Chatting with Hachiku about her debut album, books and lockdown soundtracks
Hachiku, aka Anika Ostendorf, from the comfort of her bedroom, is floating into the bedrooms of many with her signature dream-pop, avant garde tunes. Her ability to translate the bedroom pop aesthetic and minimalist production into a noteworthy live show has earned her support slots with names like Snail Mail and The Breeders. Being one of Courtney Barnett’s Milk! Record prodigies, this led to a tour with Courtney and an ever growing fan base. Hachiku is one of the biggest names coming from the blossoming Melbourne scene, where the creative community is supportive and with a real DIY objective. Out the 13th November on Milk Records, Hachiku’s debut album ‘I’ll Probably Be Asleep’ delivers with laidback synths, distorted guitars and melodies to sway along to.
How are you feeling about the new album?
- I’m just kind of waiting now, usually you’re quite distracted with playing shows, but now I’m counting the days. But I’m excited for it to be out there! It’s our first album I don’t really know what to expect. You’re counting down the days and wondering what will happen, but I’ll probably just be at home like okay cool.
What track are you most excited for people to hear?
- Well, lots of the songs have already been released, like four of the eight songs as singles, so there’s only four left to be heard. I quite like the second song on the album, which didn’t make it as a single, but I thought it could have been a single. Our UK label told us you have to have less than 50% as singles, otherwise you can’t do it with digital streaming platforms as a pre-order. If I could have done it as I’d like to have done it, then every song could have been a single and then I can make a music video for every song because I love making music videos.
What was your favourite music video that you did for the album?
- I think maybe the I’ll Probably be Asleep one, we released it in September. We had all this fake yoghurt-based blood and we got to pour it all over ourselves with like a Twister game. That one they had quite a big team, Roxy who did it, there were like 10 people doing things, so I had to do nothing. In the other ones you’re a bit more involved in what costumes you need to get and what food you need to buy. You take on a lot more of an organising role, not just sitting back and pouring yoghurt blood on yourself.
I really love the track ‘A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Woman’, is it James Joyce inspired?
- Yes, it is actually! I don’t know why, that book, I have to admit, I tried to read it four times and I could not read it. I really want to read it, but it’s too hard. It’s really free flow. I ended up reading loads of summaries about it, and the story of it sounds like what I could imagine. The guy moving from Ireland to self-exile in Scotland and being not welcome. It sounds really dramatized for my life, but I don’t like to be in Germany anymore and I moved to Australia, a very abstract and superficial summary of it. But it also seems very fitting, in poetry, arts and classics, women are often so neglected that I’m just going to claim it now. May be arrogant, especially as I haven’t even finished the book!
I think I bought it when I was like 17, because I was looking up all this classics literature, travel-ish literature and just word exploration in general. So, I bought it when I hadn’t even spoken English for that long, so as a second language starting with that it was tough. I should try it again now, I wonder if it would be better.
I have books like that, no matter how many times I try, I just can’t get through them.
- I do the thing where I put books next to my bed to read, but you know when they become so much a part of your surroundings, that you don’t notice them anymore. Then like half a year later you rediscover it, and put it back onto your shelf.
- I bought these ‘Women in Sound’ magazines the other day, and that’s another thing I do, rather than just buying one I buy multiple. It’s this series they do in America where they interview women who do sound production and stuff.
They just arrived the other day, so now I need to read it! I should have just bought one, but instead I buy everything at once and then get overwhelmed. But yeah it’s got large writing and everything, so I’m excited to read them!
How is the Australian music scene compared to Germany? Well did you spend much time there?
- I feel like I probably left Germany because in my immediate area, I can’t speak for the rest of Germany, but where I grew up, it was pretty small, not even town but a village. So the music scene was just old people playing cover music in bars. I played bass in my Mum’s band, it was the Ford IT Christmas cover band and that’s as much music scene as I got. Growing up, I’d mainly go to international touring bands who would all stop in Cologne, so you could go and see a lot of live music. But I never had that connection of ‘this is my scene’. So for me personally, my whole musical life has been in Melbourne, when I go play shows over there or in the UK, you have a different access to it. Those scenes exist, but if you’re like further away from it you’re never going to know about it. Have you been to Melbourne?
No I haven’t!
- It’s pretty special I’d say. Very DIY focused, if you can strum one chord, then start a band. Not at the moment, but usually on any night you can go to a gig, it’s also very supportive, where it never feels like you are out there competing with anyone. I lived in London for a little bit and sometimes gigs I would play, was a pay to play mentality. It’s probably not everywhere in London either, that was just my personal experience, but here it’s a lot of more open arms.
I’ve seen you’ve toured with some really incredible people, who’s your favourite person that you’ve toured with?
