Eliza Hull – Across The Ocean

Eliza Hull

It’s been a surreal journey for Melbourne singer-songwriter Eliza Hull, one that’s taken her to all parts of the globe and seen her touring with the likes of Owl Eyes, Hayden Calnin & SAFIA. In the wake of releasing her upcoming debut album’s first single, Caught, Eliza chats to Across The Ocean about the creative process and what’s in store for the future.

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How have you found the response to your first single Caught so far?

Yeah it’s been really great! I didn’t know what to expect so I’m really grateful for the response. Some great blogs have posted the track which has given it some good attention and especially people who knew about me from my previous EPs have said that they really like this track because it’s a little different from the rest of my music. I was a little hesitant putting out a track that was slightly faster than my other stuff but everybody seems to like it.

It is quite a marked difference to your previous music isn’t it? Would you say this is indicative of a new sound for the upcoming album?

Ah yes and no. I definitely wanted to try different styles and also mix it up with slower and faster songs on this new album. There’s still some tracks that follow the same ethereal, dreamy sound of my previous EP and then there’s faster, more kind of indie-pop tracks as well. It’s about 50/50. So there is more of a mix this time I guess.

It strikes me that people have quite different interpretations of what this single’s about. Some think it’s about being “caught” in a destructive relationship and others seem to see it as being “caught” up in another person’s presence in a positive way. Can you clear this up for us?

Yeah, I actually just thought it was an interesting concept where I feel like when people say oh you know “I’m caught or I’m trapped” that kind of has a lot of negative connotations. But for me it was actually about being in a relationship where I was feeling caught and I was feeling trapped in the relationship but I was actually really happy about feeling like that for the first time. It was like a celebration you know?

Are your lyrics often based around personal experience? Or is it more a case of telling short stories through them in a way?

I never know cause they just come out! I love to read over them again or listen to a track when it’s finished and then you realise – ah actually that probably was about that moment in time or that was me looking back at a particular situation. But at the time that I write it, I don’t really think about whether it’s about a story as such. I think I definitely write from more of a subconscious level.

You’ve done a lot of travel through your music in the last couple of years. What parts of the globe has it taken you to and where was the most memorable?

Last year I got an Arts Access Australia Cultivate grant to go overseas. So they paid for me to go and study at Berklee which is a school of music over in Boston. A lot of great singers that I admire have been there so I really wanted to go there. I did a summer school semester there and then I also traveled over to Europe and did some shows over in New York as well.

I think the most memorable experiences were the one’s that were not planned. One really surreal experience that stands out in my mind was performing in Central Park in New York. There was this piano set up out in the park and people gathered around and it was just really amazing! I actually sold a lot copies of my EP that day!

Hayden Calnin produces on your new album and you’ve been working with him a lot. How did this partnership come about?

Ah I discovered Hayden on Unearthed a couple of years ago and just fell in love with the sound he creates through his own music. Then I tracked him down and got him to support one of my shows. I guess it’s just a mutual respect for each other. We just seemed to like a lot of the same music. So I asked him whether he’d be interested in doing a track together so we did a track called Ghost where we co-wrote the song and that’s kind of fueled, I guess, the future for us because then I asked him to produce my EP and now my album.

I love working with Hayden. It’s just a really easy relationship and sometimes we just don’t even need to talk because we know that we’re on the same path and that we’re thinking the same things. It just always seems that we never have any disagreements in the studio as to the sound because we’re definitely on the same wavelength.

I understand you’ve been collaborating with many other artists including Ainslie Wills and Texture Like Sun. Does the new album feature any of these guys?

Um yeah so I did some co-writing with Ainslie Wills. She’s an amazing singer-songwriter and there was also a guy called Tim Gordine from the UK and he’s actually a co-writer with Matt Corby. Then there’s Mark Pearl from Texture Like Sun and he’s the only artist that featured on one of the tracks on the album which is a bit of a duet. I’m actually thinking about putting that out as the next song… it’s my favourite on the album.

Is songwriting a solitary process for you or do you write with others?

I think a bit of both. Individual writing is probably still my favourite. There’s just no other feeling. You know where you’re completely on your own and you’re writing… it’s kind of like my favourite thing about singing when you’re singing on your own… it’s quite personal and it’s what I really enjoy about music. But I also love writing with other people. I think it’s just a different feel you know. There’s slightly more pressure in the air because you’ve only got a certain amount of time to write but then sometimes that can spark a lot of inspiration and it’s good to bounce ideas off each other and be inspired by each other.

Is there a particular musician you’d really love to work with?

I’d love to work with Sia. That would be a dream come true. I love that she’s not afraid to state that, you know, she just wants to put out music without performing. I think that takes a lot of guts to actually admit that it is an anxious process to get on stage. I love that about her as well as her voice and her music as well.

How would you describe your music to someone who’d never heard it before?

I have no idea! To like, an older person like my mum I might say it’s sort of soulful pop. But for a younger person I guess ethereal, dreamy with pop, electronic and acoustic elements. Yeah it’s hard to sum up!

Who is on stage with you during a live performance?

We’re a four-piece band. It’s always the same musicians. I’m really lucky to have a backup singer and keyboardist. Her name’s Nat Lewis and she performs with Ainslie Wills as well. And then I have Jeremy Hopkins who’s a great Melbourne drummer then Dylan Hill who is another artist in his own right and he does a little bit of electronics. He actually makes the live set a little bit different to the CD I guess because he adds his own flavour. So it’s really great having him on stage with me.

You’re doing a single launch at the Toff in Town in Melbourne this Saturday. What can fans expect from that?

Yeah I can’t wait! All brand new songs and I’m going to have some special guests up on stage with me. We’ve got supports from Lanks and Texture Like Sun so I think it’s gonna be a great night!

So your debut album, The Bones Of Us, is due for release in 2015. What’s next for you after this?

I guess more shows. Definitely a tour with the album and then I’d like to head overseas eventually again and do some more shows over in Europe and the US and then I guess back into the studio writing again. Keep going!

And finally, just for fun, If you could be a musician in any other era, which time period would you choose?

Ooh definitely the Woodstock days! Like Janis Joplin! I just love her so much. I think it’s be really fun to be part of that scene!

Kat Gilbert

Kat Gilbert

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Kat Gilbert comes to ATO with no further credentials than a love of live music and a passion for penning her two cents worth.

When Kat’s not catching a gig you can find her pondering the meaning of life at her graphic design day job or taking long walks on the beach in fluffy pink moccasins.
Kat Gilbert