On “Sugar & Spice,” the title track from Hatchie’s debut EP, the Brisbane, Australia songstress sings, “We could outlast it all.” Though the song’s lyrics revolve around an uncertain future, they could easily double as a mission statement for Hariette Pillbeam’s unique brand of pop music, which feels less tethered to modern conventions than it does to universal feelings, like longing and lust.
Hatchie’s songcraft relies heavily on massive, major-key hooks, with reverb-drenched vocals and jangly, shoegaze guitars giving depth to the EP’s intimate lyrics. Upon first listen, the tunes are honey-sweet, but repeat spins reveal some vinegar beneath the surface, like when Hatchie sings, “Baby, I’m a piece of glass, I shatter so fast,” on “Sleep.”
Ahead of her Hopscotch performance on September 6 in Raleigh, NC, Pillbeam spoke with AdHoc via email about her earliest influences, the story behind the Hatchie moniker, and when fans can expect some new music.
AdHoc: When did you first starting writing music? Is there someone in your life who inspired you to pursue music as a career?
Hatchie: I toyed around with ideas as a teenager, but didn't really write full songs until I was about 19 and started taking it more seriously. I wouldn't say there's one person who inspired me to do it; I've wanted to do it since I was a kid and always had support from family and friends. I always wanted to write my own music and play it myself, so I looked up to singers like Carole King and Jewel.
Meg Remy’s favorite topic of discussion is repression. The Canadian-American musician behind U.S. Girls has been discussing it in her music for years, whether she’s singing about patriarchy or late capitalism. Her latest album, the incredibly funky In a Poem Unlimited, takes on some heavy subject matter over the course of its 11 tracks. On “Rage of Plastics,” woman becomes infertile after years of working at a chemical plant. On “Pearly Gates,” another surrenders her body to St. Peter as a means of entering heaven.
While that all may sound depressing, the music is the opposite. For In a Poem Unlimited, Remy enlisted musicians from the Toronto jazz collective Cosmic Range, whose horns and thumping bass bring on disco vibes as the singer croons about darkness. AdHoc caught up with Remy ahead of her Hopscotch set on September 6 to chat about crafting dance music that makes people think, the tyranny of the Roman Catholic Church, and how she stays afloat while touring.
AdHoc: In a Poem Unlimited caught quite a lot of buzz this year. What does it feel like to have more people paying attention to your music?
Meg Remy: I’m always a pretty skeptical person. Although I’ve maybe climbed another stair in terms of visibility, I’ll be curious to see how it translates this fall. The turnover rate with things is so quick right now. When I’m [playing] a sold-out show, or [I] see people singing the lyrics—[those] real life like examples feel exciting. It also feels very right. I’ve been working for 10 years on this project, and if I’ve been working for 10 years, I should be having some sold-out shows.
Speaking of sold-out shows, you played three of those in one night for AdHoc back in April. What was that like?
It was fun. It was very interesting to do it how it used to be done—you know, like The Beatles or Little Richard or jazz singers would do multiple sets in a night for months on end. You learn stuff about the stage that you’re bringing to the next set. It was wild to do it once and feel how exhausting it was and to be able to recognize that people’s entire careers were made up of, you know, three sets, six days a week, for six months.
The music of Montreal post-punk act Ought isn’t known for its conceptual stability. Their first two albums—2014’s More Than Any Other Day and 2015’s Sun Coming Down—had more to do with considered existential anxiety than the sort emotional volatility characterizing many of the band’s less clever contemporaries. There’s an ornate dirtiness to their music, and while words like “thorny,” “wild,” or “agitated” come to mind, none of them really do it justice. Ultimately, that refusal to be pinned down almost works as a unifying concept.
Their most recent album—February’s Room Inside the World, on Merge—saw Ought departing from the gritty, live quality of those early records and teaming with veteran producer Nicholas Vernhes, known for his work with Animal Collective, Deerhunter, and The War on Drugs. But rather than sink into sterility, the band reinvigorated their music with additional instrumentation—including a 70-piece choir, on “Desire”—and some of their sharpest songwriting to date.
Ahead of Ought’s performance at Hopscotch on Saturday, September 8, we spoke to frontman Tim Darcy about the band’s creative process and what it means to make political music in 2018.
You've said you think about Ought’s most recent album as having more of a studio sound than the first two. How did you guys achieve that sound without compromising the live, raucous energy you’re known for?
We still ended up doing a fair bit of things live, and I think that really helped maintain that energy. We went in feeling like we were game for anything, thinking we might go track by track and really break every element down. We did a pretty extensive demo-ing process, home-recording all the songs. In some cases, we did like three versions before we went in with Nicholas. I think it’s totally case by case. For us, working with Nicholas was a really good fit, because he was excited about the record. He got the band.
So Nicholas was wrapped up in that process of maintaining the energy?
Yeah, for sure. I think a different producer could’ve boxed things off more. Obviously, he knows how to make a studio record, and that was something that we wanted, having done two extremely live records. I think we found a really nice balance. Having someone who’s a little bit more like, “Oh hey, let’s try this,” or who just grabs some random thing—that type of energy is much more akin to the world of live performance. We don’t really go home and come back with riffs; we’re always jamming, and out of these long jams will come a little pocket of an idea that we then play through [in] all these different manifestations.
Hopscotch Music Festival, which we once dubbed “the premiere experimental and underground festival in America,” is about to enter its 9th year. The festival runs September 6-8 and is spread out over downtown Raleigh, NC, with a mammoth roster of headliners that includes Liz Phair, The Flaming Lips, Nile Rodgers & CHIC, Grizzly Bear, and Miguel. With Hopscotch now just a little over two weeks away, the festival’s staff was kind enough to get on a big email chain with us and share some of their favorite songs from artists on the lineup. Check out a Hopscotch Staff Playlist below, and don’t forget to grab yourself a wristband or day-pass!