Photo: Only Todd
Photo: Only Todd

Sugar, Spice and Everything Nice: Inside Hatchie’s Sunny Debut EP

Do you remember the first time you kissed someone you were really crazy about? The kind of kiss leaving both of you a little unsure of yourselves, but nevertheless smiling after with your stomach fluttering? That’s what it feels like to listen to a Hatchie song. Well, on first play, that is.

It’s easy to get caught up in the warmth radiating from Hatchie’s music, but underneath that instrumental layer of dream pop sunshine are lyrics that often tell a story of uncertainty, remorse and feeling forgotten. It would seem right that her debut EP is named Sugar & Spice, a phrase that acknowledges sweetness can have a bite and upbeat music and melancholy lyrics can mix into something quite nice.

But an EP and accompanying North American tour – including a stop at DC9 Nightclub on Friday, September 7 – are not the only firsts for her; Hatchie is Australian singer and bassist Harriette Pilbeam’s first venture into solo artist territory.

Pilbeam wasn’t always so sure she could make a career out of music. In 2016, the then 23-year old was mostly playing in friends’ bands while she completed her degree in creative industries.

“It was a pretty unhappy time in my life,” Pilbeam confesses. “I wasn’t really doing anything that I wanted to do.”

During this time she wrote “Try,” a song she says is partially about her, but also about a friend and the idea of lifting someone’s spirit while pushing them forward.

A year later, with the encouragement of friends, Pilbeam uploaded “Try” to triple j Unearthed – basically an Australian Bandcamp. Shortly after uploading it into the world, the synth-layered, effervescent song about a relationship on the verge of falling apart catapulted into the top five songs on triple j, followed by a barrage of attention from the music industry.

Pilbeam eventually found happiness again and had the chance to dive into various new experiences that were a result of releasing “Try.” Using this period as inspiration – and influenced by shoegaze and dream pop acts like Cocteau Twins, The Sundays, Wild Nothing and Kylie Minogue – Pilbeam wrote the five songs that comprise Sugar & Spice, released in May of this year.

“Try” is easily the most popular song off the EP, but other tunes like the shimmering, sun-drenched “Sure” and “Bad Guy,” a track where the protagonist and her lover try to hash out their problems, also stand out.

While Pilbeam says the EP is mostly about the roller-coaster emotions of romantic relationships, a lot of her music explores other people’s experiences, as well as the feelings of uncertainty and growing into a young adult.

Looking back at all that has happened since the release of Sugar & Spice, Pilbeam reflected on how she has grown from the girl who needed encouragement to upload “Try” into someone eager to find her own way.

“I realized that I can be a lot more independent than I thought I could,” Pilbeam says. “A lot of things that really scared me a few years ago, don’t need to scare me so much anymore.”

And she isn’t done growing yet, she acknowledges. That includes fine-tuning her music and learning what she likes an doesn’t like. Already at work on her new album, Pilbeam says she’s taking it in a different direction from her EP; the same pop-structures will be in place but there could be new sounds like industrial tones and more refined, slower music.

But for right now, Pilbeam’s just looking forward to enjoying her first North American tour, including a “proper” visit to DC (not counting a quick day visit as a teen) to play at DC9.

“I’m really excited that I get to be able to come to places like DC,” Pilbeam says. “I never thought everything would fall into place, especially not this fast. I’m really looking forward to it.”

Catch Hatchie on Friday, September 7 at DC9 Nightclub. Doors open at 7 p.m. and show starts at 7:30 p.m. Distant Creatures open. Tickets start at $13. For more information on Hatchie, visit www.hatchie.net.

DC9 Nightclub: 1940 9th St. NW, DC; 202-483-5000; www.dc9.club

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Natalia Kolenko

Natalia is a George Mason University alum who studied Journalism and Environmental Science and Politics. She combines her background in news reporting with her love for music, art, and culture to write pieces on a variety of topics. Addicted to travel, X-files, and concerts.