Radio 13 interview with Hamerkop

Reuben Raj
Her Rotating Head from the album My Electric Family by Bachelorette

Remote is the new work from Hamerkop and has been described as a live, multi-speaker, surround sound experience with field recordings from Annabel Alper’s time in her native Aotearoa. Ex-Bachelorette, Annabel Alpers is presently a member of Hamerkop with fellow Baltimore resident, Adam Cooke. The duo will be performing two Remote shows in the North Island of New Zealand at the Space Place at Carter Observatory in Wellington on 21 February and the same two shows at the Q Theatre Loft on 28 February as part of the Auckland Fringe Festival.

Reuben Raj from Radio 13 spoke with Annabel who was at the time in Nelson, NZ setting up the surround sound of her new project for the first-ever show to a live audience. Annabel was happy to be back at home in New Zealand with familiar accents and nature around her. At the same time, a part of her still misses her other home with a cat and garden in Baltimore having lived there since 2012.

When talking about her earlier music with Bachelorette, Annabel shared how Brian Eno is one of her biggest influences. She never gets tired listening to Eno and that’s how she gauges who she appreciates. Interestingly, Annabel also shared how past reviews often compare her work to other female musicians 99% of the time which she regards as “kind of weird” since everyone listens to music from all genders. The Beatles were also a huge influence since her childhood.

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Annabel Alpers at the Brudenell Social Club in Leeds

The name Hamerkop was actually adopted from a native African river bird that Alpers saw at the aviary in Baltimore. She immediately felt that the name connected with her current project with Adam Cooke. In a strange and unique way, the name Hamerkop developed ‘more meaning’ along the way because a lot of the subject matter associated with her surround sound project is about nature and a longing for her NZ home after “nesting” in Baltimore.

In Remote, Annabel will use the same computer software from her time as Bachelorette but her expansion will now include the ability to direct tracks to specific speakers. This will clearly mean a lot more speakers for the surround sound aspect of the project. Annabel’s goal is to get the audience to listen to music again in a fun way. In other words, to create the perfect environment for music purely to be “listened to” instead of being a "background" for everyday activities. This will allow the audience an opportunity to truly enjoy sound much like the earlier days when one made a conscious decision to put on a record and absorb the music on a more personal level.

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Adam Cooke and Annabel Alpers

Visually, Hamerkop has deliberately steered away from imagery to again allow for the audience to concentrate on the sound. Annabel and Adam have even chosen to be dressed discreetly in a visor to mask themselves as performers.

Looking into the future, the discussion led to the birth of artificial intelligence and robots in a future creative world which led Annabel to say with conviction,

If anything, creativity is the one thing that we need to keep for ourselves. It’s not about output. It’s about working through the processes of our psyche and I don't think machines to make music or art is going to help with that.

As for the future of Hamerkop, Annabel appeared open to produce music for film or TV if the right project comes along… perhaps a soundtrack for the next Blade Runner sequel? Wink wink Ridley Scott.

Listen to a complete recording of Reuben's conversation with Annabel Alpers from Hamerkop via the audio link above.

See Hamerkop perform in New Zealand on the following dates:

21 Feb at the Space Place at Carter Observatory (Wellington), 7:30 PM (DOORS OPEN 7 PM). Tickets available here.

28 Feb at the Q Loft (Auckland), 7:30 PM (DOORS OPEN 7 PM) & 9:30 PM (DOORS OPEN 9 PM). Tickets available here

Written By: Reuben Raj Reuben is a film and digital photographer who is driven by music in his head. Often seen lurking behind a camera inside the pit of a concert or wandering the streets of China with a blond, Reuben harbours intimate feelings for vinyl records and his Hasselblad SW/C from 1965. He is also the founder of Radio 13.

What people are saying

  • Graham Hooper - 2 years ago

    They are Also doing a Final Show on Waiheke Island at Artworks Theatre Friday March first