Australian band Haiku Hands had a social media smash with their song ‘Not About You’, and they’re performing at Splore this weekend. Sam Brooks talked to them about their writing process, and how they carry their energy from the studio to the stage.
The first few moments of ‘Not About You‘ are magnetic, it’s the kind of persona-defining debut that indie bands dream of.
The beats sound like a riotous clash between a catwalk at Paris Fashion Week – or maybe some grungier fashion week, maybe Marseilles Fashion Week – and a mid-nineties SNES game. Then the vocals come on, two singers, produced and then doubled-tracked.
“I’m going to tear up the lexicon with a hexagon and my sexy thong on
No matter where your head is gone or where you’re from I’ma take you on”
The rest of the song, seemingly a winking ode to intersectionality, is a stormer. It’s fun, it’s silly, it’s smart, and it sets Haiku Hands up as a band that encompasses all three – it doesn’t have to be a dumb song for you to have a good time dancing to it. From the few songs they’ve released so far, Haiku Hands looked like they’re poised to give you a good dance.
Their most recent single, ‘I Dare You Not to Dance’, puts it right in the title. It’s a bit more low-beat than ‘Not About You’; it’s a set closer rather than a set opener. It’s something you dance and sway to while holding the plastic cup that you finished at the start of the set, but you can’t let go of just in case some of the vodka-Red Bull you spent $12 on might be in it still.
Since the release of ‘Not About You’, Haiku Hands have been touring the festival circuit, and they’re playing at Splore Festival this weekend.
Ahead of their performance, I got the chance to chat to Bea Lewis about their unique writing process, and how exactly they harness the Pop-Rocks™ energy they have in their live performances in a studio setting.
Sam Brooks: Hey! So how’re things with you?
Bea Lewis: We’re a little bit tired. We’ve just started writing, we do sort of intensive writing weeks, where Claire and Mie, the other two girls in the band, come down to Melbourne – because I live in Melbourne and they live in Sydney – so we just started a writing session last night, and finished quite late.
What songs are you into at the moment?
We were just listening in the recording room to the new James Blake album!
Isn’t it amazing?
Yeah, it’s ridiculous. There is a really great Andre 3000 rap on that that’s very inspiring. And then there’s actually another singer, called Rosalie, from Spain, she has a few great tracks.
How does what you’re listening to feed into what you’re writing?
Often just between all of us and the people that we write with, we’re often just sending music to each other, being like “oh my gosh, listen to this beat”. For example, there’s a producer called Troy Boy, and he put out a really great track called ‘Say Yeah’.
I heard that and sent that to the people that we work with, and the band to listen to, then during the day when we’re writing we’re always referencing tracks, like “Oh cool, this track has got a good vibe”, or “the lyrics sound really young and fresh”, or “the production’s really cool” or “I like the way this vocal is.”
That’s a nice sort of referencing, but we don’t do that too much actually. I feel like one of the best things about Haiku Hands is that we all have quite different music tastes, and where all of our musical tastes overlap is quite a unique place, and that’s what helps the music that we make be what it is.
What’s an example of that happening?
So, you said that you know Rosalia, that ‘Malamente‘ song, we listened to that yesterday because we love the clapping and love her vocal, and her vibe is super great. We were just throwing around ideas and listening to the song like, “Oh yeah, all these parts of this song are really good!”.
Another situation was where I came up with a lyric and I went, “Oh, that lyric makes me sound like a four year old!”. So then Joel (Joelistics) was like, “I really want to show you this Andre 3000 verse,” because he has some really funny, cheeky lyrics that are really simple but clever. We got inspired by that.
On that note, your songs have such strong energy to them, so how do you harness that in a studio setting?
When Claire and I started writing together we wanted to make it quite low pressure – just like a really fun creative outlet, and it wasn’t too much of a headfuck.
Our approach, because we weren’t putting too much pressure on it at the start, was to make it a really fun, easy process. And because there was no pressure on it, when we started writing with our friend Joel there was no expectation around it, so it was just experimenting and playing, and seeing what we could come up with.
I think now it still feels the same, and with the way we write, because we’re doing real intensive bits, we get together and sometimes in a day we can write and record a whole song.
Like I remember ‘Not About You’ happened in a few days, with the writing and the recording. It’s about getting in there really quick, and working in a really intense environment – a boiling pot. That’s just the dynamic between all of us, and the drive that we have, it just seems to work. And it’s really fun.
That’s the other thing! I laugh a lot in our sessions, and that’s pretty important.
I guess the flipside of that is taking that energy live. How do you carry that high energy throughout a full set?
It’s so nice. I feel incredibly unfit! It’s so crazy, it’s such a good time.
For me personally, I just completely enter into a 45 minute vortex, really, and it feels so fun with the audience, cause you feed off each other so much and I feel like I get so much energy from the audience.
There’s a really nice sorta situation that we create for each other, where we just have fun together. I think that’s – that for me is just putting in a lot of energy.
The music’s really fun as well, it makes you wanna dance!
And how do you sustain that throughout the festival circuit?
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Well, we did quite a few shows last year and I’ve been feeling quite like I need to really work on it, like it’s a physical job just like it’s a creative job.
I did feel quite unfit last year. You know you always get through the show, and by the end of the show my knees are shaking. I can feel my muscles are just like ‘what are you doing you crazy human?! What are you doing to us?!’.
So by the end of the show I definitely feel quite shaky, which is also quite fun, it’s fun to give everything you have in that 45 minutes and just be like, ‘alright, we’re going in!’ and that’s what it sort of feels like. On the festival circuit it feels like you definitely get a good workout over that time!
Haiku Hands are playing at Splore this weekend! Unfortunately, tickets are sold out, but if you’re going you should absolutely check them out.
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