Hachiku is the project of 26-year-old Melbourne-based artist Anika Ostendorf, who writes whimsical, dreamy bedroom pop with an experimental twist. Originally from Germany, she moved to Australia from London as a biology exchange student and found both a job and a musical home at Milk! Records, an independent label founded by Courtney Barnett and Jen Cloher in 2012. She issued her enchanting self-titled debut EP in 2017, and has been slowly expanding her musical palette ever since, turning Hachiku into a full-band project consisting of Georgia Smith, Jessie L. Warren, and Simon Reynolds. Following a mini covers EP this year, which featured lovely renditions of songs by The Cranberries, Sia, and the German classic ’99 Luftballons’ while also doubling as an exercise in music production, Ostendorf is now gearing up for the release of her debut full-length, I’ll Probably Be Asleep. Out November 13, it includes the early single ‘Shark Attack’, a lusciously hypnotic tribute to her family dog Lexus, as well as the recently unveiled ‘Bridging Visa B’, a commentary on the intrusiveness of the visa application process. The title track, which also serves as the album’s opener, is a startling embodiment of Hachiku’s artistic growth: harsh waves of distortion cut through a mesmerzing groove overlaid with punchy drums and ethereal guitar melodies, all swirling around Ostendorf’s evocative vocals. Whether big and disorienting or intimate and inviting, Hachiku’s otherworldly music pulls you in like a spell.
We caught up with Hachiku’s Anika Ostendorf for this edition of our Artist Spotlight series, where we showcase up-and-coming artists and give them a chance to talk about their music.
What drove you to pursue songwriting?
I actually think my biggest inspiration as a child was ‘Deutschland sucht den Superstar’, which is Germany’s equivalent to American Idol type TV shows. I always dreamt of myself as entering that stage as a 16-year-old and wowing people with my soulful ballads and tragic life story (not lol). I must have quickly realised that the pursuit of such dreams did not align with my developing teenage interests so well and I switched over to (temporarily) admiring songwriters like Regina Spektor and The Moldy Peaches.
Who is an artist that changed the way you think about music?
Probably my all-time favourite band Beach House and the way their music has a certain transcendental aspect to it. It really isn’t just music – it’s otherworldly perfection. Could you could call it magic? I think so, I like music that feels like it is magic.
You recently released your 99 Dreams covers EP. What did you hope to achieve with the project, and why did you choose these particular songs?
The main intention behind the covers project actually was for me to learn the recording software program Ableton. It’s used a lot in electronic music and I had never really played around with it before, so I figured ‘forcing’ myself to do a mini EP in a short amount of time would be a good motivation to get going. The song choice is based on songs that I had previously played as part of my solo live performance (in particular ‘Dreams’ by The Cranberries and ’99 Luftballons’ by Nena). ’99 Luftballons’ actually was a real hassle to clear the rights for and we almost didn’t release it, but it worked out last minute!
Could you talk about your latest single, ‘I’ll Probably Be Asleep’? What was the inspiration for it?
For this song I wanted it to sound like a chainsaw playing the lead melody in an organ ensemble – lots of feedback, lots of loud guitars (there are probably 5 or so overlapping guitar parts in there), while also maintaining a sort of gentle aspect to the song. I’m never quite sure where a particular lyrical inspiration comes from, it kind of just manifests itself in my head spontaneously. I quite liked the visual that ’l’ll Probably Be Asleep’ brings to mind – sleeping your life away while the world keeps spinning around, like in the moment of sleeping you put a pause on everything.
How does it fit into your upcoming album as a whole? Could you talk us through the process of making the record?
It’s definitely the most guitar heavy, rock-y and loudest song on the album. Each song sits in its own musical world a little – there’s nothing that ties them together other than that I recorded them all. Every song has quite fundamentally different instrumentation and energy where sometimes I wonder if it’s a bit too hectic and distracting but maybe that randomness is what unites them after all.
What’s your favourite song from the album, and why?
I think it has to be ‘Shark Attack’ because it’s about my dog and I love my dog. That one was the last song I wrote for the album and I had a 1-week deadline and it just happened and I didn’t have time to overthink it and it just had to be what it was. When you have unlimited time to finish something – that is probably a bit dangerous for me. I don’t know when and where to stop.
The release date is inching closer! How do you feel?
Nervous but excited but nervous but excited. Mainly actually excited for it to be out there, nervous because I now have to start working on the next album!!
I’ll Probably Be Asleep is out November 13 via Milk! Records.