Posted at 12:42h
Words by Kassie Junkeer // Photos by Sarah Chavdaroska
After a hiatus interviewing, the arrangement to meet with the Melbourne electronic pop/hip-hop duo Hoodlem at Schoolhouse studios was a little intimidating, a little nerve wracking, but of course very exciting. Fortunately, having a chat with the humble yet enthralling vocalist was enough to level out my manic emotions and make me re-realise why I enjoy interviewing musicians. With her last show in Melbourne approaching, having the chance to talk about her studio life, touring life, and some tumultuous phases she has gone through with music was a treasured opportunity.
With Hoodlem’s debut EP having been released last week, as well as the planning for the final Melbourne show at Howler this April, I’m enthused about the way the project will continue to thrive when they take on the rest of the world.
Kassie Junkeer: Your debut EP is coming out in a few days, what was the creative process like?
Hoodlem: It was long. We basically recorded all of it in Northcote – we’ve made a bit of a studio out of a shed. So that was really cool. It was a lot of just hanging out there and making weird and wacky shit. It was good fun. We’ve made sure that we don’t do anything very long distance, so it was mostly done at the one place, which is good.
Do you usually do much long distance recording? I read that you’ve been doing a bit of travel overseas.
We haven’t recorded long distance. It’s really hard to do. And you get better chemistry if you’re in the room together. Ideas travel a lot faster. So no long distance.
I read recently that ‘Kintsugi’ was inspired by your experience in Japan with the art form kintsugi, which is repairing broken pottery with gold. What was your first encounter with kintsugi like?
I guess I went to Japan and came home with a few little concepts really. That one just stuck with me because they make these broken pots into something really beautiful. They kind of embellish the cracks I guess. And then at the time it sort of mirrored something I was going through and just all came about from that encounter. I didn’t really come home really gung-ho about kintsugi, but it just struck a chord.
Other than music, are there any other forms of art that you have experimented with?
As much as you do until you discover that you are actually only good at one. So I guess I’ve done a bit of painting and dancing. I love that sort of stuff. I’m definitely drawn to art in forms other than music, definitely. As far as whether I’d call myself anything else – no.
And are there any other types of art that you’ve been inspired by?
Sculpture, painting… I love watching dance. I think I’m very drawn to just through the body movement and how that represents sound. I’m really drawn to that. I’d love to do more with that concept.
I love the idea of the physical representing the sonic.
You both have backgrounds in classical music, so what music were you interested in when you were growing up?
I was kind of forced to do classical music, I’ve never really chosen it. I think I only really appreciate it now as an adult. I wish I appreciated it back then, because I would have taken it more seriously. But I loved classical, and I really do genuinely like anything. But I think the classical stuff we’re far enough away from that we can leave it behind, and draw on it when we need to. It’s very subconsciously in there so we have the flexibility within that which is handy, but we don’t go to it to create.
It’s good to have those foundations so you can unlearn them.
Yes, so you can break all the rules.
What sort of projects were you doing before Hoodlem?
I was doing a lot of vocal work and finding my feet in what I wanted to do. And then I thought that I didn’t want to do music anymore so I quit for a couple of years and stopped playing and listening to music altogether. I started exploring other areas, but I came back to it and then started Hoodlem.
What was that experience like – the years off music?
It was kind of weird and I think I sort of forced myself to not do it. I sold all my music equipment and I didn’t listen to music. I sort of had this hateful break up, which was really strange and I just had to start writing again because I didn’t have any other outlet at that time. It was kind of like self punishment or something… I don’t know, it was really bizarre.
It’s been such a busy past few years for you with touring and releases, how are you experiencing this momentum?
It’s nice to be able to just get a good run on working outside of the studio. That’s been really good. We’ve nearly finished the next EP now, which is nice to have done and it’s just felt really good to get a really good run. And touring was great and heaps of fun, we met heaps of great people along the way. It’s sort of exhausting but it’s nice to be spontaneous and write on the go and have to sort of force yourself to immerse yourself. You can’t really just stay at home in pyjamas.
Yeah that must be the validating part of all of it – the exhaustion.
You traded tunes with us recently but I’d like to ask you what sort artists you would collaborate with? And what do you take into consideration when collaborating?
I would generally collaborate with anyone who would want to collaborate. I think sometimes the worst sounding pairings are the best sounding pairings in the end. Anyone can bring anything to the table, so I’m genuinely excited to wait and see what happens out of it. I love people that love hardware. Anyone that brings weird synths or weird things to hear is always really fun.
You’re playing a show at Howler with Nico Ghost soon. What have you got planned?
We’ve got heaps of plans, it’s going to be really fun. I’m a huge Nico fan, I think he’s so cool and he’s such a sweet dude too. I’ve sort of picked artists that I personally really like because it will be my last show in Melbourne.
Oh really, for how long?
I don’t know, a while I think. I’m moving overseas again. It’s going to be good. And that’s why I wanted to put my own spin on who’s going to play with us. But we’ve definitely got lots of special things lined up!
Can you share?
I can’t! you’ll have to come to the show!
Fair enough. How do you usually prepare for gigs?
I still haven’t really got that down. I still get painfully nervous, so generally a few drinks before I perform (laughs). I don’t know – if you know your shit and you’ve practised… We’re still pretty old school, we’ll still practise a lot before our shows. We take it pretty seriously, we don’t just rock up and not know what’s going on. We’re very organised, and we always still make sure we’ve got all the right things and are prepared.
I really like performing – we both do. We both have a really good time performing together, which is nice but also sad, because we won’t be doing that anymore. I think I do a lot of shows solo, so when I do get to perform with someone else I really enjoy it. But I still get really nervous, so there’s generally a bit of quiet time and pretending like nothing’s happening, and then imagining everyone naked.
Yeah you never know who could be out there.
Exactly, I try and block it out and just enjoy it. There have been so many gigs I haven’t enjoyed through taking too long to settle into them. I now just try and enjoy it from the start, because what’s the point in doing it if you don’t enjoy it, really?
Exactly. I know this is a broad question but what’s your favourite part of being in Hoodlem?
I love the recording process, we have so much fun. Anything goes in our set up. Some of things we’ve sampled… it feels like an adventure every time. Every time we’re setting up a beat we’ll run around and find all this crap we can hit, cans we can spray… anything. So that’s really fun, we’re like two little kids. That’s always my favourite time.
Do you experiment much while you’re recording or do you have a set plan?
The whole thing is pretty much experimenting. There are so many bits in songs that have been accidents that we’ve liked after it’s happened. Like the headphones will echo into the mic, or someone will hit a guitar and we’ll just end up keeping it. So there’s a lot of experimentation.
You mentioned you were going overseas, so what other creative plans do you have for the future?
Lots of writing once I get a few collaborations, which will be really good. A few shows. Just working on the next stage I guess!
Catch Hoodlem alongside Nico Ghost, GXNXVS and Alice Ivy this April 16 at Howler.