Interview with Heather Cheketri of Love Like Hate

Brisbane-based dark pop duo, Love Like Hate (Sonja Ter Horst & Heather Cheketri) have recently returned to Australia after touring the UK for the second time. This Friday they’ll be releasing their official film clip for List, marking the closing chapter of their EPs and the commencement of recording tracks for their first ever album.

I hear you’re booked in to start recording your first album early next year with Lachlan Mitchell (who also recorded your first two EPs)! How do you go about recording? Is the process very structured, or more organic and how do you know when you’ve finished recording a track?

Yes we are! We really try to go into recording with a structure in mind so we don’t lose the original feel of the tracks and obviously for time saving but in the end once things start getting added or subtracted and broken down it can become quite a long journey to getting it right no matter the pre planning. Usually we can tell when a song is done after listening to it or the one-millionth time and thinking, yep that’s exactly where we want it and nothing sounds out of place to our ears.

Can you remember the first time you performed in front of a crowd? Where were you and how did you feel?

I had played a few times as a soloist prior to playing in Love Like Hate and remember the nerves were a battle to overcome. The first time Sonja and I played together as Love Like Hate was in West End in Brisbane and we were terrified, neither of us are overly extroverted so performing didn’t come naturally. It was actually a very scary experience for us but we pushed through and drew our strength from a small handful of Sonja’s family who were there for support and ended up ignoring the crowd who were a bit rowdy and not listening, we just did it. That feels like a lifetime ago now!

How has your approach to creating music matured since 2009?

Most of the songs back then were written before Love Like Hate by either one of us, so they were then adapted to fit. Whereas now it’s the other way around, we write our music with our sound in mind, there is a much clearer direction in how we want the songs to end up like. It has matured in the way that we look to the future of the song not just the emotion of the original moment when writing it.

What’s your opinion regarding live streaming apps in comparison to buying music either on CD, vinyl or online?

I don’t have an opinion on it, it’s just the way things are now and they will keep progressing that way. I have faith that people who are fans of music or any art will want to have that physical copy and connection to something they love. I have LP’s and CD’s of music I love, I couldn’t imagine only ever listening to it from a device connected to the internet and just hope that most people feel the same way. I think that people still love tangible item that connects you with music, like keeping a concert ticket, t-shirt or a physical album of an artist with the artwork.

How valuable is the connection you have with your fan base? Has the advent of social media boosted your ability to communicate with those overseas?

People who like our music are very important to us, I try to remember those faces so I can say hello to them next time we are playing a show and see how they are. Social media has allowed worldwide sharing of what any of us are doing so of course it plays a huge role in staying connected to fans/people from all over the globe.

Your music video for List is soon to be released on 20 November 2015. I saw on social media that a drone was used for filming. What was that experience like and how does the use of a drone tie into the theme of the song?

Yes, it’s the closing chapter of our EP’s and we thought List was a fitting ‘end’ song. The drone was so fun to work with, it took away the pressure of performance and allowed us to just be ourselves during filming, it did have its challenges though, like when trying to do vocal takes and its hovering over you with all its little propellers going full force and blowing dirt in your face!

Also it allowed for some amazing shots that kept everything in the distance and the visual of being totally alone, which keeps in with parts of the songs theme.

How important are stations like 4ZZZ and Triple J Unearthed for the livelihood of Aussie acts, especially in a world filled with so many media outlets?

So important! Without independent radio stations like 4ZZZ we would have such a hard time getting out there to the world. Social media/internet plays it’s role but it is flooded with options and becomes too busy with noise that you lose that moment of discovery because there’s always something else happening just one click or scroll away. On the radio you actually hear that song and stay in that moment for longer allowing a memory to form. We love independent radio stations, especially 4ZZZ, they are a discovery tool that I hope will never be out-dated.

What has been the highlight of your music career thus far?

This is always hard to answer, I could probably say being signed to Rough Trade Publishing or our tours overseas but really I think the highlight of our career so far has been that we have just put ourselves out there and done it, played shows and had everyone in the rooms attention and applause, it’s a good feeling to know you aren’t the only people who like your music!

If you could collaborate with any singers or musicians, who would you choose and why?

Oh no, I’m terrible at collaborating. If I had to, I’d like to do a mix up of old and new like Leonard Cohen for his beautiful voice and amazing ability to tell a story in song with Santigold because I think she is an amazing songwriter and producer.

When you’re on tour, do you ever keep a diary or take photos/videos to help process or reflect on your time spent away from home?

Photo’s, always lots of photos. Sonja is really good at getting shots while we are on tour. We love looking back at photos. Our Unnoticed film clip was basically our whole tour of Europe 2014 filmed by us.

What do you enjoy doing when you’re not rehearsing, performing or doing media interviews?

Watching European crime thrillers, cooking and drinking at home and eating said cooking, going to the beach with the dog.

Five fast questions for five fast responses:

  • Where’s the best place to hang out with friends in Brisbane? On friends’ back decks.
  • Which do you prefer more – rainforests or the beach? Both!
  • What’s your go-to vegan meal when hosting a party? A curry with all the trimmings.
  • Name the title of the last book you read. The Walking Dead Book 11 (it’s a graphic novel ok!)
  • How many counties have you toured in? 5

What’s one piece of advice you would give to your twelve-year-old self?

Haha! Stay in school and become a doctor…just kidding! I’d tell me to have no doubt when I pick up that guitar on my 13th birthday and that it all works out ok.

Thank-you for taking the time to answer these questions and best wishes with recording your album next year!

Thanks for having me.

This interview was first published on 19 November 2015 for Amnplify.

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