With her upcoming EP, the Australian duo-turned-solo act finds her voice
Words by Lindsey Cepek | Photo by Maddison CT
Hoodlem is an Australian soul and future R&B artist who recently relocated to Toronto after the success of her acclaimed first single, “Old Friend.” She has received praise from The FADER and Nylon for her moody, captivating vocals. This year, her latest single “Teenager” premiered on BBC Radio 1Xtra.
Who is Hoodlem?
Hoodlem was a project I started in my hometown, Melbourne. It began as a duo with my friend and co-producer, Yeo. I decided to relocate in 2016 and bought this project with me to Toronto. Hoodlem has kind of become my musical identity for now and has evolved so much over the last couple of years in particular. I feel like I have the freedom within this title to create and do what I want.
You’re originally from Australia – is there anything specific about your music that you feel distinctly reflects “home” to you?
I don’t feel that the music has a direct relationship to where I am from, maybe because I’ve lived and travelled overseas. I do love hearing background sounds and samples that were taken from Melbourne or leaked through from outside the studio — there’s a few train horns, some leaves rustling and Yeo and I laughing or talking that I kept in the tracks to make them feel more real and a bit more alive.
How is Hoodlem being embraced in Toronto?
When I moved here, I had to essentially start over. I lost my bandmate and was playing and making music on my own. I had to reinstate myself as a newcomer in a new community and go out and introduce myself to people. It was really tough and for a while, quite lonely and isolating. I think the cold climate naturally puts you in artist lock-down, so it’s also been really productive.
You did a lot of touring last year – Montreal, Berlin and the UK. Are there any cities that you love performing in?
I did a Majestic Casual x Lekker Collective show in Berlin last year and met some wonderful people. It was challenging but so great! I love going back to NYC to perform to, I’ve spent a lot of time there over the years and it always feels great to perform for my friends. I can’t wait to go back.
Your newest single “Last Night” is so sexy, so R&B and an obvious transition from the much more innocent “Teenager.” What’s easier for you to relate to?
When I wrote Last Night, I was trying to harness a feeling I was experiencing and wanted it to be fun and playful but you know, putting the heat on a bit. I relate to both but I love hearing how others connect to the songs. It always feels surreal, like “I did that?”
I also love a good cheesy hook that throws me back to ’90s and 2000s R&B. I like to make the production as wonky and different as possible, hiding bits in there for people to hear when they listen through headphones, or on repeat.
What’s next for Hoodlem?
I’m releasing an EP next week in the Drake Underground, which I’m very happy about. I am in the writing and recording phase for my debut album which is taking up most of my time right now. I’m looking forward to playing a few more shows and doing some writing sessions with my newfound Toronto family.
Hoodlem joins us in the Drake Underground on Wednesday for the release of her new EP, Teenager. Show begins at 8 PM. Tickets are available here.
See Facebook event for more details.