Found on streaming platforms under the alias a.h., U of T student Anna Hardie recently debuted her sophomore EP Hole in the Sun — a collection of acoustic ballads with incredible melodic lyricism and folk undertones.
The Varsity spoke with Hardie about the deep emotional world she dives into throughout the album, which articulates a collection of nuanced ideas regarding distance, releasing the past, climate anxiety, love, comfortability in your skin, and much more.
Hardie, who was born and raised in Toronto, has returned to the city after completing her undergraduate degree in New Brunswick. Amazingly, she created the entire EP independently in her bedroom while completing a graduate program in public policy and economics.
Hardie described her recording process as “very informal.” She recorded everything in her room using a regular mic. She even noted that “There’s no soundproof or anything. My bed is a good insulator for sound.”
The three-track bedroom pop album discusses the space between nature and humanity, with each song painting a story that traces her own emotional world.
Hardie’s writing process was not linear. Instead, each song has several layers of meaning that underlie the lyrics. Throughout the album, she develops the collection of motifs over time, then combines them into a complex lyrical expression.
The album has an atmosphere of simplicity despite its heavy themes. Hardie explained that, for her, the writing process “depends on the song… For most of them, the melody and the chords come together at the same time. I’m just rambling as I go, and there’s no cohesion… It’s a melody and then chords first… Then I [add] lyrics that have actual meaning.”
Unlike her previous release, this EP centres itself around the instrumentation of a do-it-yourself acoustic pop album. Ultimately, it creates a relaxed soundscape of acoustic guitar, piano, and drums, which act as a foundation for the delicate strength of her vocal melodies, allowing you to sink into her world.
Hardie herself is particularly proud of the track Golden because of the way it evokes the warm feelings she has when with her loved ones. The dreamy track has a Toronto history; Hardie wrote it about the joy of being in Queens Park.
However, there’s more to Hardie’s brilliant EP than just the music. The cover of the EP, which she and her sister designed, includes a sunny portrait of Hardie sitting under a tree on the grass with a watercolour magenta sun and lilac sky.
She noted that when making the cover she “really wanted to capture the sun.” To make the sun have even more visual power, she mixed watercolour and then got her sister to help her take a picture.
Hardie intends on performing live shows locally in Toronto under the alias a.h. in the future. “I want to release something right before summer hits. I want to do something a little more fun, because I’ve always written slower and sadder songs. [I] totally want to ride that wave and go into more upbeat music,” Hardie said.
These shows are sure to convey the dreamy charm that is a hallmark of Hardie’s music.