MEET: Naomi Hackl, by Hannah Stretton / by Newcastle Discovered

Ahead of her gig as part of RAW Newcastle’s indie ‘Radiant’ showcase at Central Bar (14th July), Naomi and I got to chatting all about her incredible debut EP, Love Drug, Newy’s exciting music scene and some other pretty awesome stuff. Plus, when there are guaranteed free hugs & amazing tunes to match, what more could you really ask for? So go on and get amongst it Newcastle! 

Source: Emily Michelle Photography

Source: Emily Michelle Photography

What has been one of your most creative influences for getting involved in music? Do you come from a creative/artistic family that inspired you to go down this path, so to speak?
As humans, I believe we are influenced by everything around us. Life itself has been one of my biggest influences. Past experiences have really shaped who I am as a person and the direction I am going with my music. The people I’ve met have taught me lessons that nobody else could, the people I’ve loved have shown me how to love myself and the people I’ve lost have never truly left.

Nooooooo my parents are nothing short of tone deaf *laughs* sorry mum. I’d say my dad could really belt out ACDC tunes in the car and my nan does a pretty cute cover of ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow’. My brother, he plays guitar & didgeridoo at the same time. Sort of like a try hard Xavier Rudd (I don’t even feel bad saying that, it’s my job as his sister to rip on him). He’s the one who bought me my first guitar one Christmas. I said to him “what am I gonna do with it? I can’t play?” and he said “well you’re going to learn!”

I was actually one of the lucky ones that got to see your amazing talent before many others (we attended the same school) but would you say your sound has transformed since those days in front of our school auditorium? If so, how?
And I was lucky enough to have you listen, so thank you! That’s one to tell the grandkids… “I was in the school band. It was cool back then!” I’d say I’ve become my own artist.

I don’t just get up on a stage, hold a microphone and sing along to someone else’s song. Fuck that. I sing my own. I feel an overall sense of honesty when I do, as if I’m sharing my heart with people. I feel vulnerable and in my eyes, vulnerability is a sign of courage and strength.

You actually went on and got accepted into the Newcastle Conservatorium of Music after school, how was that experience and did it help you as an artist?

  I did, I did. I met a lot of like minded people at the Con who have become life long friends. I learnt a lot about what direction I wanted to go in musically, which has led me to where I am today.

Well first and foremost I want to say your voice is incredible. A real Matt Corby/Meg Mac hybrid. How are you feeling since releasing your debut EP, Love Drug? How do you feel it’s been received?

Holy shit thanks heaps! I have a high respect and appreciation for Matt Corby & Meg Mac. To be honest, I feel a massive weight off my shoulders now that it’s out there for the world to hear. You know when you bottle up your feelings & you feel like you’re going to explode?! That’s how I felt before I recorded the Love Drug EP. I felt like I needed to get it out there, let go of the past and move on. Sort of like one chapter of my life closing and the next opening, waiting for me to write it.

And what was the overall writing process like for this EP? Cause you’ve got some serious Adele worthy competition with these tracks - so was it a difficult process recording and writing the EP or more therapeutic?

Oh stop it you! You’re far too kind. *laughs*

I actually don’t really listen to much Adele. I think the only song I know and love is ‘Someone Like You’. She has a bloody set of lungs that woman! I think the process of writing the EP was that there was no process at all.

‘Love Drug’ was the first song from the EP that I started writing and the last song I finished. It took me the longest to write out of all 4 songs. It takes you on a journey, from the beginning to the end of a relationship. Then you’ve got ‘Ocean Full of Tears’ which is the second song I wrote and the last on the EP. It took me 5-10 minutes to write, but that’s the beauty of it, it all just poured out. So much raw emotion and out the front of my friend’s garage. People were driving past me like “what the fuck, has this girl been kicked out or?” *laughs*

‘I Was There’ is the second last song on the EP and the third song I wrote. After I wrote it, I left it. I ended up coming back to it and changing a few things almost a year later. I mainly changed the structure of the song, not the lyrics. I wanted it to flow better than it did before and I think we accomplished that in the studio. ‘High’ is a song about, well, it says it all in the name *laughs*

It’s the second song on the EP and the last song I wrote. I feel like its just one of those “feel good” tunes.

naomi hackl Source: Rocky Mountain

How was the overall recording process for the EP? Smooth sailing? Bumpy ride?

