Ella Hooper: A Small Town Heroine Taking Centre Stage at A Day on the Green

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Ella Hooper: A Small Town Heroine Taking Centre Stage at A Day on the Green

Words by Talia Rinaldo 

As the sun sets over Geelong's picturesque Mt Duneed Estate this April, music lovers are in for a treat as they gather for a memorable day on the green.

As platinum-selling sensation Chris Isaak headlines A Day on the Green, another luminary prepares to grace the stage: the inimitable Ella Hooper.

Renowned for her indelible mark on the Australian music scene, Hooper’s upcoming performance promises to be a poignant intersection of past triumphs and future aspirations. With the weight of anticipation hanging in the air, Hooper reflects on the magnitude of the moment. “I’m good!” she exclaims, her voice betraying a hint of exhaustion tempered by excitement. “It’s been a big start to the year so it’s all good, but I’m just going fast, fast, fast.”

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As she prepares to share the stage with Chris Isaak, Hooper’s admiration for the legendary crooner is palpable. “I remember seeing… a film clip when I was a little kid of Chris Isaak, it was probably ‘Wicked Game’ where he walking along the beach with Helena Christensen,” she reminisces. “And I thought, ‘wow, that’s the coolest. That’s the coolest guy singing the coolest song so I can’t quite believe it.”

For Hooper, the allure of events like A Day on the Green lies in their ability to transport audiences to a realm of serenity and splendour. “I’m a huge fan of A Day on the Green,” she enthuses. “My dream gig always involves a really nice environment… sipping a nice wine and listening to iconic, incredible, classic music, so this is actually my dream gig.”


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“I’ve got good memories from A Day on the Green actually,” Hooper says, “many, many years ago, when we supported Fleetwood Mac, and it was just incredible. It was one of the best gigs of my life because of all those things: the incredible music and the rolling hills and people just enjoying themselves. When you’re too old for the mosh pit you want to enjoy the enjoy the view,” she laughs.

Yet amidst the grandeur of outdoor venues, Hooper remains grounded, attuned to the nuances of her craft. “We think about what songs work best in that format and what songs people going to want to hear before they hear a lot of other incredible music,” she explains. “Sometimes you take out the long and winding indulgent tracks that which are better for your club shows where people are coming just to see you. When you’re the support act… it’s good to keep it a bit more, like just getting ready music, almost like you’re getting the crowd ready.”

With her upcoming performance, where she’ll perform with just two others on stage, Hooper plans to introduce new elements to her set, including the addition of a violin. “It’s going to be a really, really fun touch to our set,” she shares. “So there’ll be some fiddles and keys, electric guitar and maybe some mandolin… it’s a bit of a folk rock sort of mix.”

Hooper’s presence adds an extra layer of excitement to the already star-studded lineup, with her journey in the music industry being nothing short of extraordinary. Bursting onto the scene as a teenager, Hooper quickly made her mark with Killing Heidi, scoring a number one single on her 17th birthday and becoming the first woman to be awarded APRA’s Songwriter of the Year at just 18. Her debut album, Reflector, soared to the top of the charts, winning four ARIA Awards and achieving platinum status multiple times over.

But Hooper’s story doesn’t stop there. After three successful albums with Killing Heidi, she embarked on a solo career, showcasing her deeply personal songwriting with her latest album, Small Town Temple

Written in her hometown of Violet Town, the album continues to resonate deeply with listeners, much to Hooper’s amazement and gratitude. “To have something so personal connect on such a broad scale is beyond words,” she says, acknowledging the paradoxical universality of personal narratives. The album, lauded for its intimate storytelling and acoustic warmth, marks a significant departure from her previous work, delving into themes of family, community, and self-discovery.

Songs like the title track, ‘Long Gully Road’, and ‘Grow Wild’ stand out as personal anthems, each encapsulating different facets of Hooper’s experiences and relationships. These tracks not only underscore the album’s emotional landscape but also signal a new chapter in her solo career, characterised by a more organic, acoustic-driven sound. “It’s been about moving into more traditional instrumentation and even more sort of sonically old fashioned,” Hooper explains, “I’m going to try and keep going in that direction and I’m hoping to get horns and strings and things like that in there as well.”

Alongside the release 2023 marked a pivotal year for Hooper, characterised by an intensive touring schedule that showcased her versatility as a performer. Whether commanding the stage solo or electrifying audiences with her band, her commitment to live performance has never been more palpable. “Releasing Small Town Temple last year was a catalyst,” Hooper reflects, “I wanted to tour it as much as I could, in ways I hadn’t before. It’s been incredible and so developmental already with these incredible support slots. So I feel like you know, all the seeds that I ran around planting like crazy are now starting to bloom. So I’m going to keep touring, but I have to find time to write to make another album as well.” 

The allure of live performance, as Hooper describes, lies in its immediacy and the tangible connection with audiences. “It’s about the variety,” she says, “switching from the introspection of the studio to the expansiveness of the road.” This dynamism is not just a professional requirement but a personal craving, a cycle that oscillates between creation and sharing, solitude and exposure.


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As she contemplates the evolution of her solo career, Hooper acknowledges the challenges of carving out her own path. “Sometimes when you are an artist, and your sound and your very own voice is your product… you’re quite sensitive to the ups and downs of it,” she muses.

Yet amidst the highs and lows, Hooper finds solace and fulfillment in the art of storytelling through music. “My job as a songwriter is to keep an eye on the inner world and give it a voice,” she reflects. “But then as someone who wants to share it… what am I doing with it?”

As she looks ahead to her upcoming performances with Chris Isaak and James Taylor later this month, Hooper remains grounded, focused on the present moment and the opportunity to connect with audiences through her music. “Just make sure everyone comes down,” she laughs. “This is definitely not one not to miss.”

A Day On The Green with Chris Isaak and special guests Boy & Bear, Vika & Linda, Ella Hooper and The Mojo Corner heads to Mt Duneed Estate, Geelong on Saturday 6 April. Get your tickets here