Ella Hooper chats with Happy post her ‘Words Like These’ release

Ella Hooper

Ella Hooper has grounded herself in the Aussie music scene with her ever-growing connection to music and poetry. In celebration of her latest single Words Like These, Ella opens up about her journey and her passion for writing: “Once you’re bitten by the bug of being so moved…well it’s just a high you keep chasing.”

Ella Hooper came in hot to the Aussie music scene as a teen, fronting Killing Heidi, an iconic Melbourne-hailing rock group as well as being the first woman to receive APRA’s Songwriter of the Year award at 18. 

Returning with her third single release of year as a solo artist, she surprises the world with her gorgeous Words Like These; a track she wrote in her hometown. Ella shares the beauty of growing up in Violet Town with Happy, being born into generational farming and surrounded by people from all walks of life. Sharing her roots from where she began performing, she revels in her love for the town’s monthly market, “busking with Smashing Pumpkins and Nirvana covers and Christmas Carols at 12 years old”. 

Getting into her writing process, she revels the frustrations and beauty of her voice memo demos. Ella expresses that “If it’s juicy and actually turns into a song,” she brings it to the team for it to be fleshed out, which is truly an addictive process for her. 

Hop in and join Happy’s voyage with Ella, as we discover her hunger for reading and writing, the place she’d want to be right now, and her obsession with sports documentaries. Ella also unveils the best thing anyone has ever said about her music…and it’s pretty incredible!

El Ho

HAPPY: Thanks for chatting with us! What are you looking forward to this week?

ELLA HOOPER: My show’s on the weekend of course! We’re touring at the moment and every week ends with the sharing of my new music at some cool pub or venue somewhere and that is something I’ve been waiting for! I get nervous but mostly excited as Friday rolls around…

 HAPPY: Tell us more about your hometown of Violet Town.

ELLA HOOPER: It’s a tiny but tight-knit community. It’s diverse, with all walks of life coming together for the quiet life or being born into it by generational farming. Either way we mingle, and buck in for the community. At the biggest event of the month – the world-famous Violet Town market, you can see artists kicking it with walnut growers and buskers could be anything from incredible traditional Celtic outfits to my favourite- the singing farmer, who is just a lovely grizzled old bloke singing to a backing track of country greats.. also where I started my career, busking with Smashing Pumpkins and Nirvana covers and Christmas Carols at 12 years old.

HAPPY: We’d love to hear about your writing and recording process.

ELLA HOOPER: I usually hear a line with a melody attached (a hook if you will) in my head. It’s clear as day when I’m walking around, travelling by train or in the shows (classic). Then I have to sing it repeatedly until I can write it down or record it on a voice memo, then begins the journey to find out if there’s anything decent behind that one hooky line, and that’s when the work begins. If it’s juicy and actually turns into a song, I rough demo it on my phone, try and get as many lyrics as I can (always more than I need). If I didn’t edit, every song of mine would be 10 mins long!!! Next I take it to the band or production team to help flesh it out with instruments. It’s truly the most fun, addictive process. Even though it can be brutal and tedious and so so disappointing when something you thought had legs and real potential doesn’t work out and gets tossed, cause you can’t nail it. That happens a lot too! 

But you can always come back to it, sometimes years later! There are a few of those on this new record!

Ella Hooperr

HAPPY: Tell us about your obsession with language, poetry and communication. 

ELLA HOOPER: It’s something I get from my parents, they were both avid readers, and fans of lyrics and poetry. Once you’re bitten by the bug of being so moved, or seen by someone you’ve never met’s words, well it’s just a high you keep chasing. Cause it kind of feels like it reminds me that we have more in common than not. And it just suits a fast walking talking wordy over-thinker like me, to play with words! I’ve always sensed I had a good vocab even though I’m not a huge reader myself but I listen in on all conversations all the time, and that’s where you hear the real gold. Active listening baby! The best writers hack of all time… 

HAPPY: If you could go anywhere in the world right now, where would you go?

ELLA HOOPER: Nashville! I’ve been dying to get back there since going in 2019.

HAPPY: Which book or TV show are you currently enjoying?

ELLA HOOPER: Currently obsessed with sports documentaries! All Or Nothing on Prime is amazing, it follows Premier league soccer teams and their managers behind the scenes, for a season. Man, what a gig those soccer players have! Also, on the soccer tip, Ted Lasso!!! It’s the best show I’ve seen in years, I dare anyone not to love it. Life-affirming. It’s hurting me to wait for season 3. Like physically Jonesing!! 

HAPPY: What did you read last that opened your eyes and mind to a new perspective?

ELLA HOOPER: The Famished Road by Ben Okri. It’s an utterly unusual book, a half poem half memoir set in a mysterious African dreamscape that keeps morphing. It’s trippy as hell and challenging but very beautiful. 

HAPPY: What’s something someone has said about your music that you hold close to you?

ELLA HOOPER: It was actually something I said to myself after a session with a Wise Women councillor/therapist that I really respect. It was a word that set me free a bit, digging into the word amateur. The love of creating as though you were an ‘amateur’ is something to embrace and remember, it literally means – ama – amour, love, ‘to love’. And seeing as I am my harshest critic, I only really care what I​* think about my music, and if I can ask myself – do I love it? The process as well as the result, I can definitely answer yes. And that lets me off the hook from needing anyone else’s compliments or approvals, if that makes sense! 

HAPPY: Tell us what artists and songs inspired Words Like These

ELLA HOOPER: I was listening to a LOT of Ry Cooder and Bonnie Raitt (who is touring soon!! Omg!!) when I recorded this track. I wanted it to be playful and rhythmic, a bit of a porch jam. They’re artists who seem so down to earth and at ease. Where I feel most at ease and like I do my best most authentic work, is on the porch, with a drink of something zesty; an acoustic guitar in hand and a silly song forming in my head. I wanted to somehow translate that porchy, late summer late arvo rocking chair thoughts and feeling just like Bonnie and Ry do so well and I think we actually did it. Yay. 

HAPPY: Thanks so much for your time!

ELLA HOOPER: Thank you for yours! This has been a really wonderful interview.

Stream Words Like These via Spotify below.

Interviewed by Olivia Adams

Photos supplied.