Oakland-based Australian songwriter (and polaroid-enthusiast) Hazel English contemplates on 'Make It Better' (her latest single), "I want to be seen / Yet I want to be invisible / I want everything / Yet I want nothing at all." And it’s this relatable sharp-wittedness, which makes English’s debut 2016 'Never Going Home' EP such a great comfort to listen to.
MUST-LISTEN: 'Make It Better', 'I’m Fine', 'Never Going Home'.
YOU WILL LIKE, IF YOU LIKE: Tennis, La Sera, Best Coast, Dum Dum Girls, Whitney, Cults, Real Estate, The Drums, Jenny Lewis, Waxahatchee, Springtime Carnivore.
COUP DE MAIN: How does your songwriting process work?
HAZEL ENGLISH: My songwriting process is always different; sometimes the melody comes first, sometimes the chords. Sometimes it takes twenty minutes, sometimes it takes months. I try to be open and try new things so I don’t get stuck.
CDM: Do you write your lyrics specifically for the songs, or do you write poems or prose and then evolve them into song-form?
HAZEL: A lot of my lyrics are bits of prose or poetry from my notebooks that I’ll fit to the melody. Sometimes I will come up with filler lyrics just while I’m working out a melody and one phrase will fit so well I will just keep it in, but that’s pretty rare.
CDM: Lyrically, what's your favourite song that you’ve written?
HAZEL: Probably 'I’m Fine', mainly because it’s probably the most honest thing I’ve ever written and I think it might help people who struggle with anxiety and depression.
CDM: What do you think is the difference between a good song and a great song?
HAZEL: In my opinion, a good way to judge if a song is great is if it holds up on its own, just played stripped back style on an acoustic guitar without any production.
CDM: At what age did you write your very first song ever, and what was it about?
HAZEL: I was getting rid of a lot of childhood stuff at my parent’s place and I came upon some loose leaf sheets of paper with lyrics that I wrote when I was about 10. I was trying to imitate the pop songs I had heard on the radio so they’re all about love and heartbreak even though I had never experienced it at that point.
CDM: What do you hope for people to take away from listening to your music?
HAZEL: I hope that my songs will resonate with people and that they can relate to my experiences; I’m just looking for connection. It means a lot to me when people tell me that one of my songs helped them get through a tough week.
CDM: I love that you make handmade scrunchies as merch! Why did you decide to do this?
HAZEL: I had been wanting to make scrunchies for a while and I acquired a bunch of vintage scrap material so one day I just looked up a tutorial on YouTube and made some. It wasn’t something I was intending to sell as merch initially, but once I had made them I thought it might be a fun idea.
CDM: Why did you decide to relocate from Australia to America?
HAZEL: A few years ago I had the option to study abroad and so I decided to go to San Francisco. I had only planned to stay for 6 months, but I quickly realised that I didn’t want to leave. That was about 4 years ago.
CDM: When can we expect a Hazel English album?
CDM: What’s on your bucket-list?
HAZEL: I’ve always wanted to go on a hot air balloon ride.
CDM: You’re one of our 'must-know’ artist picks for 2017... who are yours?
HAZEL: Thank you! Some artists I am really digging right now are: Weyes Blood, Jay Som, and Miserable.
Click here to check out more of Coup De Main’s 2017 Must-Know Artists.
Watch Hazel English perform 'I'm Fine' live below...