There’s a freshness and originality that Melbourne-based quartet Hiatus Kaiyote exhibit whenever they hit the stage or studio. While they have a bite of that late ’90s neo-soul tinge that a lot of us who grew up in a post Voodoo world are so thirsty for, HK has also proven that they can throw down the gauntlet when it comes to engineering modern sonic landscapes. Case in point: their 2012 album Tawk Tomahawk where in one instant they’re rocking alongside Q-Tip in their Grammy-nominated crowd-pleaser “Nakamarra” and in the next they’re doing a pastiche to Delibes in “Malika.” Hiatus Kaiyote are set to follow up their debut album and drop more Multi-dimensional, Poly-rhythmic Gangster shit (pretty accurate description jacked straight from their website) on May 4th with the upcoming release of their much anticipated record Choose Your Weapon.

We caught up with Hiatus Kaiyote’s front-woman Nai Palm to discuss the band’s upcoming recording ahead of its May 4th release. Scroll down to read our conversation.

Revive: How has Hiatus Kaiyote grown since Tawk Tomahawk and what are some of the differences we can expect in Choose Your Weapon?

Nai Palm: It’s just an extension, you know? We’re not trying to tailor to a specific genre. It’s just a natural progression of our relationship as musicians together. There’s 18-tracks, but we still wanted to keep it as a tribute to mixtapes by having interludes like “Only Time All the Time: Making Friends with Studio Owl” where it’s just me singing to an owl. I feel like it’s kind of a commentary on the fact that so much music is temporary now and everyone is just looking to release the next hot single. This record is in tribute to listening to an album from start to finish where there is a narrative that takes you to all these different soundscapes.

R: Is there a bigger story within the 18 songs in Choose Your Weapon? Or are they all sort of little vignettes?

NP: Every little element creates a bigger picture and the bigger picture is the narrative of our shared creativity together. Even though your ideas are all over the place, your ideas will vary a lot if you’re really true to your own expression. For example, we have a song called “Atari,” which is a tribute to vintage game consoles and we have a song “Swamp Thing,” which is kind of like my tribute to “Thriller” and it’s sort of telling a horror story. But at the end of it you’re nurturing the person, and at the end I’m the villain. That was an interpretation of “Thriller.” But there’s all these different themes from song to song, but somehow it’s cohesive because the ideas are diverse but we’re not over-trying and we’re allowing the songs to be what they need to be. The beauty of this project is that the overall theme is the unity of our four-way collaboration and that plays out really naturally.

We recorded the songs individually and when we put them in order with the interludes… for me it feels cohesive. It’s kind of macro versus micro and you can focus on either/or but never really get the full perspective until you step away from. That’s the beauty of sharing it with people, finishing it, and letting it do its thing. If people resonate with it, then they resonate with it. But I feel like its more of a series rather than a whole movie you know? Each episode has a different theme but you’re familiar with the characters and certain landscapes and stuff. But one episode might be filmed in Mongolia and the other one might be filmed underwater. So it’s more like a series, I guess.

R: There’s a few songs on the album that some of your fans will already be familiar with if they’ve caught you guys live. Were some of the tracks sort of born out of your live performances versus the tracks on Tawk Tomahawk?

NP: Well, the full-length songs on Tawk Tomahawk were songs that I’ve written. I wrote “Lace Skull” when I was like 18 or something. We got together as a band and workshopped it and recorded that, and there are the interludes which came from us vibing as musicians. Some of the songs in the next album– like “Fingerprints”– were written when I was 16. “Jekyll” was one of the first songs I’ve ever wrote.”

“Breathing Underwater” is something I’ve written since we’ve been on tour. People are familiar with our live shows because we’ve had to take advantage of the exposure so there’s bound to be live footage. Usually you record then you tour after you’ve dropped an album right? But we like to keep pretty interesting for our fans and for ourselves so we like to play songs that are pretty new for us and our fans. Sometimes those shows get captured. For example, there’s a video of me playing “Molasses” by myself that is up on YouTube. So it’s kind of crazy when we tour with the whole band and we see audience members sing-a-long to songs we haven’t released!

People are already familiar with our songs because we’re constantly in a live environment trying to push ourselves. So with this record, we just wanted to document the shit that people are already familiar with.

YouTube Preview Image

R: What drew me to HK was the way you guys make odd-time signatures feel natural. Is this something that you guys sort of work out or does it come out naturally?

NP: Me and Perrin didn’t study formally, but we were blessed to be raised with some interesting shit, you know? We were listening to records from Mali and flamenco early on. You don’t feel that 4/4 is the standard when you’ve been exposed to that at a young age. I still don’t count! I don’t count shit out! I just feel it. Luckily we’ve got Simon and Bender who have the theory background. Simon’s been in Latin bands for ages and all salsa is straight up math! It’s crazy. So it’s natural, but we definitely take our time refining it.

R: Oceana seems to be a new hotspot for breeding talent. I got a chance to talk to Mark de Clive-Lowe who sort of had his theories on it, but I’d like to get your view on the subject.

NP: I feel like it’s always been here and it’s always been everywhere around the world, but it’s been at different times throughout history. There are little explosions like Paris in the ’20s and Nigeria in the ’60s. I feel like there’s always these pockets of great music and there’s always great music wherever you go. But for some reason– history, fate, and the world– the works showcases different spots at different times. I feel like there’s something about the connectivity of the internet and the communication around the world. But the beauty of Australia and New Zealand is that it’s a relatively new society (with the exception of the indigenous culture, which is like over 40,000 years old) without that much cultural history. So we’re in a time of information and everyone’s exposed to a lot of different shit. So the originality is at its peak because there’s no grounding of culture, there’s only exploration of information.

I feel like that’s why… because there’s not tradition. New York has the jazz tradition and a lot of different countries around the world has some sort of tradition to it. We kind of have rock over here but not really, you know? I think there’s really unique music here because of how eclectic and new it is. And it’s a time where communication is key because of the internet. The music industry has changed and, therefore, the culture has changed.

I mean, we just put our shit on bandcamp and two years later we have a Grammy-nom in a category that no other Australian has been nominated for – at least I don’t think any Australian has been nominated. It’s really exciting and cool.

Pre-order Choose Your Weapon ahead of its May 4th release via iTunes. Scroll down for their complete stateside tour dates.

May 02 Providence, RI – The Met
May 03 New York, NY – Gramercy Theatre
May 05 New York, NY – Gramercy Theatre *sold out
May 07 Boston, MA – Paradise Rock Club
May 08 Philadelphia, PA – Underground Arts
May 09 Washington, DC – U Street Music Hall
May 11 Chicago, IL – Double Door
May 12 Minneapolis, MN – Fine Line Music Cafe
May 14 Boulder, CO – The Fox Theatre
May 17 Seattle, WA – Neumo’s
May 19 San Francisco, CA – The Independent
May 20 Los Angeles, CA – The Roxy *sold out
May 21 Santa Ana, CA – Constellation Room
May 22 San Diego, CA – House Of Blues Voodoo Room
May 23 Las Vegas, NV – Insert Coin(s)
May 26 Austin, TX – The Parish
May 27 Dallas, TX – Trees
May 29 Atlanta, GA – Vinyl
May 30 Philadelphia, PA – The 8th Annual Roots Picnic @ Festival Pier
May 31 Baltimore, MD – Baltimore Soundstage


Post Your Comment
We will never send yoiu spam or publish or share your email information.