Hatchie Is Focused On Being Authentically Herself

Anna Rose loves hard rock and heavy metal, but particularly enjoys writing about and advocates for Aboriginal artists. She enjoys an ice-cold Diet Coke and is allergic to the word 'fabulous’.

Ordinarily you'd find Harriette Pilbeam in Brisbane, deep in the chaos of concrete clutter.

Today, however, the songwriter, better known as Hatchie, has removed herself from the oft-overwhelming commotion of the city in favour of peaceful Maleny, just a few hours away.

It's here, among beautiful landscapes and interesting hiking trails, that Harriette drinks in some much-needed quiet time.

Harriette is here to write music, but not necessarily a follow-up to her second album, 'Giving The World Away'. "Things are kinda taking shape but it's way too early to tell if any of them will end up being released," Harriette explains.

"I don't really have a plan; I'm mostly just writing for myself to get it out."

"I'm not trying to be the biggest band in the world, I'm just trying to be authentically me." - Hatchie

As Harriette explains, she was in dire need of this period of artistic respite after her ability to recognise her music as her own became hazy.

"I found as I was putting out more music and didn't have as much time to be working on it for myself, I really was just writing music for albums and to put it out," she reflects.

"As of about six months ago, I've really made sure that it's being back to my thing again.

"It's for myself first and foremost; writing music to be released and to show other people comes second, at least for now. It's been really rewarding to get back to that and do it for that reason."

There were a handful of moments in both Harriette's professional and personal life that made her snap back, though the overarching issue was a heavy, self-imposed pressure to keep moving at the pace she was.

"I spent lockdown writing and recording my second album at home with my husband. As soon as we could we went back to America, so we spent a year back and forth between there and Australia, never in one place for a long time.

"I just ran out of steam. I made an active choice to slow down and start doing it for myself again before I started not enjoying it in the same way."

Hatchie, while dividing time between Australia and America as well as touring and writing music, has done it all (ignoring the COVID-induced period of inactivity that occurred for the world) with relatively steady momentum.

Reflecting on the last ten years of her career, Harriette feels her creative methods have been inconsistent, changing, in her view, not always for the better.

"I started playing in bands when I was 17 and they were very much other people's bands, but I enjoyed it. It was pretty low pressure when it was not music I was writing.

"Then it got less fun as time went on, and I decided I wanted to work on my own music, share something closer to my heart.

"[I] focused more on singing rather than just playing bass, I started co-writing with my husband and some other collaborators.

"Last year, I wrote quite a lot of music with other people, and it got exhausting after a while. That's part of why, I guess, I started writing again recently in a different way, because I felt like I was relying on other people a lot. It made me wonder, listening back to songs, 'How much of this is authentically me?'"

Harriette was dealing with blurred lines. "I found myself really confused by what I wanted to do," she says.

"I found it hard to tell if I was doing certain things because I wanted to, or because other people wanted me to. There was no one putting bad pressure on me, it was really just me and all coming from my head, and it was really getting to me.

"I really needed to take a step back, take a break. I hadn't really stopped for a long time."

The primary reason for this chat with Harriette is around her forthcoming billing on the Queensland Music Trails event The Long Sunset alongside Lime Cordiale, Winston Surfshirt, Sycco, and Tia Gostelow.

With that huge trek in mind, and the many big names she'll be surrounded by, Harriette ponders whether she's developed the skills to maintain her authenticity, her individuality.

"I think I'm in the middle of figuring it out," she admits, "there's certain things I'm confident about that don't really phase me, and there are certain things I'm trying to figure out even as a 30 year old. I'm always a work in progress."

None of what Harriette is discussing is intended as negative scrutiny of her life and work, rather, she's comfortably reflective. Perhaps her removal from the city has afforded her a clarity of mind in more areas than just music.

"Festivals, sometimes it can be difficult to tell what my audience is in Australia," she says. “I don't make dance music, or super pop, it's a mix of things although it's pop overall.

"I'm trying to figure [it] out now – do I commit to one thing and have a bold statement? Or do I continue to experiment? Because sometimes experimentation can confuse audiences, and that can hinder artists from getting bigger, I guess.

"But at the end of the day, I'm not trying to be the biggest band in the world, I'm just trying to be authentically me and make the music I enjoy making. I guess that's where the indecision lies."

Hatchie joins Lime Cordiale, Winston Surfshirt, Sycco, and Tia Gostelow playing The Long Sunset at Canungra (Scenic Rim Region) 29 April as part of 2023 Queensland Music Trails.

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