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From featuring in a high school rendition of the musical Footloose to kicking it on stage with Australia’s own Mallrat, 20-year-old Hallie has had quite the path leading them to where they are today. In their music video for Do It, the young musician sits, back against a wall, as yellow light flashes against their face. Solitarily, the singer casts their gaze aside as the music seeps in. Their auburn is hair braided and bold blue, orange makeup details their eyes as they roll their head to the side. And, then, in an instant, Hallie reveals what they’re experiencing: “Microscopic emotion turned into a giant moment”. After all, this is love.

When Hallie appears on Zoom, calling from Queensland, they are confessionally excited to be chatting with GAY TIMES. It’s a late “super sweaty” evening and the singer is back home in their bedroom reeling from a recent listening party and the rollout of their latest project, This Is Love. Not even 31-degree heat can hold Hallie back: “I’m used to it. Love it.”

As an artist overseas, many of us latch onto the breakout notable names from Troye Sivan to pop-punk rockers Stand Atlantic. Yet, amongst Australia’s growing music scene, acts like Hallie have been biding their time. Now, following the release of their debut EP, This Is Love, we catch up with Hallie for our monthly new music editorial series, Queer & Now, to hear more about their emotive sound, how they channelled their identity into their art, and exclusive details on their next big project.

How has growing up in Australia shaped your sound?

I take a lot of influence from my surroundings. Specifically, in nature, I go for bushwalks and write lyrics. A lot of samples in the back of my music are from nature too. I also take a lot of inspiration from Australian artists like Stella Donnelly. I reckon you’d really like them! She’s an indie folk artist and a huge feminist. I loved everything she’s been doing.

Your songs are inspired by your experiences with gender and identity – was that an intentional choice or an organic creative decision?

A bit of both! There’s a track on the EP called Do It which came quite organically. I was on a zoom session, with Covid, when I wrote it. I didn’t really know what it was about until afterwards. From there, it then felt like this song was the right way for me to tell this story and discuss these parts of myself. So, I’ve been keeping that train of thought going and it has been really nice delving into it. I’ve had the chance to learn a lot about myself and my sexuality from my writing and reflection, so it’s really nice.

Where did the message of your single, Do It, stem from?

I had just come out, I’m pansexual if we want to label it. I came out of a relationship with a man and it was really confusing because I’d been in that for a long time and hadn’t explored my queerness. Then, I met a woman and I was so nervous questioning whether I’m gay and the imposter syndrome was so intense. So, writing Do It was a stream of consciousness over a couple of days. Then, two weeks later, I went out and saw her. In my head, I was like: ‘Just do it. Just do it. Just do it’. So, I told her that I like her but it was rooted in imposter syndrome and, I think, a lot of my gender-fluid people understand that.

You’ve started building your name in the Aussie music scene. How did you first get your start as a musician?

Oh God, how far back do we go? I feel like it’s like the typical I’ve always wanted to be a musician, but I have. I started songwriting when I was quite young and started to learn the guitar in primary [school]. I did musicals through high school and when I left school, I started playing gig venues and my original music to crowds at 18.

What’s your favourite music memory?

I opened for Spacey Jane, an Australian band, in 2019 and it was my biggest and most attentive crowd yet. I just remember feeling like I was on drugs because everyone was in it together. They were in it with me and it felt like the energy was just being so transferred between us. They were replying to me in some way and it was in that moment I was like ‘my god, this is so the right thing for me. I so want to do this.’ It was a big moment for me. And, secondly, I had a listening party a few days ago — I had to sneak that one in!

Your debut EP, This Is Love, is out now. What inspired the title?

I have a track called Love! on the EP and when I listened through the whole EP I realised these are all different versions and emotions in love. When I was coming up with the name, I was just looking through all the lyrics and listening through the songs and this [feeling] is what the world is. Originally, I was gonna just call it Love! like the title of that song, but then I thought this needs more of a grouping name like This Is Love.

You’ve described this EP as an emotional “purge”. What does that mean to you?

It’s basically a couple of journal entries in my eyes. I learned so much in reflection on writing a lot of this and it felt like a purge. I got to learn what I’m feeling and ground myself through this EP. Throughout the process, there have been so many full-circle moments and little full-circle lyrics that connect that I didn’t even intentionally do, but there’s just my subconscious purging all the time. Since I’ve released it, it really honestly feels like a release and now I can let these things go in the past as what they are.

What are your favourite lyrics from the EP and why?

I’m really proud of my lyrics on Labelless. There’s the connection point that might seem like such a minor thing, but, for me, it was really cool. In Do It, I have “high, high, high, high, deep sigh’ and it’s like me saying ‘oh, hi, oh, I fucked it up’ and I’m really nervous right now. Then, in Labelless, I’m like, saying: ‘I call you just to say hi / And now I have confidence on my side’. From the first song to the last song, it’s me building that confidence and trusting my sexuality which was a really special moment for me when I realised I did that. In Labelless, I speak about my sexuality, wanting healthy love and feeling like I deserve it. Labelless is really special for me and relates to me the most as well.

What has been the biggest lesson you’ve taken from writing this EP?

Every emotion within the realm of love is just as valid as the other. A lot of the time, I want to be happy and feel good, instead of letting myself be heartbroken or like in pain. I’ve learned, from this EP, to give so many of these emotions a moment and a space and that they’re all important. I’ve taken that with me a lot.

You’ve had music nominated for Queensland Music Awards in Best Rock, and toured with Mallrat — what’s next on your bucket list agenda?

It was incredible and it’s so nerve-wracking getting on those bigger stages when you’re up and coming. Grace, Mallrat, is so so lovely and so are all the bands I’ve played with. I’ve had some really cool opportunities. I want to come to the UK so badly. That is, it’s where I need to be this year.

Your debut EP is now out. What can you share about what you’ve got coming up next?

I’m touring with some bands in Australia. I haven’t said this to anyone yet. I’m just gonna say it — I’ve written another EP! I’ve got the songs and they’re not done, but it’s a whole new concept. It’s really fun talking about it. It’s my sexy era, I’ve decided. I’m excited about it.

Hallie’s debut EP, This Is Love, is out now.