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The best kept secret in music


"Catching Up With Hill Kourkoutis"

Hill Kourkoutis is taking a bit of a self-described 'breather' right now. Since her last project (Drowning Girl) has gone on hiatus, she has set her sights on her solo project - which has been dubbed Hill and the Sky Heroes. She also frequently writes for other artists, plays guitar for Tara Slone (formerly of Joydrop), works part-time at Toronto production company The Field, and is finishing up her fourth year at Ryerson's Image Arts program. Oh, and she just directed the music video for "All For Love", the next single of fellow singer-songwriter and Torontonian, Serena Ryder.

Yes, I did say a breather.

"For me, I feel most fulfilled when I'm doing everything I possibly can with anything that inspires me," Hill explains. "I don't think it's a conscious decision. As soon as something resonates with me, I'll get out there and do it. Most of the time I'm thrown into these situations before I'm ready for them, so it forces me to be comfortable with them and really try to learn, and try to do it as best as I can."

Evidently, Hill is a pretty fast learner. Receiving her first guitar at age seven, Hill formed her first band at age twelve. She then spent those ever-formative high school years in a few different bands (and landing an acting gig on the Family channel's Radio Free Roscoe), writing songs and playing gigs, before graduating and forming Drowning Girl in 2005. Since then, Hill has played with many respected artists - Simon Wilcox, Graph Nobel and Hunter Valentine, to name a few - and is a regular at the Canadian Idol songwriting camps.

"Writing for other artists is great because you get to use a part of your creativity that you wouldn't necessarily use for yourself, so it's cool to be able to sit down and write an R&B song. As far as playing with other artists, there's something about the energy of playing live that I love and that's something I could do forever. You have to connect to all these people, and you have to be resonating on the same level."

Such an abundance of experience would suggest Hill's age to be considerably more than her twenty-one years. Her discerning, slightly surreal lyrics too suggest the mind and knowledge of someone who is decidedly much older. "Over the years, I've learned how to channel experiences and really own them to a place where I knew I could talk about them, and where it was cathartic for me, but still keep them ambiguous enough so that anybody could gain an experience from it." Her growth has not gone unnoticed, as Hill has garnered a respectable number of accolades - not the least of which includes the 2007 Canadian Radio Star National Songwriting Competition, for which she was the regional and national winner.

Though she is originally from the hamlet of Greenwood, just outside Ajax, Hill moved with her family to the west end of Toronto nearly four years ago - and has been immersed in the artist culture of the city ever since. "Toronto has such a tight knit artistic community. Obviously people will have their favorites and their cliques, but for the most part it's a very small town and everyone knows each other and everyone supports each other." And unlike some artists who may long to escape the confines of the city in order to create, she finds Toronto to be endlessly inspiring, "Every time I walk down the street I'll see something that I want to turn into a film, or a music video, or a song."

Even with so much going on, Hill is focused on the future - which eventually means finding a way to combine her two passions, film and music. "I'll independently do things outside of my solo project that may be more film based or more music based, but ultimately, for myself, I'd like to marry the two and make the ultimate musical cinematic experience - if it's possible."

Hill Kourkoutis's Toronto favourites:

Place to buy music: Soundscapes
Artists: John Southworth, Alejandra Ribera, Serena Ryder, The Meligrove Band
Place to buy instruments: Capsule music, fellow artists basements
Venue to watch live music: Dakota Tavern, The Orbit Room, Massey Hall
Venue to play: The Horseshoe, The Mod Club, The Rivoli, Tattoo Rock Parlour
Theatres: Cinematheque at the AGO, The Fox Theatre

Written by guest contributor Natalie Donohue.
Lead photo by Allison Janzen
- Blog T.O.

"Interview: Hill Kourkoutis"

written by Lia Karidas
Wednesday, 10 June 2009

At a relatively young age, Hill Kourkoutis has already made waves in both the film and music industries, as an artist and producer. Hill talked to theMovementz about kicking off her solo project, Hill and the Sky Heroes.

How did you first get involved in music?

I first got involved in music at the age of two when I snuck on stage andrattled a tambourine for a Greek wedding band at a function of some sort(baptism? dance?...who can remember?). At that moment...I knew.

I understand that you also were a film studies major and you havedirected music videos for other Canadian artists. Which is more important toyou, music or film, (or both)?

Yes, I attended Ryerson University for Film Studies and have directed somemusic videos. It would be really difficult to choose one over the other asthey coexist symbiotically for me. I have been blessed in this life withtwo passions that have the capacity to fuse together and enhance oneanother, whether one medium is dominant over the other in any givencircumstance. In most scenarios, the aid of one is needed alongside theother in order to complete the "thought" or "the piece". Thus, they bothequally as important!

How would you describe your sound to those who haven't heard it before?

The sound varies greatly depending on the project I'm involved in or themood I'm in. I find that these days I am leaning more towards analternative folk rock vibe but also have had a 10 year inclination to writepop/rock songs. For now, in this present moment, lets call the soundalternative/folk/pop/rock/surf/death country. Or Alt/Pop/Rock forsimplicity's sake! Haha

Where do you get your song writing inspiration from?

The inspiration can come at any given nanosecond. When I feel inspired oneof three things could have occurred. A) An event unfolds that has eitherhurt or pissed myself or a person that I care about off, B) I witnesssomething sublime, bizarre, miraculous or a combination of them allsubconsciously or consciously, C) Love and the Battle of the Unrequited.Those are some examples but it all depends on the process and I've neverwritten a song the same way twice so it¹s always different!

Are any of your songs inspired by an interesting story that you'd like toshare?

Many have been but I will share my most memorable. The most vividsongwriting experience I had, I can¹t even recall in great detail. I justremember that I woke up in the middle of the night after having a vividdream...a sublime image unfolded before my minds eye. I was still in thatsleep state and pretty much wrote this entire song via stream ofconsciousness in metaphor. The song had a powerful impact on me as it feltand ended up being prophetic in a way...but it¹s more interesting to me astime passes because its meaning has become more clear to me now than everbefore. It was one of those rare cases where a song was in me and it wroteitself in a matter of minutes. It's called The Shoreline. It's my personalUniversal guide anthem.

Who are your favourite artists and how do you think they haveinfluenced your music (if they have)?

My favourite artists and influences are still being discovered! Choosing afew would be like choosing your favourite child and that would be wrong soI'll throw a FEW of them out there: The Cardigans, Mary Margaret O'Hara, ThePixies, Blondie, Beck, The Cure, The Velvet Underground, Hawksley Workman,Radiohead, The Beatles, etc...Either for their ability to write a greatsong, put on an amazing performance, find a great sound or all of the above.

How do you feel about the music scene that you're in?

I believe that the Toronto music scene is flourishing on all fronts. It isconstantly inspiring and there is just so much talent emerging at a rapidrate in so many various genres. I'm very proud of the art coming out ofToronto, these days. Great artists, bands, songwriters...a really excitingtime.

What is the best part about your job?

Being able to invent things for a living! (songs, films, stories, sounds,you name it) It's bound to keep things interesting...and to be able topursue your passion is a dream in reality.

Any news/upcoming events we should know about?

Not anything in particular at this present moment...but my new project Hilland the Sky Heroes is currently in development and there will be shows andnew music in the very near future. So look out for that!

Where would people go to purchase your music and/or learn more aboutyou?

Hill and the Sky Heroes has a Facebook and MySpace page. A bunch of thesongs I've written or bands I have been in can also be found on MySpace. is probably the go to place, though. So check that out first! - The


Still working on that hot first release.


Feeling a bit camera shy