"When you have unlimited time to finish something, that is probably a bit dangerous for me. I don’t know when and where to stop..." - Hachiku talks her debut LP I'll Probably Be Asleep
Hachiku is 26-year-old Anika Ostendorf, an Australian native, who has spent the past five years building a reputation for spacey, groove-led slacker pop with a series of excellent early releases.
Building a fanbase with successful support slots with Snail Mail and alt-rock heroes The Breeders, Ostendorf has now released her debut LP, which fittingly is coming out on Milk! Records, the label founded by fellow Antipodean slacker hero Courtney Barnett.
With the record, I'll Probably Be Asleep, now on shelves, we spoke to Ostendorf about the making of her debut album, the time it takes her to write a song and Melbourne's long, long lockdown...
It’s a strange time to be releasing your debut album, have you managed to enjoy the process at all?
"Yes, definitely! I mean releasing music in one way or another is always a little stressful. Lots of admin and emails, but on the other end of it lots of nice message by people that enjoy your new song or are excited to come to your show one day. I guess that's the main thing I'm missing at the moment. Usually, you'd start rehearsing your album for a live performance and get to prepare for a couple of release shows and tours which mentally compensate for the tedious computer work. But hopefully, the fun part of music will come back sometime soon."
The record is coming out on Courtney Barnett and Jen Cloher’s label, Milk! Records. How have you found working with them?
"Pretty fun! I mean at this stage we are friends more than workmates so it never feels like work. Jen recently stopped label managing Milk! but is still super involved, engaged and personally committed to helping us with any questions we have and advice she can share. Courtney equally is always happy to share her spotlight, whether that's taking us on tour or suggesting mixing engineers or being there to give directions."
When were the songs for this album written? Do they span a long period or are they more recent?
"I started writing the first demos while doing farm work that was mandatory for my second year Australian visa in Queensland in 2016. Since then I chipped away at it whenever I had some time – some in Germany while visiting my parents, some in Australia whenever we didn't play shows. So they definitely span a long period from October 2016 to roughly October 2019 when I got the mixes back. Milk! and I took our time to release it and tried to find a good home for it overseas which we eventually did with Marathon Artists."
It’s an eight-track record, did you always want to keep things concise or was that just the way things worked out?
"A mixture of both. My songwriting and recording process takes ages, always way longer than it should take to finish a song. I have never written a song that I didn't release because I either abandon an idea right at the start when I'm not feeling it or I spent months trying to find new sounds and finish lyrics. By the time I finish a song, I'm way too attached to it to just put it in a folder and forget about it. Therefore it took three years to finish eight songs. If I wanted to write a 12 song album it would have been five years. My aim for the next record is to definitely be less precious and perfectionist about everything and just hurry up a little."
What kind of album is this lyrically? Is there a theme to it?
"It’s kind of a struggle for me to retrospectively analyze a collection of songs and their overarching or underlying meaning, but, I guess as a broad summary it reflects my life, thoughts about and observations of myself, the world around me and my role in such world over the past 4 years. Anger, frustrations, realisations, restlessness, defeat, being neither here nor there. The many facets of growing up, challenging your own perspectives and changing outlooks."
"It all sounds very depressing, but I guess when you are younger you have those rose-tinted glasses on that overtime figuratively speaking become more see-through and transparent to the realisation how doomed humanity is as a whole. I think that’s good though, if you don’t see the issues at hand how are you meant to try and fix them..."
Which song on the album took the longest to get right?
"The third song 'You'll Probably Think This Song is About You' took the longest to complete and is probably the cheesiest because you know...love. I think there are maybe four or five demos at different tempos and different feels. I think in the end I did find a middle ground, but to be honest I probably now would have preferred to stick with a lo-fi drenched in reverb version. Oh well, next time!"
And which came together most quickly?
"Definitely 'Shark Attack'. That one was the last song I wrote for the album and I had a one-week deadline and it just happened and I didn’t have time to overthink it and it just had to be what it was. When you have unlimited time to finish something, that is probably a bit dangerous for me. I don’t know when and where to stop."
When did you settle on I’ll Probably Be Asleep for the title? Were there any other titles in contention?
"The album title is based on the first song on the album of the same name. It's a line in the song 'maybe I'll be up for it, but I'll probably be asleep'. I’m never quite sure where a particular lyrical inspiration comes from, it kind of just manifests itself in my head spontaneously. I quite liked the visual that ’l’ll Probably Be Asleep brings to mind. Sleeping your life away while the world keeps spinning around, like in the moment of sleeping you put a pause on everything and I found that quite a fitting description of life."
Are you able to make any live plans at the moment? Or are you looking towards 2021?
"We've had a couple but with COVID-19 lingering around everything keeps pushing back so everyone is very tentative around making any plans. We are hoping to do a small run of shows around Victoria, Australia in early 2021 as a delayed local album release tour. I was hoping to go back to Europe in mid-2021 but it's too hard to predict anything. Maybe 2021 is still too optimistic even. I don't want to get my hopes up so I'll just wait and see what happens."
How have you spent lockdown? Have you kept writing?
"Melbourne had one of the longest lockdowns in the world. We just came out of a four-month-long second lockdown. I didn’t mind the start of it and was quite motivated to work on a lot of music but that slowly converted into a slightly more frustrating version and I have now resorted to becoming a pro gardener and trying to raise tiny, pretty flowers from seeds."
"I do still try and work on music at least every other day, but I am definitely lacking a certain discipline. I did discover a lot of new music and other art outlets which I loved having the time and patience for to consume in peace."