Galley contributed by SHANE HENDERSON
Galley contributed by SHANE HENDERSON
Charismatic naughties frontwoman and self-proclaimed ‘pop witch’ Ella Hooper is excited to reveal her latest solo offering ‘To The Bone’ – a cathartic disco pop number on burning bridges and starting anew. The acclaimed vocalist and one half of Australian rock royalty Killing Heidi, Hooper has spent the last few years splitting her time between playing a series of shows to celebrate the band’s 20th anniversary, as well as dancing on her own two feet, with DJ sets nationally at Groovin’ The Moo, plus the release of her solo endeavour In Tongues and the double EP Venom/New Magic each earning her stripes as a remarkable force in her own right, and still one of Australia’s busiest musicians. Now recognised as a true modern day pop goddess, Ella Hooper is set to bring her unprecedented stage attack and brazen charm to the 2018 Bigsound Festival in Brisbane come September.
Conjuring the healing energy of disco and the staunch grit of rock, ‘To The Bone’ is at once a liberating feminist anthem and a game-changing moment for Ella. Much like the technicolor pop queen herself, the single packs a punch of both silliness and sexiness in a bombastic and deeply groovy indie banger reimagined through an apocalyptic disco lens. The subversive, cowbell punctuated tune was co-written and co-produced by Ella Hooper and Robin Waters (Eves Karydas, Sophie Koh) and recorded at Sound Park Studios Melbourne by engineer, bandmate and friend Tim Harvey (Jade Imagine & Gena Rose Bruce), ‘To The Bone’ sees Hooper at her boldest yet. It’s catchy doom pop you can’t help but get down to.
“To The Bone came out of a late night jam with my band, I wanted something I could really get down and dance to. I wanted to press pause on the soul-searching indie rock for a minute and get kinetic and put some fire and energy out there again. I was feeling really fed up, totally over certain people, expectations and constraints and just blurted out some key phrases that made me feel empowered and powerful, reckless even, like ‘feel my wrath!’ Kali The Destroyer came to my mind, Godzilla too. Basically, it’s about not giving a fuck and channelling pure unintellectual emotion, desire, and destruction. Smashing down those annoying buildings of past selves, if they stand in the way of what you need to become. Putting your pleasure and your path first. It’s something nice girls aren’t meant to do, which is all the more reason to do it… And it feels sooo good.” – Ella Hooper
Across a myriad of media gigs as a musician, radio presenter, TV host and DJ, Ella is a natural born stage maven who shines as a live act. A seasoned pro with an assortment of gun players backing her (members of Jade Imagine, Machine Translations, Handsome, The Cactus Channel, RockWiz & more) she bends herself into contortionist positions, back bends and twists while punching out notes that fly and defy, or lays herself down over the fold back, for a more intimate moment. Even when it’s aiming to fill the dance floor, the music Ella makes is genuine and often has another layer to it. Her talent for connection and genuine reverence for the art of a good rock show forever at the forefront of her creative vision.
Do not miss the chance to see this incredible performer at the top of her game at this year’s Bigsound Showcase.
Ella Hooper Bigsound Showcases
Tuesday 4 – Friday 7 September 2018
Fortitude Valley, Brisbane
Tickets via www.bigsound.org.au/tickets
ALL PHOTOS CONTRIBUTED SEBASTIAN MARINO
Review Jodi Marino
For a lot of bands, the idea of a 20 year reunion after a 10 year hiatus, may be a little daunting. But, when you consider that Killing Heidi started when siblings Jesse and Ella Hooper were only 15 and 13 respectively, it is a reunion promising to deliver anything but old musos who have long passed their use by date.
In 1996 it was their entry innto Triple J’s Unearthed competition with the song Kettle that got them not just airplay but put them on many radars, with studio time and a debut album to ensue shortly after.
And so Reflector was born and the rest they say, is history.
So, at 34, you would expect Ella to hit the stage with grace and maturity, however instead we were treated to a super energized Ella, clad in a skin-tight sexy bodysuit which left little to the imagination and probably stirred up some envy amongst the crowd of mostly 30-50 year olds. Looking spectacular and much more akin to her 15 year old self than her current age. And whilst Jesse no longer sports the bright fire red hair, he still has the distinctive guitar prowess of days gone by.
Opening with Calm Down, the crowd who were riddled with excitement and anticipation, did the polar opposite. Keeping the energy and vibe going they went straight into I Am and Outside of Me, and it was clear that the real fans had never really gone anywhere, they had just lie dormant for a while. Tonight though, they rose and were out in force.
