'Tidal Mark Music Video' / Hoi Palloi
Image by Harrison Byrne.
Hoi Palloi is a four piece art-folk band that breathes innate musicality and shares emotional narratives seeded with soulful nostalgia. Composed of Hannah McKittrick, Noah Hutchinson, Ollie Cox and Kyle Muir, the band has had a colourful 2019 which involved supporting Spacey Jane on their national tour, a Splishy Splashy Summer Residency at the Gaso, featuring on Nkechi Anele’s Triple J show and releasing their debut EP ‘Beneath the Quiet Insulation of the Stars’. They teamed up with director Meg Duncan and her crew to produce a beautiful music video for their single Tidal Mark which screams sincerity, soulfulness and silliness. I had the chance to sit down with Hannah, who blesses the band with hushed vocals and ocean-struck storytelling to chat about the Tidal Mark music video and while Meg is across the globe enjoying the European sunshine, I managed to snag a few words regarding her role too. Before getting into the nitty-gritty, let’s celebrate their delicate and scrumptious music video to Tidal Mark below:
A lot of Hoi Palloi’s music seems to be inspired by the transience and physicality of waves, what is your personal connection to the ocean and how does it inform your musical creativity?
Hannah: I grew up in Inverloch, a little coastal town, and have always felt particularly inspired by the rhythm and pace of the ocean. I love being able to sit down in front of it and have this beautiful picture that is constantly moving which I find very comforting and it seems to naturally come out in my music.
In Tidal Mark there is an abundance of water and flow imagery contrasted with imagery of holding on and anchoring. I understood the dichotomies as depicting the tension between letting feelings come and go and then choosing those special ones to hold on to. What does the Tidal Mark imagery mean to you?
For me, it’s about an ambiguous feeling and being unsettled by something that’s not certain and then trying to accept that it can hold a lot of beauty and opportunity. Meg and I spoke a lot about this idea of a slippery feeling: something that’s difficult to define, that sits in the place between spaces ; you try to grasp it and it slips away. The ‘anchor yourself’ lyric is about trying to tie yourself to something you cannot be tied to.
“Something that’s difficult to define, that sits in the space between places; you try to grasp it and it slips away. That feeling”
The exact imagery refers to when the tide rolls in and out and it leaves a mark - this line of moss. I was thinking about when someone is important to you and their thoughts and opinions become important to you too, so much so that they become a sort of Tidal mark for you - and a way to measure other things against. That’s definitely something I struggle with since as a point of pride I’m very independent so then therein forms this tension between solitude and company which Tidal Mark was definitely trying to explore.
On top of the emotional narratives you share, the music is also composed of complex musicality that creates an all immersive atmosphere. How would you describe your creative process as a band?
I write the tunes on my own and as a songwriter I’m very narrative so I consider the atmosphere and how it thematically relates to the concept of the piece. Like with Tidal Mark it had to feel like something that was coming in and out of focus. With the band - who are all amazing musicians - we shape the songs into something that fits right for all of us and think of the things we can emulate with our tools of music.
On the note of something slippery and difficult to define, you’ve mentioned that Hoi Palloi’s music aims to create a certain atmosphere while also aiming to empower women, non-binary people and people of colour. Does that imagery and mood relate to that aim - since these are the people that may consider their own identities the most difficult to define, due to societal expectations?
Definitely. That’s why I’m always drawn to work with women or non-binary people or any other members of marginalised communities because I think that sense is something that is unfortunately very learnt and society currently is not as inclusive as we all want it to be. Instead people are forced to fit in the most restrictive, silly box.
And of course it’d be silly not to mention your collaboration with director and filmmaker Meg Duncan on the video, who I will interview later on while she enjoys the European Summer. Tell me about the collaborative experience between you two.
Meg is crazy good. We met years ago at a NIDA drama camp in Year 9, reconnected in Year 12 and have been mates ever since. You know when you work with someone and there is this beautiful symbiosis and you both think “YES! That’s what it is!”. That’s exactly what we had: “That slippery, nostalgic feeling!”. She has this incredible way of addressing an idea in the most gentle, non-linear fashion, I love it. She said she wanted the music video to be French cinema meets Australian dad; only Meg could blend those two for example in Tidal Mark having the stone fruit scenes but then also us all switching hats. We constantly reiterated the feeling and concept we hoped to create which was hard for me since the song isn’t a happy song to me though the way in which it unfolds makes it seem upbeat and happy. When making the music video we thought a lot about how we could straddle silliness with sincerity.
On the other side of the globe…
Tidal Mark is brimful with tensions within the musicality and lyricism: between solitude and company, the ocean and rocks, silliness and sincerity: how did you play with these contrasts and reinforce them through your directorial vision?
Meg: It was a tough balance to find. Luckily for me, all the information was in the music. The song’s intro and outro hold as much complex beauty as is possible when it comes to music so we found a way to sit and bask in that using it as the video’s base state, something that we were always coming back to which is reflected in the cyclical nature of the clip beginning and ending with Hannah in solitude.
I loved how the music video meets the small peculiarities within the song such as Hannah clapping upwards in that long-shot or people’s hands tracing over the tidal marks. I’ve asked Hannah this already but I was wondering to see how you viewed your collaborative and creative process?
Small peculiarities are my favourite thing in film! It’s the little details that lend the story depth and realness, which gives audiences something to grab on to. Working with Hannah, Ollie, Noz and Kyle was a dream. They’re all masters of their craft but not only are they technicians, they also know how to harness things that humans think about and feel and do a way that progresses so delicately. It was a very collaborative process between Hannah, myself, my incredible dp Bonita Carzino and then the edit-wizard Geraldine Docherty. I think we all felt quite connected while we were making it which was a really special thing in creative collaboration.
Hannah mentioned you were aiming for an Australian Dad meets French Cinema aesthetic in the video - how did that vision come into your mind for the video?
Aussie dad x French cinema is my OTP. To be able to wrap audiences up in engaging, succulent visuals but then pull them back to Earth with a bowl of soggy weetbix is frankly my idea of heaven. We wanted the video to be grand and mature because the themes and complexity of the song deserve it, but never wanted to sacrifice the homely silliness Hoi Palloi exudes without even trying. While we’re talking about Australia dads - a favourite topic of mine - Hannah’s dad actually made the crew lasagna for dinner and we all said it was the best we’d ever had.
Follow Hoi Palloi on Instagram: @hoipalloimusic
Interview by Margarita Bassova