Since releasing her striking debut single, Fade, in 2018, Sydney based singer-songwriter Annie Hamilton continues to reveal her nostalgic, raw and dreamy soundscapes, further establishing herself as an artist you definitely need to know. With the recent release of her third single, Kitchen, a stunning, intimate navigation of memory and perception, Hamilton talks us through her writing process, inspirations and more. Promising more music before the end of the year, dive into Hamilton’s magical immersive world now, quickly, before everyone else catches on.
Firstly, can you tell us a little bit about yourself and how you would best describe your sound and vision as an artist?
Hello! I’m a Sydney-based musician and designer. I’ve just released my third single, Kitchen, and am working on a bunch more songs at the moment, hopefully releasing the next one in September. Describing your own music is hard, but I would say mine is kinda shoegazey-fuzzy-nostalgic-90s-indie-rock…. Not sure if that’s a genre? I also run my own clothing label, play guitar in Jack River and freelance as a graphic designer and illustrator.
Music seems to have been a big part of your life for a long time now, who were some of your earliest musical influences that inspired you to begin making music and writing songs of your own?
I’ve always played music – from piano lessons as a kid to learning guitar as a teenager, and then a few years in my previous band, Little May… My parents were always super supportive of me learning and playing music so it was just always something that I did, but as a kid I was very self-conscious and terrified of playing in front of anyone, so I never performed until Liz, Han and I started Little May when I was about 20.
Your brand new single ‘Kitchen’ is absolutely stunning! Can you tell us a little bit more about the track and the inspiration behind it?
Thank you! I wrote this song one night in Iceland… it happened pretty quickly. Once I had the initial chord progression and rhythm I started just writing a billion lyrics – stream of consciousness-style rambling. I think I wrote about 20 verses, then went through and picked out my favourites / edited them a little. The song is about how time can change our perceptions of people and places – how memories start getting hazy and we make up little details to fill in the blanks. It’s supposed to be a bit nostalgic and trippy and dreamy.
There’s a strong sense of vulnerability throughout the track and the lyrics produce incredibly strong imagery, is that something that is very important for you as an artist throughout your work?
I wanted to build up some really vivid imagery of quiet, intimate moments. I think there is something really universal in these extremely personal moments – the everyday, mundane moments spent in the kitchen with someone – everyone has a weirdly pivotal kitchen moment in their life. I like searching out the magical moments in the everyday.
What was it like working with Pete Covington, what did he bring to the table?
Pete and I have been working together for a while now – he was one of the first people I showed my music to, and when I was super self-conscious of it he pushed me to keep going and helped me record it. We’ve since played in three different bands together (his own project Spirit Faces, Jack River and my band) and worked on a heap of music together. He’s an absolute gun in the studio and has really helped me bring my ideas to life.
You’ve previously talked about how quickly ‘My New Tattooed Chameleon’ came to you, was that also the case with ‘Kitchen..’ What does your songwriting process usually entail?
Yeah, both of them were written pretty quickly… Although the actual recording and production of Kitchen was a very long work-in-progress – I wrote it in 2017 and we recorded most of it in 2018… So it’s a couple of years in the making. I like recording things as I write them – sitting at my computer with my mic and my guitar demoing as I go. I find it easier to solidify ideas if I record everything, and then go through and edit what I recorded. I usually start with chords and melodies, and then once the fundamental parts of the song have been written I add atmospheric layers of synths and guitars and harmonies.
‘My New Tattooed Chameleon’ has received great critical acclaim since its release earlier this year, did you ever expect that response and how does it feel knowing people are connecting with your sound?
When I started working on my own music I really didn’t expect to ever release it, let alone for anyone to like it, so it’s pretty wild hearing it on the radio or seeing that people are listening online… I have always written my songs for myself because I love writing, but the fact that other people connect with them is a huge bonus that I’m extremely appreciative of!
As your sound continues to evolve with each release, who or what do you look to for inspiration when you find yourself in the studio?
I’ve always been a fan of that classic 90s rock, early 00s indie rock, as well as fuzzier more shoegazey kinda stuff. When I’m stuck for ideas in the studio I often listen to bands like My Bloody Valentine, Sigur Ros, Sinead O’Connor, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, TV On The Radio…
Do you ever get inspiration for your own music through playing and touring with Jack River and have you two ever thought of collaborating together?
I love playing in Jack River, it’s such a fun band to be a part of and Holly is an incredible artist, she is insanely driven and hardworking and determined and extremely creative. She is the queen of catchy hooks and vibey arrangements and I hope it rubs off on me! Hahahaa. I think a collaboration would be very fun.
Speaking of your time in Little May, how did you find the transition from being a member of a band to going solo and what are the biggest differences and/or challenges between the two?
I had a lot of amazing times in the band but am currently really enjoying being solo as I like to have full control over my music. There are pros and cons with both – the awesome thing about being in a band is being able to collaborate, everyone brings something different to the table and you end up with something that you wouldn’t have been able to come up with yourself. When I first went solo I struggled a bit with not having anyone to show ideas to, like a sounding board, to give me feedback… But once I got used to it, I got more confident in my own ideas and now feel like it’s easier to just trust my own taste and follow through with the ideas that I love.
As well as being an incredible musician, you also run your own fashion label [EQUINOX] – Would you say the two intertwine in a way?
I think the two definitely intertwine – the creative process is very similar for me, whether I’m working on a song or an illustration or a clothing design or a graphic design project… There’s always a lot of initial ideas, sketching, experimenting, trial and error… There’s usually a period where I hate everything I come up with and decide to burn it all in a large fire. Then I keep experimenting and if I’m lucky something will eventually jump out at me – then it’s a process of developing and refining. In both mediums I’m inspired by the world around me – the colours, textures, shapes, sounds, everything.
You have a few single release shows coming up in Australia, what does your live performance set up look like?
Yes I do! I’m playing in Sydney, Melbourne and Thirroul in late July. I play with a band – Mark Harding on lead guitar, Rosie Fitzgerald on bass and Cat Hunter on drums. They’re all amazing. I’m been writing a lot lately and these will be the first shows for some of the newer songs so I’m pretty excited. It’ll also be my first headline show in Melbourne which is a bit scary. But I love touring and I love playing live so I can’t wait.
What’s in store for you throughout the rest of 2019?
I have a bit of a plan for the next few months – I’m back in the studio in a few weeks to record a few more songs, which I’ll be releasing later in the year. Then I’m heading to Europe for a month, writing in Croatia for a couple of weeks and playing some little solo shows around the UK and hopefully Europe. I’m aiming to have an EP out by the end of the year, then some more touring around Australia!
Lastly, who are some artists that you’re currently listening to that we should check out?
Japanese Breakfast, Big Thief, Alvvays, Waxahatchee… I have a spotify playlist that I update every now and then, you can follow here if you’re interested!
[All photos by Rosie Fitzgerald]