Tell us a little bit about who you are and what you do.
My name is Katie and I am a musician, composer and sound designer currently based in Belfast. I make my own music under the name Hex Hue and was also a touring member of Choice nominated ‘Pleasure Beach.’ I have worked with all sorts of musicians over the years including Foy Vance and Duke Special as well as supporting artists like Van Morrison, Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds, Bell X1, All Saints and many more.
As a composer/sound designer I write lots of music for theatre and other creative projects including The Lyric, Maiden Voyage Dance, Tinderbox and The Mac (where I was Artist-In-Residence in 2016). I recently starred in The Lyric Theatre’s production of Good Vibrations, as well as being the onstage musical director. In 2016 I scored the music for Death of a Projectionist by Bafta winning and Oscar nominated production company Out of Orbit Films.
Why did you want to be a part of this project?
I love writing music – it’s my favourite thing to do – especially songs. This was a really exciting project because it’s encouraging us as artists to use our voices and speak out about what we are passionate about through our creative practices. It’s also exciting to generate the idea for something rather than responding to someone else’s ideas, which I also love doing. But this gets to be me unfiltered in my truest form without having to make sure it aligns to someone else’s creative vision. I love working with the Lyric and have found them to be so incredibly encouraging and supportive over the last few years so it is an absolute joy to be back with them working on this.
Tell us a little about your piece for New Speak? What was your initial inspiration and how has this changed?
It is a music-based piece of theatre called Enthrall about using your mind to overcome adversity. I am obsessed with Nordic and Scandinavian culture and music and have always felt really aligned to their folklore, stories, creativity and way of life. There is such a rich culture of music and creative expression that really excited me. Most of my favourite music comes from that part of the world. On my travels to Iceland I learnt that over half of the early female settlers in the country were Irish or Scottish – widely believed to have been brought over as slaves by the Vikings. One of the Icelandic sagas, The Laxdale Saga, talks about an Irish princess who is abducted on a ship and taken to Iceland as a mistress to a married man. I started to think about being trapped and kept as someone’s property and the resilience needed to cope in those extreme situations. I decided for this online version of the project, especially taking into consideration the unprecedented situation we find ourselves in, to write some songs loosely based on these themes but focusing on resilience and strength and the power to create change. We are all trapped in different ways and in different situations and sometimes our captors are ourselves.
What have been the most fun and the most challenging parts of creating for New Speak?
The most fun part is developing the ideas and watching them turn from the seed of an idea, collection of muddled words, into a full song, into a produced track and then adding visuals to make it come to life… it’s really exciting to see it all come together and to get to work with Neil on the video content. The challenge has been trying to focus, write and trust my creative instincts in the middle of a global pandemic as we all adjust and come to terms with this very altered way of life amidst the worries for loved ones and our own health and livelihoods.
What is the key message you want an audience to take from your music?
That we always have the power to change things outwardly or inwardly. We can always control how we choose to process or react to a situation and our voice is important so we should use it to speak out about what we do and don’t believe in.
Where do you get the ideas for the visuals in your videos?
I guess the visuals are inspired by Nordic folklore but in a contemporary sense. I’m really excited that I got to work with two incredible dancers on the project – Ryan O’Neill and Vasiliki Stasinaki – movement and dance really inspires me and is such a beautiful way to animate music. The visuals influences for the project are strong and earthy.
How does your music empower both yourself and your audience?
I think music allows us to feel and process emotions that we don’t know how to articulate otherwise. We can latch on to a lyric or a beat or a frequency and it can help us to experience emotion. Music and songs can mean something very different to every listener and affects us all in different ways. Writing music empowers me as it means I get to put my thoughts out into the world and singing empowers me as it is the practice of using my voice in a physical sense. Nothing has done more for my confidence and self-identity than making and performing my own music over the years.
Do you find your ideas for your lyrics and music first before creating your visuals or is it unique to every project?
I think it’s different for everyone but for me they all happen together. I’m very visual so I take a lot of inspiration from images and always build mood boards when I’m working on a project. Sometimes a lyric comes first, sometimes a beat but often it’s a lot of trial and error and hard slog for me to find the perfect mix of lyrics and sounds to put my point across in the way I want.
Are you working on anything else at the moment?
I’m writing and producing a lot of music for myself – Hex Hue – and I’m also really excited to have been selected for Prime Cut’s Reveal programme which is an incredible development scheme for making new theatrical work. Everything else that was coming up has been put on hold but I am lucky that I can always keep myself occupied with music!