FIVE FAVOURITES: Sophie Hutchings

A talented composer who produces mindful piano-led music, Australian artist Sophie Hutchings uses sound to ease the anxieties of everyday life. She recorded her recent EP, Love & Keep, between the hours of 12-4am, embracing her insomnia and offering her listeners a moment of stillness and serenity amidst her restlessness.

We think one of the best ways to get to know an artist is by asking what music inspired them to write in the first place. We caught up with Sophie to ask her about her “Five Favourites” – five songs that have inspired her song-writing techniques. Check out her choices below and scroll down to watch her video for recent single ‘Light Over The Moor’ at the end of this post.

Sophie: “I find it almost impossible to choose 5 favourite pieces, so I’ve chosen 5 of my favourites that had a significant impact on my formative years. Even though they are all quite different from each other, there’s a common ground of repetition in these pieces which I’ve always found quite hypnotising in music.”

1. Brain Eno – ‘Discreet Music’
I love Erik Satie’s invention and coining of the term “Furniture music” – sounds that were designed to be heard, but not listened to. Brian Eno fans will know this is the whole aim with ‘Discreet music’. It’s intended to blend into the ambient atmosphere of the room rather than be directly focused upon. This, to me, has got to be one of the most soothing ambient pieces I’ve ever heard and has always been one of my favourite go to late night listens. I grew up listening to a lot of Brian Eno but this one really stirred me. It always felt like a musical bedtime story. There’s a dreamy placid beauty about it that allows you to float and drift outside yourself without you even realising.

With a very simple organic layering of melody the piece never really changes which is what I love about it, yet it constantly and subtly evolves with the accession of various decay as the piece gradually and quietly repeats its motifs with all the sounds remaining continually tranquil and peaceful. It’s one of those pieces that feels like it could go on for infinity. It’s music that doesn’t demand your attention though still evokes a delicate sense of emotion.

2. Arvo Part – ‘Spiegel im Spiegel’
The first time I heard ‘Spiegel im Spiegel’ it put a massive lump in my throat. I’ve listened to it countless times and there’s not a moment when it still doesn’t raise the same stirring response. Again, this is one of those hypnotising pieces due to the unchanging nature of recurring motifs in the piece and beautifully long sustained notes. I love how the minimalism relies on atmosphere and not on building towards a climax like a lot of classical music does.

Arvo Part is a true example of introspective music. It’s not how many notes are played but how they are played. It’s also about the space in between. Silence in music speaks and I find there’s almost as much strength in the pauses and space in music as there are notes. ‘Spiegel im Spiegel’ hangs on the edges, yet there’s a restlessness over the quietness that balances the fragility in this piece of music and I guess being a sentimental person you don’t tire of this kind of beauty in music.

3. Susumu Yokota – ‘Traveller In The Wonderland’
Discovering Susumu Yokota was like discovering Alice In Wonderland as a child all over again (which I’m slightly obsessed with). I find him the true master of ambient electronica. Sadly, I only discovered him just before he died and I would love to collect all his albums on vinyl, which are few and far between. There’s a lush fanciful playfulness to this piece. It’s almost like nature talking to each other.

Yokota taps into the senses through melodic remnants taken from historical old classical pieces on his album Symbol, and in this instance on ‘Traveller In The Wonderland’ there’s some beautiful Camille Saint-Saens and a little Luigi Boccherini which gives it this mystic whimsical edge – still he reveals it in this almost anonymous way – placing a sense of nostalgia of some long lost place weaved throughout his dreamy melodic textural synths, wordless dreamy vocals and drum loops with romantic musical pathways of middle eastern tonality resonating around the circumference. To me, it’s like being under the trance of a magical child-like spell which takes me back to my Walt Disney imaginative heydays.

4. DJ Shadow – ‘Building Steam With A Grain Of Salt’
DJ Shadow was a revelation in my early adult years. He enthusiastically rocked my world. There’s this clever combination of moody and intense rhythmic melodious energy that just brings everything so alive in this piece. The haunting atmosphere that’s accentuated by the repetitive hypnotic group vocals, rich off beat bass and the urgency and drive of the eerie piano riff. I’ve always affiliated with a certain amount of intensity in music and hearing this song for the first time was like hearing an unexplored wilderness of dynamic addictive melody. I love how he brings to life all these old vinyl treasures and re-creates layers and collages of sound. It’s enticing, energetic, ethereal and ambient all in one – where happy and melancholy are competently one – it’s an intoxicating and timeless listen.

