Ella Hooper Talks New Music & Touring

Ella Hooper has released her new track Achilles Heel, a further taste from her forthcoming new album, set for release early in 2023 and the follow up to single, Old News. It is an exciting time for Ella who has also announced a national run of tour dates to showcase the new tracks live, along with a selection of new material and some old favourites! Hi Fi Way spoke to Ella just as Old News was released which represents a new chapter in her storied career. It was written with American country artist Sara Douga, who she met in Nashville in 2017, produced by Marcel Borrack and Tim Harvey, and features rising star Gena Rose Bruce on backing vocals.

Congratulations on your new single. It must be exciting to finally have some new music out?
It is so good. It’s about time. Thanks for the support. I am feeling the love. When you make music and you promote it, you’re always very close to it, but it’s getting a lot of support, which I didn’t expect. It was meant to be a warmup single, but it’s going really well.

Do you believe that the planets have aligned and that it is the right time and right place?
Yeah. I think why you just keep on making music and keep releasing stuff because sometimes it does line up. Sometimes people are in the right mood or they’ve been through the right thing or the planets are aligned for the kind of song that you’ve chosen to make or the message that you’ve chosen to tell. Maybe this is one of those where, you know, the song is a little bit introspective and a bit like restful and stuff and after COVID everyone’s like, oh, I just wanting to take a deep breath. I feel lucky that it might have lined up this time.

Are you building towards an album?
It’s all done and pretty much ready to go. So this is the first bit of a pretty big rollout of a whole new album of mine that I’m really excited about and proud of.

Will the album be released this year?
Will be early next year. I haven’t revealed the exact release date yet, but it’ll definitely be coming out early next year.

What is the story behind the single Old News?
Written in lockdown with a dear friend of mine from Nashville, Sara Douga and we were just Zooming basically every week to try and stay sane. We would zoom each other and have a chat, have a talk, have a laugh, have a cry and see if we can write a song. I had the idea for Old News kicking around actually for quite a long time in my phone for a few years actually. So it wasn’t a brand new song idea, but it wasn’t finished. Like I just said, I’ve got this line in my head. ‘It’s old news, I feel like I’m just old news’ and pretty much that’s all I had. Then we expanded on that and looked at how I was feeling about making a new record or how I was feeling about taking up space as an artist, you know who has had a twenty-year career.

Sometimes you feel like you don’t deserve to continue to take up space in the, on the airwaves and in the industry. I don’t know. It just gets a bit complicated. You like you should be passing the baton down or giving everyone else a go. Then I thought like, no, I do, do that. I do support new artists and I’m a big promoter of others, I make space for new artists and mentor a lot of people, but it’s okay that if I want to keep going as well. It’s kind of around those ideas.

I think you’ve underestimated how much people love what you do and the music of Killing Heidi, particularly here in Adelaide.
That’s so nice. I love Adelaide. Honestly Adelaide is my favourite place to play music because I feel like we really connect there and I feel really supported there and I also just love being there. It works out on every level.

Maybe we’ll have to adopt you as our own?
I’ve seriously considered moving because I just love it. I don’t love big, big cities, but I do love good stuff around, good food, good entertainment. Adelaide has the perfect blend of that.

When you think about your solo career how pivotal was that trip to Nashville in the whole scheme of things?
It was pretty pivotal. Yeah, you got it. It was part of me experimenting and just checking out the world a bit just pre-pandemic. If that pandemic had not have happened, I probably would’ve gone back there straight away and started working on this record there. I got so inspired. I’m met so many awesome people. Again, maybe I am being too humble or whatever, but like I was shocked by the level of people that I was that I could work with and that I was meeting and that were interested in me as an artist and as a collaborator, I was like, holy shit maybe I should just go to Nashville because sometimes in Australia, people have me very pigeonholed as the chick from killing Heidi, which I am and I can’t deny, but when I want to do my solo thing, it almost felt better to have that clean slate and not be so known. I got really turned on by that and would love to go back.

