Our first taste of Annie Hamilton’s solo career came with her debut single, Fade, in 2018. The film, captured on a sunny afternoon, paid an intimate visit to the musician in her bedroom, bathed in light, and we were immediately addicted. Since then she’s played guitar for Jack River’s live band and opened shows for Julia Jacklin. This time around, Hamilton returns to us in the night, collaborating with local photographer and filmmaker Sammy Hawker. Here, we speak to both creatives about their latest project: a film for Hamilton’s second single, My New Tattooed Chameleon.
With this track Hamilton has built a dreamy landscape of first-take vocals positioned atop layered guitars. “It’s a late-night walk home, drowned in dreamy distortion and vivid lights,” says Hamilton. “It indulges nostalgia, warping perception and memory and fantasy, melting them into one another until you lose track of which is which. It is a process of shifting focus, of changing colours, of navigating through the subtle moments that stick with you – the moments that arrive uninvited and linger like a hungry mosquito while you’re trying to fall asleep”.
Filmmaker Hawker captured Hamilton’s intentions through her lens. Within a series of fast-paced cuts, we catch glimpses of Hamilton’s doe-eyed gaze as she flips that, now signature, atomic blonde mane across the screen and dances to the throbbing beat. “We shot this clip late one summer evening,” Hawker says, “making our way towards the ocean pool on Austinmer beach.” Hawker captured most things with a hand-held camera, the effect being one of intimacy: the camera, (and by extension we, the viewer) are Hamilton’s only dance partner. “We’d talked a lot about the camera having agency,’ Hawker says. “For it to be its own curious character – frenetic and alive, probing at what exists beyond the action of the frame. Annie, as the subject, weaves in and out of focus. It is more like she is chasing the camera than the camera being singularly focused upon her.”
These images are sliced together with overlays of the surrounding natural environment. “I had filmed the opening shot of the (almost full) moon from my bedroom window a few days before. At that time of year it passes across the Austinmer escarpment (NSW) around 5:00am. It just felt right for the clip. A lot of the overlays are shots of moving water, or sunlight dancing on water, overlayed on the footage via a reduced opacity.” Yet when it was time to film the dance sequences, the filmmaker’s heightened state of mind turned out to play an integral role to the films finished vibe. “I had finished an intensive vipassana mediation course the day before and felt slightly out of beat with reality,” says Hawker. “A hyper aware disorientation that I think worked its way into the mood of the footage.”
My New Tattooed Chameleon sits uneasily in any genre, floating somewhere in that shoegazing dream-pop world. It’s unpolished, by design. “It arrived quickly and wildly and brought with it an unfaltering intensity and resolve,” says Hamilton. “Sometimes I work on songs for months or years and still can’t figure out how they’re meant to go. This one came out fully-formed, to the point where I almost drove myself crazy questioning whether it was ‘perfect’ because it seemed like it happened too easily.” Yet there’s a precise balance between the vulnerable lyrics and their robust delivery. They delicately balance each other, resulting in a sound that is authentically Annie. “Of course it is not perfect – that’s what I like about it”. Hamilton has created a slow-burn that gets better on every listen. So press play, over and over again.