Local teams up with Kasey Chambers

Slither: Cowwarr born artist Harry Hook is back making music with 'the snake song' featuring Kasey Chambers. Photograph supplied



COWWARR born musical legend Harry Hook (harry hook is real) teamed up with Australian country music icon Kasey Chambers to release the snake song recently.

The song is a catchy tune, with each verse telling a separate story of the Australian experience living in the bush.

The hook has that nursery rhyme feel and after listening to it, you’ll be singing it.

Formerly performing as Harry Hookey, his debut album ‘Misdiagnosed’ was nominated for a 2014 ARIA Award for Best Blues & Roots Album and the artist has previously won the prestigious International Song Writing Competition.

His music is influenced by country, folk, and blues, emphasising the story.

Hook graduated from Melbourne University in 2012 with a Law degree. At school, he found opportunities to open for the likes of Ash Grunwald, Tim Rogers, Doc Neeson, and Busby Marou. Then, Hook chose a life of music and creativity over one in a courtroom.

Mr Hook, now 34, has been in the music game for a while, having performed in Kasey Chambers’ studio bands, and has also opened for Lucinda Williams, Paul Kelly and Ryan Bingham, to mention a few more. In 2018, he returned to Gippsland from a stint in Nashville to begin work on a new solo project as an independent artist.

Formally known as Harry Hookey, he now performs under the name ‘Harry Hook is real’ due to label complications. It just so happens that when the artist married ABC Gippsland breakfast show host, formerly Mim Cook, the pair decided to merge their last names into ‘Hook’.

Before he broke out into the music scene, the artist grew up in the little township of Cowwarr.

Attending Cowwarr Primary School, he always had a love for music. Mr Hook, being tied to the town having his first-ever gig at the Cowwarr Cricket Club Hotel, has always espoused his love for his home in Gippsland and the Latrobe Valley in his songs.

Speaking to the Express, Mr Hook said he uses his experience to influence his song writing.

“I try to put as much Gippsland in my songs as possible. This is obviously the reason that inspires me the most … I really want it to feel like lived experience.”

“I grew up in Cowwarr, so snakes were always on the property out there, snakes have always been around in my life. There would be four snakes living underneath the floorboards, so I’ve always been fascinated by snakes.”

For Mr Hook, the snake song was to fill the snake-size void in Australian country music, and to appreciate our native wildlife.

“This song came to me, as I thought we have songs about kangaroos. We have Kookaburra Sits in the old Gumtree. There are Blinky Bill songs about koalas, but I don’t reckon there’s been a quintessential Australian snake song, and yet they’re such a big part of our fauna,” he said.

Harry Hook said how nice it was to collaborate with Chambers after so many years following the pair’s split after they broke up. Luckily for fans, the two have buried the hatched to release this catchy track.

“I’ve toured with [Kasey Chambers], and her brother used to manage me, you know, things happen … breakups, but enough time has passed, and we were keen to work on a new project. I had this song sitting on the shelf; it’s got that … old-school country folk feel with the banjo and stuff, and I wanted a strong female harmony on it, and I mean, for that style of music, I think Kasey is the preeminent Australian voice,” he said.

Mr Hook returned to Gippsland after time in Nashville, and now lives in Sale with his wife and two children.

“It might seem an odd choice to come back from a place like Nashville which is like the Mecca of country music, to Gippsland, considering I wanted to have a new career in music,” he said.

“I found in Nashville, there are heaps of people doing it; you’re not really different there … there is a big line to get any kind of opportunity, and it just kind of dawned on me one night … my spot was at like 3am.”

At that moment, Mr Hook realised he wanted to go back home.

“I was like – I could wait in the longest line in the world and hope to break through … or I could go home and build something organically in the place I love and create something cool here,” he said.

The idea of sharing the local Australian experience motivates Mr Hook more than any of the foreign opportunities like that in Nashville.

Mr Hook’s third solo album, a beast is me, will be released on June 3, 2023.

Proud of his upcoming album full of local artists, Mr Hook says there is no talent shortage in Gippsland.

“As we continue to develop and nurture the music scene, I think the musical culture here is just going to grow, and we are going to get some cool original stuff out of Gippsland,” he said.

When asked what advice he would give to the young local artists of the local community, he said the best asset an artist can have is originality.

“Nurture that part of yourself, whatever it is that makes you original and unique follow that and lean into that … you’ll feel like you’re pushing a bolder up a hill, but just keep going,” he said.

The artist has amassed 13,250 monthly listeners on Spotify, with ‘the snake song’ reaching nearly 5000 streams on Spotify.