Interview: Hallie on Remaining True to Herself as an Artist

Friday, August 23, 2019
Photo by Kristy Smolcic

Brisbane-based artist Hallie is a name you’ll be hearing a lot more of soon, and there’s no surprise why. The up-and-comer has vocals that are absolutely out of this world, and her songwriting will leave you in a state where you’re both beaming and covered in chills. After winning triple j Unearthed’s BIGSOUND competition, she has joined the creme of the crop of local talent showcasing at Australia’s leading music conference. I sat down with Hallie to discuss her love for performing, her debut EP Wink Wink Nudge Nudge (out September 27th), and songwriting.

Despite the enormity of pressure that comes along with showcasing at a large-scale event like BIGSOUND, Hallie remains poised and composed when discussing her excitement of what’s to come. “I feel so motivated. I’m excited for it, and it feels good to have such a big opportunity coming up. I’m feeling positive about it all.” She admits that sometimes thinking about what’s to come can feel overwhelming, but any doubts quickly disappear when I ask her about performing.

Most up-and-comers might feel a degree of nerves when thinking about playing live, but for Hallie, it’s where she feels the most at home. “I don’t get too nervous. I love it rather than feel nervous about performing. Once I start, and I’m on-stage, it feels right. I think before anything, I’ve always been a performer, even before songwriting or playing the guitar. It’s something I’ve always enjoyed.” Growing up, she first found her love for performing after studying drama and acting in high school. She also performed in a few musical theatre productions at school. “I think it's a deep-rooted thing, I just did it all the time as a kid and I just grew up loving it.”

Being based in Brisbane has also shaped who she is as a musician. The city continues to be a melting pot of some of the best emerging music around the country, as well as the home of BIGSOUND. “Brisbane’s a good place to be at the moment. I think it finds itself somewhere between the busyness of Melbourne and Sydney. Brisbane’s music scene feels like a community and it’s a positive place to be in the industry right now.”

BIGSOUND isn’t the only big event coming up for Hallie, she’s set to unveil her stirring EP Wink Wink Nudge Nudge on September 27th. When she originally commenced work on the EP, she didn’t exactly have in mind that the tracks would eventuate into a body of work — instead, she had emotions brimming inside that she needed to channel and music was the best outlet to express what she was feeling at the time. “I didn’t think I would make an EP. I just had to release those emotions somehow and that's how the songs came about.”

Hallie began writing the tracks around two years ago, occasionally taking breaks during the writing process — sometimes because of timing, and other times because she didn’t feel comfortable with what she was creating and needed time away from music and not force herself to make something that felt disingenuous. “If I’m writing something intense, I think it’s important to step away and think about what I actually want to say. If you're writing really honestly it's hard to know what you're thinking all the time straight away. Sometimes I’ll write songs and think. ‘That doesn’t make sense’, and I need to discover how to articulate it.”

Approaching songwriting without putting pressure on herself is when she’s at her best musically. “I feel like my songs are better when I don’t force it and let it happen. Sometimes I’m feeling overwhelmed and I need to get it out. If you put pressure on yourself, it makes it less natural. I always want to be authentic with my songwriting.”

On the track’s that have already been released from the EP, Hallie has showcased a preview of the moving emotions she channels across the project’s six tracks. On ‘Nice Like Rice’, Hallie reflects on the breakdown of a friendship and the experience of drifting away from someone who was once very close to her and realising that the relationship was one-sided. The single features contemplative and raw lyrics such as, “If you could speak without judgement what would you say?” and, “I’ve changed a little, do you just not like me in this state?” On ‘What’s Good?’, she embraces vulnerability whilst reflecting on growing up. Though her music comes from experiences that are extremely personal, she hopes others can connect with her words. “I hope when people listen to the EP, they interpret it in a way that suits them. I hope they connect with the songs and relate them to what I was feeling when I wrote them.”

The cathartic power of music is the reason she became drawn to writing songs, Hallie admits. “It’s the reason I got into songwriting,” she says on music as a form of release. “I think it's definitely the best release and it's the only way to truly express what I am feeling.” Emotional release for Hallie isn’t only captured within her lyrics, but also her powerful and mighty vocals, which only accentuate the weight of her words.

Her goal as an artist is to remain authentic and open with everything she creates. “I want to always be honest and authentic, and not hide behind metaphors, just be as I am.” Hallie isn’t just a talented musician, she creates music that’s an honest representation of who she is as a human — she’s determined to always present the truest version of herself in her music, and it won’t take long until the rest of the world begins to take notice.

Written by Amy Smolcic (@amysmolcic)
Photos by Kristy Smolcic (folio)

If you're heading to BIGSOUND, you can catch Hallie at the below events:
September 3rd - Habit's Unofficial BIGSOUND Party 
September 5th - Famous Nightclub, 8:10PM - 8:40PM 

Listen to 'Nice Like Rice':

Follow Hallie: