“I’m a variety junkie,” Hooper tells InDaily.
“When life gets boring, I think: What can I do to shake things up?”
Most recently, the Melbourne-based singer-songwriter stepped well outside her comfort zone by appearing on Channel Seven’s top-rating show The All New Monty: Ladies’ Night, which saw eight well-known women – including fellow singer Casey Donovan and former Olympian Lisa Curry – take off their tops to raise awareness of breast cancer.
She was also on TV screens in February as one of the musicians vying to be Australia’s entrant in the 2019 Eurovision, and has had a hectic year of live shows including touring solo on the back of the release of her pop-rock track “Data Dust” (performed for the Eurovision audition) and gigs with Killing Heidi.
For November Nights, at the Woodville Town Hall on November 8 and 9, Hooper will be part of an all-female line-up which on the first night includes Mojo Juju (winner of best album and best song at this year’s National Indigenous Music Awards) and Adelaide singer Alana Jagt. Performing on the second night will be Thando, Karen Lee Andrews, Caiti Baker and Jay Power.
“I jumped at it straight away – some gigs tick every box and this one did,” Hooper says.
“I love coming to Adelaide … and the line-up is just incredible.”
While Hooper is best-known as the frontwoman of Killing Heidi, the multi ARIA award-winning band she formed in high school with brother Jesse, in more recent years she has been forging a successful career as a solo artist with releases including the double EP Venom / New Magic – a kind of “before and after” collection documenting a relationship breakdown.
She admits it’s taken her a long time to feel comfortable performing solo, despite her confidence fronting a band.
“My standards were high trying to take that to a solo show. It’s a different kind of show, which is still intense and entertaining but not at all like a rock show.
“There’s a lot more talking and storytelling, so it’s more intimate, which is really nice.”
Audiences at November Nights can expect a set list that includes a mixture of Hooper’s solo material, including songs from Venom / New Magic, and at least one track, “Winter”, from her side project The Verses (a band which also features brother Jesse).
“It’s a really folk, almost country song with lots of harmonies and it’s my favourite at the moment because it’s most like where I’m going [with my music],” she says.
Hooper also often includes one or two covers in her solo shows – anything from Paul Kelly or Stevie Nicks, to Tears For Fears or The Eurythmics. One thing you won’t hear, however, is Killing Heidi material.
“I just feel like they are two different characters – they are two different ‘me’s,” she says.
After a 10-year break, Killing Heidi re-formed in 2016 after being invited to headline Victoria’s Queenscliff Music Festival for its 20th anniversary – which also happened to coincide with the 20th anniversary of the band being selected as Triple J Unearthed winners.
The show, says Hooper, was electric: “It just blew the roof off.”
Now she’s happy to be combining her solo work with regular performances with Killing Heidi, including a show in Perth straight after November Nights and as part of the line-up for next year’s Red Hot Summer tour which will come to Seppeltsfield in the Barossa at the end of March.
As for her self-proclaimed “pop witch” tag, Hooper says it stems from the idea that her music is catchy and accessible yet also comes from “a genuine place or a deeper place”.
“Pop can be meaningful and have healing power, and I see that as a form of magic … for me, performing music is also a form of ritual – I go to a place and I don’t phone it in.
“I don’t believe in getting up there unless you’re going to give it a lot of energy.”
November Nights is on November 8 and 9 at the Woodville Town Hall. Ella Hooper, Mojo Juju and Alana Jagt will perform on the first night, in a cabaret-style setting, and the venue will be turned into a dance floor on the second night, featuring performances by Thando, Karen Lee Andrews, Caiti Baker and Jay Power.
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