Interviews

Artist on artist interview: San Mei speaks with Hatchie

Hatchie interview

Hatchie has recently released her new album Giving the World Away and San Mei launched her latest EP In Comes The World

The pair got together for a chat and don’t worry, the thematic cross over was definitely mentioned.

San Mei and Hatchie dove into each other’s music and had a chat about their writing techniques, and their growth and they even talk about their ultimate dream musicians if they could book anyone to open for their shows.

Despite getting a little confused by the format to start with, these two absolute legends hit it off and hit each other with their thoughtful questions about the incredible music they’ve put out.

hatchie

SAN MEI: Hi, I’m San Mei, and I’m here to talk to Hatchie about her upcoming album, Giving The World Away. Yeah. Okay, so I’m gonna start with my questions. Firstly, you are putting up banger after banger at the moment? It’s ridiculous.

HATCHIE: I mean, you know, we’ve picked the singles for a reason. So I definitely think these are the most like, hard-hitting ones for sure.

SAN MEI: Yeah, yeah. So my first question regarding your album, I really liked the title. And I was wondering, how did Giving The World Away become the title track?

HATCHIE: It was after I had done everything and I was trying to think of the title. I guess with the first record, I really wanted the album to have a different name from a song name. But with this one, I didn’t care as much about that. And I was like, you know, there is a track name that suits the whole thing as a whole, then I’ll use that. And I just realized that that song is about vulnerability, but having a better understanding of yourself and learning to, I guess, take better care of your heart and giving some of yourself away but not everything.

So that I felt like that title really applied to the whole album as a whole because so much of it is about like, finding your confidence with like going slow with that process. And also about like, yeah, I guess just nurturing your heart and being aware of your sensitivities and understanding that it’s okay to have them, you just have to be careful with them.

SAN MEI: I love that. That’s such a beautiful and I guess important message, but I love that track, to me it felt like it has this underlying menacing feeling in like a really cool way. Like, ‘Oh, what’s this song about?’ I was like, are you telling someone not to give too much of themselves away? But I kind of like that. It’s like a bit brooding and there’s like this tension. It makes it more impactful. I suppose that message…

HATCHIE: Yeah, totally. I get that. Yeah. I mean, thank you. I really wanted this one to be a bit darker and to dig a bit deeper. So I’m glad that it kind of comes through, I guess.

SAN MEI: And with that, I have this question, did you have an intention of what you wanted the album to sound like and feel like, like sonically and thematically and everything when you were writing or did it just kind of like flow as it would go, like, did it just flow naturally?

HATCHIE: It was a bit of both. Like I knew that I wanted it to be more of an album that made sense to be played on a really big stage in front of a big audience. I wanted that feeling, that rush you get when there’s heaps of people there singing your song back at you. I also wanted it to be a bit more dancey and a bit more like high energy and high octane in that regard. Because a lot of my favourite bands are like that. So I was like, you know, I really want to recreate that feeling for myself, because I was playing a lot of ballads live, which is fine, but I was getting a bit over it. So I wanted to explore something that was more exciting to me in that way. But there were some songs that kind of just fell into place. Naturally, I guess because that was just what was going on. And also because I collaborated with Joe so much. So some of the songs started with him this time around. So yeah, a bit of both.

SAN MEI: So do you guys mainly produce it together?

HATCHIE: Yeah, we work on the demos together. And Joe’s definitely got a better hand at production than me. And then we hand the demo over to George who did this album, and he’s like a proper producer. He’s in Denver. He’s worked with Japanese Breakfast and Tamarin, this artist we really love as well. So he’s really enjoyed like dark kind of gothic sounds.

SAN MEI: Yeah. I love what I’ve heard so far. The mix is amazing. Oh, yeah. We’re meant to be taking turns, sorry.

HATCHIE: I don’t know. That’s what I’ve seen in these kinds of issues before. So I just presumed it was like that. Taking turns. Okay, let’s haha, I really want to know, what’s the process like for you with writing, particularly for this EP was it different from before? Or is it kind of always the same?

