Ella Hooper is a magician. Best known as the spunky front woman of ‘Killing Heidi’, a journey that she began at the tender age of 13, Ella is now also the creative genius behind the bewitching double EP – Venom/New Magic. This double EP is a chilling dichotomy of both sound, and raw emotion, with Ella leading her listener on a rather magical voyage from black heartbreak, to joyful new beginnings. We caught up with Ella about her latest video and single ‘Good Wagon’, the mystic inspirations behind her fabulous double EP, and what lies in store for her in the year ahead.
‘Good Wagon’ is an incredible track. Could you tell us a bit about the inspiration and writing process behind it?
Well, ‘Good Wagon’ is part of the EP called Venom. I released a double EP (Venom/New Magic), and it is honestly so contrasting, I had to put them on two different CDS and package them together because I didn’t even want them touching each other!
‘Good Wagon’ is about my healing process after a very, very gnarly breakup. Its about the sort of thing you do when you go home to your mum, or your dad, or your family, with your tail between your legs, looking for that nurturing, and a safe place to start thinking about things. Funnily enough the place that I actually wrote and recorded the song, is my Mum’s house, which is an old church. It is a really powerful place, and when I do need to kind of heal or grieve or sook, I go there. Its in the country, like two and half hours out of Melbourne, deep in the bush. In the song’s lyrics it mentions a steeple and a ringing bell, and I guess it sounds like I’m talking about religion, but its actually because my mum’s house is an actual church!
So I heard that you created the music video moments after the New Moon, and there is a real sense of ritual and ceremony -its very bewitching. Could you tell us a bit about the video, and what kind of message you were going for?
Wow, well that was really collaborative with beautiful Lee Gingold, the director. He is really into ritual and magic, as I am too, and he was like ‘Do you know that its going to be a new moon on this night, because it is going to be a great time to manifest something positive out of something negative’. Which I am all about because I am a very positive person, and as depressing as the Venom EP is, I really did want to make something positive out of it. The version that you see is one of five, six takes maybe. It took absolutely ages to set up, I was absolutely buggered by the end of it, it was like 3 in the morning, well past the witching hour. I feel very powerful at night time, like I loose my inhibitions, like I’m able to go more with the heart.
What was the creation process of Venom/New Magic like for you? Did you learn anything new about yourself, both musically and personally?
Oh yeah! Big time! It has been the biggest learning curve, and it has been so satisfying. I’m an artist that some people probably think that they know, as in they know who I am and know what I do, because I’ve been around for a quite long time, in pop bands and stuff (Killing Heidi). But Venom/ New Magic shows me that there is so much yet to sort of explore and to tell. The reaction that I got from people was so satisfying, and in a weird way I felt very validated by doing something so far from the mainstream and so far from other people’s expectations, and its helped me become much, much freer as an artist, like I feel like I am only going to go farther in this direction.
What distinguishes Venom from New Magic?
Venom was the grief, and New Magic is the hopefulness. And New Magic is also about letting go, and looking back without pain and anger, its also a bit more tongue in cheek – like the silver lining. Because you know, there are still funny things that happen even during harrowing breakups, you have to put a sense of humour in there as well. New Magic is also about a commitment to my craft, in that I will always have music, and the ability to create. So even when relationships come and go, I will always have the magic of art. And its just getting stronger. And as my bitter little heart was saying, ‘what is the fucking point of relationships, they just end up ending’. And I honestly feel like it almost gets harder every time to pick yourself up and let go, but the art actually gets stronger every time. And I get more powerful, and more confident in myself, so it’s the weird dichotomy that I wanted to explore.
What has heartbreak and sorrow taught you?
To learn not to judge myself, and to just accept it as part of cycles. And you know, because I am into the moon, and ritual and witchiness- to just accept the natural waxing and waning of relationships, rather than being so completely distraught by it all. Its hard, I’m still trying to accept it, we all love the waxing, and hate the waning you know!
You have always been a strong woman, starting off in the industry at 13. What do you love about being a woman, both in the entertainment industry and in your life?
I feel really honoured to be a woman in the industry, for other women. And I feel like the thing that keeps me here, is my affection and my love for all the incredible women in it. In the industry, it’s the women, the writers and the singers and the doers, that I connect to on a very special level, because they are artists too, and also in a weird way, we are ‘fighting the good fight’. We are not the majority, and there is still a hell of a lot of stuff that we have to knowingly, or unknowingly push against, so I feel it really bonds us. And I feel like its amazing to be part of a team. Its a tribe really, and the tribe of creative women is something that I feel really honoured to be a part of. And that’s what I really love about The Ladies Network too, it’s a celebration of all the kinds of things I get excited about. Let’s be resistors, and warriors!
What are you looking forward to in 2017?
Ooh, well, I’ve got a lot on! I’m filling up my plate with a lot of powerful work. I recently joined the Victorian Women’s Trust, which is this very old, powerful feminist organisation, which is amazing, and I’m also recording a lot of new music. Most importantly, I have a tour coming up, which is very exciting!
Catch Ella’s Venom/New Magic on tour:
Tues March 7 – Garden of Unearthly Delights – Adelaide SA
Fri March 17 – The Tote- Melbourne VIC
Sat March 18 – Twilight Sounds – Banyule VIC
Fri March 24 – The Cambridge (Warehouse) – Newcastle NSW
Sat March 25 – Art of Expresso – Young NSW
Sun March 26 – Sonny’s House of Blues – Brisbane QLD