We chat to Hachiku about nature, Melbourne DIY, and their exciting album tour

It's been a long time coming but it's finally here - the tour to celebrate the debut album, and taking center stage is Melbourne outfit Hachiku, who are taking their debut album 'I'll Probably Be Asleep' on the road for the first time since the record's release in November 2020. It was a difficult and questionable time to tour, so understandably it's taken until now to see it, but for an artist and album like this, it's well worth the wait!

The album journey begins at the start of 2018 with the release of 'Murray's Lullaby', a track that would find itself bringing the album full circle. Today it serves as the closer to the album, bringing the record's journey to end where it began. But it's also bringing the past into the future in new contexts, with the Tim Shiel-produced song touching on themes of isolation and long-distance relationships that of course we all experienced last year one way or another.

Naturally the second last track, 'Shark Attack', was the second song from the album to be released, with bandleader Anika Ostendorf sharing a personal story of loss and grief after the death of her family dog, rolling on the common themes heard across 'I'll Probably Be Asleep'. This one came to us in late 2019, a time of devastation and heartbreak with much of our media and news feeds showing us pictures of the country falling victim to countless unforgiving bushfires.

And then, of course, comes time for Hachiku to push through a record during a global environment that makes promoting music feels almost impossible. But after some time in iso and one experimental covers EP later, the Melbourne/Naarm band brought their debut album to life - and it's perfect.

The album feels so personal and comforting because of all of the above. It's the themes on the record and the experience's us listeners have had that come together on this album, as a sort of meeting place where we can discuss, unpack, and listen to eachother. Telling these stories through spacious sounds, mixed with the thunderous instruments and gentle vocals sends us through the chapters of Ostendorf's life in this country.

With the album now a few months old, Hachiku are finally ready, and able, to tour it. And along the way they're stopping by Canberra/Ngunnawal to share it with us inside the beautiful Gorman Arts Centre with local crew Paint Store and Yasmine Hosseini.

And this week we were lucky enough to chat to Ostendorf about the record - talking about her influences within the Melbourne DIY and Milk! Records community, the background behind the themes and sounds in the music, as well the album tour itself. You can read what Ostendorf had to say below. Enjoy!

Firstly, where do you keep your tomato sauce? In the fridge or the cupboard?

Uuh, controversial topic!! I'm all about putting things in the fridge but I have to admit that this results in 70% of the fridge being currently occupied by condiments (2 x bottles of BBQ sauce, 1 x bottle of tomato sauce, soy sauce, fish sauce, oyster sauce, Mirin, white wine vinegar, 9 x types of hot sauce etc) and they very regularly cause spills. I do occasionally take out the tomato sauce and put it in the cupboard when we need the space in the fridge for some actual vegetables, but it doesn't feel good. There's something weirdly wrong about putting things from a cold area into a warm area back to a cold area into a warm area into your mouth.

When you first came to Melbourne, you found a community within Milk! Records while interning there, and of course eventually signing with the label. How has the Milk! community and the greater Melbourne DIY scene shaped your sound and your music?

I think what initially fascinated me with Milk! is that it was unlike anything I had ever experienced before - I was studying Biology at the time and my musical practice was quite isolated, in my room with YouTube tutorials and great ideas of what a life as a rockstar could be like. Milk! Records to me was a group of nice friends just playing music together and being friends and people watching them being friends and everyone knew everyone and I had never experienced such a friendly environment full of support and community. I was desperate to be part of it. A friend of The Friends. In a grander scheme of things I have always and still love the DIY spirit of the Melbourne music scene. People just do it. Compared to London where I lived previously, there was nothing pretentious about it or needing to do a certain thing to fit in. Melbourne just naturally felt like me. Musically probably I wouldn't say that we have a very 'Melbourne sound' (however one might interpret that) but I reckon that's a made up thing anyway that one sounds like a city.

Over iso, you recorded three covers at the task of developing your skills with Ableton, and you shared with us the ‘99 Dreams’ EP in July. How was that process for you and was there anything that you learnt in that process that you’ve taken back to your own songs and performance?

