Music / Features
They Made Me Do It -
Talking Influences with HANDSOME
Words by James Lynch
Wednesday 28th November, 2018

Off the back of the release of her debut EP No Hat No Play back in September, we caught up with Sydney alt-pop artist HANDSOME to find out what has been influencing her poignantly brooding electronica.

Since rolling onto the Sydney scene in October 2017 with the first serve of her self-described “tomboy pop”, there’s been no stopping HANDSOME. The following twelve months have seen her play a bunch of sold-out shows, score a spot at Bigsound and support Methyl Ethyl, and now with her debut EP in tow, there’s no saying where she can go next.

Kicking off with a steady beat and layers of rich harmonies, ‘Save Some Love’ is a powerful introduction into the world of HANDSOME, showing off her immersive voice and boundless songwriting ability. Next up is ‘No Cowards’, which is quick to captivate with a restless groove that warps and evolves with every added layer of sound, as HANDSOME weaves a spirited melody that enhances the track’s mood and allows the self-celebratory lyrics to resonant even further.

Breakout single ‘Late Night Ball Game’ follows up, with its emotive vocals and poignant lyrics taking the limelight as a minimal beat simmers underneath, before it expands open at the bridge and sucks listeners straight in with its captivating ebb and flow. The mood shifts slightly at ‘TV Set’, a stripped back tune with a distinct soul flair, but is a welcome breathe of fresh air and an opportunity for HANDSOME to show off her incredible voice. Finally, No Hat No Play concludes with the blissful ‘WILDS’, an enigmatic slow-burner that highlights HANDSOME’s imaginative production style and showcases her remarkable ability to convey profound emotion in such a seemingly effortless way.

To get a better insight into the EP, we got in touch with Caitlin McGregor, the mastermind behind HANDSOME, to find out what inspired her to create the sounds we hear on No Hat No Play.
Streetwise, a documentary by Martin Bell
The visuals and vibe that inspired the aesthetics of HANDSOME from the get go. I love this documentary so much. Filmed and released in 1984, it was one of the first docos of its style, capturing real day-to-day behaviour of street kids in Seattle. The fashion at the time was incredible and the kids are brave and confident and tough; a gang I am forever drawn to.

'Dancing On My Own' - Robyn
Writing a song and capturing a feeling of movement and sadness all at the same time is a skill that not many can master. There is a level of drama in this song that is capped at a certain level, and I love that it never reaches melodrama. It’s rare for a song to do exactly what it intends and when you actually dance to this song when you’re sad, it actually does make you feel the way the song sounds. For that, Robyn is a goddess and one of my greatest inspirations.

Winona Ryder
She’s just so fucking cool. She’s naughty and cheeky (which I relate to in a big way) but she is not a twit - she gets what’s up. Winona for her fashion, her attitude, her style and the movies she starred in shaped the foundations of HANDSOME. For a person in the public eye to appear so inherently authentic was a wow factor for me growing up.

The cover of ‘No Hat No Play’ is actually based on a series of scenes with Winona, from Heathers and Night On Earth.

Pools To Bathe In - The Japanese House
This record changed the way I make music. I remember the first time I heard the title track, and almost fell off my chair, the production was unlike anything I’d ever heard before. Amber Bain really has a knack for tasty and unique vocal treatment - and I feel like she really has a strong understanding of her voice. Working with The 1975, her sound has moved into a further pop realm and I fall more in love with her work with every release. LISTEN UP!
Have a listen to No Hat No Play above, and follow HANDSOME on Facebook to keep up with everything she has going on.