Adelaide’s Abbey Howlett has just dropped a brand new track mixed by Oisima along with a mystical video by the wizards over at Capital Waste. It shows a slight departure from Abbey's original sound and an exploration of uncharted electronica territory. Callum Parr caught up with the local beat songstress ahead of her appearance at Umbrella Winter City Sounds: Root Down Street Party.
This new single obviously has heavy elements of production as opposed to a lot of your other material. Talk us through the song writing process. Did this song stem from the guitar? Or did you dive right into the production side?
This song definitely came from a more production point-of-view. I had been recording lots of birds and natural sounds along with a saucepan lid half-submerged in water. I found some hidden rhythms in those recordings and a beat, keyboard line and bassline just grew from there. I guess the vocal chant was there from the beginning too, that’s kind of how I built my rhythms, based around a vocal hook. Guitar was one of the last things I recorded on this track in fact. I’m still learning a lot about the recording/production/mixing processes and was lucky enough to get Anth Wendth’s (Oisima) assistance on the final mix of the track.
What inspired this new sound?
I guess the more I’ve been using the loops to make music the more I've been thinking about production and instrumentation. Lately I've drawn mega inspiration from artists like Bjork, Clever Austin, Shabazz Palaces and Fever Ray which is a bit of a mix of old school gangsta hip-hop; African rhythms, dark earthy beats and really unique arrangements. But really I think all the music I’ve made up until now has just led me here, to this sound, which is still so malleable and eclectic. I’m just making what I want to make which is nice.
Will it be a sound you will continue with, or stick to the more raw, band-style sound?
I think for now whilst I’m working solo I will stick with this set up, but I've also been working with a band in Melbourne and loving what we are making; it’s really pushing my boundaries. I loved the process of producing The Mother, hearing a little bell here and a sub-kick there and adding them how I wish. I like the potential of using samples etc. whilst maintaining as much live instrumentation on stage as possible, because that’s more fun for everyone. Of late I’ve been working with my housemate Danger, who is an engineering wizard and makes the sickest beats himself. His knowledge of equipment and recording is invaluable. I’m keen to see how we roll as a duo. But the dream is to blend all these elements in like a six-piece band with other vocalists and unique instrumentation.
Give us an insight to the lyrical content of this track…
In this track I’m talking about a re-connection to the earth, which I guess I talk about a lot and sounds lame but, heck, it’s pretty important at this point I think. I had the concept that the Mother, being the planet, is reclaiming and cleansing herself, like growing over buildings and swallowing cities, slowly culling the species that poisons her, if we don't kill each other first. I reference the ego of humans and our disrespect towards each other ever fueling inequality. If we can’t empathise with our own species how can we with the planet that supports us?
You say this track was written for a shoot with Capital Waste. How did this come about?
I’ve always wanted to work with Liam, I love his style and what Capital Waste have done over the years. Originally we were like ‘yep, lets make a film clip,’ but I didn't just wanna slap some visuals to an already existing track with this extremely creative cat; I let our ideas fuel the song. So after a few lengthy meetings over a jug or two, we had a vibe and a location in mind, we were on the same page. The clip was to be filmed in the Adelaide Hills on my folks property with focus around this Mother tree that sits on a hill in the thick of the bush. The couple days before filming I made the skeleton of the track so we had a guide to go by and the rest was done in post. I like the process of the visuals and audio being super connected.
Will we be seeing a follow up release?
Yeah, I’m very excited to release a track in the next few months featuring the conscious minded, talented poet, Nelson AKA Dialect.
Anything else we can expect in the near future from yourself?
I’m aiming for an EP at the end of the year and another clip or two with my homies at Capital Waste Pictures. I’m sitting on a bunch of new material as its been a long time since I’ve released anything. I’m starting to define my sound a bit more and make stuff I like which is good. I’m very excited about.
Abbey Howlett plays Root Down Street Party with Sampa The Great & Friends this Saturday.
Get you tickets here.