Q&A’s: Tiarni Hope Takes Us Through Her New Single + Navigating The Pandemic

Words/Interview by Emily Hollitt {Emily Hollitt – Content Writer + Malina Claire}

Last week, we were re-introduced to Tiarni Hope through her sophomore single Salt In The Wound. After a hiatus since her 2018 release Resist, the young multi-instrumentalist’s return shows a new side to her music. Last week, we were re-introduced to Tiarni Hope through her sophomore single Salt In The Wound. After a hiatus since her 2018 release Resist, the young multi-instrumentalist’s return shows a new side to her music. Reminiscent of acts like The Deer Hunter, Hozier or Ruby Gilbert, her new single demonstrates introspective story-telling with expert musicianship.

With the single still on repeat on my Spotify, I just had to learn more about Tiarni, her process and how this gem of a track was made. Luckily, she had some time in her busy schedule to let me pick her brain.

You’ve just released your new track ‘Salt in the Wound’. Can you take us through what this track is about?

It would be my pleasure. In a broad sense, it’s about a lot of things and nothing at all in the same breath. I took some of the frustration, hurt and anger from different moments in my life, directed both inward and out, and tried to make a story out of the emotions it pulled from me. Each verse was inspired by something completely unrelated to the others, yet the underlying emotions were the same, which allowed me to weave a story that was oddly specific, yet also didn’t really point to one particular moment in my life. I allowed myself to sit with how it made me feel, and instead of becoming more upset over the events that inspired my words, I felt a bit of a fire burning inside. I wanted to show that despite harbouring all of these negative emotions, I could use them in a positive way and tell myself that I can get through the tough times, I don’t need someone to save me, and I’m still here fighting even if there’s a long way yet to go. And so it became my little hate-fuelled anthem, cynical in a way that dares you to try and pull me down.

The production is really unique in this track! I love how it never really goes where you’d expect. Were there any songs/ artists that inspired some of these choices?

Absolutely! I am a massive fan of The Dear Hunter, which is the project of musical genius Casey Crescenzo. His work has been massively influential to me, especially in terms of making interesting choices and sort of flipping the ideas of what a song has to sound like. I can say for certain that a lot of my ideas for structure and chord choice come from years of listening to songs that take you places you weren’t expecting. In a more specific sense though, a lot of my production/arrangement ideas came from several songs in particular for this track, namely The Witcher by Church of Roswell (an excellent song from a band with a very cool marketing concept), Drumrolls for Somersaults by the Martin Harley Band, (such a great example of lyrical storytelling), and Anyhow by the Tedeschi Trucks Band (one of my favourite songs in existence).

What inspired you to get into music?

I grew up with my mum always singing and playing guitar when I was little. She loves country music and so I was always around music growing up. I don’t think there was ever one moment or another that pushed me towards it, it was just something I knew in my bones that I wanted to pursue. Apparently, I used to always whack pots and pans when I was a rugrat, and when I was six I got a little junior drumkit for my birthday. Then came violin at school, and a few birthdays later I got my first guitar. I think my parents knew well before I did that I was going to be a musician, and they slowly steered me to where I am now. 

Your songwriting with this release and your past release Resis‘ is truly beautiful. Can you take us through your songwriting process?

Process is a misleading word, as it alludes to the fact that I know what I’m doing. Songwriting for me is a very hit and miss activity; sometimes I can spend months on an idea before it starts to take me somewhere I’m happy to go, while other times I can be struck with inspiration and have a song within an hour. Salt In The Wound was more of the latter for me, it came quickly one night and before I knew it the bones of the song were mostly complete. Then came weeks and weeks of hashing out ideas for the musical arrangement, tweaking the structure, and recording demos in my spare room. Usually I’ll start a song with a vocal melody or a phrase that I particularly like, and see what other ideas come from it, or sometimes an interesting chord progression will start melodic ideas flowing in my head. I started with the acoustic guitar progression for this track, and almost immediately, the opening line popped into my brain; “Caught in the fire that you lit.” Everything else followed swiftly afterwards.

