Hooper, who shot to fame as a teenager with her band Killing Heidi, has been busily writing, recording and touring, while maintaining a successful career as TV and radio host.
A regular on the panel of ABC1 music quiz show Spicks and Specks and co-host of Australian Top 20 on Fox 101.9, Hooper has risen to the challenge of releasing her debut album with a very hectic schedule.
“It’s been hard. It’s been a real challenge trying to find the time, trying to find the right people then going off to make money on the side and bring it back to the project,” she says.
“It’s been hugely educational. I feel like I’ve gone to the ‘Uni of Independent Artists’ over the past three or four years since I’ve been doing this!”
Her music, which she describes as ‘spiky 90’s tinged pre-apocalyptic pop and balladry’ is influenced by a range of sounds and artists and this is reflected in the eclectic offerings on In Tongues.
“My influences are really broad. Everything from Harry Belafonte to old blues, chain gang music, folk, and 90s electronica, and Nick Cave: the dark balladeer. Those three elements are probably my biggest influences and then I had to marry those sonics to my kind of song-writing, which is a little bit different again,” she says.
The honest, warm and rather vulnerable lyrics combined with the diverse arrangements, including the hauntingly sexy 60s influenced, ‘Low High’ to the raw and beautiful ‘Everything Was a Sign’, make In Tongues easy to listen to and even easier to fall in love with.
Hooper says the album deals with the unknown and being comfortable with the unknown, and she hopes people enjoy its sincerity.
“I hope the album is sharing and empowering in its honesty; not like a ‘go get dressed up and fist pump the air’ kind of album, it’s a bit more vulnerable than that,” she says. “And it deals a lot with not knowing, but I want people to feel like it’s ok not to know and to have those periods where you’re searching, and beautiful things can come out of it.”
To celebrate the release of In Tongues tonight, Hooper will be getting out and about in Melbourne and almost letting her hair down.
“I’m going to go for drinks at my housemate’s bar. She’s having a pop up bar for Melbourne Music Week called ‘Residency’. We’re going to go and listen to some great tunes, although I really can’t go too hard because I actually have a performance for Melbourne Music Week on the Saturday so I’m not going to be able to let my hair down that far. Maybe just to bob length,” she laughs.
A long time in the making but worth the wait, Ella Hooper’s debut album has now arrived and will hopefully be the first of many.
“Oh man, it’s the biggest revelation for me, and a big weight off my shoulders because it’s been a long time coming and I just want to start a new chapter really quickly. But I love In Tongues and I can’t wait for people to have it, and for me to say ‘Right, that’s my first solo album done, let’s get on to the next one!’” she laughs.
In Tongues is available in store and online today
Interviewed by Libby Parker