The statement by famed Author Aniekee Tochuikwu Ezekiel: “The more you know yourself, the less judgemental you become” – has an immeasurable lasting effect upon further exploration. The idea of discovering oneself is arguably a lifelong lesson, a journey that continues throughout the entirety of an individual’s existence. Understandably, as the world changes, a person will also alter in reflection of this transformation. This will also occur with the individual’s age, experience and even surrounding environment – essentially it is why there perhaps isn’t a true definition for the “meaning of life”.
Ella Hooper, from the adored Australian rock outfit Killing Heidi has absorbed herself in a state of self-reflection since the reformation of the band with her brother, guitarist Jesse Hooper late last year. Revisiting songs written up to 20 years ago when Ella was just a teenager, she justifiably felt a connection, but on a different scale. And with her own identity evolving to the remarkable young woman she has become, she informs GlamAdelaide that her insight has broadened vastly.
“I’m not a teenager singing those songs anymore, because I do feel different” she admits – “More like I have realised that everything is on a continuum, you know the teenage me is still connected to the adult me and I can go backwards and forwards between the two. It’s been challenging to find that perception.”
Having admitted a few years ago that reuniting Killing Heidi and performing globally cherished songs such as Weir, Mascara and Live Without It (amongst numerous others) would be unnatural as Ella couldn’t sing such youth based songs convincingly; the refute developed by that infamous proverb: “Absence (or distance) makes the heart grow fonder” – as Ms. Hooper details:
“I actually did not know what it was going to be like returning to those songs. I wasn’t able to imagine having that amount of distance from it originally, but I think what really helped was having a big fat break.” She discloses wholeheartedly – “because when people were asking those questions at that time when I had not experienced that distance, I could not imagine it feeling natural.”
She continues – “Now that I have had the distance from it and experienced so much, of course I have done a lot of growing up, I have a different relationship to music in general and certainly my own music. I don’t know exactly how to put it, but so much has changed for me, it’s hard to define. That’s how I felt then, but I did not know I would feel like this now; I wasn’t able to access that at the time.”
Thankfully distance, time and some extremely enticing show offers eventually persuaded the interests of the Hooper siblings to the sensible decision that a reformation was more than sensible.
“We started off with the mindset of ‘one step at a time’ – at first we were just going to do this one festival and rehearse for it to see how it feels. We weren’t going to commit to anything big. If we didn’t like it, we did it once and it felt weird so we will stop. BUT if it felt good we would keep going! So taking it at that slow process, taking one offer as it came and ultimately it worked out so well it made sense to just do a tour.”
The reunion began at the Handpicked Festival in South Australia’s Langhorne Creek at the end of last year, which Ella confesses: “Was amazing but the weather was pretty hairy and scary right? I mean The Veronicas almost got blown off stage the poor girls”; as well as a “nervous but very nice welcome back”. However, the ball has continued to roll for Killing Heidi with numerous appearances in the major cities of our fine nation. It intrigued this writer to ask though, once back onstage as Killing Heidi, was the natural recollection of a KH performance still easy to access for the band and herself?
“Yeah pretty much, I was actually kind of shocked at how much muscle memory there actually was after 10 or so years of not doing it. It’s incredible what the body remembers; anything you do repeatedly becomes this part of you and I could tap back into it – which was pretty handy.” She divulges with laughter.
With the band currently touring Australia as the headline act, there is a substantial excitement surrounding the shows for both the fans and musicians alike. But how has this monumental reaction been for Ella, Jesse and her talented group?
“It’s really interesting and powerful, I think that’s why the shows are going so well! I mean you create something as a young person and you don’t expect it to have this massive impact and reach but it does impact your life and people from all over. What has been wonderful for me is going back and exploring the impact it did have on me and actually be more conscious of everything that was quite unconscious back then.”
Having been thrust into the spotlight at a young age, the Hoopers were achieving successes that were thought to be beyond impossibility from their humble beginnings in Violet Town, Victoria. Commercial success, APRA and ARIA awards are just the tip of the iceberg for what Killing Heidi deservedly attained, but was there a specific highlight for the band themselves which really stands out?
“I think we were in a constant state of shock for the first year of breaking through and having success; we were happy, revved up and going with the flow really. It’s hard to remember because I think we had so much adrenalin pumping through our veins that it really isn’t that clear.”
She continues – “I remember we hosted RAGE and that was a HUGE deal for us, we were so honoured and ecstatic we got to pick what songs were going to be played. It was a real milestone because it is something we all grew up with, it’s an integral part of our music loving culture watching Rage. I don’t have any specific memories of seeing us even though we were probably on it a stack of times; maybe I just went to bed too early (laughs).
“I remember it was tricky because we had to share the song collection between four people so we only got to pick like a few each, it wasn’t fair. That was probably the most difficult part, all being on the same page of what songs to pick. It was such an honour, I mean I can tell my grandchildren that I hosted Rage – it’s up there with being on the cover of Rolling Stone.”
Having brilliantly continued her tenure in the limelight via different avenues (television, radio, music) for quite some time, even during the hiatus from Killing Heidi (when this interview took place, Ella was on her way to co-host Channel 10’s The Project), Ms Hooper has rightly been admired as a compelling artist and personality throughout Australia and beyond. With a stature of merited praise, as a final question this scribe quizzed Ella on how she responds to admirers of her extensive work and the advice she provides to her devotees?
“It does happen sometimes and it really is an honour. It’s amazing that when you have been committed to your career that other people notice and connect with what you have done, especially when they tell you their admiration and what your work means to them and how they have connected with it.”
Anyone in particular come to mind?
“I was talking to Jess Mauboy quite a bit the other month when I was interviewing her, we were talking about song-writing and about how sometimes it really works and other times it doesn’t; anyways she told me that she loved me and that she could sing all my songs and I just thought to myself how amazing it was that this beautiful artist who is so amazing and has done so well, she is really killing it and there she is saying that we influence her and she loves the band. It’s such a privilege and I appreciate it so much, I’m so lucky to have such a reach.”
By Will Oakeshott