Hallie on sympathy, empathy and moving forward

Hallie is one of those artists who isn’t afraid to just dive in. For someone so early in their career she is already becoming known for her energetic and engaging live shows, sincere and playfully honest lyrics, and her drive to be all she can possibly be in music. 

Back in September she released her debut EP Wink Wink Nudge Nudge and has just released her follow up single ‘Sympathy’. She has spent the better part of the last year playing with Stella Donnelly, Holy Holy, Spacey Jane, Carla Geneve, and her friend, Asha Jeffries, another one of Brisbane’s rising singer/songwriters.

In 2019 she won the triple j unearthed competition play at BIGSOUND. It’s there where we caught up with her for the first time.

“It’s been so fulfilling,” she says. “I’ve learnt so much about myself as an artist and the world I’m entering and that I can actually do it. I’ve had this realisation of, ‘Shit, people are actually taking me and my music seriously,’ and that feels really bloody awesome.

“You get to this point because you believe in yourself,” she says. “But when other people start noticing and believe in you as well, that’s when you realise that this could actually be something bigger than you thought. It’s tangible.”

And while a mammoth year of huge shows do no harm to her professional trajectory, Hallie just relishes the idea of meeting new artists. 

“It’s really inspiring to meet new musicians all the time and hear different stories about where everyone’s come from. I’m really good friends with Asha [Jefferies] so it’s been nice to be able to play with her and watch each other grow. It’s really magical.

“It’s so cool to see where everyone’s at in their careers but in the end we’re all just people who love music. It’s really refreshing, because it reminds you why you do what you do. I feel like you can build it up in your head before you play a show and then you get there and then it’s like, ‘Oh, these are just people doing their thing and loving music.’”

A common theme running right to the heart of Brisbane’s musical ethos is that everyone cares so damn much about each other. Hallie says she feels blessed to have started playing music there and that’s largely due to the scene’s relatively small size compared to Sydney or Melbourne.

“I feel like [the music scene] is kind of healthier because of that. There’s more of a camaraderie and more connections and therefore more of a support network. We all know of each other and we all want to support each other and we’re always like, ‘Fuck yeah! You’re from Brisbane. Let’s get around each other!’”

Hallie started writing music at a very young age. After realising that playing covers wasn’t really where she sat, she combined her love of singing and poetry and wrote her first song at the age of twelve.

“I’ve always performed, I love to be in the spotlight – no shame!” she laughs. “It all came together very naturally: I sing, I’ve written a song, I’ve taught myself some guitar to back it up, let’s put it somewhere, let’s take it to a stage. I think I was meant to be doing this.”

Despite starting her career as a solo folk artist, she always wanted to get a band together to realise the songs’ full potential. It’s a move that has refreshed her whole perspective on herself as a performer.  

“The songs needed some oomph behind them. I love The Veronicas so I thought I’d incorporate some rockier things and got a band behind me about a year ago. I’ve been with them ever since and I’ve kind of reimagined myself as a solo artist.

“I love the freedom of playing solo because it leaves more room to improvise on stage, but I love being with the band because I love showing the energy and power that lies in the songs.”

Hallie mentions her love of English as a subject in high school, which isn’t surprising given most of her songs act as their own short stories. They’re small vignettes of life; some real, some imagined.

“Each song is usually specific to a certain subject or a certain moment in my life. I get really personal about it and I try to be as genuine and as honest as I can. I write about love; breakups; bisexuality; polyamorous relationships; trying not to judge; trying to be a kind person; friendships that have gone wrong. Every time I feel sad or anxious, or think about something that is frustrating me or making me happy, I write a song about it.

“My roots in folk help with that. I very much enjoy just laying it all out. That’s really the only way I can get my emotions out. Songwriting is a form of release.”

Hallie’s songs are quirky yet compassionate commentaries on society. She draws a lot of influence from imagining herself in others’ shoes.

“We have to be empathetic as musicians and as creatives,” she says. “I even got really invested in the TV show Sex Education. Something happens to a character in episode three that got really sad about. I got so upset about it that I had to write a song about it.” 

Other songs are drawn from more deeply personal areas. She’s said her song  ‘Nice Like Rice’ is about losing a friend. 

“Look, in the grand scheme of things, that’s all a bit dramatic. We’re still friends. But I feel like people don’t really talk about how difficult it is to keep friends and to have friendships. Especially when you’re all so busy an have different things going on. I felt like we weren’t connecting properly as we were taking different paths. I was really upset at the time, feeling like your losing a friend and losing control of the friendship is scary. 

“Change is scary, especially when you love someone. I was really sad when I wrote the song but after I wrote it I felt a sense of relief and a strength from the song. It made me feel like I’m ok without anyone. I can look after myself. I got strength from feeling like I can move on from things and I can heal myself.”

Check out the new single Sympathy.

HALLIE TOUR DATES

21/02 Brisbane | Black Bear Lodge (supporting Charlie Collins)
19/03 Sydney | Waywards
20/03 Sydney | Ciderfest
22/03 Newcastle | Cambridge Warehouse
27/03 Adelaide | The Exeter
29/03 Melbourne | The Grace Darling  
04/04 Brisbane | Barbara