Pin It

Meet the Brisbane musician gunning for shoegaze immortality

Sharing her new video for ‘Sure’ with Dazed, Hatchie talks dreampop superfans, zombie relationships, and her enduring love of Kylie

The last time Hatchie looked at her own reviews, she cried.

A friend had put her on to a YouTube channel called ‘Mr Deejay’s Buzzbox’, in which a middle-aged American man delivers softly spoken verdicts on the pop hits du jour. Mr Deejay’s gee-whiz enthusiasm is catching; indeed, it’s part of the videos’ strange magic that you keep expecting his wife to pop her head round the door and ask him back to bed.

Reviewing her first single, “Try”, Mr Deejay calls Hatchie’s track one of the year’s best, a “star-studded” dream-pop song to hold its own with classic shoegaze hits of the 80s and 90s. “It’s almost like you’re reaching for a rainbow but you don’t quite get there,” he concludes, lost in reverie.

“I started crying when I saw it!” says Hatchie, AKA Brisbane singer-songwriter Harriette Pilbeam. “He’s just so genuine. It’s such an odd mix of bands (he covers) on there, like he’ll be talking about Carly Rae Jepsen one minute and then these really cool bands I’ve never heard of the next. I don’t know what I did to deserve that, but it was beautiful.”

Hatchie inches one step closer to the rainbow with “Sure”, a stately jangle-pop ode to an undead relationship with a shimmering lustre to match its predecessor. “It’s something I’ve watched a lot of friends go through,” she says of the track, whose video is premiered below. “People falling into the same negative relationships over and over again where they really shouldn’t have stayed together as long as they did, but it was just easier than breaking up.”

For the video, directed by boyfriend and touring band member Joe Agius, Hatchie explains that “we wanted something really simple in the studio that incorporated the band. I had this friend who had a wall of TV monitors, and I’d made a note to myself to always remember he had them. And I remembered when we were trying to brainstorm this one, because we wanted a beautiful visual that wasn’t anything too specific.”

“Sure” is proof positive of Hatchie’s immense songcraft, which has already made a fanboy of Cocteau Twins alum Robin Guthrie, who got in touch after listening to “Try”. “I’ve had a few phone calls with him which was mindblowing, like something out of a dream,” she says. “We’ve spoken about potentially working together in the future, but nothing I can say yet really.”

Despite finding favour with shoegaze royalty, Hatchie says she spent the last few months stressing that she wouldn’t be able to top “Try”, which became a low-key internet hit over the summer before she’d even had chance to get a band together. “I was like, ‘Oh fuck, I’d better figure this out!’” she laughs.

“Try”, it turns out, had been written a few years earlier, while Hatchie was cutting her teeth in local power-pop bands like Go Violets and Babaganouj. Looking for a new song to build on her debut’s success, she knew she had her follow-up after writing “Sure” in a single day. “It was unusual for me, I mostly write songs over a few sessions to let them grow from there,” she says. “But I showed this one to my boyfriend and my manager and we all agreed it had to be the single, it was an obvious decision.” When the track struck a chord with listeners online, Hatchie felt like a weight had been lifted: “It made me feel really good about the path I was on.”

Hatchie was born and bred in Brisbane, a city on Australia’s Gold Coast that has struggled to shed its reputation as a backwater town. She speaks highly of the “tight-knit” local music scene, but concedes that many young people move out of the city for established cultural hubs like Sydney and Melbourne. (Hatchie, meanwhile, thinks she’d only leave for a “big move” abroad.)

The songwriter’s shoegaze crush dates back to 2013, around the time of My Bloody Valentine’s first Australian shows in two decades. “I kind of fell in love with it very quickly and it opened up a whole new world of influences,” says Hatchie, citing The Sundays, Slowdive and Lush as favourites along with the Cocteau Twins. But one thing that sets her music apart from the dreampop pretenders, aside from the beautifully poised production, is Hatchie’s obvious delight in putting big pop hooks up front and centre.

Indeed, Hatchie remembers her first MP3 player being taken up entirely with songs by Kylie Minogue, who remains a favourite to this day. It’s no surprise from an artist who’s far too busy tilting at rainbows to keep score on her indie ‘credibility’. “Kylie’s always been there for me!” she laughs. “If you listen to an album like Impossible Princess, it wasn’t well-received at the time but looking back it’s cool the different sounds she tried to cover, even if it was a bit naff or cheesy. I can relate to that. I’ve always loved pop music as much as I’ve liked ‘cool’ music, and I don’t think there’s any shame in it.”