Guest Blogger: Hilang Child

Hilang Child

Intro: Elena Katrina
Photos: Abi Raymaker

Bella Union’s latest signing Hilang Child takes on the latest guest blogger post here at Popped Music to talk about his singing, his experience at SXSW, where he also shares his private SXSW photos and lets us have the lowdown on what else is coming for him in the near future.

SIGNING TO BELLA UNION

Signing with Bella Union earlier this year was a pretty big deal for me. They’ve released works by some of my favourite musicians (e.g. Van Dyke Parks, Fleet Foxes, Mountain Man, Father John Misty) and of course, are spearheaded by music royalty, ex-Cocteau Twin Simon Raymonde, so when he got in touch it was really exciting. I’d done a couple of DIY EP’s as Hilang Child over the past 2 or 3 years which, as someone who considered himself a drummer first as foremost, was really me learning who I was as an artist and what my strengths & weaknesses were as a songwriter. One of them somehow found its way to Simon and his wife Abbey, who is now my co-manager, and it felt massive that they both wanted to work with me. Over the last year, it’s also resulted in me co-writing and singing on a couple of tracks with Simon’s new band Lost Horizons and touring in their live setup, which has been so much fun.

PLAYING SXSW

This was my first time playing SXSW and to tell the truth I initially found it a little overwhelming; it’s a blur of relentless crowds, noise, bands playing, forums happening, talks, meetings, drunk people and parties. A lot of people I spoke to said it was more chilled out than in previous years, so I genuinely can’t imagine what it was like in the past. I was playing 2 shows and honestly felt a little blessed by that; some friends’ bands were playing 7 or 8 and I just don’t know how they could cope. 

Despite the madness, the shows I played really did feel special due to the mix of characters brought together by this festival. After my first set at Cannon & Belle two people came up to say they’d flown from Florida with one of their main intentions being to see me play, having listened to my stuff since back when I was putting demo EPs online. I occasionally get messages online from fans abroad, but this was the first time I’d met people in the flesh who, despite living thousands of miles away, knew of what I did and were into it. That was kind of a special moment. Others who came up included an exec from the Indonesian music industry and a member from one of the biggest bands in Indonesia (Efek Rumah Kaca), who’d heard I was half-Indonesian so come to check it out, as they were in town. Honestly at what other festival would that happen?! 

My second show was at Bella Union’s showcase at Parish, on the infamous 6th Street. I had a few extra nerves that night as I knew there were people from my label’s US distributors in attendance and it’d be their first time hearing me play. But the sound engineer and stage team were on point and it was one of the least stressful ‘festival’ gigs I’ve ever had. Again, the audience was a real mix – at the end I was pulled aside by a whole crew of Indonesian ex-pats who live in Austin; they’d also heard of my Indonesian roots so came down out of curiosity. The rest of the night felt like a party, hanging out with other bands on my label and a captivating set from Ezra Furman rounding off the night.

The whole week was eventful and although tiring, anyone who gets the chance to play SXSW should take it. Musical highlights included watching Superorganism, one of the happiest & most fun live sets I’ve seen in ages; NY garage rock group Boytoy blew me away at the Burger Records night, as did Philly band Cold Fronts; fellow Brits Flyte were excellent and seeing my friend Nilufer Yanya captivate the crowd Elysium was great. I got the chance to go hang out at Willie Nelson’s ranch for his Luck Reunion shindig, quite a surreal place – it was apparently built to be the set of a cowboy town in a western movie which never got made, so Willie bought the whole ‘town’ from the film company. Made loads of new friends and spent a large chunk of the week hanging out with the guys from Wyldest, who were just the sweetest bunch of people. Ate far too many tacos but all the walking and swimming in Barton Springs made up for it.

UPCOMING PLANS

Now that I’m back in the UK we’ve got plenty of plans for the rest of the year; my debut album is coming out in August but before that, I’ve got a few other things in the pipeline. I’m touring again with Lost Horizons in April plus hitting a whole bunch of festivals; I’m opening for Jane Weaver at Focus Wales in my mum’s hometown of Wrexham in May and will be taking part in a really special show at the Southbank Centre in September, both as Hilang Child and a member of Lost Horizons. Before all this, though, next up is a set at Black’s Club for Golden Slippers on 9th April, which, I’m also looking forward to. I think it’s going to be a fun year.

See Hilang Child’s SXSW photo diary here:

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    Popped Music has been going since Feb 2010.

    All articles written by Elena Katrina unless otherwise stated.

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