When we speak to Airling, aka Brisbane’s electro-pop artist Hannah Shepherd, she’s staying with friends in the suburb of Stanmore in Sydney. She’s been up since sunrise to record a cover of Usher’s U Got it Bad for Triple J’s Like a Version, and is feeling excited about the months ahead.
In 2015 alone, Airling has toured with Vance Joy and #1 Dads, played Splendour in the Grass and released a single with Japanese Wallpaper. Now, her new single Stallin’ (and Like a Version song choice) reveals the R’n’B influences she’s road-testing on tour this month before settling in to record an album.
Broadsheet: Where are you from?
Hannah Shepherd: Brisbane, but I spend a lot of time in Melbourne. That’s where my manager, label and producer are, and so it’s where I do all my recording. My studio is in Fitzroy, so when I’m in Melbourne, I stay around there. I really love the cafe Addict and – I’m a vegetarian – Vegie Bar.
BS: Fantasy support slot?
HS: That’s so hard because the ultimate one would probably be Beyoncé, but I would also love to support James Blake. And then there would be older artists like Lauryn Hill – one day I’d love to sing alongside her, that would be incredible.
BS: That sounds like a good festival line-up.
HS: Oh yeah – me, Lauryn Hill, James Blake and Beyoncé! I imagine a mini festival somewhere beautiful, like Iceland.
BS: What do you prefer playing – a gig or festival?
HS: You can never really pick which ones are going to be the best shows; they surprise you. Festivals are really good because everyone is so pumped up and excited. But the Opera House gig [Airling supported James Vincent McMorrow as part of VIVID Live last year] was dead silent. Everyone was just sitting in their seats and that’s also a beautiful thing.
BS: Earliest memory of being on stage/performing?
HS: I sang in a competition with a friend of mine when I was about 10. We did a duet of that song Colours of the Wind [from the Disney movie Pocahontas]. We dressed up in funny outfits, held hands and had all these choreographed actions. We ended up winning and I’ve still got a video of it, which is the funniest thing I’ve ever seen.
BS: What can we expect from your tour?
HS: I’ve only done a few headline shows, so I’m looking forward to the tour because I’m a bit of a control freak. I’m super excited about being able to do things my way.
I’ve been writing a lot lately and feel like my music’s been heading in more of an R’n’B direction, so I’m really excited to play some of that new stuff I’ve been working on, hopefully for an album.