Getting to know the introspective sound of Sandy Hsu
Using her voice as both an instrument and a means of expressing her true self, Melbourne multi-disciplinary artist SANDY HSU‘s musical world is one of brutal honesty. To give you an idea of her dedication and interest in creating music, by the age of 17 she’d already released two EP’s – Sandy and Suburbia.
Since then, she’s been biding her time, reflecting on preconceived understandings of her identity and finding ways to redefine herself both creatively and personally. She’s just come out with a very new single, ‘Limbo’, and this one was born out of tumultuous change.
She says “I wrote ‘Limbo’ in November 2016. I was just finishing my first year at the VCA, turning 19, and putting out ‘Savage Youth’ (EP released via Decibels Records). It was a momentous year of my life. There were many significant changes mentally, emotionally, and environmentally.”
The track took her a while to write, creating it in pieces and putting it together bit by bit like a jigsaw. What began as a guitar-driven track later became something more, largely in part to due her collaborating with Huntly‘s Becki Whitten who co-produced and engineered the track.
It’s expansive pop paired with ambient melodies and spacious harmonies that make for an emotionally charged journey through Hsu‘s thoughts and feelings. The world she captures in this track is beautifully effortless. We wanted to know a bit more about her and her creative journey, so we threw a couple of questions her way to get to know her.
Who are you?
Hello, my name’s Sandy. I am a singer-songwriter and artist. I have a lot of feelings… Which I can’t help but make work about. I suppose this project could be seen as an archive of my experiences as a human being in music form.
How did Sandy Hsu come to be?
As a child I wrote lots of poems and stories. It was around 10 years old that I started to add melodies and sing these poems which eventually lead into song-writing. I was drawn to song- writing because it has the ability to enhance story telling and emotion — the words you sing become more powerful. It is the most immediate form of communication. There is just something purely cathartic about it.
I’ve always naturally been ‘a creative’. To me, the most special thing about music is how it is the perfect outlet to channel other creative mediums, such as: visual art, writing, video, fashion and live performance. Music is all encapsulating.
In the beginning I was simply writing songs — melodies over guitar. I played in various bands and sang in lots of choirs growing up, however it wasn’t until I studied music in university and gained production knowledge and general confidence that making and producing music opened up to me and become even more freeing.
What are we talking, vibe-wise?
I am influenced by everything. The films I’ve been watching, books I’ve read, observing interactions between others, the train ride home, a conversation with a peer… And mostly my feelings which I can’t ever seem to have enough of.
I’ve always been drawn to female singer-songwriters; ‘dramatic’ women who create strong sonic worlds to exist in. As a song-writer, I’m interested in the way artists such as Fiona Apple, Kate Bush and Bjork chose to write, rhyme, sing and enunciate. They all have such assertive lyrical identities, no one can sing the words to their songs the way that they do, and emote the lyrics the way they do. I think that’s super special and a sign of great songwriting.
Right now I’d say that my music sounds like… Slow motion, magic hour, swimming in the abyss… Oversharing, hypersensitive fleeting moments all trapped inside a David Lynch snow globe.
Tell us a bit about your new track ‘Limbo’. What can we expect from you moving forward?
‘Limbo’ is a song that I wrote when I was going through a major transitional period in my life. I was finishing off my first year at art school, turning 19, and had just been constantly learning new things and growing. For the first time in my life I remember actually wanting to be well, and wanting to be better mentally. I had spent most of my adolescence in a deep depression and was rather tethered to it. At that time I completed writing ‘Limbo’, I could finally admit to myself that I wanted I be well, but I was also terrified of that idea and who I would become if I was.
The song is co-produced with my friend Becki Whitton, which was such a positive creative experience for me personally, as I was so used to making music alone in my bedroom. Collaboration is super valuable and it feels good to share this sonic world that we created for the song to live in.
Limbo is the first single off of an EP that will be coming out later this year.
Where can we hear more of your work?
You can find my music on: Spotify, Soundcloud, Bandcamp and all other streaming platforms.
Photo by Danielle Zhang
Intro by CAITLIN MEDCALF