Hamish Hawk – Caterpillar (live solo version, premiere)
Watch the live solo version of Caterpillar, the latest single from Edinburgh musician Hamish Hawk
When we last spoke to Hamish Hawk, in 2019, it was about his piano-led EP, Laziest River. Written during a stint travelling across America earlier that year, it gently lilted from one track to the next in a somewhat soothing manner over its 26-minute runtime, with Hawk’s caramel rich voice helping you lazily float down a river yourself, not a care in the world.
Fast forward to the end of January 2021. We’re listening to Steve Lamacq on BBC 6Music and are stopped in our tracks when he introduces Caterpillar, the new one from Edinburgh’s Hamish Hawk. There’s a definite type of music that Steve Lamacq likes to shout about on his radio show and Hawk's brand of delicate piano-led ballads isn’t usually it, so it came as quite the shock. Until, of course, we heard Caterpillar.
"The vast majority of my songs take me an awfully long time to finish," Hawk tells us. "There's lots of chopping and changing, fine-tuning, umming and ah-ing, second, third, eighteenth drafts. Occasionally a song falls from the sky and it just is. Caterpillar was one of those.
"I remember the writing experience very vividly," he continues. "I was sitting in a cafe in the Old Town and it just happened. The end result of a morning set to early Madonna singles on repeat and about four filter coffees. It's enough to squeeze a song about feeling trapped out of just about anyone, I think."
On Caterpillar, Hawk sounds like he’s teetering on the edge, but still very much in control as he squawks over a cheeky throbbing bassline and scuffling drums; it’s uncomfortable, exciting and full of adrenaline. Musically, it’s about as far away from Laziest River as you could get – but, as we said in our review of that record, Hawk is “constantly surprising”.
When the single was released at the end of January, a stunning music video by Ellen De Faux came with it, perfectly in sync with the pleasing discomfort of the song. Today, The Skinny are delighted to bring you a moody new live version, recorded solely by Hawk, and set to a backdrop which calls to mind a police line-up, which you can watch in the above YouTube player (click here if it’s not displaying correctly).
"I've been told several times since its release that Caterpillar captures something of the pandemic zeitgeist," Hawk says, "which makes a lot of sense to me. It was written at a time in my life when I felt I was losing my thread. Something bigger than me was seizing control of my faculties and dragging me in an unknown direction. The lyrics reflect the feelings of powerlessness I was facing at the time, and express the desire I had to reassert control wherever I could.
"I love this stripped-back version because the song is laid so bare,” he adds. “There's nowhere for it to hide. I think it holds up rather well under the hot lights!"