Annie Hamilton’s ‘the future is here but it feels kinda like the past’  

Well, come on in; the portal is open and it’s calling your name. Somewhere in between the bats and the ghosts and the solo car trips down the coast is the desire found at midnight, the wanting of something more, the refusal to wait for anything any longer. Welcome to a world of Annie Hamilton’s design.  

Sydney local Annie Hamilton’s new album, the future is here but it feels kinda like the past, is a hazy dance between reflecting on what has been and thinking about what is to come. Speaking to me from Brisbane Airport, about to fly to Darwin to play a festival with Jack River (whom Annie plays guitar for), Annie tells me that memory and nostalgia often plays a major part in her work. “I’ve always been fascinated by the human tendency to romanticize the past, to sink into nostalgia, to let our warped sense of memory get the better of us,” Annie says. “Rather than writing linear narratives I’m way more interested in piecing together images that evoke something a bit more ambiguous – I think of a lot of my songs are like collages of hyper-specific moments that set the scene or hint at a story without necessarily telling you exactly what happened.” 

The hyper-specificity of Annie’s song writing conjures up images of road trips at twilight and violet sunset horizons, with the odd motif of night-time’s favourite nocturnal, the bat, sweeping its way through the album. The metaphor of the journey, of bringing the listener along for a ride of ethereal guitars and dreamlike vocals, begins from the very first sounds we hear on the first track of the future is here, ‘Providence Portal’. As the radio is tuned and we stumble across Annie, alone on the coast, driving toward dusk. The idea of driving, of moving around and moving on, is something that Annie hasn’t been able to resist in her writing, “both literally and metaphorically”, always travelling herself. And while much of the imagery throughout the album was “inspired by real places and real moments,” it was the universal familiarity of the dreamscape Annie was more interested in creating. “I really wanted to paint a picture of a kinda surreal dream world with hints of Australiana, but somewhere that everyone could picture as someplace they knew.” 


Image via Annie Hamilton

But among these metaphors of familiarity, from feelings of being stuck in-between the in-between, to neon and smoke machines clouding every word you want to say, are moments where reality seeps with symbolism. The bat motif that Annie keeps returning to throughout the album was in fact inspired by a strange encounter with the mysterious animal. “Some of the weirder lyrics on the album are actually the most literal ones,” Annie tells me. “In ‘Bad Trip’ when I sing about bats flying around the lounge room, this really happened!” In the house Annie was staying in at the time, every night, like clockwork, a family of bats that were nesting in her roof would fly laps around the lounge room, a somewhat peculiar yet apt metaphor for the feeling of trying to escape that finds itself strewn across the future is here. 

The title of the album, a pleasant mouthful of curious observance, can be found among the opening lyrics of the first track, signalling to the album’s themes of times, memory, fantasy, nostalgia and anxiety about the future. the future is here but it feels kinda like the past popped into Annie’s head in early 2020 and stayed there. “That tends to happen to me with lyrics – sometimes I’ll have certain lines or images drifting around for months or years before they find a home in a song.” The more Annie wrote to the themes that were conjured by this lyric, the more she wanted to write about them even more. “I wanted the album to feel like a cohesive body of work where every song has its place – there is an arc that stretches throughout the album and every song tells a bit more of the story.”  

While Annie’s album has been busy driving down a metaphorical road of purple sunsets and bats on powerlines, the first show of the album tour begins this Friday in Melbourne, meaning Annie is about to be back on the road, quite literally. Playing at the Gasometer Hotel in Collingwood, this gig will mark the first time Annie will be playing a lot of the tracks from the new album live. “The songs,” Annie says, “definitely evolve in a live setting.” Annie considerers the recording and the live shows as “different beasts,” because while listening to recordings can be a “very introspective process”, watching a show live “is all about the collective energy of our shared experience, it’s all about what happens in the room in that exact moment.”  

So, come on in.  

Annie Hamilton @ The Gasometer – Friday June 3 

With support from Tamara & The Dreams + Taylah Carroll 


And you can listen to the future is here but it feels kinda like the past here

Article written by Juliette Salom

Catalyst has been the student publication of RMIT University since 1944. We may be older than your parents but we’re still going strong!

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