“I have a lot of music that some days I think I’m getting very close to an album and others I think it’s all terrible and I’ve got nothing yet, but in the meantime, I’ve been doing a few other projects.”
Embarking on these other projects has been a welcome change for Hart, giving her approach to recording new material a fresh outlook. “I’ve been singing with a choir for the last year or so, I got a couple of the girls from the choir in [to work with me]. I’d been approaching it like ‘this is how I make an album, now I’ve got the formula going,’ then I got stuck.”
Traditionally, Hart does tend to have a methodical approach to her work, but sometimes – as with most creative types – doubt and self-deprecation often provide an unwanted road block. “I like to think I don’t [have a method], but I think you always have to try and trick yourself out of the head-on pressure. Read new material, maybe see some films, listen to new music.
“It’s a method that I think I’m doing all this freeing stuff but it’s exactly the way I approached it last time, so it’s not freeing at all,” Hart says.
She chuckles unsurely, but really, the self-doubt puts her on a good path, one where she actively looks for more creative inspiration that will enable her to keep moving forward. “I find every time I go into writing, I have to trick myself that I’m not actually doing what I’m doing,” she says. “It all works out in the end, but for me, it’s a process of off again and on again, and then I realise I’ve actually arrived.”
With her upcoming performance at the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV), marking the end of the gallery’s unplugged series, she’s looking forward to the inspiration she’ll find. “I haven’t’ been there for a while – I have a two-and-a-half-year-old daughter, so my visits over the last few years have been quite limited.”
But it’s opportunities such as this, immersing herself in such creative spaces that will help with her song writing process. “I think going into other mediums is really helpful because I think you have to remember you’re an artist. Get stuck in the form and you start studying other music and how other people do it and you can get quite rigid about what your approach is.
“But when you start to immerse yourself in all different forms of art, you start to remember that it’s a fluid thing and it comes from so many different parts of you.”
Hart is intent on keeping herself busy and inspired, with a whole host of other projects for the rest of the year. “This year I took on Women Of Letters, so I’m now their host and co-curator. It’s been a really generous thing for me where I get to hear other people’s stories one or twice a month.
“Right before I got the call to ask if I would come do Women Of Letters, that’s when I got really stuck with my album – sitting in the shed and working hardcore at it and not allowing myself to look outside and do anything else. Now I talk to these women all month before they get up on stage and read these quite personal and vulnerable letters about their lives.”
The creative process can’t be forced – Hart goes out to her shed to work but if she hasn’t got the spark, if she forces herself, ultimately, the process takes longer because of the frustrations. “You should be inside my head, that’s exactly how it goes,” she says. “I think once you start expecting something then everything seizes up. It really is a lot of trickery, a slight of hand with your own brain.
“I think that of the times I’ve felt nothing is happening, that’s when you realise, once you nail it and it all starts coming together, that’s when you realise you were working on it the whole time – it just didn’t feel like it then.”