There’s a buzz around Annabel Hockeysmith, third year Popular Music BA(Hons) student. As well as having an extraordinary new EP out, Annabel has set up a Cornish record label called EEL and has been putting on music nights across the county.
Annabel describes the sound of her experimental electronic band, Hockeysmith, as “Kylie on acid”. They’ll be supporting Bellatrix at a concert in Falmouth’s Academy of Music & Theatre Arts on Friday 8 March this year, and they’ve lined up several other gigs throughout Cornwall.
Originally founded as a young duo-act with her sister Georgie, Hockeysmith produced their first album with the independent record label, Double Denim, in 2014. But Blood, their debut song, made a big impression at the time – locally and internationally – spreading to magazines such as NME, The Guardian, Spin, and Dazed and Confused, to name a few.
All of the songs on the original album were written and produced from a caravan on a Cornish farm, where the two sisters lived. After a start in the Cornish rave scene, they took a break, moving to Copenhagen to explore the underground music there. While Georgie then stayed in Copenhagen to study Neuroscience, Annabel returned to Falmouth to study music and take Hockeysmith to new heights.
She reconnected with the Cornish rave scene inspired by Aphex Twin (a friend and mentor) and Lxury (another friend and collaborative producer). They helped her add the techno and dance beats to her three new tracks, Lonely Loving Me, Messed Up and Dare You.
Inspired by her time in Copenhagen with her sister, Annabel’s new songs have been developed and produced throughout her course, using Falmouth’s world-class facilities.
Annabel told us: “We wanted to combine the different elements of the underground music scene: the new musicians, new sounds, new loves and lost loves. From techno, punk and trap, to black metal. My sound is completed by noisy guitars, so I recruited local guitar hero Martin Pease, plus I have a live dancer with me on stage, Alice. She was on the Drawing course and we met in the library. I love my new bandmates, we have so much fun.”
Talking about the release of her new EP, Annabel said: “It feels super exciting and a relief. I’ve been on quite a journey to get to this point. Even though it was frustrating, I am very happy with the sound and everything that goes with it, including the artwork and videos.”
Annabel is currently working on a full-length album, playing lots of shows and developing EEL, a new experimental electronic music label. Annabel and her fellow student collaborators, many of whom are on the BA(Hons) Creative Music Technology course, call it “the international sounds of Falmouth”, as a few of them are international students.
The group have held parties and music nights at various locations across Cornwall, getting creative with their choice of venues. They have organised events in barns and warehouses, and always go the extra mile to make the night one to remember.
Annabel told us: “The university has been fantastic in facilitating the equipment we need to make our ambitious nights happen.”
Talking about her course, Annabel added: “It gave me the freedom to choose what skills I wanted to develop. I picked singing modules, and only now do I know how to treat myself as a professional singer. I also really enjoyed exploring philosophy and writing in greater depth. I’m glad I chose the course that I’m passionate about doing for my career, because there is so much more to know than just being creative in music, such as the business side.”
Cornwall was also a big factor for Annabel, who said: “I’m grateful for the Cornish support; it’s what keeps me going. People love something that’s a bit different here. It’s a great place to make experimental music. It’s in the DNA of Cornwall. It’s a beautiful place which has the roots of rave culture as well as an odd quirkiness. You definitely can’t belittle it – Cornwall stands next to places like London and Copenhagen for original artistic ideas.”