Haiku Hands On The Importance Of Community And Collaboration

During this era of isolation...

Haiku Hands is a true union of voices, a merging of musicians.

A group where each individual voice combines with the whole, the Australian dance-pop trio craft some enduring, remarkably idiosyncratic spells.

The band's self-titled album is out now, and it's an incredible piece of work, one where the rhythmic engine seems to point itself to the heart of the sun.

Here, Beatrice Lewis of Haiku Hands reflects on the importance of collaboration, and why the nature of community is essential to the group's experiences.

More importantly, she ponders how these facets allow Haiku Hands to grow, particularly in this era of isolation.

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Through this pandemic, I've been staying with my friend, Zach. Over a cup of tea one night, he mentioned to me that this pandemic has felt a bit like a collective 'near death experience' . Later, when I googled repercussions of a ‘near death experience’, the wise, old internet informed me that you typically feel a new awareness of meaning and of purpose in your life, and that you tend to be more caring and open towards others and even yourself.

We, like so many others, have had months of planned tours evaporate overnight. When I looked up from that initial whirlwind, what I saw in its wake was the music community, our team, friends and family all reaching out and checking in. Despite sounding like an over enthused yoga mat, a new awareness of meaning and purpose has definitely become clearer for me, I see that underneath all the “crazy”, all we really have is each other and our drum machines.

The “Hands” in our band name “Haiku Hands” has always been a reference to the many people that contribute to our ever-evolving swirling, raging, chaotic collective. This week we are releasing our debut album, and within the context of this year, it feels like an apt time to reflect on this journey.

Haiku Hands is made up of our core team which is Claire Nakazawa, Mie Nakazawa and I. This team then expands out to everyone we work with, perform and write with, our dance community, producers, our amazing management team, our mums. As the concentric circles widen our team is the artists we have toured and played with and everyone who comes to our shows, watches our videos, and gets our songs stuck in their heads (sorry about that).

This wider Haiku Hands team feels like it is an equally important part of the collective as the centre. If community is an exchange of ideas, everything we create is for, with and from this community. At our live shows, which are rather sweaty events, I don’t feel a separation between who is on stage and who is off stage. I have the experience that we are all in there together, creating something bigger and it feels wild and powerful, like we are making something much more important than we could ever do as individuals.

I think music and community go hand in hand. I was drawn to music by community and drawn to people via music. By nature I think it's about shared experience and most often, creation. Haiku Hands has enabled us to work with so many great people and grow community and we really value this. – Claire (Haiku Hands)

Sitting with Zach that evening, I realized this pandemic has revealed a recurring theme over the making of this album and how it is a strong underlying ethos of our band; that we are greater than the sum of our parts. Haiku Hands is something bigger and better than what we could have ever done alone.

Collaboration has been an integral part of our band since the beginning. We first met each other through the Australian festival circuit and began writing together in 2014. We met a songwriter/producer called Joel Ma aka Joelistics and he has been a silent backbone of the band ever since. He has co-written all the songs on the album and given us creative direction and motivation when we needed it most (incredible, coach-like pep talks). We have a performing member named Mataya, who is a masterful solo artist. We work with some of the most amazing dancers and choreographers I’ve ever met. We also work with incredibly talented producers, like Angus Stuart aka Elgusto, who has been integral in the shaping of our sound and Mad Zach who is currently housing me and who has taught me so much about mixing and production.

In the early days of Haiku Hands we put our own warehouse party on, which will be a night I won't forget. It wouldn't have been possible to have such a memorable, boisterous and fun night if we didn’t have our community pull together, with lights, dances, stages, sound systems and vibe – Mie (Haiku Hands) 

It feels like collaboration is a natural state for us human beans. If we don’t work together, we may die. And, let’s be honest, sometimes that doesn’t feel too far away from reality sometimes. As Cypress Hill informed us: "when tha shit goes down ya better be ready…" The shit is thoroughly going down globally, and I feel really lucky to be a part of a great, giant, ever-evolving team. For all the peeps on stage and behind it, this album is an acknowledgement of you, from all of us, and all that we have created together. I am so grateful to be releasing this album, to be able to make music, for the people around us, for the people we will see on tour, and for the people we will be (metaphorically) dancing in their kitchens with. I see you baby.

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'Haiku Hands' is out now.

Photo Credit: Cybele Malinowski

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