by Shannon Jay
Behind bubbly melodies, sweet synths and upbeat guitars on her debut, “Never Going Home,” Hazel English talks trials and tribulations with life, love, and moving across the world.
Originally from Australia, she moved to California to study abroad. Now based out of Oakland, according to the record’s title, she’s happy here. After a chance encounter with Day Wave, he produced the debut and aided the shaping of her breezy sound. Popscure caught up with English via email to dive a little deeper into leaving home, finding a new one, and what drove her here.
When did you move to the U.S. & What lead you to choose California to study abroad oppose to other countries?
I had visited San Francisco when I was 21 while doing some travelling and I felt a very strong connection unlike anything I’d felt before; I kind of had this intuitive feeling that I was going to live there one day. The opportunity came for me to study abroad about 4 years ago and I ended up getting into a school in the Bay Area. It was such a gut instinct thing—there was definitely a lot of doubt but something in me just knew I had to do it. It was very scary because I didn’t know anybody and I left behind a lot of comfortable things, but looking back, I can easily say it was the best decision I’ve ever made.
What have been some of the pros and cons of starting your career so far away from your hometown?
The obvious con is being away from my friends and family back home but I’ve been fortunate enough to make lots of new friends in the U.S. which has been really nice. One pro I’ve found is that being in a new environment often pushes you to be more open and try new things so I think that can definitely help in any artistic endeavour.
How is the Australian music scene compared to America?
Honestly, there isn’t a huge difference other than the fact that there is a much bigger music industry in the U.S. Over here, I feel like there are lots of different paths you can take with it whereas back home, there is much more of a direct and narrow route to success. That being said there are some amazing Australian bands doing really well right now and I feel like people are finally starting to notice that there are a lot of talented Aussie musicians.
When did you make the transition from playing tuba in the school band to writing your own dreampoppy music?
I stopped playing the euphonium when I reached grade 7 so there’s been quite a few years in between for me to experiment with my sound. Sometimes I think about picking it up again after all this time, I am not sure I’d even remember how to play.
You studied Creative Writing, what drove you towards that major? Any other writing you do besides songs?
I’ve always been very interested in writing and creating stories. I do write fiction too, but right now I’m pretty devoted to songwriting so that takes up most of my attention.
What are some songwriters you pull lyrical influences from?
I really love Morrissey’s lyrics because they are witty and make me laugh, although I don’t think that’s my style of writing at all. Honestly, I’m probably more influenced by confessional poets like Anne Sexton and Sylvia Plath than other songwriters but I can definitely appreciate good lyrics.
How has the shift from hometown to the unknown informed “Never Going Home”?
I wanted to capture all the emotions that I experienced when I first moved to California and the sense of wonder that I felt, moving to a completely new country and starting a new life.