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This piece is part of the Algorhythms project: artists telling stories about music they discovered from humans. Because where we discover music is an important part of its impact, and not all music is discovered through an algorithm.

Annie Hamilton on Land of Talk

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Annie Hamilton (credit: Rosie Fitzgerald)

“When I started writing these songs I didn’t think anyone would hear them,” said musician Annie Hamilton in anticipation of her debut EP’s release. “It was an intensely private experience, writing only for myself, for my own creative fulfilment and desire.”

The Australia native is a multidisciplinary artist, dabbling in visual arts and fashion design in addition to music. And though just two weeks removed from the arrival of her debut self-titled EP, she carries the resume of a veteran. Jack River and Little May have both employed her guitar skills, and she’s toured with Julia Jacklin and is to join The National on their rescheduled Australian tour as a backup vocalist.

Her EP was written during a residency in Iceland, back home in Sydney, and in various planes and hotels in between. Annie’s reflective lyrics bear the intimacy of an album written for the self, but pop sensibilities and the support of a full band give the release a rock club vitality. I, for one, am excited to see it performed in some such venue once the world reopens.

For her Algorhythm, Annie remembers an intimate meeting of artists during her Icelandic residency, when new friends shared a song that came to soundtrack her walks through the tundra under the light of a pale green aurora…

In late 2018 I spent a couple of months living in a tiny town in the Westfjords region of Iceland. It’s about as far away as I could get from my hometown of Sydney. I had an apartment with big windows, a grand piano, and a rooftop I could climb up a ladder and lie on late at night when the aurora borealis was active. I was working on music and art, sketching the pieces of what has now become my debut EP.
I often went days without speaking to anyone — isolation suits me fine and I can very easily pass the time with a guitar and piano and books and pens and coffee. Isolation invites introspection and I wasn’t really listening to much music at the time, other than what I was working on. I sometimes went days without speaking to another person face to face. I was deep in my own little world.
After a few weeks I made some friends who were living about a twenty minute walk away from me — Amanda the Brazilian artist and Henriikka the Finnish poet. I went over for dinner one night and we spoke about weather and poetry and pizza and music — standard Icelandic dinner conversation. Henriikka read us poems written in shapes on the paper and Amanda played Land Of Talk on her portable speakers. The song was “This Time” — it grabbed me instantly. I couldn’t figure out if I’d heard it before, maybe I had — it had that familiar feeling you get from certain songs, like you can listen to it for the first time but you feel as if you’ve known it all along.
That night I walked home in the freezing Icelandic night, took a detour and listened to “This Time” on repeat (I tend to do that with songs that really hit me — listen on repeat for weeks at a time.) There was a pale green aurora sliding around overhead and when I walked under streetlights I could see my breath floating away. I walked around for an hour or two, lost track of time, didn’t see anyone except a couple of cars driving along the harbour. Turned it up loud. As I listen to it again now I feel that same sense of exaltation and discovery, like an adrenalin hit, it gives me goosebumps and makes me want to turn it up as loud as it goes and move and sing and make noise and be outside alone in the freezing night.

The Annie Hamilton EP is available now via Inertia Music / [PIAS]. Give the record a spin — and listen to our full Algorhythms playlist here.

Interested in feeling that sense of exaltation and discovery? Check out the Grey Matter beta.