“People Just Put On A Facemask & Think They’re Done”: Hartley On Self-Care & Turning Ballads Into Bangers

Brisbane singer, songwriter, producer, visual queen and emerging pop entity Hartley has completed the process of drip-feeding her first ever EP to us – four songs that take you on an odyssey from introspective thinking, to how the people around us affect the way we lives, and back into how we evolve without those people around.

Her debut EP is four songs with a unique production sound that no one’s really doing in Australia right now, and a compelling sign of what we’ll get next.

PU: It’s pretty much been a two year build from the start of making these songs to the release process. What have you discovered about yourself in that time?

H: I had a heap of songs half finished, and I didn’t know what kind of direction I wanted them to go in, so over the last two years I was able to learn everything about the music industry whilst I was completing those songs, getting them mixed and mastered and getting the artwork done – I hadn’t done any of it before. It was a whole lot of first experiences and learning.

Let’s talk about the visual side of it – it’s all my favourite colours, my favourite vibe – what influenced the look and feel of the project visually?

I’m really lucky to work with a creative team, but I really wanted to go with who I am as a person. I’m always wearing colourful things, I have bright hair, and I think it represents the dynamic of the songs well, too. I also LOVE collage, so I wanted to incorporate that as well. I started working with a designer, she came up with some concepts and I ended up taking one of those and rolling with it and developing myself. I can’t help taking things into my own hands. But also – the artwork for the four singles all have this one line behind them, and they all join together when you put them side-by-side and create an EP. Considering the sonics are pretty consistent, I wanted to make sure the artwork was too and make it a full package, with a little bow on it.

The aforementioned line.

Let’s dive into the sonics actually – you’re probably one of the only Australian pop singers that’s using drum and bass sounds for their instrumentation, Thandi Phoenix is probably the only other I can think of. When you were moving towards producing these records up, who were you listening to and going “that’s what I want my stuff to sound like”?

Two years ago, I was listening to a lot of drum and bass. I’d just been introduced to trap music and a lot of different EDM sub-genres, so I really wanted to incorporate that. That was when Jack U was big. I wondered how I could make pop music, particularly ballads, but then incorporate this heavy electronic sound. I was listening to Rudimental, Skrillex and a lot of Emeli Sande. All of those influences are in my music. 

I’ve never really thought about it but that’s a really good way of doing a ballad. It’s a different way to bring out the power of a good ballad. Doing the opposite.

Yeah! My style is not a piano-based, stripped back ballad, but I like writing ballads and having lots of emotion in songs, so I like writing those and then bring it back to a more upbeat style production-wise.

Own is really standing out to me – it’s an empowering moment about self-care and self-love. I feel like 2020 is a major self-care year, what does self-care look like for you?

I’d say the obvious answer like nights in, but I think it’s about taking time to reflect on the things and people in your life and whether they’re actually making you happy. It’s something you can do regularly, or even constantly, in your head – making sure you’re not surrounded by anything that drags you down or isn’t in line with what you do in life. I think that’s the best thing you can ever do for yourself and a lot of people forget that, because they just put on a facemask and think they’re done.

The way this EP’s come out is Own, Used To & Mine have all come out and How It Feels is the new track with the EP. We just talked about Own and how it surrounds yourself, but How It Feels feels like it reflects on someone else. It sounds like it was a fairly intense song to put together?

The whole EP is a narrative, I discovered who I was in Own and then in How It Feels I was like “okay, I’ve got to move away from this situation”. I was trying to describe how it feels to have someone leave your life who was such a big part of it. It’s not just losing a person, it’s losing part of yourself as well and you then have to learn who the rest of you actually is. In How It Feels I had to let myself be sad. I was like, this is the time where I tell people shit’s sad sometimes.

Have a full listen here with whatever streaming platform you use. x

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