – I have my own fashion label and also freelance as an illustrator and graphic designer, and I love film photography – but music will always pull me back.
After debuting your single Fade last year, you have gone on from strength to strength as a singer-songwriter away from the constraints of a band. What has ultimately been the allure of stepping out of your own say compared to when you were playing lead guitar in your former band Little May?
I had an incredible few years in Little May and learnt so much from Liz and Han, we had so many amazing times and I wouldn’t trade it for anything! But since leaving I have also found the solo song-writing process incredibly rewarding – at first I found it hard not having anyone to bounce my ideas off, but once I got used to it, it was incredibly freeing – just being able to do whatever I want and not have to try and please anyone else.
How easily do songwriting ideas come to you? Do you ever find yourself in a rut?
Generally I find that I have so little time to actually sit down and write a song, so when I do have the chance, it feels like a luxury and ideas come straight away… Though they’re often not very good ideas haha. There is definitely a process that I go through 99% of the time which involves coming up with an idea, trying to make it work, getting frustrated, almost giving up, going for a walk, coming back to it and giving it another go…. Most of the time it’s worth persisting. I think when you find yourself in a rut, the best thing to do is get up and do something different for a while – go for a walk, cook a meal, clean your room… Let your subconscious do the work for you.
The inevitable guitar question is next. When did you first fall in love with the guitar and who were the musicians that inspired you to play?
I started playing guitar when I was about 12. I instantly fell in love with it. I had played music since I was little – piano and clarinet and sax, but guitar felt ‘cooler’ to me as a teenager hahaha. It also made more sense in terms of the music I was listening to… I grew up listening to artists like Sinead O’Connor, Simon & Garfunkel, The Beatles, Rolling Stones, David Bowie, etc…. and then got into indie rock as a teenager, so obviously guitar suited that more than clarinet!
In Kitchen your new single we find the lines: “I could try to recreate it/ But memory is overrated/ I almost called you but I waited/ ‘Til I knew you wouldn’t take it.” How do you see your evolution with this song, especially now that it is out in the world?
I wrote this song a couple of years ago while I was living in Iceland as an artist-in-residence… When I first wrote it, it felt so personal and intimate that I didn’t really consider ever releasing it – I wrote it more as a way of navigating various processes in my mind and it didn’t feel like something worth sharing – I really didn’t think anyone would connect with it… I thought it was too meandering, too specific… So it’s been really mind-blowing seeing that people actually want to listen to it. It makes me excited to share more songs.
Aside from some very dreamy, maybe even grungy guitar work, what else do you think gives Kitchen so much air?
The production process of Kitchen was very fun. We recorded drums, bass, guitar and vocals in Golden Retriever Studio in Marrickville with my amazing engineer / co-producer Pete Covington. Then I took the bones of the song and recording a billion layers of overdubs in my home studio – guitar parts, synth parts, backing vocals, etc… Pete mixed it and it was basically finished, and then at the last minute we decided to take a bunch of the rhythm guitar out, which gives it this dreamy spacey feeling as it allows space for all the other layers.
I understand you are planning a writing trip later in the year? Does that mean an EP or debut album is possibly an attainable thought?
Yes! I’m working on an EP at the moment! I’ve been in the studio all this week – more details to come… But I’m heading to Croatia for a few weeks in August to focus on songwriting, so we’ll see what comes from that!
Finally, before I let you go, I understand you are playing some new shows. What do you enjoy most about performing live?
I absolutely love playing live. It’s strange and wonderful and terrifying and fun all at once. You never know exactly how it’s going to go, and inevitably something will always go wrong but then you get these moments of pure magic when things fall into place.