The Way We Get By: Hazel English Finds a Balance Between Reality and Escapism

The indie pop artist has been finding equal comfort in Philip K. Dick and Gilmore Girls.

What’s most interesting to me lately is a book that I started before all of this happened, The Penultimate Truth by Philip K. Dick. It feels strangely relevant in its themes: it’s basically about a world where most of humanity lives in underground shelters because it’s widely believed that World War III is happening above ground ,and that the earth is a dangerous hot zone because of nuclear activity. Only the elite class live above ground with their robot armies. So these elite men essentially give televised speeches about the war and the devastation while the people underground continue to produce the robots. They have terrible working conditions and grueling quotas, and stuff like that. It turns out that the war actually ended years ago, and that these robots are being used by these elite men as personal servants to maintain their estates. 

I feel like it’s an interesting commentary on capitalism and class divide that feels kind of relevant right now, even though the book was written in 1964. Philip K. Dick was really ahead of his time. It felt really interesting reading about these people that are stuck underground in this isolating place and are being told a lot of misinformation. 

In terms of things that give me the most comfort right now, I’ve been watching a lot of feel-good comedies, and Gilmore Girls. Small-town drama is what I’m craving right now. And one album that gives me a lot of comfort, and that I’ve been listening to every day, is Ain’t That Good News by Sam Cooke. If people want a real pick-me-up album, I’d say to listen to that. It just makes me want to sing at the top of my lungs and dance around the house. 

I guess I’ve been kind of vacillating between consuming books and movies that feel relevant — I’ve also watched Groundhog Day and The Shining — and stuff that is very different and helps me escape the current reality.

The coronavirus has hit many people financially, and it’s been especially tough on musicians who rely on touring to support themselves. If you’re able and inclined, check out Hazel’s website and order a T-shirt, some vinyl, or whatever they’ve got on offer. Every little bit helps.

(Photo Credit: Janell Shirtcliff)

Hazel English is an Australian-born, LA-based musician. Her latest album, Wake UP!, is out via Polyvinyl Record Co. April 2020.

(Photo Credit: Janell Shirtcliff)