It’s a brand new sound for Hen who previously wrote and performed under the moniker and her actual mum given name Julia Henning to great success. Not only did Henning amass rave reviews, the young artist saw success on both stage and screen. Claiming the coveted #1 spot on the Triple J Unearthed charts on numerous occasions, performed to packed audiences at the Sydney Opera House and WOMADelaide and her single If And Only If featured on channel tens hit show Offspring but now it is a different direction as Julia explains to Hi Fi Way: The Pop Chronicles.
It’s a bold step changing your moniker from your actual name to Hen. What was the background behind that?
Julia Henning never really sat right for me as a performance name. I’d wanted to change to something else for a long time but when I decided to change my sound, I thought that was the perfect opportunity to change my name too. Weirdly the ‘Hen’ part of Henning was the bit that I least liked about my name but then my friend’s started calling me Ju-Hen and then eventually just Hen and it just felt right, so I went with it.
Was that tough given the success that you had to do that?
I think the change in sound really spurred me to be brave in changing the name too. It’s a little bit frightening, knowing that I’d worked so hard to develop myself under the Julia Henning name but I knew that the music I was making was something different and would hopefully speak for itself.
What is the difference from what you were doing to what you are doing now?
Before; I was writing more in a band setting, making folk indie rock tunes which I enjoyed but they never really felt like my sound. I didn’t really feel like I had a sound and after a year and a half of touring I just wanted to strip it all back and find out what music I truly wanted to make. It took some fiddling and some time but my new sound is much more authentically me, it’s still got a lot of the same heart you can hear my older tracks but the soundscape is totally different. I’m writing music for me now rather than trying to guess and what other people might like.
Do you see yourself as a modern day poet?
I certainly love poetry and I’ve been writing a lot of it of late. I always used to write my poetry as lyrics but recently I’ve been through some trying times and I needed a way to express my feelings quickly so I developed these sort of short style poems or thought-scapes that didn’t require me writing an entire song. I try to publish one every second day on my instagram account and it’s been a very liberating experience for me.
What is the story behind your single Raincoats?
I started writing Raincoats almost two years ago but it was a very different song to the one you hear today. It was all piano and the verses were completely different. Now it’s much more vibrant and fully realised. The sentiment in it is a story I’ve been trying to write for some time. I went through a relationship which was toxic but I stayed because I didn’t really know anything else. When I was finally brave enough to leave, I developed these huge trust issues with myself because I had stayed in something I knew was wrong. It made it so hard to put any stock in anything new because I was always second guessing myself.
Did you have fun working on the film clip?
The clip was filmed in a park quite close to my home so my Mum put her catering hat on and my dad and sister are featured in the clip so it was a real family bonding exercise. I basically spent an entire day up a tree which was fun. We did at one point have a passerby get very upset and try to call the police because he thought we were really going to cut down the tree but after a nice chat and a spot of mum’s catering we had him reassured that no trees would be harmed.
Were you hands on with it?
Very much so. The director, Emily McAllan, is a good friend of mine and we’ve collaborated in the past, we essentially worked as a two person unit for the production. It was important with this being the first clip as Hen that the video be a reflection of who I am and what I’m about.
Where to next musically for Hen? An EP? An Album?
You should be seeing another single and then an album which is being released next year in both Australia and the US which is very exciting!
How do you think it might sound?
It’s almost finished now so I can say that it is a very fun album with a lot of feels. Similar to raincoats, it has a soundscape that blends pop with electro and indie vibes. I’ve just been playing the songs on tour and they have been amazing to play live! I can’t wait to get the album out there.
Are you looking to tour nationally or overseas next year?
After this last tour I am absolutely itching to hit the road again so certainly a national tour is on the cards and with a US release next year, an international run would be amazing!
Biggest highlight from 2017?
Touring with Rachael Leahcar. It was so great to get out there and play again after two years away and just the best people to be touring with!
Interview by Rob Lyon
For more info about Hen head to the official site https://www.thehen.net/