Aside from her posh fashion and spy-esque moniker, Hazel English emits a retro enigmatic aura that makes you wonder if she’s a human anachronism. Her sound is a plush reverie of nostalgia, romance and existentialism, burnished with synths that have been sprawling in the indie scene of Oakland and music blogs. All we knew about her was that she is Australian living in NorCal; hence, we interviewed the dudette about her music, inspiration, and plans in order to crack the mystery surrounding her identity…or social media.
Give us a brief background – how did you end up producing music in Oakland? Were you making music back in Australia too?
Yeah I was making music in Australia. I taught myself guitar at 16 and learnt covers by bands like The Smiths and The Cranberries – whatever I was into at the time. A few years later I began writing my own songs and playing by myself in bars and restaurants. I was frustrated because I had the taste to know that the music I was making was no good, but I learnt that it takes writing a lot of bad songs to write one good one. And I still write lots and lots of bad ones, every day, that never see the light of day.
Any plans to branch out to other genre aside from indie pop?
I do hope to do a bit more exploring more when it comes to genre. I am fairly interested in electronic sounds – particularly the place where electronic and organic sounds meet. I feel like Broadcast were really great at doing that and bands like that inspire me to expand my sound and try new things.
How’s the Oakland indie scene different from Australian one?
It’s impossible to compare the music scene in Oakland to the whole of the Australian music scene. The scale is very different. I’ve witnessed great bands form in both places, but for whatever reason my music has just done better over here.
A lot of artists find inspiration from nature, city life, etc. Where does your music inspiration come from? Have you gone to extremes (i.e. isolating yourself in a cabin) to work on your music?
No I have not isolated myself in a cabin nor do I think that would really help my creative process. I think my songs generally come from the fact that I’m constantly thinking about the world and philosophizing based on my own experiences and the experiences of the people around me. I am a writer first, musician second and so usually when writing a song I will scan my notebooks and find some lyrics to fit a melody I have come up with.
Many posts in the blogosphere describe your song as “autumnal.” What are your thoughts on that?
It’s funny because when I posted Never Going Home people were describing it as a Summer kind of song. So I think it has a lot to do with the time that I release the songs – but also maybe some other factor that has people thinking about the weather in relation to my songs. Perhaps it is because they are kind of nostalgic.
Let’s talk about your latest single “Fix.” How did you get the idea for the lyrics?
At the time I wrote Fix, I was thinking a lot about how people are always trying to seem so composed and keep things under control all the time. We don’t do the things we really want to do because it might seem crazy or impulsive. I started to realize how euphoric it can be to shed all the external layers of ourselves and just live completely in the present. So Fix is about dwelling in that state of pure pleasure.
What are your current plans for 2016? Can we expect a record from you soon?
You can expect a release from me this year. I am already starting to write songs for the next project so I’m definitely going to be writing and recording more songs. Play more shows. I am constantly thinking about how I can expand my music and live show – I like to stay active.
Mark your calendar cus Hazel English has two dates coming up:
2/12 – Harlow’s Restaurant and Nightclub (Sacramento, CA, USA)
2/23 – Brick & Mortar Music Hall (San Francisco, CA, USA)