QUESTIONS /// Yani Harris (YANZO), @fatheryanzo
YANZO is a techno DJ originating from Australia. Eclectic by nature, she playfully explores the space between light and darkness by curating heavy beats with transcendental undercurrents.
ANSWERS /// Ashleigh Hobbs (schopenhash), @schopenhash
Ashleigh Hobbs is an Australian multi-disciplinary artist, photographer and musician. Best known by her pseudonym, schopenhash, she integrates elements of poeticism and post-modern ideas of femininity into her visual and musical work. Her latest single, “ROYALTY”, is an experimental pop track fused with sultry and cathartic undertones.
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I’m a multi-disciplinary artist. Everything I do is an extension of that. I was also born on the coastline of Queensland, Australia which means I have a rather dry and cheeky sense of humour. I don’t think that part of me often carries over into my work - people are often surprised by how silly I am in person. I was also raised in a very loving, supportive home surrounded by nature and the ocean. This does carry over – either I violently juxtapose this part of myself or fully encompass it.
‘Royalty’ marks the timeline as your emergence as a solo artist. How does it feel to debut independently?
Honestly, there’s pros and cons. I’m super grateful to be able to have control over the artistic direction. It also means I have the platform to purvey my truth and not forsake the message I feel I need to put forward. There has, however, been many a time whereby forging things on my own has been overwhelming. I think nowadays there’s a lot of labels that are giving their artists the space to breath and express what they need in their music, so I’m not disinclined to signing on with someone if I feel it’s an honest fit.
How has living in Europe influenced you and your work?
I moved halfway across the world on my own, as a solo female and had to pave my way from there. I believe this was partially the hallmark of my independence and capacity to revel in my own company. It also pushed me to connect to my artistry in more expansive and innovative ways than before. Artistically speaking I’ve always felt very alien in my home town. In Europe, it feels like I have the response and the platform to produce work that feels organic to me.
You are constantly reinventing by experimenting and stepping into various facets of yourself. Can you describe how you approach your creative process?
Intuitively. The more I allow the release of control, the more clarity I gain in my work. For the most part I don’t consciously have an idea of what’s being actualised and I’m often shocked by the result. Two things that deeply inspire my creative practice are travel and exploration. It’s also imperative for me to seek out and be absorbed by new ideas in cinema and literature. Yesterday I was conversing with a dear friend who’s now in Groningen in North Ireland and he said to me,
“How has your gallivanting been treating you?”
It dawned on me that I do, indeed, gallivant quite a lot. Even confined to one city or place (as has been the case in recent times), I’ll still wander off for hours on walks in nature or adventures by myself. It keeps my artistry alive and feels very necessary.
Name 3 things you CAN’T live without.
Name 3 things you CAN live without.
I am fixated by your raw, eclectic and unapologetic nature. What helps you thrive?
I thrive through self-awareness and accountability. Meditation and breathwork techniques are a huge necessity for me; it helps me be in my body instead of living inside my head too much. In the work I do, it’s also very important for me to feel whole and secure within myself. If I’m to make other women feel safe, I need to be actively working to heal my trauma and doing shadow work on a consistent basis.
Feminist undercurrents are present in ‘Royalty’, but also across your entire body of work. How do you stand for women wanting to embrace their power?
I stand for women by actively being a woman working every day on reclaiming her power. Accessing your femininity can be the most empowering and rebellious thing you can do in our society. This means different things for each individual. Some are empowered by subtleties and conservatism; others on the other hand, by bearing all. As cryptic as it sounds, we have been indoctrinated by media and systems to compete. The mainstream media doesn’t teach females to hold space for each other or to lift each other up. Generally, schools don’t teach the younger generation of girls about self-love and pleasure; instead, they fixate on child bearing and menstruation. The more I access my own truth, and speak and act authentically from a place of self-love and non-judgment, the more I am able to stand in solidarity with all women.
It is undoubtedly true that women must work harder to prove their ability to succeed in any industry. Has there ever been an instance where you felt challenged by a particular person or an unspoken notion?
Absolutely. Women are oftentimes sexualised prematurely and with the work I do I’ve been challenged by this. I always ask myself the question, if the male gaze was non-existent and non-consequential - what feels genuine to you, as the individual? I think the male gaze holds its space, but it's so heavily socio-politically engrained into our culture that I need to know how I would act, sing, write and create if it was eradicated.
What is one piece of advice you’d give to your younger self?
Your body is a temple – beauty isn’t external. Don’t give in to the pressure of diet culture and dysmorphic projections of the female form. Fight back. Every female body is beautiful; there’s no one type.
Do you ever get told you sound like Gaga?
I’ve actually had that comparison come through a lot with this track. I can hear it now but it totally shocked me at first; it was not a conscious thing.
This following interview contributes to a new media format, where Creatives are in full control of their narratives. By exploring alternatives to narrative journalism, GAHSP starts unconventional conversations, emphasizing values and problems that shape our lives collectively.
Written by Yani Harris
Edited by Gennady Oreshkin
Creative Concept by Julia Horvath
Image Courtesy of Ashleigh Hobbs