Throughout the course of this site’s nearly ten year history, I’ve spilled quite a bit of virtual ink covering the Gold Coast, Australia-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, producer and JOVM mainstay Emily Hamilton, the creative mastermind behind the acclaimed and rising indie rock act San Mei. Initially beginning as a synth pop-leaning bedroom recording project, Hamilton quickly received attention from this site and media outlets like NME, Indie Shuffle, NYLON and Triple J. Interestingly, her debut EP Necessary found the Aussie singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, producer and JOVM mainstay moving towards a much more organic sound inspired by Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Cat Power, Feist and others.
Hamilton met songwriter, producer and musical phenom Oscar Dawson at BIGSOUND a couple of years ago, and the pair immediately hit it off. According to Hamilton, taking Dawson on as a producer and collaborator found the duo refining ideas, exploring different soundscapes and laying down the foundation for her — and in turn, San Mei’s — sonic progression. As Hamilton explains in press notes “[Dawson and I] hit it off straight away and it seemed like he understood where I was coming from, even if I had trouble conveying certain ideas in the demos I made at home.” Hamilton’s Dawson-produced sophomore EP Heaven was a decidedly shoegazer-like affair, featuring arena rock friendly hooks, big power chords and shimmering synths. Adding to a growing profile, last year Hamilton opened for the likes of G. Flip, K. Fly, Ali Barter and Jack River in her native Australia, went on an extensive national headlining tour and played nine shows across six days at SXSW.
Her third EP Cry was released last Friday through Sydney-based etcetc Records continues Hamilton’s ongoing collaboration with Oscar Dawson — and interestingly, the four song EP finds the Aussie JOVM mainstay drawing from the harder guitar-driven work of The Kills, Metric, and Yeah Yeah Yeahs as well as the synth-driven pop like Grimes and Lykke Li. The EP’s latest single, title track “Cry” establishes the EP’s overall tone and sound — a hook driven, shimmering take on dream pop centered around atmospheric synths, reverb-drenched guitars and what may arguably be her most direct and personal songwriting to date. And much like her previously released material, the song reveals an incredibly self-assured songwriter, crafting some of her most earnest and ambitious material. It shouldn’t be surprising that she’s building a much larger international profile.
“I wrote ‘Cry’ when I realised it had gotten to the middle of the year already, and time was flying like crazy,” Hamilton explains in press notes. “It made me think, I hadn’t really been paying attention to what was happening around me in the present, and only been thinking about the future, wishing time would hurry up so I could get to that next thing. I think when we’re young, we lament all the things we don’t have, or how we’re not where we want to be yet. We could actually end up wishing our time and youth away. This song is a reminder to myself to stop, breathe and appreciate this stage of my life and everything it has to offer.”
The recently released video features Hamilton working at a mundane and soul-sucking day job at a restaurant. We’re introduced to her appearing bored and restless at a soul-sucking day job. And as she takes out the garbage, she suddenly decides to take off for a drive, enjoy the small things and not come back for a while. Her travels include having her car break down and having a friendly mechanic fix her car, a stop at the beach and to an arcade. But as the video progresses, we see Hamilton smiling with a deep appreciation and joy — a marked difference from when we’re first introduced to her.
“‘Cry’ is about longing, daydreaming, wishing for more and for a better day,” Hamilton explains in press notes. “While it’s important to me that people are able to relate to the type of restlessness that can often bring pain, I wanted the video to feel wistful and celebrate the idea that you can break free from your own mindset if you just let go, breathe, and find some joy in the present. The moments at the arcade, on the beach, driving to nowhere in particular are all reminders to stop and enjoy your youth while it’s here. Just be grateful for today.”