Hydrah, In Conversation

Brought together by the Sonar+D conference in Barcelona, I was introduced to the beautiful music by LA based artist Hydrah.

As Sonar+D is a conference that focuses on technology as well as creativity, technology was a mutual interest and was at the forefront of conversation. Having spoken with a number of artists and musicians over recent years, it is clear to me that there are still opposing views to technology and how it has affected the creative industry. I was interested to speak with Hydrah on the matter, since she provides a good example of the successful marriage the traditional can have with the digital.

The classically trained pianist and vocalist has made a shift from classical, to punk rock, to electronic, and has now found her own individual sound, personal to her worldly values. I caught up with her to delve deeper into her fascinating story and the impact of technology on her practice. 

To begin with, is there a story behind the name “Hydrah”?

Even since my teenage years, I have always been fascinated with Greco-Roman culture and myths. “Hydra” is a mythical nine-headed sea serpent which, after its demise, became a constellation in the sky. The word “hydra” also scientifically indicates anything associated with water, which is a direct representation of my passion for aquatic environments, specifically the ocean.

I would say an aquatic theme is also subtly present in your style and sound.

Yes absolutely, my music features samples from the natural world, specifically rainforests and coral reefs, which reflects my passion for the protection of our Earth. It is also a blend of electronica and classical; it blurs the line between a dance club and an orchestral hall. Strong interwoven melodies, haunting vocals and the natural world samples provide the basis for my unique sound.

And is it the natural world that motivates and inspires you to create music?

In a way, yes. When I want to start composing music, I immerse myself in nature, whether that is in a forest or out surfing in the ocean. I also get inspiration when I attend different music-based conferences or see other acts that are high in energy and engage the crowd. I feed off of the passion of others.

What has been the most difficult part of your career? How did you overcome this?

The most difficult part of my career was finding my unique sound and deciding to create something that was not considered to be mainstream. I knew it would take some time, and there was frustration to overcome. I refused to give up, and after travelling to Europe and seeing that there was a niche for the type of classically influenced music I wanted to create, I went for it.

Persistence definitely pays off! What would you consider to be your biggest success so far?

My last EP “Siren”. It has taken me years to develop my sound, and although I know it will continue to develop, “Siren” is finally a true representation of me as a musician and my purpose as an artist.

Obviously technology is imperative to the creation of your music. Would you say that technology is a tool or collaborator for you?

For me technology is a collaborator. A huge reason I shifted from being the lead singer of a band to being a producer and composer is that I could do everything myself. I suddenly had an orchestra at my fingertips and anything that I heard in my head I could materialise.

So innovations in technology have definitely changed your method of production.

Yes, it is very important to keep up with how software has changed because your production always has to be changing and improving in accordance with everyone else. I will always remain partial to a real set of keys as I was classically trained on the piano, but when designing my live set I will use launch pads and more technically advanced instruments because I find it so engaging and there are more possibilities. Now when I produce, I dream about the live set, and that has certainly changed the way I compose.

Do you feel like it is hard to break through when technology has made music production so accessible to everyone?

It is extremely hard to break through right now, the industry is saturated. You have to be stubborn, you can’t give up and most importantly you have to be open to criticism so that you are constantly improving your sound.

Well said! One last question to wrap things up – do you have a motto?

My motto changes daily, but as I am chasing a career with a lot of uncertainty, which is not the social norm, I have to constantly remind myself how happy it makes me. Therefore, something I always repeat to myself is that “a life without the pursuit of passion and happiness, is a life not truly lived”.

Listen to Hydrah’s latest EP Siren on Spotify or Soundcloud, and check out her website here.

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