SAN MEI: It was pretty much the same I think I had more of… I was very strong in the direction that I wanted. And I felt like I probably took a bit more of the lead in that way. Usually, I go into the studio with like, the demos are usually fully fleshed out like I just do them at home. And we usually use some of my stems but then, yeah, like, I’ve worked on this one with Dawson mostly.

HATCHIE: Oh, so but so he kind of like, you know, does the executive producing kind of thing?

SAN MEI: Yeah. This time I actually recorded with my friend Mike McCartney, who’s my drummer, producer and songwriter as well. And yeah, it was like, very collaborative. And just, it was just cool. I did the same thing, used a lot of my standards. But I just like to have someone who kind of, yeah, has a bit more know-how with producing. And it’s good to have that feedback from someone, you know, making sure you’re on the right track. And I do like to be able to improve everything where I can. So I’m not just gonna be too strong-headed and say, ‘No, it’s gonna be my way’. You know? So, yeah, that was really fun. I felt really proud of us that we were like, this is not to diminish his work. But for me, I’m a little kid, like he’s just being totally given the reins. And so yeah, it worked out well.

SAN MEI: Oh, good.

HATCHIE: I feel like it’s funny. Both of our EP names have the word ‘world’.

SAN MEI:  I know! I liked how yours is kind of the opposite to mine like mine is In Comes The World and yours is Giving The World Away!

HATCHIE: It’s so cool. How did you come up with that title? Is that a lyric?

SAN MEI: No. So Michael actually sent me, he was like listening to a podcast and it just had these like cool little sound bites at the end. He just heard ‘In comes the world’ and he just, like, wrote it down and sent it to me. I was like, ah, that sums it up. Like, I was really struggling, because I didn’t want to name it after a song. And I was like, ‘How do I summarize what all the songs are about?’ And it just was so right, because the songs were written at a time where it’s like, I kind of felt life’s challenges and craziness kind of just like, crashing on me all at once. At that time, my life was just like, oh, in comes the world. So that was really cool. I really like it. Like the tag. Cool. Yeah.

HATCHIE: It’s such a nice name.

SAN MEI: I’ve got a question for you. You’re saying about having that intention to make the songs suitable for like, stadiums? It’s funny you said that, because I totally sense this shift with your new music, this sense of confidence and boldness. It just really comes through, but effortlessly, it’s not like ‘I’m here trying to like make a statement’, it just feels like ‘she knows what she’s doing. She knows where she wants to go’. And it feels like you’re not holding back, which is just like, I mean, not that everything wasn’t strong before. But it’s just kind of, I think hits you all at once at the moment, like your imagery, the content, the videos, everything’s just like, ‘here I am’. It’s really cool. Do you feel that or…

HATCHIE: Definitely, in some ways, I do feel that and that’s really what I wanted to convey for sure. I think, to be honest, like yes, that’s how I felt when I was writing and recording this, and the weird thing about releasing music a year or two after you finish it is you can feel completely different. So I definitely feel like we finished mixing it at the end of 2020. So it’s been completely mixed for a year and a half. I definitely have felt different shifts happening since then. And to be honest, feel in some ways that I’ve regressed, but at that point, I definitely was like feeling super confident about… or it wasn’t even necessarily that I was feeling super confident, but that I felt like that was around the corner. I felt like I was getting closer and closer to that confidence. So I felt like if I wrote that into the album, it would help me kind of have a firm grasp of the confidence that I was like, so desperately chasing for so long. So yeah, definitely.

SAN MEI: I guess, because the same thing happened to me with this EP, it was almost two years since it was mixed. But I wonder for you, the lack of momentum, when you’re feeling so good and inspired and confident in the studio, and then time passes and it allows time for all your demons to come and be like, you’re not good enough. All the songs are shit.

HATCHIE: Exactly. Yeah, you’re just thinking about it and you keep re-listening to them, like trying to figure out which, what should be the video and you’re just like overthinking everything.

SAN MEI: Totally.

HATCHIE: How do you go about, because I know you like to write a bit… particularly with, I think it’s Steal Me, about anxiety? I don’t know, I guess, how do you feel about being super honest, and putting those kinds of negative feelings, often related to a bad mental health kind of state, how do you feel about putting that into songs and about having to be really honest with that? Do you feel like you put up a bit of a shield and you don’t give 100% away? Or do you feel like you put everything on the line with your lyrics?

