Updated: Jul 18, 2018
Here at Dark Matter, we like to spend our spare time digging into the dark, unknown crevices of Spotify to discover new music. Cue entrance of rising Australian indie artist, Hazlett. The name of his track, “First World Problems,” caught our eye, but his unique sound lured us into the rest of his discography.
We caught up with him on a warm, sunny morning in Brisbane after finishing a pilates class and stopping by a café for a cup of coffee.
“Glad, I was dwelling in the depths of Spotify, just hanging around,” he joked. Photo via Facebook
Believe us, when we say 2018 is going to be a good year for Aussie musicians. You may not have even realized it yet, but there are quite a few on big festival lineups. However, it seems like not a lot of Australian artists get attention on mainstream U.S. stations and outlets.
“On my Spotify, like when I look up where it gets played the most, it’s mostly in the U.S., which is just strange to me. No one back home is listening to it, but people in New York, San Fran, and Seattle really seem to enjoy it.”
Not to forget the Midwest (aka us).
“I really want to come to the U. S. and play so badly. My thing is just finding an audience. I feel like I have just random people listening, just little pockets everywhere, not a solid fan base. So I need to somehow converge them all into one place at one time—it kind of helps that it’s my number one listening country in my statistics. I feel like such a nerd sometimes. I’ll go into my stats and be like let’s break this down.”
Hazlett broke down how “First World Problems,” came about, and it’s quite a funny story. While crashing at his friend’s house in London, he volunteered to save the day and help his friend figure out the train system to make it to his hair appointment, which soon became a “shit-storm” after his friend decided to pregame at a convenience store before.
“I was holding an umbrella while he was walking down the street with a cigarette in his mouth and two Jack Daniels in his hands,” he said.
Photo via Facebook
He went on to explain that the next logical stop was indeed a pub. We never did ask if his friend made it to his hair appointment, but we think it’s safe to say no.
“I ended up having to chaperone him like a little child. Then, we went to catch the train somewhere else, but he stopped at another convenience store and bought a bottle of wine, and then just passed out on me on the train.”
“It was a long train to get back home, and my phone died,” Hazlett recalled. “I just remember being really pissed off at the time. I was like I can’t talk to people, and then, as I have my drunk friend passed out on my lap with a bottle of wine, I sort of started noticing that people don’t really talk to each other much on trains. The only people who really talk to each other are drunk people that sort of lose their inhibitions a bit and don’t care that they’re invading peoples’ space, which I think is a good thing in a moderate dose. But essentially, that was the catalyst to the song like first world problem of my phone dying on a train and being like ‘Oh, now what do I do with my life?’ It was a weird perspective of noticing people don’t really talk to each other; they don’t really communicate. Obviously, my thoughts just ran away from me at that point. People get scared of each other or scared of what they don’t know, maybe this wouldn’t happen if people talked to each other, and I just went full psychoanalysis on my situation.”
Is that not impressive that he remembered all of this without being able to take notes on his phone? He said he has his very ineffective memory to thank for writing this bop, claiming he can’t even remember his Mom’s birthday but could remember what color shirt you were wearing when he met you.
Photo via Facebook
“It’s the whole debate that we’re less connected but more connected than ever, which sounds sappy and cliché. But, I think it’s very true.”
Amen. It’s interesting to see how communication is rapidly changing, not even just everyday public interactions like train rides but even dating! For some reason, our conversation kept digressing, and Tinder came up. Can you imagine what love songs are going to be like in ten years? “The way she texted just melted my heart…” Anyway, we’re not artists, but he told us he’s never used Tinder.
“I feel like it would be very counter-intuitive to my musician roots,” he laughed.
After listening to his latest single, we know you’re going to be hooked. But, you may notice he didn’t release his first EP, Honey, Where Is My Home, until 2017. What was with the wait? Before he started putting out his own music, he was in a band that got signed to a label in Sweden. Unfortunately, the band broke up, and Hazlett had a quarter-life crisis.
“I thought I was going to play in a band for the rest of my life, and everything would be fine,” he admitted. “I met this girl Photo via Facebook
at the time. She was sort of telling me, ‘Maybe you should do some growing up and get some stability in your life, find a real job.’ I was like okay, I’ll do that,” he laughed.
“So, I got a job at an advertising agency and would still strum the guitar at home, things like that, but I put up a little YouTube clip of a song I wrote, and our old publisher’s wife actually saw it and sent it to him and was like, ‘Oh, did you know the bass player could sing?’ He called me, and he actually got quite angry, but I couldn’t tell if he was joking or not. He’s like, ‘You little shit; you didn’t tell me you could sing. This song is amazing; I really love it. You should come up to Sweden and record it.’ I pumped the brakes because I was getting my life together, doing a bit of growing up, not really doing music, but like thanks for the offer.”
After taking some time to think, he dialed up the publisher and he recorded his first-ever solo music.
“The plan was to put 3 EPs out in 12 months because I’ve had them all recorded for about 2 years now, but it was hard to align everything up,” he said. “I thought when I put out the first stuff that it might be easier to start getting some good gigs and a bit of attention. But, I didn’t really get that much attention of the first stuff so it’s more I went back to the drawing board, and how can I put out this second EP? Let’s do it properly and do what I want to do, which is to play live shows and all that kind of stuff. Everything didn’t go to plan how I thought it would. I re-assessed everything and am coming back with a new plan now.”
Currently, Hazlett is laying low and planning the release of the next single coming out. He’s itching to get back to doing shows, even though he claimed he doesn’t like singing in public but “mans up and does it sometimes.” Before, scheduling gigs and a “proper tour,” he’s going to work on the finishing touches on the 2nd EP.
“When I did the three EPs, they sort all lead into one another and they all learn from one another, which is one of the reasons I wanted to get them out sooner rather than later,” he stated. “It starts off very stripped-acoustic. This next EP is more synth and program-drum heavy, and the third one is more full band. I think about these things way too much so I plotted out the details before I even put out music. The new songs are a step to the fuller sound, which is going to be interesting to see how people react.”
We predict big things happening for Hazlett. This past February, his music was played for the first time on the Australian radio station, triple j (here’s the link to the cute video of him reacting to it). With his unique and genre-blending sound, the industry hasn’t figured out where to place him, YET.
“It’s become a bit of a blessing and a curse,” he confessed. “I’ll take it to indie stations and stuff like that and they’re like that’s a bit pop for us. So, I’ll take it to commercial stations, and they’re like, oh, that’s bit too indie for us, maybe you should take it to independent radio stations. It’s this weird no-man’s land, where it’s become quite hard to pick up attraction from places. But, it’s also a blessing in the sense that it’s almost in its own lane at times, not to sound cocky or arrogant. When it does click through and reach small amounts of people, it’s going to be sort of by itself.”
It is. The best way to describe his sound is Bon Iver meets Kings of Leon. In case you wondered by the way, Hazlett is his middle name, coming from his great, great grandfather’s surname. But, he thought it was “way cooler than Mitch. None one wants to hear a song by some guy named, ‘Mitch.’” Well, we think Mitch and Hazlett are pretty cool dudes.