Killing Heidi and never saying never

Subscribe to Forte Magazine

Killing Heidi and never saying never

Over the past two decades we’ve entered the world of Facebook, enjoyed the convenience of smart phones and seen the formation, end and now reunion of one of Australia’s finest brother-sister bands, Killing Heidi. Coincidentally, the band’s creation arose the same year Queenscliff Music Festival put on its first event to a crowd of 1460 people.

“I think it took a good break to want to do [Killing Heidi] again. Queenscliff Music Festival certainly seemed like a good catalyst,” Jesse Hooper says of the reunion.

“For me it was an overwhelming feeling of the time being right… it’s just too perfect that our 20-year anniversary as a band coincides with QMF’s! We took it as a bit of a sign I think,” Ella Hooper adds.

The duo performed their first show in 1996 in their hometown at the Violet Town Arts and Music festival, Ella aged 13 and Jesse 15. It was at this very event the brother-sister pair were spotted by Jamie Durrant of Benalla’s Bent Records performing Smashing Pumpkin covers and originals. Realising their potential, he hastily offered them recording time in his studio. As a result ‘Morning’ and ‘Kettle’ were recorded and released, with the band co-winning triple j unearthed for the Goulburn Valley region after the singles were released.

A slot at Melbourne’s Big Day Out festival in 2000 (in which Ella celebrated her 17th birthday and fans reportedly broke two water pipes trying to get a vantage point to see the band) solidified the band’s rising popularity and their debut studio album Reflector hit number one on the ARIA charts that same year. The misfits from Violet Town had gained commercial recognition.

“I thought we were an outsider band, and we were!” Ella says, before continuing. “We started as a grunge/folk duo, with really melodic yet depressing songs (that’s how 90’s teens rolled!). Then [we] grew into a pretty heavy-frenetic, pop-rock band. All the flavours and the styling were so intense I am still amazed that so many, including the mainstream, connected with it.

“Still, it’s that community of misfits that make us really appreciate Killing Heidi, and what it meant/means to people. This reunion is a way of saying thanks to our fans, those awesome misfits, too.”

Two albums later, multiple awards and stints across the world, in 2006 Killing Heidi announced via a MySpace post the band were taking a break, stating: “We are taking a break from Killing Heidi for a while but do not see this as a break up!” Also admitting that after nine years of making music as a band they wanted to shake things up and enter into different creative avenues.

One such project was The Verses, a folk duo made up of Ella and Jesse. “I think it was healthy to step into new musical identities, The Verses was such a different place sonically and song wise,” Jesse says.

Years later and the duo have each developed respected solo careers, with Jesse also entering into the world of teaching as Collarts’ head of music performance. “I try to distil 20 years’ worth of successes and mistakes into the music course at Collarts,” Jesse says. “I wish I had an industry course like ours when I was young for sure.”

As for Ella, she honed her craft as a soloist as well as lending her name, experience and face to the likes of the Melbourne Music Bank competition, Spicks and Specks and the Telstra Road to Discovery, all the while denying the likelihood of ever having a Killing Heidi reunion. “I should have listened to the old adage, never say never! But I didn’t. I said never,” Ella says with a laugh.

“I have grown a lot from going solo, and being in several different musical outfits since Killing Heidi. I think because Jesse and I started so young we were always going to crave a change at some point. But, we just love working together too. We will always have a very deep musical connection as well as a familial one,” Ella says.

“I feel like I’ve grown so much as a bandleader from going solo and I can’t wait to bring that confidence and experience back to Killing Heidi after all these years. It’s so enriching.”

While both Jesse and Ella have developed skills in the industry following their time as Killing Heidi, it’s still up to Jesse to organise his sister. “[It’s] still impossible,” Jesse jokes of organising Ella. “Hey, I’ve gotten better! I think,” Ella adds. “Only always a little bit late. Better than a lot late, right??”

Killing Heidi perform on Friday night of Queenscliff Music Festival, which goes down November 25-27.

Written by Amanda Sherring
Photo by Wilk