It was a dream boat, thanks to Jack Tuckerman at The Grove Studios. He helped my dream turn into a reality. He was insanely patient with me too. Anyone that knows me well enough would know that I tend to change my mind a lot. I think it all comes down to the fact that I’m a perfectionist. So if something isn’t exactly how I visioned it, I can’t settle for it until it is. I won’t lose sleep at night over it, I will just wake up and work hard at it and consistently until it is. I feel like you can hear that in the EP too. When I sit down and listen to it with a glass of red wine now, I think “fuck yeah, that’s me!”. I’m proud of myself.

A personal favourite of mine from Love Drug is ‘I Was There’, which just embodies such a raw and captivating energy, but what is your personal favourite track from the EP & why? Or is it too hard to pick a favourite? 

I have had a lot of people say that ‘I Was There’ is their favourite track off the EP too! That’s gotta be the hardest question you’ve asked me so far haha. I love them all in their own way, not one more than the other. They all mean so much to me and they all mean something different.

‘Ocean Full of Tears’ is my favourite to play live though. I feel the passion as strongly as I did when I wrote it. It almost feels like I’m time travelling back to the moment that I was feeling hurt, pain, heartbreak… all that shit stuff. It’s the only really “fuck you” song on the EP too. Sort of like “screw you for putting me through what you did!”. The ocean is a metaphor for me drowning in my own tears. You have the choice to sink or swim. 

What is something you want people to take away from your EP? What is the message you intended to be heard and known from Love Drug?

 I never thought about any preconceptions. I sort of chucked myself in the deep end with it all, letting people interpret it however they wish, with the hope that they can somewhat relate to it. I know myself, there is nothing better than listening to a song that you can relate to, whether it makes you smile, cry, laugh or makes you think to yourself  “I’ve been there!” or “I am there!”.

naomi hackl Source: ‘Nanna Hackl’ a.k.a Pamela Hackl

You play regular gigs in and around Newy, but what is your favourite venue & why? Any funny stories you wish to share.

The Cambooooooooo. I’ve had some of the most epic gigs in that little room at the front there. It fills up with people quick too, which makes things pretty cosy and intimate. I like cosy and intimate *laughs*

 Also, they give out free sandwiches after a night out and I love Nutella, so they won my heart <3

Oooohhh a funny story… well I got married at the Cambo once *laughs*

When I was performing some guy screamed out “Marry Me!”. So I said “get me a lollipop ring and I’m all yours”. Half an hour later, he comes back, gets on one knee and puts the lollipop ring on my finger like it’s a diamond or something. Never seen him since. I guess you could say we got a divorce. Things were just moving too fast. We were going our separate ways.

Speaking of regular gigs, you are playing at Central Bar in Newy as part of RAW Newcastle this Thursday night. For people that are thinking of checking it out, what can they expect?

They can expect to see lil old me standing on a stage with my guitar singing my heart out. I’ll be singing some songs off the EP, can’t tell you which one’s though, that’ll just ruin the surprise. I like surprises. They can also expect free hugs. I like hugs too.

How would you best describe Newcastle’s music scene? What do you love most about it?

I reckon the music scene in Newy is pretty chilled. There’s always something happening somewhere, whether it be a solo artist at The Lass or a band at The Cambo.

If you were to recommend a local music act, who would it be & why? We are always on the look out for local talent.

My mates band Dyer Maker. They have this reggae/indie/psychedelic/rock vibe. I dig all their tunes, but ‘Alaska’ hit me right in the feels <3

The drummer Micah Chilcott actually played drums for me on my EP. Such a legend!

On a more personal note, where do you see yourself and your music in the next few years? Or more importantly, where do you want to be in the next few years?

 I’d say world tour will be on the cards in the coming years. Hopefully I’ll have an awesome band together by then to tour Europe and the USA. I’ve already got a few musically talented mates in mind. I can see us all having the sickest time over there in an RV drinking beers, playing music, meeting epic people. The beauty of travel is that every day is different and every crowd is different.  I’m super dooper excited to spread love through music with the world. That would be a dream come true.

What advice would you give to other aspiring artists who wish to establish themselves in the music industry?

 Have faith in yourself. You are capable of so much more than you think. If you fail, pick yourself up again. Keep working hard at your dreams to make them a reality. If somebody says you can’t do it, remember that “can’t” has “can” in it. Follow your heart. Always.

Tickets for RAW Newcastle’s ‘RADIANT’ showcase are still available, so get your ticket here now!


naomi hackl yeah