5. My Bloody Valentine – ‘Soon’
I grew up being surrounded by a lot of noisy indie rock and shoegaze music and as much as I don’t listen to this kind of music as much as used to, this piece stuck with me and was one of my favourites that bounced off the family household walls at high decibels thanks to my older brothers. I would always have a good dance to it!

If there’s ever a blurred latitude of noisy dreamy sound with a rhythmic propulsion, I say this is an iconic one. It’s one of those songs that feels like you’re lost in a sonic labyrinth which one will either grapple with or be enlightened by. I just listened to it again for the first time in years and it took me back to days of going for walks and blaring it in my headphones. When embraced, it’s like entering a woozy euphoric daze that you can get totally lost in and it taught me that you don’t necessarily have to always interpret music as long as you feel it – then to me, you understand it. Not everything in music needs an explanation to be felt.

Thanks so much to Sophie for sharing her favourites with us!

Watch her video for ‘Light Over The Moor’ below.

Photo Credit: Luke Dubbelde

Introducing Interview: Tia Gostelow

Having supported the likes of Frightened Rabbit and The Rubens, Brisbane-based artist Tia Gostelow creates compelling, heartstring-tugging ballads, capable of taking your breath away with her soaring, rich vocals.

Gostelow has just released emotion-strewn new single ‘Blue Velvet’, so we caught up with her to find out more…

Hi Tia, welcome to Get In Her Ears! Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
Hey! Thanks for having me. I’m a 19 year old singer-songwriter from Brisbane, Australia and I’m currently touring Europe!

How did you get started creating music?
Well, I’ve been singing and playing guitar since I was seven and I started writing songs when I was about fourteen. I remember seeing Taylor Swift when I was really young and thought that I wanted to be exactly like her!

Your debut album Thick Skin is out now – can you tell us what it’s all about? Are there any themes running throughout the album?
I wrote Thick Skin between the ages of fifteen to eighteen, and for me it was honestly just about what I had experienced in those years. There is a major theme throughout most of the songs being a social issue called ‘Tall Poppy Syndrome’, meaning a tendency to discredit those who have achieved great things in life. I felt like throughout high school I wasn’t supported by my friends in my music career, and it was nailed down to jealousy and bitterness and it really got to me. I felt like I didn’t have any friends, I felt like I wanted to quit music because what’s the point if even my best friends aren’t proud of the things I’m doing? I’m so glad I stuck it out and kept pursuing music, but it was a really tough thing to go through and I think the title ‘Thick Skin’ says it all.

You’ve been compared to the likes of Mallrat and Nina Nesbitt, but who would you say are your main musical influences?
What amazing ladies to be compared to! I’m not sure if I have any particular influences, but I do listen to a lot of Billie Eilish, The Growlers & BROODS at the moment.

How is your local music scene? Do you go to see lots of live music?
The Brisbane music scene is great, everybody is so supportive, and it’s small so if you need something or some advice you’re sure to find it! I see so much live music, when I’m not playing shows or at one, I work at a live music venue, so I’m always around it.

And what can fans expect from your live shows?
A really diverse set and some dancing and sing-a-longs!  

As we’re a new music focused site, are there any new/upcoming bands or artists you’d recommend we check out?
I would definitely suggest I Know Leopard, their newest record is insanely good.  

And how do you feel the music industry is for new bands at the moment – would you say it’s difficult to get noticed?
I think that it’s always going to be difficult to get noticed, this industry is hard and there are thousands of people trying to get to the same place, but I think were in an era where there is so many resources and so many people to help you get to where you want to be.

Finally, what does the rest of 2019 have in store for Tia Gostelow
Lots of touring, writing and recording!

Huge thanks to Tia for answering our questions! 

Thick Skin, the debut album from Tia Gostelow, is out now.