SAN MEI: Um, well, that’s a meaty question. Well, it’s actually the first time I guess, or maybe over the last couple of years that I was more comfortable and more wanting to talk about those things. I’ve always been like, I want my music to just be, like, quite positive and help people escape type of thing. That’s what I love about music. I’m like, I don’t want to come in with these… and there’s a risk of sounding a bit dramatic or emo or, you know, brooding, which I genuinely don’t want to put that vibe out. But I guess I have just, it’s definitely a case of me putting letting my guard down and being more vulnerable. And actually, realizing that people do feel less alone when you tell them that you’re experiencing things that we all experienced, you know?

HATCHIE: Totally!

San Mei

SAN MEI: So, yeah, those darker themes. I guess I didn’t want it to feel depressing, I suppose. So, yeah with production stuff. The production’s a bit dark, but it’s still got energy, and I always like to have some kind of resolve lyrically.

HATCHIE: Yeah, I get that. I feel like, particularly with this album, can feel really melodramatic at times. And it’s definitely like, been good to get that off my chest, but it makes me want to kind of turn in a different direction with the next album, because I’m like, ‘Okay, let’s move on to something a little bit more lighthearted and a little happier now,’ because it’s like, it’d be really exhausting putting that along the line.

SAN MEI: Yeah, that’s what’s cool though, about music, you can write about so many different seasons of your life. And there’s a time to do that. And then a time to… what is it? A time to mourn and a time to dance. Speaking of lyrics, I read that you have been like working really hard at growing your lyric writing. And I was wondering if there was anything else with this album that you’re consciously pushing yourself with? Like sonically or? Other than lyrics.

HATCHIE: Yeah, I really wanted to explore how I could use my voice as more of an instrument. So there are a lot of parts in the album where I’m kind of just singing you know, not really singing words, I wanted to do a bit more of that. And I think just even the fact that I collaborated a lot on this one more than I have in the past, I think, like four songs are from writing sessions, and the rest of them, almost all of them have some sort of input from someone else.

Whereas with the first record, I really wanted it to be as much just me as possible. So my first record is a lot like how you mentioned, we use a lot of the original stems, and we used a lot of the original stuff that I did in the demos to make it sound as authentically me as possible. Whereas with this one, I kind of just, like, pushed all that away and was like, ‘let’s just do what’s best for the song, I don’t care whose idea it is. If it’s the best idea, then let’s go with it.’ I would say that’s a big one definitely, and just learning to let go of ego when it comes to that is a big thing. So yeah, that’s one of the major differences.

SAN MEI: Yeah, I find that really hard. I’m not a huge collaborator. And I have found it actually is an amazing experience when someone else can carry the load with you. Share that burden of like, creating the song till the end, but it is hard, especially when you don’t want to let go of control.

HATCHIE: Totally. Have you done many sessions other than the one we did?

SAN MEI: I have only really started getting into co-writing, not long before I wrote with you guys. Yeah. And I found it cool. But I did find it pretty exhausting. And I think I’m good at working alone. Obviously that kind of challenge is so good to push you as a songwriter. I think I have become more vulnerable, in a great way. Okay at being vulnerable from doing that. Even though it feels like a challenge every time for me. But I think it’s probably just like a muscle you have to work.

HATCHIE: Yeah, that’s true. That’s a good point. I definitely think they are so exhausting. I don’t know how people do two back-to-back in a day. That sounds horrible to me. Especially if it’s someone that you haven’t really met before, there’s such a big social element to it as well.

SAN MEI: Yeah, cause you have to connect emotionally with someone. It’s huge.

HATCHIE: I know. Totally. It definitely takes a while to get into. And it’s, for sure, flexing a different muscle that you haven’t flexed before, particularly if you’ve only written alone. I definitely am very in awe of people who, constantly do writing sessions, because it takes a lot of energy and a lot of brainpower. And yeah, a lot of vulnerability.

