Music

RINSE and Hatchie unpack Australia’s dream-pop deficit and their time-hallowed collaboration

rinse and hatchie takeover

Fresh from their Live At Enmore acoustic performance, RINSE breaks down the meaning behind his track Back Into Your Arms. 

The individual artists simply ooze with talent. Having worked together for over eight years, we sat down with Hatchie and RINSE to crack open the challenges of tapping into dream-pop in Australia.

Breathing in limitless, Covid-free air and eager to get back to live shows, the couple are anxious to unleash their imaginative new live performance, coming off the release of RINSE’s debut album Wherever I Am and a live acoustic performance of Back Into Your Arms, featuring Hatchie and DMA’s artist, Matt Mason on the cello.

RINSE/Hatchie

HAPPY: Hey there Harriette, Happy Birthday Joe!

RINSE: Hey Jaz, thank you so much.

HAPPY: Firstly, how do you guys know each other?

HATCHIE: We’ve both been in bands for years and with the internet and everything, sometimes it can be hard to pinpoint exactly when someone came into your life. But I think we both agreed the first time was probably when he (Joe) was making a video for my old band,  Babaganouj, in maybe 2013? Yeah, so a really long time ago.

RINSE: Then we started dating that year.

HAPPY: Woah! I didn’t know you guys were dating!

HATCHIE: Yeah [laughs], it’s pretty crazy.

HAPPY: So have you guys been writing songs together for a while?

HATCHIE: Yeah we have, probably around four years? Since I started working on Hatchie, Joe really helped me finish a couple of songs and then it kind of flourished into us writing a lot of songs together, he’s been a part of every aspect of Hatchie.

HAPPY: That’s awesome! So Back Into Your Arms was a song that you (RINSE) released, how did that song come about?

RINSE: Originally, when I wrote it, I thought it would be a cool Hatchie song. So I kind of brought it to Harriette and we worked on it together. It definitely sat in the Hatchie folder for a while until we were working on the new record for Hatchie and it just didn’t really fit on there as much as we would’ve liked it to. So, we decided it would make a good RINSE song and it just didn’t feel right without Harriette singing on it. So she was kind enough to be an official feature on it!

HAPPY: Well the song sounds incredible, your voices blend so well together.

HATCHIE: Thanks! We get a lot of practice in the car.

HAPPY: Being together for eight years, I can only imagine! What was the story behind the lyrics of the song?

RINSE: I wrote it a fair while ago, but I didn’t really finish the lyrics until probably this time last year when Covid was really in effect in Brisbane. A lot of my friends were breaking up and it felt like there were people everywhere falling out of relationships due to the stress of quarantine or long distance. I guess it’s just a bit of a breakup song, singing from two different points of the relationship and then it meets in the middle and talks about if being in each other’s arms is enough to make something that’s quite complicated work.

HAPPY: That’s really interesting, considering the music video for the track is set in a dreamy themed cemetery… Is that something you did intentionally because you believe long-distance relationships are doomed?

RINSE: I didn’t [laughs]! But I actually really like that, having set in a place where relationships die. The setting wasn’t intentional at all, I literally walked into an old prop house by accident buying something from Gumtree and saw all the graveyard stuff there so I spoke to the owner and shot the video in the same month.

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HAPPY: Well it works for the song! You guys have been playing live gigs together for quite a long time, has the music-making dynamic changed when performing got pulled from the table last year?

HATCHIE: Yeah, it definitely changed things but I think it really just made us more excited to use our imagination a lot more. In terms of Hatchie, when we were working on my new album last year, we got really excited about how we were going to perform it live. We felt like the sky was the limit!

RINSE: Yeah, we didn’t really have time to think about shows for a few years because it just was so busy, so it’s given us a lot of time to really think about what we want to do.

HATCHIE: We weren’t really able to improve the live show much because we were constantly on the road and you don’t have time to go home and work on new songs or fix problems in a set. But being at home gave us a lot of time to think about that. When we were writing new songs last year, I felt like we got all this time to rehearse and do whatever we want for when we do it live. So it really opened that world up for us.

HAPPY: So it kind of took the feasibility and practicality out of it a little bit?

HATCHIE: Yeah totally! There wasn’t any added pressure of changing things a week before the tour.

HAPPY: That is so exciting to hear! Your music falls under a super niche dreamy pop style, particularly in Australia it’s less prevalent, are there any challenges in that?

RINSE: Yeah I think there is definitely less room for the music we make here in Australia. I feel like the bigger bands here are all making quite similar music. That’s probably why we spend more time in America and overseas than Australia generally with music.

HAPPY: It’s a real shame but why do you think Australians don’t respond or connect to shoegaze music as much?

HATCHIE: I think there’s such a strong festival culture here, people love dance music and music they can mosh and party to.

RINSE: Stuff they can put on at pre-drinks. I think a lot of it comes to shows and a lot of people just love jumping around.

