A multi-sensory experience, Heart People’s unique music blurs lines between genres and creates a lush atmosphere like no other.
Ahead of the release of their latest EP ‘Homecoming’, Rachel Rutt discusses the creative process behind Heart People’s expansive sound, the collaborations, and how being open-minded can be the catalyst for incredible things if you trust yourself and be patient.
Firstly, I must say that I love Heart People’s music. It is so engaging.
Thank you so much, that’s really encouraging. We’ve just been like slogging at the moment trying to get it our there in the right way and for me its just been a learning curve, but thank you so much for your support, I really appreciate it.
It is quite a multi-sensory experience as you hear it, see it further expressed in the music videos and also feel it. What is your process behind the songs? Do you hear a tune or visualise it first?
I am glad that you asked that because it does depend on the track that we are working on. So for instance with Voices, Voices is an interesting track for us because when we made it we were really confused on whether we wanted to put it out at all. I remember distinctly writing the vocals for it when I had been in Paris for a job. Ryan had sent it to me and was like, “Oh I’ve been doing this. Have a listen and see if it’s a nice direction for you”, and the vocals were so quick. I just heard them in my head. So when I got back we ended up working on it and actually amazingly for a really long time we were on the fence with it. We then got it to where we wanted it to go, and that is a weird thing. For us we still kind of scratch out heads and go “How did that become? How did that get remixed by Andrew Weatherall? How did it become this huge video?”. It’s so amazing how small things start out.
Then on the other hand, Homecoming started visually before it was a song. It’s actually quite old for us. We shot Blue Star which was our first ever video, and we were thinking of the next thing visually. It was more like sort of workshopping that and we wanted to almost do a narrative short film and create a little fantasy about it. It was in writing ideas down for that visually where we ended up then turning it into a song. So for us actually Homecoming is quite a strange song. We always thought that no one would like it, well hopefully people would like it, but we would understand if its a little bit strange song wise, but amazingly enough its got the most airplay so far. So we are really happy with that, but it goes to show that you really have no idea.
It is a very rich and unique sound. How do you think you would describe Heart People’s genre?
It’s probably easiest to describe it as dance and electronic music because it is all electronic and we want people to dance, so thats that. But we have also been thinking about pop music and how obviously when people think pop music you think Beyonce or people like that, but pop music is essentially ‘popular music’, and so one day we hope that it is pop music but I don’t know if that makes sense or sounds lame. We want it to be dance, electronic, pop.
Oh yes Heart People is definitely something you can dance to. Going back to Voices, why did you pick it to be your first single if you previously doubted it so much?
Well, from Ryan and I, we were wondering if it was where we wanted to go because actually we changed the music. Ryan was always hesitant about what he created and wanted to take it a bit further. Although, our collaborator and really good friend Byron Spencer said that he wanted to do the Voices music video. We were like “oh okay, as this is how we are feeling about it”, and he was like “no I have this whole vision”.
A huge part of creating, as I am sure you know, is that especially when you are collaborating and someone is going “I’ve got this idea”, usually that means really good things. Even if you can’t visualise it, the more that you let go and let someone else use their talents to interpret it, the more empowered it can be. You see another person take your work into their world and translate it again. It is something that we can’t do on our own and we can’t do it all really, you have got to trust someone.
Eventually the video got finished and Ryan found what he needed to do to change the music, so the song, which is essentially still the same vocally, was changed and we had to re-edit the video to match the new beat. It has gone through a lot of inception haha. We talk about it a lot actually as it was surprising how things turn out, and in the end when we asked Andrew Weatherall what he wanted to remix and it was Voices.
Why did you decide to include a remix of every song within the EP?
Ryan was thinking of maximising the places and the people that were going to hopefully understand our music. In his world, that is DJ’ing. So when you get other DJs and artists to remix it, again it is another interpretation and another level of trust. It’s quite thrilling seeing someone else, especially someone like Andrew Weatherall who is so legendary, to believe in it and put his word behind it, turning it into something that he does really well. For example him, but there are also a few other artists on there that we absolutely love like Tolouse Low Trax, MR TC, and a couple of local people too. The power of having that is seeing someone else take it into their style, and also for us to show our influences, the people we admire, and show where we are coming from on a taste level. We hope that people who like their work will see it and understand it. Putting it into that same world and going this is what we love so hopefully you love it too, or if you love that then maybe you’ll love this.
The EP really is one big creative collaboration. Has the process from beginning to end taken a long time?
Ryan and I have been working on this project for three years now. I don’t have a musical background so in a way it probably needed to take that long for me to understand what I was doing, what I wanted to contribute and learn how to control my voice to communicate how I wanted to. Also, just fine tune that as as much as punk is one thing, there is a level where you need to be comfortable with what you are putting out. Working on the ideas and the creative part was easy, but turning that into vocal power and ability, that naturally takes a while. I am actually glad that it has been three years in the making as essentially it started off just playing, its not like we sat down and were like “we’re making an EP”, it was like lets have a go and then it turned into this overtime. Now we are ready for it to come out and we have the support. So it has happened really naturally and quite strangely.
If you didn’t have much of a background in music, how did you get into this medium?
Throughout my life, something that is really consistent is that really random things happen to me and they can change the course of my life, and the more open you are to them the more amazing things happen. This was just one of those things. When Ryan called me, it was really out of the blue and we ended up meeting up. Initially it started as just doing a song for Canyons as they often used non-vocalists to do spoken word, but it didn’t work out in that way, although Ryan and I ended up hitting it off and thought we should just keep going. I wasn’t looking at it as a career change, I was looking at it as a bit of a fun experiment. I feel really rewarded by that in all honesty because I never felt pressure, it was more what do I like, how do I feel and how am I going to talk about it. Starting from there, before ability. It has been really empowering realising that if you are willing to push your idea far enough, the other stuff comes. I honestly believe that should go for everybody in the world. If you figure that out, it is pretty empowering.
