Today sees the release of I’ll Probably Be Asleep, the debut album from Melbourne-based German songwriter Anika Ostendorf aka Hachiku. The eight tracks on the record explore personal themes and real-world struggles, such as her long distance relationshop and her deep relationships with dogs, and she delivers it all with a bedroom-pop charm and a light, heart-on-sleeve indie honesty. Unafraid to experiment with tone and texture, Hachiku’s debut album reaches out for connection, and listening to it can feel like sitting alongside her on her bed, sharing private thoughts and confessions.
Ostendorf was kind enough to write a little about each of the eight tracks that make up I’ll Probably Be Asleep, giving us an even deeper insight into her bustling brain.
1. “I’ll Probably Be Asleep”
In essence, this track is like an escapist’s testament about the wish to gain sovereignty over your thoughts. Freud’s id vs superego. Musically I wanted it to sound like a chainsaw playing the lead melody in an organ ensemble. I very vividly and kind of painfully remember recording five hours of headache-inducing guitar feedback on top of guitar feedback on top of another 30 minutes of guitar feedback. I was staying at my girlfriend’s father’s converted warehouse / living space at the time in quite an industrial part of Melbourne with no neighbours around, so I was able to make a lot of noise for a very extended period of time and I definitely made the most of it. I don’t think this song could have happened in my current room haha, my housemate would hate me!!
I then cut up all that feedback trying to find some sort of musical melody in all the noise (which I will never be able to replicate ever again live whoops) and timed it to I think it’s 87 bpm and found a drumbeat on my Casio keyboard. After that, it’s just Casio organ and flute-y bits layered. Visually I imagined a scene in Eyes Wide Shut – masked scary people doing intriguing things that you kind of want to take part in but also freak you out so you’d actually rather wake up from the nightmare.
2. “Busy Being Boring”
Similar escapist mindset to “I’ll Probably Be Asleep”, but from a slightly more destructive and sadistic angle. After hearing this song, my friend asked me whether I hated all my friends because it sounded like I was about to annihilate them – daydreaming the brutal destruction of everything around me. Glad to hear what my friend thinks of me and my capabilities – but I obviously don’t hate them and am grateful for every person in my life. In a Holly Golightly fashion, you just sometimes can’t help but imagine where else exciting your life could take you if you were able to start a fresh once in a while.
3. “You’ll Probably Think This Song Is About You”
This song, of all the songs on the album, took the longest to complete, and is probably the cheesiest because, you know, love urgh. I think there are may be four or five demos at different tempos and different feels (live loop station version, Rave party 4 am version, boring fall asleep version, ghostly instrumental hush and really slow lo-fi drenched in reverb). I think in the end I did find a middle ground – but to be honest I probably now would have preferred to stick with the lo-fi drenched in reverb version. Oh well, next time!
The lyrics are about doing long-distance with my girlfriend between London and Melbourne for 8 months at the very start of our relationship, and the struggle to make that work. Defining expectations in each other and setting boundaries. Developing mutual trust and at times breaking it, but always trying to come back to a happy place. I warned you, pure cheesiness because LOVE URGH.
4. “Bridging Visa B”
Brief explanation: this is the visa that you need to apply for and pay $150 every time you want to leave Australia – even briefly – while waiting for your visa application to be processed (which for a partner visa now takes two years or longer). For me, it represents the whole frustration of going through the quite intrusive visa application process and generally immigrating to a different country. Obnoxious government officials that think they have the right to ask you about your private business. Authorities in charge of personal fates. No right to self-determine how and where you want to live your life. Getting asked “Where are you from?”, “Germany”, “I knew it!!! You sound like that Simpson’s boy ‘Don’t make me run. I’m full of chocolate” on a regular basis when you work at a bar. And I am super privileged as a white person from a Western country where I actually unfairly receive a very special immigrant treatment. I can’t imagine how dehumanising this whole process must feel like being a refugee or person of colour. I’m lucky I ticked all the right boxes for them, it’s outraging to think what power they have over you when you are in a desperate position.
5. “Dreams of Galapagos”
Similar to “Busy Being Boring” in its restlessness and constant urge to burn all bridges and start a new identity as a botanist in the Amazon rainforest, or moving to Galapagos to swim with turtles. Well, the lyrics are not about that literally, but that’s the sentiment.
Production-wise, I was quite inspired by Sigur Rós and their use of reversed samples. You can probably hear that 80% of the key parts in this song are playing backwards. I also had a lot of fun with tuning my vocals four octaves down to sound like a big man. If you listen closely you can hear my mother filling the dishwasher in the background during the outro – I was trying to pre-mix the song and heard her banging glasses around through my headphones. It sounded pretty fitting so I just hit record with my inbuilt laptop microphone and there you go – some natural dishwashing machine ambience.
6. “A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Woman”
I wrote this song about a 3am conversation at a club with a climate change denier, and the ultimate ‘wanting to punch him in the face’ frustration, because – though my verbal arguments were strong – he just did not get it (I was “brainwashed by left-wing propaganda’’ apparently).
He gave me his email address to send him some scientific articles to prove my point (though science also was left-wing propaganda), which I did though I knew he wouldn’t believe it. One minute later the email bounced back – of course, coward. Humanity is doomed. We are all going to kill each other with our negligence and won’t even realise.
7. “Shark Attack”
If you’re like my friend Tushara, you might think this song is about oral sex. I think it very clearly references my little dog and childhood best friend Lexus being diagnosed with throat cancer, and the emotional devastation his looming death left me in. In a way, this song is the only song on the album that very literally is about one thing and it probably sits closest to my heart because I loved my dog so much. This one was the last song I wrote for the album; I had a one-week deadline and it just happened and I didn’t have time to overthink it – 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. This one just exploded into existence from deep within my essence.
8. “Murray’s Lullaby”
“Murray’s Lullaby” was written and recorded in regional Queensland while I was completing three months of farm work – a requirement for my Australian working holiday visa. Murray is the dog who had to listen to me every night mumbling melodies and composing weird synth string parts and choir harmonies. I do wonder whether there is a dog theme in this album… maybe I’m a dog. A big, fat Entlebucher Sennenhund (RIP Lexus) that needs cuddles and a cow intestine chew stick to be content.
Hachiku’s I’ll Probably Be Asleep is released today via Milk! Records / Marathon Artists. Buy it/stream it from your preferred service, or order directly from her Bandcamp.