After a successful career providing the bass backbone for double platinum selling Irish alternative band JJ72, Hilary Woods has reinvented herself with a unique and welcomed change to her previous musical endeavours. Combining an ambitious soundscape with an ambient approach to writing, the young songwriter has a promising career ahead, drawing similarities from the likes of Boards of Canada, Imogen Heap and Lamb. Her debut EP ‘Night’ is followed by her latest release ‘Heartbox’ featuring her new single ‘Bathing’: an immersive and sublime track with stunning visuals.
Possessing not only the ability to realize her messages through the medium of music but also film, the rising visionary has directed the videos to both of her tracks ‘Bathing’ and ‘Night’, showing off how her limitations are non existant. GIGsoup had the chance to chat to the artist about her musical upbringing, how her career has shifted after JJ72 and her opinions ‘sonic Nordic noir’.
You played in JJ72 from your teens up until your early twenties, and have now started out as a solo artist. In terms of crafting songs is it any different to writing in a band? Are you more certain about your ideas without a second opinion?
I think my journey as a solo artist is so vastly different to my experience in the band. I started out writing on my own quite a while ago, and it was just a case of me wanting to spend more time on my own material than that of others in a rehearsal room. Crafting songs is an exciting thing to do, to follow your impulses and run with it. In terms of getting a second opinion- to me writing is a felt thing, if something works – I can just feel it. However I also really enjoy playing with other musicians. Other people’s musicianship, really inspires me and I think deep connections can be formed in playing music together.
Your father taught you how to play piano, and you’ve played bass in the past for JJ72. What first got you into music, and are there any other instruments you can play?
My house was filled with music as a kid. My brothers were all in bands, my garage was the local rehearsal space and we used to put on gigs. My dad was a great piano player; was into everything from Trad and Chopin to Elvis..so music was just a part of growing up. Other instruments that I have are drum kit, guitars, harmonicas, so I dabble in a few different things.
‘Bathing’ combines classical instrumentation, with an almost ballet- like piano line, with drum pads and guitars. Were you trying to create a hybrid genre or is this your own unique style?
I never thought of it that way. I just started out with a little piano riff and some chords and went from there. I didn’t strategically go about creating a hybrid of styles.. I was simply following a particular feeling I had which felt quite wondrous. There were a lot of tracks and synths laid down for ‘Bathing’; I enjoyed the process.
The video for ‘Bathing’ is almost as beautiful and majestic as the track itself. Is there anyone you take after for inspiration in the visual realm?
Ah thank you so much. I love going to the cinema so I think subconsciously I’m inspired by lots of film. I had a very clear vision for the video in my wanting the visuals to be both wondrous and trance like and for it to have an almost hypnotic and cyclical feel. This was so the track wouldn’t seem as long (its nearly 6 minutes!) and I wanted giraffes to be in it to lend the track a prehistoric feel and grandeur. Who doesn’t love a giraffe?!
Do you see going solo as a risk, or has your experience from being part of an ensemble prepared you for it all?
I’ve been going solo now for quite a while, being a set part of a band seems like a life time ago. But yes being part of an ensemble definitely helped with taking the leap in doing my own thing. I like taking risks, its exhilarating
Finally, your debut EP ‘Night’ has been called “sonic Nordic noir”. Was that what you were initially going for?
I was happy with my last EP ‘Night’ -it was a quieter, more lyric driven affair. In the making of my new EP ‘Heartbox’, I was more concerned with exploring a particular sound world, and embedding the songs in atmosphere- its more electronic. Its making was a great stepping-stone to my current process of making a full-length album. I think a “sonic Nordic Noir” is an apt description of it. Its darker more glacial than my previous material, so yes I can identify with it being sonically “Nordic”.
This BOOM! Track of the Day article was written by John Gittins, a GIGsoup contributor. Edited by Zoe Anderson. Photo credit: Joshua Wright