A change of tempo mid-set with an acoustic break, with James Gilligan (bassist) taking up duties on violin instead.
Then for something different, Want Everything, a song by The Verses, the band Jesse and Ella formed after the first incarnation of Killing Heidi disbanded. Following on from this was Monkey Mind which was a song Ella did as a solo release.
It was then that time in the set where we were taken back to what could best be described as the bands heyday.
While the majority of the crowd has been singing along through the whole set so far, now the entire room joined in and were vocally ready to lift the roof on their best known songs, Mascara and Weir.
Ella and Jesse both reiterated over and again at how much they were blown away to have sold out what they referred to as their home town show, and the smiles on band and fans alike indicated complete success of this reunion show.
A brief stage exit, and they returned for a quick 2 song encore, but not before drummer, Adam Pedretti (now playing with Melbourne’s own Cicadastone ), took to the mic to express his utmost gratitude for the fantastic reception they had been given.
All in all, I would say it has been a successful reunion, and who knows, it could well pave the way for a new Killing Heidi project……or at least we could hope!.
Review Cassandra Hale
Is the Melbourne Zoo the right venue for live music? Well, after attending my first Zoo Twilight session last night I can answer that with a resounding, Hell Yes! The Melbourne Zoo is a fantastic venue for this type of show, it caters for everyone with many seating options and plenty of food and drink for those who didn’t bring their own along. You can choose to take a picnic blanket, a low back chair or a regular camp chair and that determines where you sit. This idea works well and no matter where you sit you can see the stage, which is set quite high to allow everyone a perfect view. If taking your own picnic basket is not quite your thing you can order a hamper ready to collect at an extra cost, which seemed quite a popular option.
Australian singer/songwriter Abbe May took the stage first up to perform a short set of six or seven songs. I have seen Abbe May last year touring with Peter Garrett and enjoy her laid back style. Performing as a solo artist can be difficult but Abbe May has everything covered with her ‘band in a box’ set up that works extremely well. Her sound is funky at times, relaxed at times and overall enjoyable to listen to. She finished her set with Doomsday Clock, which is a song I really like and I definitely recommend checking out Abbe May if you haven’t already.
It was about this time when the Zoo’s bats made a mass exodus overhead, quite a spectacle to see. While they were not noisy you definitely couldn’t miss them.
Formed in 1996 Killing Heidi hail from a small Victorian dot on the map called Violet Town. Brother and sister duo Jesse and Ella Hooper took Australia by storm with their unique sound and colourful hairstyles. After a very successful career the band took time out to pursue other avenues, and it is then that The Verses was born. This folkish sound the siblings produced was different from Killing Heidi but eerily familiar at the same time.
Ten years later the band is back together and performing to rave reviews. The energy of the nineties is still running rife and the enjoyment they are having is evident in every song. The sound was crisp and Ella was on point in everything she did. Sassy, sexy and still having all the right dance moves, she did not miss a beat the whole performance, very, very impressive. The connection between brother and sister is clear and Jesse chats to the audience nearly as much as Ella which shows they are really in this together as a team.
After a few songs to get everyone in the mood, they took it back to their first song Kettle which started the ball rolling with Triple J Unearthed all those years ago. Plenty of songs in between and then it was Live Without It and Heaven Sent all performed faultlessly. Jesse dedicated the next song Superman/Supergirl a personal favourite of mine, to his wife who was in the audience. We sometimes forget that musicians have families at home that miss seeing them while they are busy performing for our enjoyment. It was during this song that Ella’s microphone went into meltdown, no problem, Ella just grabs her brothers until another one gets passed out, that’s great in theory if the new one worked, but it didn’t so it was back to Jesse’s again. Ella remained calm throughout, ever the professional and handled the whole situation with ease. Not so much as a swearword or nasty glance, she just got on with it!
There were a few of The Verses songs thrown in and one of Ella’s solo tracks Monkey Mind which were all well received by the enthusiastic crowd.
After advising there will be no encores, ‘we will just play’, that’s exactly what they did, the two we had all been waiting for, Mascara and Weir. The crowd were all on their feet, singing and cheering enjoying every minute. From the start of the show to the very last note the enjoyment and energy was contagious from this fantastic front woman.
All wrapped up by 9.15pm it was time to head out, here comes my only complaint of the night, a little bit more lighting was needed for those who had parked at the front gate and had to walk back through the zoo. It was really difficult to see.
For those of you who are yet to see Killing Heidi, go and buy the tickets and support this amazing Australian band, you will not be disappointed. While I still do not know who the hell Heidi is they absolutely kill her every time they take the stage!