Did that trip kick start a lot the ideas for your songs or the song writing process in general?
I reckon more motivation. The song writing comes from Violet Town. I think very much like where I was in the next few years living and dealing with some pretty full-on stuff. My mom was sick with cancer and I was living in this tiny country town and obviously locked downs and stuff like that. The Nashville trip that I had had just before gave me an insane amount of inspiration and motivation to do something and write, but the songs themselves were sort of inspired by the town around me and my memories of childhood.

Is Nashville this creative hub like they say?
I found that to be totally true, I really did. Maybe you see what you want to see and you get what you want to get out of it. Some people get their mind blown by New York. Some people find themselves in wherever, but for me it was definitely like holy shit, I can’t believe this place exists. I can’t believe it’s so obsessed with music and everywhere you go, everyone just wants to talk music and I can handle that.

Did you find that COVID really did slow you down or was it not such a pressing urgency to have new music out considering what else was going on in your world? Was it about focusing more on what mattered at the time?
Well, it was both actually. I did have a few panic attacks along the way about being stuck and falling behind and really desperately wanting to make and release new music. I think we all did. I think we all thought how long is this going to go on for? Am I going to be like old and grey by the time it finishes and the whole shit, shit, shit. I definitely had a month or two a month at the start where I was super sad, demotivated, depressed chucked on my tracky dacks. I was like, oh my God, what’s the point? Just when I got a vision for my life, just when I found a place I want to explore and a thing I want to do, typical, everything gets completely shut down. When I got out of that about a month later, I did use the time and I had to use the time in some other ways at the start of 2021, which is when my mum got real sick and I was like, oh, well I’m going home anyway. So thank God I’m not overseas right now because I’d be coming back anyway.

When you write do you go where the ideas take you or do you put the Killing Heidi or Ella Hooper hat on and write specifically for either?
I actually do follow the ideas individually. When a song comes into my head, I hear it and I hear myself singing it and then I try and sing it out loud and I get an idea for which camp it’s going to be in. To be honest, I haven’t written a Killing Heidi song in over twenty years. They’ve all been Ella Hooper songs for a long, long time.

With your solo songs you have been working on have you found the artist you want to be as your music is quite diverse and does not fit neatly in a box?
It’s a little bit more consistent than maybe previous solo releases. I do have a habit of being diverse and pretty broad in my solo career. I was just actually listening to my own Spotify before and I was like we’ve got synth rock on here, we’ve got country pop on here, we’ve got ballads. As an album, I would say it’s singer songwriter, Americana inspired adult contemporary music. There are still a few rock songs on there of course, because I sort of like to take it up a notch sometimes on each album. It does make it hard to pigeonhole, but yeah, it’s getting a little clearer.

Do any particular bands or artists kind of, sort of inspire that?
That’s the problem, too many! I have a new favourite record every couple of months and I take a little bit of inspiration from a lot of old music too. I’m constantly finding new/ old music and artists that are long dead or whoever that really inspire me. They all get in the mix when you’re such a fan as well, and you’re constantly loving music, it seeps into your writing and therefore it keeps changing, but that’s just me. I have to accept that I really like that about the creative process, and I don’t really want to pinch that off.

It is shaping up to be a big tour in November and heading back to Adelaide to play the Trinity Sessions must be really exciting?
It’s going to be perfect. Trinity Sessions is getting such a hot rap from all of my muso friends. My dear friend Melody Pool is playing there soon. I think you just had Brian Cadd who is like another older friend and mentor. It’s funny because the album that Old News comes from is called Small Town Temple and that’s about my mum’s house, which is a church. So it was written in a church semi recorded in a church. It’s about a church, so that’s going to fit really well. I can’t wait. I am really excited for it and we’ve got the two nights in a row, which is always really nice to get used to a venue and settle in.

Interview By Rob Lyon

Catch Ella Hooper on the following dates, for more info head to www.ellahoopermusic.com