I have a question for you. So I’m in the middle of organizing my album launch. And we’re talking about if I want anyone to perform, or like who I want to DJ at it. If you were to have like a big EP launch? Who would be your ultimate? Who would you have like DJ added or played at it? And it can be like, something impossible, like alive or dead.

SAN MEI: Haha, like my hero is supporting me for my EP launch. Wow. That’s a really hard question.

HATCHIE: It’s hard because I don’t know, it’s hard trying to think of who to get to play at mine. I guess like, I’m just looking at people who like my peers whose music is kind of in the same world as mine. But then also, a few people who aren’t really the same to kind of bring a whole new energy to.

SAN MEI: Yeah… *Sigh*

HATCHIE: That’s okay if it’s too hard.

SAN MEI: It’s just a really hard question. Oh, I feel like there are just so many people, so many artists. You go first!

HATCHIE: Well I don’t know, I think we… I don’t really want to say, because mine’s not been announced yet. I feel like I can’t say, but I’m sure it’ll be announced soon anyway. Mine’s when we’re in LA and I think, I mean, nothing’s confirmed, but we’re just talking to some of our friends in LA who are also musicians. But I think like an ultimate one for me would be like… I mean, I know you’re into The Horrors as well. And I think they would be one for me…

SAN MEI: Oh yes!

HATCHIE: Yeah, like Tom. Tom Furse from the horrors DJs a lot at Cave Club and other stuff. So I think someone like that, who does like, even like vinyl DJing would be really cool to kind of change it up with some people who are DJing some newer stuff, I guess.

SAN MEI: You know who would be amazing!? It’s funny thinking of them playing for my launch, but let’s pretend. Wolf Alice I think. I reckon it would be a killer DJ set, or obviously a killer band set. I think some really interesting things would come out of a DJ set by those guys.

HATCHIE: Yeah, that’s a cool one. I feel like they have really eclectic interests and influences. The four of them seem really quite different from one another. So I’m sure like, depending on who you had DJing you’d get a very different kind of DJ set.

SAN MEI: There’s a song of theirs that reminds me of you, but what’s it called? Delete the kisses? Don’t Delete The Kisses?

HATCHIE: Oh, yeah! Oh, that’s such a huge compliment. Thank you. Yeah, that’s like their best song.

SAN MEI: Yeah it’s amazing. Oh, and somebody I love so much Cherry Glazerr.

HATCHIE: Oh, good one!

SAN MEI: I actually got to do a writing session over zoom with her and she, like her personality, is as amazing as you think. She’s like the nicest, funniest person, I love her so much.

HATCHIE: That’s cool. So what was it like during a writing session over zoom, because I haven’t done any like that, and I’m scared of them?

SAN MEI: Um, it’s pretty scary. But it’s, it’s no different to in-person where you have to be like, ‘Okay, let’s come up with an idea’. So I kind of had a little intro idea. And then we’re both working on logic and then like, email. So it’s pretty slow, obviously, doing it that way.

HATCHIE: Yeah, that’s what I’ve always wondered.

SAN MEI: Yeah. But another time I did one with someone. And he kind of just took the lead with production. And then I’d be like, ‘Oh, try this’ and just sound it out or play it on the guitar. And then he put it down. So that was probably a bit easier than her and I, sending things back and forth. But no, I would say it’s harder. But yeah. It’s a good challenge.

HATCHIE: For your next recording, whether it’s an EP or an album, are there any like dream instruments that you’d love to involve that you haven’t ever recorded with or played?

SAN MEI: Well, I’ve never used strings in any of my songs. And I’ve always not really known how to incorporate that into my music and never really wanted to, but I guess I’ve been listening to music strings and hearing friends using them and I’m like ‘That’s so beautiful’. There’s a risk of sounding I guess, too dramatic. But there’s a way I think to do it that is just, it’s just a beautiful, you know, emotive instrument. I think it’d be cool to somehow work that in. What about you?

HATCHIE: Yeah, I mean, I guess I’d love to have a live cello because I’ve done a lot of like synth strings and kind of like recreating strings in programs but never live in the room. So I’d love to have an actual cello or a harp is a big one for me to have on.

SAN MEI: Oh yes! Oh, I know a good harpist if you need one!