Yes very true. Nothing is ever a straight line. It is important to give ourselves the freedom and understanding that sometimes the best things come out of the unknown or chance, and by exploring those deeper you can learn and grow so much more. You have previously said that within your textile art practice you were knitting your feelings, do you find that this has been the same case with your music? Is it a reflection of your feelings or is it more of an exploration into something else?
It’s definitely a combination. Your feelings are essentially how you are translating the world around you. You are using the medium and the peculiarities of the medium to maximise those feelings, so yes in a way it is exactly the same but just a different medium. There is something really empowering about it from a music level, especially as I didn’t know a lot about music and am learning a lot now. I grew up in a very closed environment, I didn’t even listen to people like Madonna until I came to Australia which was like 12 years ago. A lot of things that we take for granted culturally are very relatively new to me. I think when you are looking at something brand new like that, music for example, and you don’t know the structures or the boundaries, in a lot of ways it can be incredibly liberating because you are not worried about what you think you know, you’re kind of just like “Oh wow you can do that!”. Theres something to be said for that, I think its pretty cool. I feel very lucky.
Well I guess being completely openminded in the making process can give way for so much more creativity.
In an interesting way, it was very similar to knitwear too. It was also like “oh I just learnt how to do this so let me try”, and the more you try the more you find out and give yourself the patience to keep going. Essentially I think the patience to keep going with anything just comes from allowing yourself to spend the time to make a lot of mistakes, to not have to show a lot of output right away and to trust yourself because I think nowadays, especially with the digital world we live in, we are all expected to have this output all the time. There’s this level of expectation that we are all feeding each other and it takes a lot of faith to go well fuck it, I am doing this but I literally have nothing to show for it. It is okay that maybe I can’t talk about it right now, or maybe I am too shy, or maybe I am talking about it and someones going to ask me for proof and I don’t have it, but I will have it one day and I need to believe in myself enough, trust myself and give myself enough credit to have a silent period. I hope that that comes back. I hope that it gets more popular as I think you need to do that you know?
Yes, I couldn’t agree more. Nowadays its almost like people have to prove themselves on social media, trying not to be forgotten.
Also I think that in the long run, if we can move outside of the instant moment, those are the things that hang around for a really long time. Half the time you don’t realise the value of what you have been doing until years later when you have totally moved on. Some of those really memorable moments are more memorable in retrospect.
I guess we take everything for granted when we are in the present.
Yeah, and also we don’t realise we are kicking goals sometimes until a couple years later.
Well said. Looking into the future now, are there any things coming up with Heart People or your visual art practice?
With Heart People we are pushing out the EP. That’s coming out on May 26. We have also been working on our live show. When you asked about genres as well, when we are working on our live show we are trying to find the balance of putting on a performance but also creating an environment and a space where people will dance and are enjoy a spectacle but also relaxing. Something I noticed from the beginning of doing live shows and to where we are now is that you can see the music creating a reaction in people. You can see it come up in them. Although, for a while there it was getting stunted and they were just shocked. Ryan and I talked about it, and I loved that there was a reaction as thats what its all about, but I want that to be a release rather than just an acknowledgement of feelings. I want those feelings to get out there and then for people to forget about them and you just let it go. So that is something that we are really really trying to get out across through our live set. In all honesty, sometimes lately that means cutting out things that we really love just to find a balance. That has been a really amazing learning curve. As a fine artist you probably know that as well, stripping back and taking out what isn’t necessary to get it to the best point.
Yes I understand what you are saying. It is revealing presenting your work although sometimes you also need to make it relatable for people to understand it. So do you have a particular target audience?
Weirdly enough, at this moment we just want to create an audience as we are super new and unknown. Although in all honesty we have had such a variety of audiences so far and have found that realistically even though the audiences are diverse, the reaction has been the same and that is awesome. To think that it doesn’t matter who you are or what you are into, if this is touching you in that place then this is going somewhere and thats great.
Relating to textiles, I am part of a group show and its the first time I have exhibited anything. Its not to do with knitting, it is weaving which I have been practising for 4 years now but I have never put out yet. Knitting, I could put whatever I wanted out there and was never feared what people would think or worry about my own ability, even though it was terrible, but with weaving it has been the complete opposite. I have got the ability but I needed to take a lot of time to let that sink in so that I didn’t become a technician. So it wouldn’t become just about the structure or what I knew.
By understanding the ways of the medium, you could experiment and create out of what it doesn’t tell you to do so it becomes more of a personal interpretation.
I don’t know what medium you use with your art or if you are still working it out, but it is the same. My singing teacher actually said the same thing with singing. She studied sining really intensively and became a total pro, although by then end of it she said that she had no creativity but if she didn’t go to music school then she wouldn’t have realised that the initial way she was using her voice was wrong and would have burnt out her vocal cords. If she hadn’t studied she would have had a really short career, but the fact that she did study sort of changed the course of her career. It’s one of those things where I think artists in general sort of come to that crossroad. So, I am really excited as I feel like I have worked through a lot of that with weaving and I am part of a show next month with Par Femme. It’s an all women exhibition and 10% of the proceeds are going to The Rough Period.
Heart People’s latest EP, Homecoming, is released Friday May 26.
Watch this space for upcoming info on Heart People’s unique & engaging live shows.