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Interview: Hoodlem


These days not a lot remains a secret. The internet makes it easier than ever to find out everything you could possibly want to know about a subject. Therefore it’s always exciting when an artist can break from the mould and remain a mystery. Hoodlem are just that. A big question mark providing amazing sounds (so delicious in fact that we compare it to a Cadbury crème egg). You may wonder then how an act like Hoodlem could provide an insightful interview when it seems that their aim is to reveal as little as possible. This is not the case. Hoodlem are open as a book when it comes to anything other than their identity. We chatted to one half of Hoodlem (she’s the one crooning into your ears on tracks like Kintsugi) about their upcoming debut EP, the intricacies of song writing, and why all the cloaks and daggers?

Congratulations on the EP, how does it feel to have it all finished?

It’s a relief. We’ve been working on it for a really long time and we had to pause when I was on tour. We just haven’t really been in the same room for a long time, so we just got it all together and started recording new songs that we wanted to put on there and old songs and yeah. Just get it out there.

How long do you think the entire process of putting this out there would have been?

I mean, I guess we’ve been working together for about two and a half years so I guess, that long? I mean, I’ve been overseas a lot touring, and we’ve spent a long time apart.

How has making this EP, been different to your other releases? Especially since it’s been over such a long period of time.

I guess it’s been similar in how we work together, that hasn’t really changed. But, I think the way that we are and have come together now, it’s different but it’s still the way we experiment. We have more of a vision of what it’s going to sound like and we’re quicker with things and we’ve sort of designed our sound now. So we know how to act with all of that. It all takes it’s own path. But we’ve got it so it’s quite natural and we’ve not tried to force anything.

Listening to the EP, there’s a lot of different sounds going on, but you guys seem to balance it quite well, how do you manage that?

I think we sort of went crazy. There’s so much of adding parts and taking away other parts to evolve it to the sound that you want. To make this wall of sound. I guess we both love the detail and the intricacies, and sort of hope people listen to it through headphones.

Kintsugi is a major highlight of the EP, but it is also a very specific song in that the name carries significant meaning. How did you come up with tying the concept of ‘kintsugi’ to your song?

I really love Japanese culture and I love Japan and I came back, from when I visited Japan, I came back really enthralled in all their culture and their art. And I just heard about ‘kintsugi’ and what it was and I don’t know, it just struck a chord with me. I think at the time it resonated with the certain things I was going through in my life and yeah, it just sort of related to that. But yeah, Kintsugi came first as a concept that I enjoyed and then I wrote a song and then it just happened to be the eminent of the words as well. I guess they sort of represented each other.

Does this sort of metaphorical style often appear in your songwriting?

I think it does. I think a lot of the songs I write are not written how they are interpreted by a wider audience. I think people would probably be surprised as to where some of the songs have come from. I think sometimes they have quite relationship undertones, or sort of sexual undertones, and it might not necessarily be about a person or an experience. But I don’t think my songs have ever gotten quite as metaphorical as Kintsugi, that is probably one of the more derivative singles!

Does it interest you in the way that people interpret your song writing?

I think it’s my favourite part of releasing, of seeing how it effects other people and that’s really why artists do what they do. To have that great effect on their audience and to have an effect on people in a certain way and influence people in a certain way.

So, Kintsugi was written in New York, and you mentioned Japan before, you’re obviously well-travelled. How has this travel influenced your work and this release?

Hugely. I was really pushed out of my boundaries. I did a tour in Europe and played around America by myself, so that was huge. But definitely the people I met and the cultures that I was in at the time, especially through Europe is pretty varied, it has an influence on your writing because you sort of realise how small your world is and how big the big world is.

Wow! Other than the wonderful places and people you’ve met, what other influences are there on your sound?

Definitely R&B, soul, like UK house all that sort of 90s music, UK garage stuff. Anything electronic. We both come from a classical background as well. So, I guess that provides less limitations. We can kind of do whatever we’re feeling or thinking with time signatures and such.

That really explains how you manage to have such unexpected beats!

Yeah! We really love anything wonky. I think sometimes our only sort of disagreements in the studio come when I want to do something that isn’t musical at all and we just sort of have to trust each other and see how it turns out. But I’ve been right most of the time. I like anything that’s a bit off kilter.

Yeah, so we live in this world where everyone posts everything about themselves online, however Hoodlem remains this elusive mystery. Was this intentional?

Yes, it was definitely intentional. I guess, when we started this project, with both of us doing music before, we just didn’t see why attaching faces and looks to the music should be appropriate. And it was easy in the beginning because we played gigs with visuals or behind a screen so people wouldn’t really know who it was. We’ve kind of designed the show now so that it’s less mysterious. But we still let the music speak for itself and don’t feel the need to gratify the music via our faces and what we’re doing. I guess we’re not really interested in that stuff though.

Is there something about the mystery that attracts you?

I think it’s nice to enjoy your art and not have to be it all the time. So it’s nice to sort of attend gigs and people not knowing. Or even, we’ve caught people out a couple of times sort of telling us about Hoodlem, or have been listening to Hoodlem and we sort of have to sit there and be like “oh, cool!” It’s funny.

So, aside from this release, what else can we expect from Hoodlem this year? Any big plans?

Definitely touring. I’m headed back overseas this year, so that’s going to involve a number of cool things and collaborations with people. And we’re also putting the finishing touches on our next release as well, so there might be two EP releases.

That’s pretty cool! Pushing boundaries again with all your wonky beats?

I hope so, yeah. It’s definitely a lot more, if it can possibly be, it’s definitely a lot more personal. But, I think it’s good, it’s different, but I think it’s still along the same vein as our current one.

And finally, what was it that made you want to pursue this big, mysterious Hoodlem project?

Just, really working with each other, and yeah, I guess that would be the main drawcard. We really loved the idea of getting into the studio together and really, we just had a great time playing live. I guess, the response has been really positive as well, so it sort of automated itself as a project and yeah, we love it.

Hoodlem’s self-titled debut EP is out March 25, check out our review of it HERE