Interview: Hamish Anderson

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Hamish Anderson is an up and coming singer/songwriter from Melbourne, Australia with a knack for crafting beautifully rendered rock n’ roll tunes. Naturally, his music has garnered quite a bit of love here at KCRW. Learn more via his recent interview with our own Jason Kramer.

When did you first realize that being a musician was something you wanted to take on full time?

It was really pretty immediate. I was around 12 years old and had just started playing guitar and in one week I heard both “Layla” by Derek & The Dominos and “Whole Lotta Love” by Led Zeppelin and I just knew. I remember that exact moment — everything else fell by the wayside after that. I knew the only thing I wanted to do with my life was be a musician. I still feel the same way.

You come from Melbourne which is an amazing place with an abundance of creativity and life, what made you choose to spend time in Los Angeles?

I was born and raised in Melbourne, Australia and lived my entire life there basically – until the last 3 years. I’d always wanted to go to the US because all the music I love is from there, it’s where the blues originated. I came over in 2014 and just started getting more and more work in America. The thing I really love about LA is the creativity and passion that is here, I love being able to go out any night of the week and catch an amazing band you’ve never heard of at legendary places like The Troubadour or Hotel Cafe. That doesn’t happen everywhere and it’s really inspiring to be around.

Tell me about your new single “U”. What is it about?

I wrote “U” whilst on tour in the US in 2015. The song was written very quickly, pretty much all at once. I knew I wanted it to have a dreamy soul feel to it. I wanted to put two songs together with the B section of the song having a different groove and feel to the first half of the song. I was definitely influenced by a lot of Paul McCartney’s songs with Wings from the 70’s with respect to that. The song is basically about carrying around a feeling and memories that you’re not able to shake.

Watching the video, it’s interesting to see the story unfold visually. How closely did you work with the director to put it together?

The video was directed by Nicolas Wendl and produced by my team at Juel Concepts. We’d worked with Nic before on the music video for my single “Little Lies.” I knew I wanted the video to have a Laurel Canyon, 70’s type of feel and for it to be a simple concept. The typewriter in it is mine and it’s really how I write music when I am not in transit. I basically just wrote out a bunch of keywords that I wanted to pull from for look, feel and tone and then gave it to my manager and her team and they ran with it.

I’m curious as to how you created your new album Trouble. What’s the story behind it?

When I made my debut album Trouble I got really lucky to work with an such a legendary producer, Jim Scott. Jim has worked on some of my favourite albums by artists like Tom Petty, Tedeschi Trucks Band, Wilco, etc. He has an incredible studio called PLYRZ in Valencia, CA and we recorded the majority of the album there. We really wanted to get a great band together and have everyone in the same room playing live. We didn’t want to make everything sound perfect because I don’t feel that’s what blues and rock and roll is about. Basically we went for an “if it feels good that’s what matters” approach to laying it down. The songs ranged from ones that I’d had floating around for years to others that were written just before going into the studio. The album is basically about what’s been happening in my life over the past three years– relationships, friendships, being away from home, and starting again by relocating to a new country.

Are Rock N Roll and Blues genres that you have gravitated towards all your life?

I love all different types of music, but really at the core my roots are the Blues and Rock and Roll. Especially the blues — it can really be traced as the root of all popular music, whether it’s Rock and Roll, Pop, Jazz, Hip Hop. With both Blues and Rock and Roll I’m drawn to the honesty, simplicity and power that they have. It really just comes down to the fact that it’s the music that moves me the most. I’m always amazed at the history of the Blues too. There’s just so much there to absorb.

You have opened up for some amazing artists… Are they people you’d like to play with again in the future? Who are some other artists that you’d like to play and/or collaborate with someday?

That’s been one of my favourite things about being in the US, I’ve been really lucky to open for some of the artists I look up to like BB King, Los Lobos, Robert Cray, Stephen Stills. I’d love to do more with Los Lobos, Robert Cray and Vintage Trouble. In the future, I’d definitely like to work with The Record Company, Grace Potter, Gary Clark Jr. If we’re talking dream acts that I would love to open for it would be The Rolling Stones, Eric Clapton, Bob Dylan. I’d love to work with Alabama Shakes, The War On Drugs, Son Little, Wilco…the list goes on.

Do you live life off the grid when you are back in Australia?
I always seem to write a lot when I’m home in Melbourne. I find it really hard to write when touring and playing shows because there is just so much going on all the time. Coming home to Australia is great because I find that’s when I process everything that’s been going on and just write.

Do you have a favorite song on the album?
It’s hard to pick favourites, it changes all the time, but “U” really does hold a special place for me on the album.

Your album Trouble is just great and has such a timeless & classic vibe. It’s something you can listen to on a car trip, or while you’re relaxing in your home. I never feel like turning it off. So I’m excited to see you play again and want to thank you for taking the time to sit down with me today.

Thank you for your ongoing advocacy and support of my music, Jason. It’s really incredible to come here and have a station like KCRW recognize the work I am doing. I appreciate so much how many folks at KCRW have been supportive as well (thanks to Anne Litt for championing my track, “U”, and to NPR Music as well!) You all rock.

(Photos: Jora Frantzis)