HATCHIE: Whereas a lot of people in the UK who are buying tickets to shows are in their 30s/40s, which is perfect for us because that is where our audience is. In Australia, shows are like 90% people between the ages of 18-25 years, so it’s just a different market. It’s been interesting trying to navigate it and feel it out.

HAPPY: Would you say that UK audiences are most attracted to dreamy pop?

RINSE: I think America is the biggest. Most shoegaze/dream-pop bands are UK/European, so there is a real market in America because they haven’t been able to see a lot of bands like that. We generally play a lot bigger shows in America than in Australia. I kinda prefer it that way around to be honest.

HATCHIE: Yeah I’m not complaining, it’s nice to have an excuse to go to America like six times a year.

HAPPY: Would you be planning on heading there anytime soon?

HATCHIE: As soon as it’s possible we will be there, we got our US Visas renewed last week so we’re ready when Covid is ready!

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From left to right: Matt Mason (DMA’s), RINSE, Hatchie

HAPPY: Hopefully that’s not too far away! Joe, you just released your debut EP Wherever I Am a few weeks ago, congrats!

RINSE: Yeah it’s been a long time coming, I’m really proud of it.

HAPPY: What was one of the biggest challenges of it?

RINSE: I guess the biggest challenge was that I made it myself, it was generally up to me to make it happen and I was on my own watch. I think when you’re in a band with three other people, it’s easier to keep moving forward with something because there’s always someone being like “when are we going to do this/that?” But when it’s up to you, no one really pushes you to make it, especially with a first EP nobody’s really asking for it either. I think the one thing good about Covid was that for the first time in years, I had time to get it finished and released, so that was a massive positive I took from last year.

HAPPY: Well it was definitely worth the wait. Honestly, there are so many thoughtful details in there, really well-written songs. And I love dreamy pop! I don’t why it’s not bigger here!

HATCHIE: [Laughs] I feel the same!

HAPPY: I wanted to ask you Harriette about the platform you’ve been using, Patreon. You used it a lot during lockdown to reach out to fans, what made you turn to it?

HATCHIE: Well, it was kind of two reasons. The first being because we couldn’t really get on the road and connect with people, it felt like I was not having the same relationship with my fans that I could get when I was touring and meeting them all on the road. So it was a really nice way to keep connecting with people, especially because the people who listen to my music don’t really have social media platforms like Instagram because, like I mentioned, a lot of them are older.

HATCHIE: Another reason, to be completely honest, is because I lost my income during Covid so Patreon was a good way to earn money doing what I love. I’m really grateful that I could make money off Hatchie and even though I did have to get a retail job while waiting for things to kick back off again, it meant that I could still focus a lot of my time on Hatchie and not have to get a 9-5 job, because when I do that I just completely lose focus on music.

HAPPY: Is Patreon something you would continue using in the future?

HATCHIE: I’m really hoping that I can continue it because I’m really enjoying it, it’s been really fun and interesting. Every month I do an exclusive of a demo song that nobody has heard, an unreleased track or a cover and I’m really enjoying that creative aspect because it’s making me look at my music in a different way. I’m just going to take it as it comes because, once I start touring, it might be harder timing-wise. But, at this stage, I’ve really loving using it.

HAPPY: I had never heard of it until I was looking up your music, I think more artists should definitely take advantage of it.

HATCHIE: I know! If you get enough people and are willing to put in the effort, artists could definitely make a living wage off it.

RINSE: If you treat it like a job.

HATCHIE: Yeah exactly. I set aside hours to do it every week and treat it like one of my multiple jobs and it’s great. So it’s definitely feasible to make a salary if you have enough fans.

RINSE: I think maybe the community side of music isn’t much of a focus.  The whole part of Patreon is to break the fourth wall and communicate with fans. So maybe it’s just not everyone’s cup of tea. We are definitely more than ever enjoying that side of making music. This project has been a bit more about that (building from the ground up) and I know after not playing shows for a year we just want to keep a connection with the people who are still listening.

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HAPPY: You definitely might be onto something there! I have to ask if you two are planning on making any more songs together in the future?

RINSE: Well we will be writing music together forever.

HATCHIE: But I don’t know if we will be doing another feature, it’s not on the cards at this stage but you never know.

RINSE: Maybe if it was a platinum gold hit [laughs], we might make another. But we are basically doing the same thing already.

HATCHIE: Yeah we already play in each other’s bands and write songs for each other

HAPPY: It would be awesome to see you playing live together!

RINSE: We are planning a lot behind the scenes for live gigs, but nothing is announced just yet.

HAPPY: Well when the day comes I will be in the front row… thank you so much for the awesome chat!

RINSE: Thanks so much Jaz!

 

The Wherever I Am EP is out now. Grab your copy here.

Interview by Jasmine Kassis 

Photos by Charlie Hardy