HATCHIE: Oh really? Okay! I’ll keep that up my sleeve. I’m the same as what you said about strings. Like I have no idea how I incorporate it. Other than like a flourish here and there, I think it’d be good to try and write for because it’s so foreign to me as well.

 

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SAN MEI: Yeah. I think it could work. I think you need to make them not too pretty. Or cinematic. It’s like, fucked them up a little bit.

HATCHIE: Yeah, that’s true, actually. Good point.

SAN MEI: But harp! I reckon that would be so angelic.

HATCHIE: One day. Yeah.

SAN MEI: I had a question. I mean, it’s kind of a boring question, but I am curious, how many songs you had as options for the album?

HATCHIE: Yeah, and how did I go about that process? Um, it’s hard, because I think some people define songs as like, little ideas, even like a verse and a chorus. Whereas, I usually think of a song as a full song. So in terms of idea demos, I probably had about like, I would say, at least 30. But then, I think, with this one, I would really work and work and work on a demo on a song until it was a proper song, rather than being like, ‘Oh, this little idea, I’ll move on to the next one’. Like I would really like work at just improving us on until it was good enough.

Yeah. And I would also often incorporate two different ideas into one song because I loved them so much, that I wanted them each to find a home. So the process was kind of like, I guess, working on a song until I really felt like there was nowhere to take it, and then I would like put it in the no pile. It was definitely hard though. There were times I think, where I’ve… Like a song like Sunday Song, which is, I think, towards the end of the record, I wasn’t going to put on until I realized that the rest of the songs kind of needed that to balance it out. And to kind of freshen it up a bit because it’s kind of a bit lighter and prettier than like the darker more heavy songs in the record and I felt like it needed that light. And it’s also kind of similar to some of my older songs like my older sound, so I felt like it was a really nice gift to kind of my pre-existing bands as well to incorporate that into the album. But yeah, it’s a hard process. How do you go about it?

SAN MEI: I’m quite similar in that I don’t take a bunch of different ideas and say, ‘Oh, let’s see which ones are going to work’. I’m very much like, I’m pretty bad. And if I’m not inspired in the first 30 seconds of what I put down, I’m like, ‘Nah, can’t be it’. So I’m the same. I would rather work on a full song and make it as good as it can. And I don’t know if that’s necessarily a negative thing. I know people say that. ‘You should always finish a song you start’, but I’m like, I don’t have time to sit there and work on something that I hate and can’t take anywhere. You know,  I’m not gonna waste my time. I know when to move on, I think.

HATCHIE: Yeah, I think it’s important to know when to move on. I think that’s a good skill as well. As is knowing when there is a little glimmer of hope and being like ‘Okay, well, I can’t hear it now but I know that it has potential, so I’m just gonna keep going’. Or being able to just be like, ‘Nah, this was a good exercise, but I don’t need this’.

SAN MEI: Yeah, it is hard. Oh, before I forget, I had this question about the songs. When you finished like mixing and everything’s mastered and everything… Did you write any songs after that? Were you like, ‘Oh, that would have been cool the album’? Because I know that you finished recording it a little while ago. So did anything come up between them?

HATCHIE: Yeah, I definitely have had some songs that I’ve written in the last six months that I’m like, ‘This would be really good on the album, but it’s too late’. It’s completely done and ready to be. It was like, you know, it’s already been pressed. So yeah, there’s nothing to be done. So yeah, there’s definitely a bit of that, which is part of why I get really scared to start writing again when I have finished a record because I’m like, but what if I write something I like better, and there’s nothing I could do. I don’t want to be that person who scraps their record over and over again, because they keep moving on. So it definitely gave me a little bit of like, I don’t know it was like, I was blocking myself from continuing to write because I was so scared of that happening. what about you?

SAN MEI: It’s cool, though. Well, I was just saying that, that it’s cool. That you are still so inspired and pumped about your songs that you’re still creating awesome work that is probably just getting better and better. So maybe take that as a good sign. Not like ‘Oh, I should’ve put that in the album’, there’s gonna be so much good material to come for whatever the next thing is.