I really love the switch in tone from this release compared to your last track, demonstrating a lot of versatility in only a few releases. How would you categorise your genre/ sound as an artist?

That’s a tough one, as I don’t tend to write more than a couple of songs in the same vein, at least recently anyway. I also listen to a wide range of music, so it makes sense that I draw inspiration from a lot of genres. I’ve been making a concerted effort to try and pursue more of the heavier side of my writing (not that heavy is even close to my sound), and drawing on more of the rock, and even melodic prog rock that I listen to (again, The Dear Hunter is a big influence here). That said, I think there will always be a hint of folk and country to my writing that I guess stems from my childhood. If I had to put my style in words, I think it would be ‘alternative country folk rock’.

If you could open for any musician, dead or alive, who would you choose?

Oh that’s a good question, so many ways to take it. Should I pick my favourite artist, the artist I think I would best suit as a support act, the artist I think would be most fun to play a show with, or someone legendary who I never got the chance to see? Hmm. It’s a very tough choice, but I think at this time I’d have to go with the Tedeschi Trucks Band. Outstanding musicianship, my sound wouldn’t be too far afield to be a support, and man would I like to have some beers with them backstage. They seem like a great bunch of people, and of course I’d take the opportunity to see the inner workings of a band with two full time drummers! 

COVID-19 has really turned the music industry on its head. How has this impacted you musically both positive and negative? 

Covid has royally screwed musicians all over Australia, and seeing the lack of support—and more recently blatant favouritism—from our leaders in regards to this billion-dollar industry is utterly heartbreaking. To see my friends and fellow musicians lose their income, their passion, and be so stressed throughout this pandemic wondering how bills are going to be paid makes me angry, but it also makes me want to go out and support them in any way I safely can. Musically, some days it’s hard to find the motivation to write, or practice, or do anything with the threat of covid looming in the background. It’s easy to think, ‘what’s the point?,’ when every day we see our industry neglected yet again. But it’s also a source of pride to see musicians pulling together to support one another, and to see how creative minds pull together to make the most of a situation. Musicians are a tough lot, it’s hard not to be inspired by them.

The local scene in particular has struggled recently. To help out, are there any local acts you’d love more people to be aware of?

Top of my list has got to be the mesmerizing Hazel Mei. I am the number one Hazel Mei fangirl (will fight anyone who disagrees), and I think I’ve probably been to more of her gigs than anyone alive, barring her actual band (or maybe her parents). Watching Hazel grow as an artist has been a great privilege, and I know that she’s going to go very far. Another local favourite of mine is The Blackwater Fever, a trio of dark and moody rockers who certainly know how to get a crowd going. I’d also have to shout out Saint Barae, and Malina Claire as ones to look out for—if you can get to a show of theirs you’ll definitely thank yourself!

What would you consider your favourite album of all time? 

I really don’t know if I can answer that, I have so many albums that I turn to when in need of different things. No one particular album holds my heart more than another, because I get something special out of them all. One album I can always put on and not tire of is ‘Migrant’, by The Dear Hunter. I can’t count how many road trips I’ve found myself listening through this album 4 or 5 times because I get so caught up and don’t want to switch the CD out. A truly masterful album that I would recommend to anyone looking to listen to something new.

And finally, where do you see yourself and your career in the next 10 years?

I’d like to say touring and releasing albums, but with the state of the music industry at the moment, who knows what irreversible damage may be caused to the performing arts. In an ideal world where money isn’t a factor, I’d actually like to own and manage a rehearsal space and recording studio. I absolutely love being in the studio, whether it’s as a session musician or just a fly on the wall, and I’ve always wanted to own my own business. I also have dreams of owning a whiskey bar with a house band and a grand piano in the corner, where I could feature music from my friends and create a venue that truly cared for its performers. A girl can dream, and that is mine.

Salt In The Wound is available now on all platforms.


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