Hope D is a newcomer that you need to get acquainted with ASAP. The Brisbane singer-songwriter created quite the buzz after she premiered her debut single ‘Swim’ last year and then dropped the appropriately titled second single, ‘Second’, earlier this year.
Following coveted performances at BIGSOUND, Splendour In The Grass, Laneway Festival and King Street Crawl over the past 12 months, she’s just dropped her most anthemic single yet, ‘Common Denominator’.
The deeply relatable track reflects on the naivety behind her first relationship where the two were set up by their “friends” and didn’t have anything in common other than both being gay. It’s a storyline that is so common in the queer world and is so refreshing to see covered in a punchy and angsty pop-rock way.
I recently chatted to Hope D about the creative process behind ‘Common Denominator’, the reality of young queer relationships, and her evolution since the release of ‘Swim’ and ‘Second’. Check it out HERE;
THOMAS BLEACH: Your new single ‘Common Denominator’ is a punchy anthem in it’s own right that has a ridiculously catchy hook that you just want to scream at the top of your lungs. So can you explain to me how this track creatively came together?
HOPE D: It was the end of last year and I was in a bit of a stump for songwriting, so I started thinking about my past relationships. I wrote the guitar riff and then started humming the melody, and the lyrics “I don’t think we get along” kinda just fell out. I started relating that idea to the story of people not getting along while dating, and the fact that they were set up. And then it clicked that I was set up for my first relationship, so I decided to really build it around that and make the verses very conversational. I wanted to make it so intentional that if the girl it’s about heard the song she would know exactly what it was about.
It is a very exaggerated song. We both actually did get along, but for the sake of the song I decided to be a bit more angry towards it.
TB: Sonically it gives me a bit of nostalgic, early to mid 2000’s, pop-rock vibes. Who or what was sonically inspiring you during this session and time?
H: I feel like I’m really settling more into my sound of just being a super unapologetic jerk with the way I say my words. I wanted to be really intentional with this song and match the punchiness of the way I pronounce my words. One of my biggest inspirations is Hobo Johnson, and I think he really captures that essence to.
This is a minor song, but it’s also got a lot of major tonalities and funky things in it. Sonically I just wanted it to punch songs that are dark and cynical, but contrast it with lyrics that are very funny. Overall It’s very experimental and one that I definitely used to help me find my new sound.
TB: Lyrically the song reflects on your first relationship where you were set up by your friends and the only thing you had in common was that you were both gay. This is something that is quite common for queer people, so how did you learn to navigate people’s intentions and realise what you personally needed?
H: The biggest reason that we dated in the first place was because we didn’t know any other queer people. Our mutual friend was like to me “So, I have a question. Are you gay?” and I was like “yeah, I’m bi”, because I was testing the waters at the time, and then she was like “I have a friend that is bi too” and then set us up. I was so excited to just have a girlfriend, so we jumped into it. And at the time I stopped and pondered if I was going to get married to this person because she was the only other queer person I knew.
After a couple of months I realised that it wasn’t working and called it off. I was so scared that I wasn’t going to date anyone else for a while because I didn’t know anyone else who was queer, and those conversations just weren’t happening universally. But you fast forward to now, and it’s hard to come across someone who is just straight which is so awesome.
TB: Has it been overwhelming or inspiring to see already how many people are relating to this song and that sentiment?
H: I definitely hoped that people would relate and feel inspired from listening to this song, because I don’t think I’ve ever heard a song that deals with this situation before. I see it a lot on Buzzfeed videos, tv shows, skits and movies, and you laugh about it, but it actually does happen so it’s cool to have that in song form now. And it’s been really cool to see so many people relate to it. But in particular, my first song ‘Swim’ tackled sexuality for the first time, and that response was so overwhelming and heartening to hear.
With ‘Common Denominator’, it’s just another space where people can feel comfortable and have a laugh about a situation that can cause a lot of anxiety. When I was younger, sexuality caused me a lot of anxiety and depression, but being able to grow up and write songs like these that feel so fun and happy is a huge fuck you to those exact anxieties.
TB: From releasing ‘Swim’ and ‘Second’ to where you are at now with ‘Common Denominator’ and your forthcoming new music, what would you say is the biggest thing you’ve learnt about yourself as an artist?
H: From ‘Swim’ to now, I’ve gotten so much more comfortable with releasing music, my image, my direction and my sound. So now I can use that confidence to really push my song, be proud and hone how I feel.
The next song I’m going to release is called ‘Miscommunicated’ and it’s about a relationship I had once, and I’m going to be very strong with the way I felt in it, and projective about the experiences I had. The main thing I want to do is really push my stories out-there and hear other people’s views.
TB: ’Second’ immediately highlighted a real strength in layering this anthemic sound and punchy hook with a storyline that has a vulnerable undertone of being a bit self destructive to yourself. How important is layering in songwriting and the creative process for you?
H: I really enjoy the cynical view in songwriting, in art and creativity. Like, you can’t help but bang your head and jump up and down to ‘Second’, but when you strip it back you realise that this song is about getting really fucked up, breaking hearts every weekend and being a twat to people. I really love the dark actuality to songwriting.
Who are some songwriters you look to?
Hobo Johnson for sure! He has this song called ‘Creve Coeur 1’ and it’s about a girl who can’t love properly because of her parents relationship and watching that fall apart. That’s a big inspiration to me because of it’s storytelling format of songwriting. But then you have his song ‘Peach Scone’ which is lyrically absolute bullshit, and at the foundations of it it’s about being in love with a girl who doesn’t love him back, but he just sings about it in such a light hearted way.
Hozier is another big one for me too! I actually have a tattoo of the date that I saw him play at Bluesfest!
TB: Your debut single ‘Swim’ popped off online and quickly gained traction and momentum, and it’s still very much a fan favourite a year later which I’m going to put down to it’s vulnerable and relatable lyrics. What is one of your fave lyrics from that song?
H: Probably the second pre-chorus where it goes; “said once I find who I am, I cannot tell a single soul, I can’t. It’s out of my control, I just can’t love a man . And they keep saying I am breaking the lords plan”.
There’s no hiding from that lyric. It literally says that I can’t love a man. I feel like it really circles the thoughts I had while coming out.
TB: You’ve have put up a couple of covers onto your YouTube channel and it’s really interesting cause some of the songs you’ve chosen are quite left field to what people may expect from you. So what one has been the hardest to translate into your sonically and melodical world?
H: When I started doing these covers I really just loved the idea of taking a song that wasn’t made for an acoustic guitar/voice and forcing yourself to interpret it in that way. Like taking a song that doesn’t even have guitar in it with just beats and bass is so interesting because I find that translation can really shape a whole new song.
One of the hardest ones to do was ‘Stay High (Habits)’ by Tove Lo. And then ‘Charlie’ by Mallrat was another one that took a lot of time to change the sound and delivery.
TB: Let play a quick game of rapid fire questions. You ready?
TB: The emoji that best describes my new single ‘Common Denominator’ is…
H: The division symbol!
TB: My pre show ritual involves…
H: At least two beers…
TB: A TV show I’ve binged during isolation is…
H: Midnight Gospel! It’s SO good!
TB: If I could have any superpower it would be to…
TB: Pineapple on pizza is…
H: Definitely A YES!
‘Common Denominator’ is out now!