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Ella Hooper

Award-winning singer-songwriter Ella Hooper is best known for her work in rock band Killing Heidi. These days, she’s a flourishing solo artist, her style lyric-driven country, folk and Americana. In her new record, Small Town Temple, Hooper delves into rich emotional territories connected to her family, hometown and her childhood. Betty Sweetlove caught up with her for a chat ahead of her show at Araluen Arts Centre stage this month.

What do you find most rewarding about connecting with regional audiences, including us in Mparntwe/Alice Springs?

It’s an experience that I relish, playing in regional and remote areas…. It’s a real privilege. You feel far more in the moment and aware that this doesn’t happen all the time, due to costs and opportunities … So when it does line up I jump at the chance and make the most of it. I have had some incredible times in the NT, I find it quite magical.

Audiences are treated to tracks from your new solo album, which explores elements of your childhood and hometown, why are these themes important to you?

It’s something I’ve always done, going right back to 'Weir', Killing Heidi’s first single. I am so inspired by my environment and the people in it, and for most of my life, that’s been based in and around the country.

I think a lot of songwriters' child selves are still very alive in them, so it’s quite easy to access that outlook, those feelings and memories, and that helps others access them too. [The bush] is also a very beautiful environment to have come from and singing about it takes me back there when I’m sick of the city grey!

How do you navigate the balance between vulnerability and strength when performing these songs live?

Well, both modes are important to express, I think. I try not to overdue either one, and balance them by choosing a selection of songs that express both. People tend to laugh and cry at my shows, so I think so far I'm navigating it well!

Tell us about the transition from rock to country/folk and how that’s influenced your songwriting?

It’s allowed me to tell stories in a bit more detail, and with even more personal anecdotes included, as that genre is really about storytelling and authenticity. I love it – spilling your guts to music, basically!

Your regular collaborator Melody Pool is supporting your tour. Tell us about your love of touring together?

I met Melody when I was hosting a song-writing performing competition many years ago, which she won, and we have been incredibly tight ever since. It’s been amazing watching her craft her career and grow as an artist and person over the years.

It’s a special connection we have I think, a sort of musical sistership, and neither of us have actual sisters, so it’s quite precious to both of us, I think. We love touring together because we both love the same kind of music and the same kind of intimate show where you really connect with the audience and yourself.

The show involves a huge range of instruments, such as dobro and banjo. What drew you to these sounds and how do they contribute to the overall experience?

They are such wonderful, expressive instruments, and they speak to the Americana genre that I am currently so into. And, it doesn't hurt that my right hand man Mic Hubbard is a whiz on all of them. He is incredibly talented, and I love the fact that I can take one person on the road and he can play so many different things!

To me, those instruments perfectly complement detailed storytelling as they are not overpowering, like sometimes rock guitar and drums can be … There is a time and place for those, but this album wants a slightly softer touch.

Ella Hooper
COST $32-$45

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