Decked out in vintage threads and making hazy indie-pop sounds; it’s Hazel English.
The sprightly Hazel English is a 25-year-old artist who’s dishing out sparkling indie-pop tracks. While visiting San Fransisco at 21 years old, Hazel felt an undeniable connection to the state and was instantly hooked. She eventually decided to uproot from her native Australia and make the daring move to her beloved San Fran. Inspired by her big move, she wrote and recorded the aptly titled song, “Never Going Home”, which incidentally became the name and title track of her newest EP. Her 5-track EP, which is out in October, will be available in a 12-inch limited edition vinyl and is being released on House Anxiety/Marathon Artists. The EP is filled with summery, hazy, synth-infused tracks accompanied by soothing, echoey vocals; it’s the ultimate indie-pop explosion. Both the title track and “Its Not Real” previously premiered on her SoundCloud in demo-form, and have received a million listens between them, all before Hazel was even signed. So it’s understandable that we’re expecting big things from this musician. As well as those old hits, her EP also includes fresh, unheard tracks such as “Control”, “Make It Better” and of course, “I’m Fine”.
For Hazel English, both visuals and music go hand-in-hand. Always being extremely creative, she spends her time collaging, crafting and making videos, all while donning her signature vintage attire. Describing her music, Hazel says that (much like her personal experiences) it’s, “transportive. It makes you feel like you’re in a different place.” A lover of performing, she’s already toured the west coast, and plans to take her successful live show nationally around the US and even Europe. So look out world, because Hazel English is coming for you.
How would you describe your style of music?
This is something I struggle to answer and most of the time I just lump it into an easy category like dream pop or indie pop because I’m not very good at describing music, especially my own. There’s some guitar, some synth and a lot of reverb—you can see why I decided not to become a music journalist.
Do you have a favourite track off the EP? Which is it and why?
It would probably be Never Going Home. It was the first song I wrote and recorded for this project. I had no expectations or pre-meditations so it felt kind of pure in a sense. I wrote it in the studio and we recorded it really fast, so there was no time to second guess myself.
What’s the difference between the music scene in Australia and California?
Honestly there isn’t a huge difference other than the fact that there is a much bigger music industry in the U.S. Over here, I feel like there are lots of different paths you can take with it whereas back home, there is much more of a direct and narrow route to success. That being said there are some amazing Australian bands doing really well right now and I feel like people are finally starting to notice that there are a lot of talented Aussie musicians.
What made you want to move to California? What was the experience like moving to a strange new place?
I had visited San Francisco when I was 21 while doing some travelling and I felt a very strong connection unlike anything I’d felt before; I kind of had this intuitive feeling that I was going to live there one day. The opportunity came for me to study abroad and I ended up getting into a school in the Bay Area. It was such a gut instinct thing—there was definitely a lot of doubt but something in me just knew I had to do it. It was very scary because I didn’t know anybody and I left behind a lot of comfortable things, but looking back, I can easily say it was the best decision I’ve ever made.
Visuals and music are equally important to you. What’s your creative process of blending the two seamlessly?
That’s an interesting question because it’s not something I actively think about. I’ve always been a very visual person so it just seems natural to combine that aspect with my music, but honestly, I’m not really thinking about it; it’s something I’d do regardless. All the photos of me in vintage outfits are from photo shoots I do with my friends for fun and they are all my own clothes—It’s stuff I wear every day, It’s not a costume. I like to make videos, collages and crafty stuff in my spare time. I’m kind of compulsively creative.
If you could collaborate with any artist, past or present, who would it be and why?
In the realm of “anything is possible”, I would love to collaborate with Phil Collins. I’ve always been obsessed with him; the man is a genius and I’m sure I could learn so much from him. I feel like his production style is coming back into vogue.
Who are your biggest musical influences?
The top ones would probably be Broadcast, Cocteau Twins, The Smiths and The Cure. But my parents also played a lot of ABBA and The Bee Gees when I was young so I’m sure there is some of that in there too. In fact I wrote a vocal melody for a song idea and for about a week I just couldn’t figure out what it reminded me of—then, I realised it was from a Bee Gees song, so I guess those things stay with you.
Talk us through your process when creating new music?
It’s not always the same every time but usually it starts with a melody idea that I record on my phone in my memos. Often it’s when I’m not thinking about it that these ideas will come to me: in the shower, while I’m biking or doing some completely unrelated task. Sometimes I will just be messing around on guitar and I’ll come up with a progression I like and then the melody comes effortlessly. Other times I will get stuck on it and wait a few weeks and then come back to it with fresh ears. When I feel like I have a melody and a chord progression, I scan through my journal to see which lyrics fit and work them in. Honestly though, there is no set way that the songwriting process begins and ends for me. And things can get completely re-written in the recording process anyway.
What’s your favourite thing about performing live? Do you prefer it over recording?
I love performing but I don’t know if anything can trump my love for recording. It’s definitely the most creative part of the process. That being said, my favourite thing about performing would be the energy exchange with the crowd. It’s really cool to be able to connect with a whole bunch of strangers in a way that I would never usually get to do in any other situation.
What does the future look like for Hazel English? Any exciting new projects?
The EP will be released in October and I have a bunch of other songs I’ve been working on that I can’t wait to share. I’m always looking toward the next thing, experimenting and enjoying the creative process.
Words: Mariah Rosslee