INTERVIEW: Hartley

Hartley is one of Australia’s most exciting and promising newcomers and with her career newly in rising fruition, the future looks very exciting. 

The insanely talented singer, songwriter and producer is a self-taught machine and has been honing her sound and musical vision over the last couple of years to get it to the innovative level it is at now. 

Her debut self-titled EP is an intimate collection of tracks that introduces you to not just her DIY electronic infused sound but also to her vulnerable inner monologue. From reflecting on love and heartbreak, to finding strength to stand up for yourself to look after your mental health, these songs are a perfect introduction to the world she’s creating within her music. 

I recently chatted to Hartley about the journey behind her sound and honing her unique production, to the creative process of ‘How It Feels’ and finding confidence for herself on the track ‘Own’. Check the chat out HERE; 

TB: Your debut self-titled EP is an experimental collection of tracks that introduces the DIY creative side of your artistry. So while you were working on this project, why did you feel like these four particular tracks were the perfect representation of who you want to be as an artist? 

H: I wanted to be able to write about exactly what was going on in my life and deliver that. There’s probably an equal balance of emotions in the EP too, which I felt was really important. 

I love listening to bodies of work where each song has a point of difference within a common theme, so I definitely aimed for that.

TB: You’re not only a singer-songwriter but you’re also a very talented producer, and you produced every song on this EP. So when you were really establishing your sound as an artist and the foundations for the Hartley project, who was inspiring you sonically and inspiring you as a producer? 

H: Thank you! Honestly my sound came pretty naturally and I didn’t have to try too hard to establish a certain aesthetic, because I just found I automatically used lots of drum & bass and tops percussion, as well as bells & chimes. 

I’d say that was the foundation of the EP. I think that’s because I was listening to lots of tropical house and even heavier electronic music at the time.

TB: What was the most challenging part of producing this EP? And what song took the longest to really finalise? 

H: Because I recorded all of the vocals and produced them up in my bedroom, the hardest part was probably convincing myself that it was all good enough to be heard by other people! I’m so bad at showing people my music, even now… go figure. 

‘Own’ probably took the longest to make because it took me a while to be able to put such important life lessons into words.

TB: The four songs take you on a journey of self discovery as you navigate self care, infatuation and toxic relationships. Your debut single ‘Used To’, kicked off the journey by reflecting on the desire you had for someone. So finally releasing this into the world and seeing the immediate love it received from listeners, must have been a little overwhelming? What was going through your mind when you started to see the comments roll in of people’s opinions? 

H: The thought of releasing it all was a lot scarier than the reality of it. I’ve been so lucky to only have positive opinions. and everyone’s been so nice and open to all of my songs, despite them each having slightly different moods and messages. I’m seriously grateful for every single listen I get! It still feels weird to me.

TB: ’Own’ heard you switching things up with darker beats and inserting a confidence where you stand up for yourself and your mental health. This is a really empowering and important song to embrace with the current state of the world, so what would you say is your favourite lyric from the track and why? 

H: The lyric “like it’s a natural selection, I don’t need affection anymore” was me discovering that it was pointless searching for other people’s approval. I realised it was their own insecurities about money/stability that stopped them from encouraging me to be a musician. 

It’s a pretty bold statement but it helps so much to choose to accept that you might not be supported by even the most important people to you. It’s okay as long as you’re happy!

TB: ’How It Feels’ closes the chapter, where you say goodbye to someone that felt like a huge part of your identity. So with the emotional layering of the lyrics and the production, can you talk us through the process you took to bring all of these elements together? 

H: It was big! I had this moment of “oh no… this is exactly how it feels to be hopeless where the only thing I can do is sit here and be sad” *laughs*. So I wrote those lyrics first, and then I wanted to make the production pretty emotional and a bit confused too. 

So I started with the kick pattern to support the rhythm of the lyrics, then added the synths and experimented with the percussion in the drops.

TB: Aesthetically the Hartley project has been a colourful affair with really unique colour palettes and single artworks that focused on your eyes before the full face EP cover. So what inspired the visual aesthetic?

H: I’ve always loved collage and I’m also a really colourful person in terms of what I wear, my hair, makeup etc. So I wanted to represent all of those interests within the artwork. 

Also, I felt like it was important to have a constant theme within the artworks which is actually the white line that runs through each. They all join together to make one solid line!

Hartley’s debut self-titled EP is out now on all streaming platforms