tunesday – a chinwag with annie hamilton
The indie artist talks about banishing songs to the “demo graveyard”, the similarities between writing music and designing clothes, and her new album.
We hope you have your earphones handy, pals, because Sydney fashion designer and muso Annie Hamilton has unveiled her long-awaited debut album, the future is here but it feels kinda like the past. Annie started writing the stunning record two years ago – during the first lockdown of 2020 – and has been bursting to share it since. She tells us all about it below.
Tell us about your new LP. I’ll set the scene. You’re driving down a dirt road in the middle of nowhere through the Australian bush. It’s dusk, hot and humid; the height of summer. There’s an electrical storm approaching. Bugs flying. Bats stirring to begin their nightly rituals. Lightning in the distance. Sparks flying. The air is thick and buzzing. You’re way out of phone signal. You take a wrong turn and end up meandering deeper and deeper, through the portal, and end up in this weird parallel universe dreamscape. You travel through the night, reach the highest highs and the lowest lows. Sometimes it is eerily silent and other times you’re surrounded by heavy noise. You’re caught between the tiniest of tiny details and the big, wide-open expanse. Gum trees fly away in the wind and time flies around you like a flock of birds. But eventually the sun rises, the light crawls in and a whirlwind carries you back to town, dropping you at the window so you can climb back in.
If you could time travel, would you rather go to the future or the past? The future! I want a flying car and a pet robot.
Why did you decide to scrap your entire backlog before writing this album? I’m constantly writing lyrics and music. I try to treat it as a consistent creative practice where I’m chipping away at it every day, even if I don’t feel like I’m coming up with anything good. I have so many half-written songs or ideas that end up in the demo graveyard of my external hard drive. Sometimes I search through this musical scrap heap and find hidden gems that become finished songs months or years later, but for this album I really wanted to write a body of work that was reflective of what I was going through, but also tapped into the collective consciousness of the time by capturing the highs and lows of the strange new world we found ourselves in.
How is this record different to your previous work? Sonically, it is an evolution from my EP. My EP is a collection of six songs that I created over the span of about three years while figuring out my sound and vision, whereas this album is an intentional statement. Every song has a purpose and no two songs sound the same. I wanted it to be a meandering montage of extremes, contradiction and ambiguity. I wanted it to be raw and polished at the same time – moments of pure elation paired with moments of darkness and uncertainty; moments of finally understanding it all while realising how much more there is to learn.
Are there any similarities between your process for designing fashion and making an album? Definitely. It’s the same creative energy channelled into different mediums. It all starts with sketching, experimentation, trial and error. I make a lot of clothes for myself which I think of as being similar to the demo process (making it up as I go, following the spark, getting lost in the process, trying not to overthink or judge too soon). A lot of the initial ideas end up not working, but it’s a learning process and you never know when you’re going to stumble across an idea that feels right.
When and where do you feel most creative? I’m a bit of a night owl. When I’m working on a song or a design, I tend to stay up late and completely lose track of time. I’ll work all night on something if I get on a roll and I have to really drag myself away from the work to eat and sleep. This doesn’t happen all the time. A lot of the time I’ll sit there frustratedly banging my head against the wall and doom-scrolling on Instagram for hours to distract myself. The feeling of getting completely lost in the work is rare but incredibly special, so when it happens, I surrender to it.
What excites you about your music and the music world? I’m so excited to finally be able to share this record. There were so many times in the last two years where I didn’t think I’d ever finish it, or I felt like it completely sucked, or I wanted to set it all on fire and start again. It was a big lesson in persistence and seeing things through. I’m excited to set it free and to play all the new songs live for the first time. I’m excited that live music is back and I can finally watch all my favourite bands play again. I’m heading to the UK and Europe in a couple of months to do some touring as well, so there’s a lot to look forward to at the moment! But I’m also trying to not get too ahead of myself, and to just sit in it for a while and enjoy the feeling of releasing music.