Hatchie is the vehicle for the gushing, gliding headrush of sweet serotonin serenade of Brisbane’s Harriette Pilbeam. Anthemic choruses dip-dyed in reverb, guitars and synthesisers patchworked into a wall of ecstatic sound, onto which magical and melancholic tales are stitched, Pilbeam pierces the heart of the matter with Hatchie. After playing in and around Fortitude Valley with various outfits, Pilbeam began writing songs of her own that didn’t necessarily fit with any of her other entities. As she subconsciously steered towards the trail blazed by shoegaze deities like Cocteau Twins, Lush and Slowdive, with her partner in life and sound Joe Agius in the producer seat, the Hatchie universe began to take shape. “I got really into dream pop and shoegaze music four or five years ago … My writing has always been super pop-y, and I just sat on it and didn’t really do anything with it because I really didn’t want to make just straight-up pop music. But I kind of figured out that it worked really well if it was produced in that way, and I started working with my boyfriend on that side of things and he really helped turn it into that kind of sound.”
“It flicked a switch in my head and it all made sense, so I kept writing music that suited that kind of production and it just worked really well.”
After entering her music in Triple J Unearthed, Hatchie found an audience fast. Following an initial connection with fansonline, the realisation her songwriting was making a direct impact on people’s lives was an unforeseen outcome of the Hatchie project, and one that ultimately spurred Pilbeam to delve deeper. “I think I read a few things that said, ‘wow this is really honest’, and I got a few comments on YouTube, like, ‘I’m going through a break-up at the moment and this has really helped me’. Which is crazy to me. Songs like Try, Sure and Sleep briskly and justifiably lit a fire that spread fast, leading to international interest, label deals, agents and a US tour. For the first time Pilbeam is gaining perspective on the impact her origins have on Hatchie. “The fact that we’re so far away from the rest of the world, and Brisbane is pretty slow and a pretty easy place to live and it’s not glamorous, I think that’s probably affected the way that I work rather than the actual content of my music. I’m still sort of figuring it out.” Having opportunities to tour with Hatchie, though, has offered ample inspiration and ambition for a bright future ahead. About to embark on her first UK tour when we speak, Pilbeam radiates positivity. “Travelling has opened up my eyes a lot. I wasn’t that interested in America as a place, in terms of travel, but now we’ve been to L.A. and New York, I really loved it and I’m really excited to go back as soon as possible.”
“I think I’m a really introspective person who dwells on their feelings a bit too much, or I definitely used to be, so I kind of realised that it was really helping me to put my feelings out there, and to deal with negative thoughts by putting them in a song and getting over them.”
While the pull of a geographical move is there, it’s something Pilbeam is content to resist for the time being. “I guess I’ve written a few songs that are kind of about wanting to get away from where I’m from and that kind of concept, but I think that’s more just the fact that I’ve lived in the same place my whole life, it’s not that it’s Brisbane. It’s just that I’m a bit restless. Everyone from Brisbane talks about moving to Sydney or Melbourne in their 20s, and I always thought that I wouldn’t do that just because it wouldn’t be enough of a change, I’d probably just end up doing exactly the same thing and hanging out with the same people, so it would be kind of wasted on me. I think if I was going to move it would have to be a big enough change that it would kind of shock me and be a bit difficult.” The resonant, absorbing vulnerability in the music could be attributed to Pilbeam’s willingness to tackle difficult territory, in life and in song. As her world continues to open up, Pilbeam’s heart no doubt will too, which is a prospect worth keeping an ear out for.
“It’s made me super excited and hopeful for the future of Hatchie. I definitely wasn’t expecting very many people to come and watch us, so it was really cool to open up that whole world to me.”
PHOTOGRAPHY Kitty Callaghan
FASHION Hannah Cooper
TALENT Harriette Pilbeam
HAIR & MAKEUP Corinna Wilmshurst using Giorgio Armani Beauty
STYLIST’S ASSISTANT Rebecca Deasy
Special thanks to Lauren Grice and Mushroom Records.