Coalesce Shows Us Around the Australian Hyperpop Scene

Coalesce Shows Us Around the Australian Hyperpop Scene

by Payton Dunn

Hyperpop is inherently global, having started in the UK in 2013 where it drew upon pop music in Korea and Japan, before being reworked into its own unique genre altogether. Now, that style is making its way all around the world again, even moving deeper into Australia.

Coalesce is giving us a glimpse into that Australian hyperpop scene in their new documentary, premiering today on PAPER. The film follows artists cookii, Hearteyes and Lonelyspeck as they play at their showcase, marking the first time the local community came together in person for a live concert. Along the way, they join forces in the studio to collaborate on a noisy piece of metalcore analyzed through the framework of hyperpop, called "METAL FLAKE."

Below, PAPER caught up with all of them to talk about the doc, "METAL FLAKE" and the inside scoop on what's happening in Australia.

"METAL FLAKE" sonically dips into the pop rock realm with a coat of hyperpop production. What influences were you drawing upon?

cookii: To be honest, we don’t really think about our influences all that often when we’re writing unless it’s something super obvious. When we heard Sione’s first draft of the beat, it sort of subconsciously nudged us into the direction of our pop-rock, metalcore, melodic hardcore roots as kids that’s kind of just engrained into our musical DNA now.

Hearteyes: Lonelyspeck made the beat, so I’ll let them speak on that. Anything they make is literal gold. Best producer in the country. As soon as I heard it I already had the hook in my head. Having grown up on metalcore and nu-metal — much like Lonelyspeck — by osmosis it just connected. I guess for influence, I was channelling a "Thursday - Full Collapse" era vibe with the dry lead, stacked fifth harmonies and screamed ad libs.

Lonelyspeck: With the main riff, I was kind of going for a pop-ified Meshuggah riff, with this very syncopated rhythm inspired by them but textures and chords that lend it more to an electronic pop space. The melodic synth line that loops through the verses and intro is something I’ve been enjoying doing in the last couple years, which I feel like has been influenced by a bunch of ambient and new age stuff, as well as 2000s video game soundtracks.

What was it like having the doc centered on the creative process for "METAL FLAKE" and being on camera for it?

cookii: It’s nice to have things like this documented to look back on, especially seeing as we’re not all from the same city. Getting us all in the same place for an extended amount of time hadn’t been able to happen before this point. Same goes for the shows. The history of our little supergroup sort of lines up with the history of the Coalesce shows. Having those moments to look back on is very heartwarming.

Hearteyes: Huw was just there as a good manager should be (this is in jest by the way).

Lonelyspeck: I think we’re all on the same page and get along well, so it was chill. I didn’t even notice I was being filmed half the time.

What has it been like making music in Australia, detached from the rest of the hyperpop scene that's concentrated in the US and UK?

cookii: It’s probably a blessing and a curse. There are so many incredible artists that have been popping up that truly don’t get the recognition they deserve, that they might have otherwise gotten if they were in the UK or US. Algorithmically speaking, we’re pretty stuffed. Still though, our isolation as a scene has definitely allowed for the creation of lots of unique music. Things seem to be getting better though, for sure.

Hearteyes: I rarely listen to music anymore besides some motown cuts, Pet Sounds by Beach Boys and White Pony. I don't even make music unless it has a clear purpose to be released, so there’s probably three times a year I proactively open my laptop to create something. So this is a long-winded way of saying it actually doesn’t affect me too much.

Lonelyspeck: I think up until the last year or two it felt like there were just a handful of us scattered around doing these kinds of music without much connection or continuity between us. But since Coalesce and with all these other parties and collectives popping up it’s felt like a new wave has really become tangible, like there’s an actual scene and audience for these sounds here that can thrive in its own way. That’s been really exciting and emboldening because it makes me think like, what’s next? How can we push it further and be more forward-thinking?

This was the first time the community found its roots in the real world at live shows in Australia. What emotions were going through your head during it?

cookii: It felt very special. The craziest thing about the first Coalesce show in particular is that I don’t think anyone performing, or even organizing it, fully understood how amazing it would be until the night. Seeing how keen the crowd was gave us a real sense of togetherness that we hadn’t felt before, which is especially weird seeing as none of us really had much of a direct affiliation before that point.

Hearteyes: I actually don’t like performing and its process, however, what I did feel was an electricity for artists like Daine, Donatachi, Kavi and AGONY, which was palpable between the crowd and the artists. They are the next generation.

Lonelyspeck: I remember that first Coalesce show in particular was absolutely electric all night, it was crazy. I had honestly been a bit uncertain how something like Coalesce would go down in Australia, but it made me realize there’s this whole fresh-faced crowd who are more than ready for it.

Where are you hoping the scene goes in the future?

cookii: By no means do we want to sound ashamed to be affiliated with the word "hyperpop" or anything, but it’d be great to see it break further into the genres that inspired it and be seen as just pop, or rock or whatever. Sometimes it feels like the affiliation with hyperpop means people take us less seriously. Either we need to be classified as something else or people need to get over thinking hyperpop is just a dumb craze in order for things to really expand.

Hearteyes: I don’t want to speak on the industry because I know a lot of people who work within it to pay bills and are building a career. But there is a penchant in Australia for overbooking acts on the boil, even for opening slots of festivals. That's business though, no different from selling insurance.

Lonelyspeck: I think there’s a local sound just starting to develop now, and I hope it keeps momentum and continues to evolve into new things and break down all kinds of barriers. I’m optimistic because the level of talent and vision among up-and-coming artists here is insane.

Photo courtesy of Coalesce