This week, we caught up with Katie Richardson from harmony driven alt-pop band, Hex Hue to find out more about their music, the Belfast music scene and their brand new single, Anyway in collaboration with Avro Party. Read all about it below…
1. How did Hex Hue come about and how would you describe your music to first-time listeners?
Hex hue really came from a need to start afresh as the musician I had naturally become over the years. I made a lot of different types of music before in different bands but as I became more comfortable with who I am as a human/woman/writer I really felt like I was ready to be unashamedly me in every way. This music feels like the truest representation of myself that I have ever made. The name Hex Hue comes from colours – inspired by Hex codes and different shades. I’m quite a visual and emotional writer so I liked the idea of being inspired by how we see the world in different colours and the imagery that brings up. I would describe the music as Alt-pop – synthy, harmony-driven with big vocals. I’m really inspired by Scandinavian, Nordic, Icelandic music. I love big pop melodies with interesting production, massive bass, and driving beats. People keep telling me that my music is full of longing as well which I had never really considered but I think they’re right!
2. Your latest single, Anyway is a collaboration with Arvo Party – How did that come about and what was the production process behind it?
Arvo Party is someone who I have respected for years as a musician and is also a really good friend. We were both in very different bands, making very different music for years – he is an excellent bass player and was in an amazing rock band called Lafaro, while I was making sort of pop-folk music. Then over the years our musical words started to align more closely and the music we were making seemed to complement each other perfectly. He brought an instrumental into my studio, I started to sing and before we knew it we had Anyway. It was really fun and easy and he is so great to work with. The production was all him and I wrote and arranged the lyrics and vocal melodies. I’d really like to make more music with him in the future – the stuff he comes up with is really inspiring to write over.
3. The track is 80s expired electronic pop, what 80s bands / artists help influence it?
I agree there’s a real 80s vibe to it. I would say though that the influences are pulled from all over the place and are a mixture of many different genres and artists – 80s music for sure but also more contemporary pop and indie references. I have been especially inspired by epic 80s pop over the last few years. I love the drama and emotion of the vocals – big fan of Cindi Lauper, Kate Bush, Bonnie Tyler etc. Those artists probably inspired me melodically for this song. But yeah it’s a whole melting pot of both our vast array of influences coming together.
4. Is there a specific message or meaning that the track represents?
Yes definitely. For me it’s about the process of change and transition and the release and freedom that comes with that. The journey from the moment of realising that you need things to change and then running into this hazy uncertainty with a blind hope that you will get out the other side. How we hold on to the good times even if they never were really very good to begin with. I think the times we are living in really inspired me when we were making this song. I also feel real transition and change in my own life at the minute in many ways so the song feels very cathartic and personal. I feel physically better after singing this song there is a real release, determination and realisation that comes with the development of the melody and lyrics that I feel when I sing it.
5. Hex Hue is based in Belfast, how would you describe the music scene there and do you have any local bands / musicians you recommend us checking out?
Firstly it’s crawling with incredible artists and songwriters. We are lucky to have a really open, supportive community of musicians here – more so than anywhere else I’ve ever been or worked. There are a lot of exciting new artists at the minute and it’s becoming much more diverse in so many ways – both musically and who we’re seeing step forward. When I started there were very few females for example. It was such a male-dominated indie rock scene and it was hard to break through if you were doing anything different. Now we have a wealth of acts making exciting new music and I’m totally inspired by that. So great to see. I feel like I’m surrounded by young women playing instruments and making whatever music they want and I am so here for that and want to help nurture it in any way possible. We still have a lot of work to do to make sure that we encourage other underrepresented voices within the sector and amplify their voices in the ongoing quest for equal representation and opportunity, zero discrimination and mutual respect. It’s too hard to start naming my favourite artists here – I would be going on forever. Check out blogs like The Thin Air and Chordblosson or look out for NI music playlists on Spotify to hear the lush variety of music coming out of these parts.
6. You recently premiered ‘Into The Haze’, a pre-recorded concert for Sound of Belfast – what’s been the general response from the gig so far?
The response has been overwhelming. I had the best time making it with the best team of people. An absolute dream group made the whole process easy and fun from start to finish – even throughout the sleepless nights and stresses. We were so lucky to be given the opportunity to make it by the brilliant people at Sound of Belfast festival. I didn’t realise quite how much I missed singing into a microphone and working with people in a room so it was just totally magical when it happened and I’ll never take it for granted again. It was so cool that friends all over the world could tune in and watch. I just can’t wait to do more now…
7. What’s been your most memorable gig so far?
To play or to attend? To play – I don’t think my most memorable gig was as Hex Hue. This is such a new project for me and I’ve only really done a handful of gigs so far. I think some of my most memorable gigs were when I played in Pleasure Beach. We played some amazing venues like The Olympia in Dublin and on big stages at festivals like Electric Picnic and Indiependance festival in Cork. Also supporting Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds at Belsonic was incredible. Another was performing in The Ulster Hall with Foy Vance several years ago. He sang one of my songs with me and I’ll never forget that. The goal now is to create those experiences and live shows as Hex Hue. The live show is really important to me and I’m always excited to bring some theatricality and visual experience to the music. To attend – probably Bjork, Perfume Genius, Sigur Ros, Bon Iver, Sylvan Esso or Christine and the Queens. At a push Perfume Genius was maybe the stand out.
8. What advice do you have for any musician looking to start in the industry?
Just start. it can seem overwhelming at the beginning – actually, it still feels overwhelming. I’m not sure it gets easier as there is always so much to do and learn but there is nothing better for courage than action. Don’t be afraid to be who you are – I wish I had understood that fully sooner – and don’t be afraid to fight for what you believe. People will always have opinions on what you should do and who you should be but as important as it is to listen it’s also important to try and be clear in your why and always be true to yourself. I think finding your people is really important also. Find the people who inspire, support and encourage you and not the opposite. Find people to collaborate with and dream with and create with. Oh and never neglect your mental health. Music is really hard work and it’s not for everyone but it is the most beautiful thing in the world to make something from nothing and release it out into the world to take on it’s own life.
9. What are the band’s main aims and ambitions for the band over the next few years?
Just to keep releasing music, collaborate with as many people across different art forms as possible, get an album out asap and make lots of beautiful visual content with videos and live shows. Try and reach as many people as possible and always to get better, more creative and more collaborative as a musician, artist and producer.
Make sure you keep up to date with Hex Hue’s social media below…
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/hexhue
Twitter – @hexhue
Instagram – @hex_hue_