- I had a lot of fun on the January tour I did with Courtney Barnett, she founded the label I’m on in Australia, Milk! Records, and she tries to take her label mates with her on tour. The whole team I already knew before and was friends with, so it felt like a school trip or something; planning the day and getting drunk after shows. With other tours when you don’t know the band in advance or anything, it feels a lot more of a professional relationship where it’s the tour manager will be like don’t play over your set, you’re the support band don’t fuck up, don’t go in the green room. But with the Courtney tour, it was like her team was my team basically.
Obviously you were showing me the women in sound zines which hints, but is supporting women in music important to you?
- For me, it’s more of a recent thing where its become more important over the past few years. Before that I was always one of those people who was like you shouldn’t pity me for being a woman, and I want to be seen for my skills not gender. But the more you are in the industry, and the more you play gigs where you are the only female person in the room, then the more you want to create a space of we are joined and in this together. Also just realising how many inspiring sound engineers, producers, mixing people that are out there and female, that you just haven’t heard of because the bias towards men. I quite like branching out a bit and seeing what other people have done, that I haven’t heard about. It’s quite inspiring. Sometimes I have that weird thing where if I seen a guy has mixed a really good record, I feel like okay its unachievable, but if I see that a woman has done it I’m like wow how has she done that. I want to be that good, and it’s more competitive because you identify with it more. I’ve observed it recently and I’m wondering why it happens.
What have you been listening to over this chaotic period of the past few months?
- I’ve really been listening to a lot of podcasts to be honest rather than music. Music wise, do you know Clairo?
- Usually it would be a bit too poppy for my tastes, but the production the guy from Vampire Weekend produced it, and then this other guy I really like, Shawn Everett mixed it. It’s like the perfect combination of pop music and bedroom pop that I sort of identify with. But then it’s lifted to this other level, quite polished.
Yeah definitely, when her album came out, I couldn’t stop listening to it.
- Yes, it’s so catchy! Then just the production on it as well where things go really distorted, and kind of weird. It’s really bold decision making in the production. Then I also really like the Perfume Genius record, I’ve been listening to that one a fair bit. I often listen to music on an almost educational level, I find it really hard to listen to music out of enjoyment and relaxation, to take pleasure out of it. If I hear something that I find like fascinating, like ooh how did they do that, how did they mix that, what are those lyrics.
- One podcast I really enjoyed was this series Music in Europe, a 7-part series on how Black musicians from like the 1910s-1980s were part of the history of music. Similar to the women in sound thing, like how disregarded they were and not part of your mainstream music education so much. I found that really interesting.
I’m always trying to find new things, with the Spotify algorithm, I don’t want to be told what to listen to, I want to find it myself. Even when people recommend music, I want to find it myself. I shouldn’t be like that haha. It’s just that great feeling of when you discover something new that you love.
Do you have any songs that you listen to when you’re feeling pretty crap or just need to wallow in the sad?
- That song ‘oo oo ah ah sexy eyes, I’m gonna take you to paradise’ (Sexy Eyes by Whigfield) I listen to that on repeat.
- Also this song that goes ‘500 miles 500 miles’ (500 miles by Peter, Paul and Mary) I find like 10 cover versions of whoever’s playing the song then just play it on repeat
That’s a brilliant idea.
- I guess it’s like a traditional folk song, so you can just find so many versions of it.
When you were growing up what kind of music did you want to write?
- When I was young I was heavily inspired by Regina Spector, I think lyrically I just wanted to write really cute stories of a teddy bear running around the world. Do you remember ‘A Fine Frenzy’? She did that song ‘goodbye my almost lover’
Oh yeah, I think I remember that one!
- Yeah! All the lyrics on that album are so cheesy, super descriptive, not that that’s bad, and the lyrics weren’t bad either, but just that typical cheese. When I was 13 I just wanted to write songs like that. And then at some point it shifted and I realised I couldn’t even write lyrics like that, even if I tried. So I just went into what I find most inspiring now, like Beach House. I was just thinking like they make such cool sounds, their albums are done in a way that you hear a second of it and you know it’s Beach House. That shift happened super quick, literally from like 13 to 14.
It’s crazy when you’re younger how quickly those shifts in taste happen.
- I’m almost quite disappointed, like when I look back into my old music catalogue, how embarrassing it is. Like Jack Johnson and Billy Talent. When my girlfriend goes back through her old music she listened to, it’s all really cool. Things that her parents showed her and she went to a cool artsy school, where you listen to cool music when you’re 12.
I looked through this app, Last FM where you can log all the music you’ve listened to, and my top one was Panic! At the Disco, I was just like wow. I guess it’s the past, you can’t change it now!
Thank you for chatting with me! Good luck with the album!