Oh yes most definitely. Foremost probably that it doesn't have to take 3 months to write and record a song. I guess covers are a bit easier in the way that the lyrics and chord changes are written for you, but I did manage to complete each of those songs within 1 week. I have also learnt to love Ableton and the perks it provides as a software - it's like one massive loop station and the possibilities to brainstorm ideas are endless.

There’s songs on the album that are about the yearning for someone , somewhere, or something else. How did these songs take shape for you in the past 12 months when this felt more real than ever?

In some ways the album did feel like predicting the future a little bit (I finished all those songs at least 12 months before COVID hit) - especially the video clip for Bridging Visa B that is all about a post-apocalyptic dream world and having a picnic on the moon because the world has finally ended. I guess the feeling of yearning you are describing is quite universal and probably felt by anyone that has decided to move halfway across the world (I'm originally from Germany but have lived in Melbourne for the past 5 years). The last year has definitely manifested the missing of something, someone, something else but I guess it's all part of life.

One way you’ve promoted the album was through recording ‘Busy Being Boring’ out in open forest space in regional Victoria/Dja Dja Wurrung country - the clip feels quite peaceful, and reflective of moments throughout the album that use natural elements to drive the story, looking particularly at ‘Bridging Visa B’ where we can hear the sounds of singing birds in the background, and the echoey, spacious sounds heard in ‘Dreams of Galapagos’. How do these natural themes play a role in your music and your music videos?

I do love nature and I think what often naturally presents itself in my music is what I am subconsciously drawn towards - whether that's incorporating my dog barking or writing lyrics trying to put in all my family members first names. To be honest, a lot of the whacky sounds come straight out of my 80's Casio keyboard selection. In my songwriting and demo recording phase I often play around with the random buttons - train whistles, monkey cries, bird songs - they are meant to be just placeholders at the start but I actually don't usually delete them in the final versions. I get kind of attached to them and I think our music is weird enough to not feel subconscious about a random lion roaring in verse 2.

Thinking about these organic themes of nature and life, I can think of no better venue for you to play than Gorman Arts Centre. What can you tell us about your upcoming performance there and what can the audience expect from the show?

I like your reference about nature and life - I have never actually thought about it much that way. We will be launching our debut LP 'I'll Probably Be Asleep' this Saturday, 27th March with Yasmine Hosseini and Paint Store. I'm not sure how long our set length is but if it's longer than 35 minutes we'll be playing the whole album in full and maybe an old one from our EP. I'm pretty excited to be coming back to Canberra - don't tell anyone outside of it but I think all my favourite shows in Australia so far have been in Canberra, supporting The Breeders and Jose Gonzales at the Canberra Theatre.

And how has the rest of the tour been so far? How does it feel to be back on the road again?

Amazing and daunting at the same time! I get quite stressed around headline shows, anxiety levels are high until just before you go on stage - will we sell enough tickets to make it work, do I remember this and that guitar line, does the band feel happy, do I remember the password to our card reader, why is there so much foam in my equipment case. Those sorts of thoughts rarely happen when we play support, it's like someone else is responsible for your life. The tour so far has been amazing though - we've been playing a couple of regional shows for the first time ever with the support of a Creative Victoria touring grant. People have been so happy to see live music again, lots of 'first time at a gig in 12 months'. It's a pretty addictive feeling.

And finally, is there anything you want to share with us about what’s to come next for you and your music?

Seeing that we are addicted to touring now, we are trying to organise another run of shows for July / August up the East Coast and maybe even Perth & Exmouth. I need to get back into songwriting / recording mode. I've been very foccused on getting our live show ready and rolling - come April I'm hoping to start writing some new songs. We will also be re-working some of our album songs with a classical music ensemble at Newmarket Studios and further I'm thinking of doing a mini remix EP with some of the songs. I'm also getting more into the idea of mixing and producing music for other people so hit me up if you got anything lying around 🙂

Like Anika said, Hachiku are coming to Canberra on Saturday 27th March and with them will be Yasmine Hosseini and Paint Store. Make sure you buy tickets to that one, because we know its one not to miss!