Violet Hirst is a new Pōneke artist who performs both solo and also with a band. A few weeks ago she dropped by the Flying Nun shop to play us a few tunes. The dark, haunting and sparse arrangement of her song 'Please Write Home' reminded us a little bit of the music on the first Aldous Harding album. Not a bad thing!
For someone who might not know anything about you - what is your musical background?
I grew up with two musician parents in Queenstown. My mother is a singing teacher and does live theatre, while dad is a saxophonist and piano tuner. One of my earliest memories is of mum singing into my ear, cradling me on stage. I played piano and guitar from a young age and always sung, though took a while to find confidence. I wrote my first song for a Delta Goodrem meet-and-greet contest at 8. I begun performing my own music in high school, and then when I moved to Wellington, managed to get a band together and start playing live more frequently. I used to love a lot of singer-songwriter music so I think this is my natural attraction when I create.
What music have you released? Where and how was it recorded?
Last year I released my first single - Sabine! I recorded all of it myself, on my laptop, with some help from uni facilities at the time (I did a production paper). The piano was recorded at my family home in Queenstown and the rest, at my flat in Mount Cook. My friend Edwyn who’s a great DJ and producer helped with most of the mixing and some minor production, then another friend mastered it - ya! There’s a bit more on my bandcamp that’s all just home produced and all, but I’m working on a wee EP from some band recordings right now.
What are the differences between the solo version of Violet Hirst and the band version? Tell us a bit about the band - who are the people, how did you meet, what do they bring to the band etc?
I suppose the solo version is just me and showcases how most of my songs are when written (bare on a piano/guitar). In some ways it’s a lot more of a raw performance than with a backing band. The band is changing a lot! It’s changed a bit, I used to call them the Kind Hearted and we recorded four tracks together that will be released with that as the title. I sort of waited for people who wanted to play my music to come to me. I met Phoebe at a Yukon Era gig, and she said “if you ever need a bass player” - and that started it! At the moment I’ve been playing with Hikurangi (French For Rabbits/Dawn Diver) on the drums, who I met at a SofarSounds gig, and Logan McCallister (Macho Macho/Cold Ceiling) who I’ve known through music for a while - one of my first solo gigs was opening for his band. I like to treat the band project as playing with excellent musicians and letting this be seen in live performance, so the songs are longer and a bit heavier, but perhaps more fun for a crowd. I love them all and it often feels like group meditation sessions.
4. You’ve been playing a few shows around Wellington - what have been some highlights or lowlights?
Every performance is a highlight. Playing live gives me an electric feeling, and it’s great. Especially when there’s someone new listening who might connect with my music. It’s been nice to have some more people seem interested in my music! However I’m taking a little bit of a break to figure out exactly how I want things to be. My songs are quite delicate to me and I’m aware that playing them without tenderness can chip away at their beauty to me. I want to be more attentive to how my songs are, I need to stay true to myself.
5. What are your plans for the near future? Any big dream plans for the less near future?
At the moment there’s a bit of a lull in live performance, which is good. I’d like to release this EP soon and eventually put on my own show, the way I want it. I’d like to record some more music just mostly by myself, possibly in Dunedin. It would be nice to do a tour and maybe even some festivals over summer, (how does one enquire about playing at The Others Way festival??). But I’d like to do some reorganising with my live set and secure my sound. Things can get so rushed here. Ideally I’d love to tour overseas too, and make an album. I can feel it coming. I’m always writing so I trust in the process that something will amount.