HATCHIE: Yeah, that’s very true. I’m just hoping that it means the next one is going to be even better. Which just makes me so so ready to start the next one. I’m so ready to do album three and album two is not even out yet.

SAN MEI: Yeah. That’s great. That’s exciting!

HATCHIE: Yeah, definitely. Do you find that that happened with you with this EP, or has it you kind of been like, mellowed out a little bit.

SAN MEI: Um, yeah actually, I was pretty happy with the EP. I kind of… after I finished it and, you know, there was a bit of time, it was never the right time during COVID and everything to be putting it out. And then just some personal stuff, and just feeling exhausted for even from my San Mei project, I kind of just took a break and stopped writing, which sounds bad, but I kind of just needed a breather because it was all tied in emotionally for me with just stuff in my life.

Yeah, I’d been pushing so hard with this one project, and I was just like, I am done. I’m so happy with these songs that I’ve recorded and put together and yeah, I kind of just needed a break and I just started writing other kinds of music, which I’d never done because I was so like ‘Oh I’ve got to make this thing happen’. So I don’t have any that I think would go on there that I’d put on there. But I definitely, after having a bit of a hiatus, I wrote some songs and I think this could be cool if and when I go to do another cycle. Or the next body of work.

HATCHIE: Yeah, the time will come and who knows you might feel like completely different about the stuff you’re doing now by then. I have another kind of silly one to ask. What do you ask for on your rider and is there anything on your dream rider?

SAN MEI: Oh! Yeah! I can’t remember, it’s changed so much!

 

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HATCHIE: Oh so has mine!

SAN MEI: I think one of the last ones was like a meat platter. Cause the boys and me, we love cured meats, like a cheese platter. It’s funny cause my manager, loves Prosecco so he asks for like four bottles of Prosecco, and like we’re not even that keen but he’s like, I need Prosecco. Okay, two things I want in my rider are a personal chef and a masseuse.

HATCHIE: Oh my god, of course!

SAN MEI: Imagine having a massage.

HATCHIE: Especially on a long tour if you’ve been sitting in the car or on planes a lot!

HATCHIE: I like both for different reasons. We have been sticking to the West Coast more because there are just obviously more musicians and more of a music industry there. In terms of working there because I really want to write music for other people one day.

SAN MEI: Cool!

HATCHIE: That’s like, my dream. But New York is a lot more convenient because you obviously don’t need a car with the subway and I think rent is more expensive but it’s easier to find cheap food. And we have more friends in New York. Like close, intimate, best friends in New York.

SAN MEI: Oh, that’s amazing.

HATCHIE: Yeah! But I love the weather in LA cause it’s quite similar to Brisbane and I love that it is very suburban I feel like it’s a little bit less daunting than the city for me. Do you have a favourite area in America?

SAN MEI: Um, I am a big Palm Springs girl like Yellowstone, which we went to a couple of years ago.

HATCHIE: Oh cool!

SAN MEI: I’m definitely more into nature, spread out, you can breathe kind of thing.

HATCHIE: Yeah me too. I think it’s definitely calming for our anxious minds. It can be so overwhelming, especially in New York.

SAN MEI: Where are you guys going to be based?

HATCHIE: We’re gonna move around. We were thinking LA but we’re not sure now cause we’re going to be coming back here for shows in between so we’re gonna be jumping around for six months. I don’t think we’ll have a set address for six months which is really scary for me. I like feeling really grounded but I think it’s something I need to do to kind of get out of my comfort zone and be open to every opportunity I guess.

SAN MEI: Yeap, that’s exciting to do.

HATCHIE: Yeah! I definitely can’t complain. do you see yourself staying on the Gold Coast?

SAN MEI: Um, for now, there’s nowhere really in Australia that I would love to move to. I think if I was going to move it would probably be overseas. But there are no plans. That would be more ideal. I don’t really want to move to Melbourne or Sydney so, Goldy is pretty cool for now.

HATCHIE: The Goldy is cool, I like the Goldy.

SAN MEI: I guess we should wrap it up cause we’ve been gasbagging for ages.

HATCHIE: Oh wow yeah we have. Okay sweet!

 

Giving Away The World and In Comes The World are both out now.

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