“It’s A Fun Exploration!” Haiku Hands Interviewed

Australian group breakdown their most daring reinvention yet...

Electro-pop threesome Haiku Hands thrill. Reinventing by creating unconventional genre blends their creative output is something else entirely.

Clash meets Beatrice Lewis and Mie Nakazawa in a charming little pub on a quiet street, away from the hustle and bustle of Old Street in East London. Engaged in chilled conversation in the company of a trio who are on the brink of even bigger things. 

Their touring shows a similar pattern. At this point the Australian act is in the midst of a mini tour playing a string of UK live dates, going to cities such as Leeds, Manchester and London. The reaction to the shows has been phenomenal, with buzzing crowds, mosh pits coupled with addictive club vibes. 

“Claire and I grew up listening to a lot of hip-hop, but Claire was more in that hip-hop world,” explains Nakazawa. “Now Claire also likes R&B and dance. I like more punky music with attitude and electronic stuff. Some music without words, but if I listen to music with lyrics, it’s often English artists.”

“For me it’s heaps of different music,” Lewis interjects. “Everything. There’s not much music I’m not listening to at the moment. I am into production, sound and listening to different rhythms, different synth sounds and vocal processing. It’s exciting, and it makes me happy.” 

“I can get obsessed with one song. When I listen to music, I’ll think about what’s going on in a piece of music. Why is a snare is placed where it is in the mix, how is it helping the groove. It’s good to analyse, not that you should always do that.” 

An open, DIY-led approach to technology works for her. “It’s a fun exploration. With all the access to home studios now, it’s much more accessible, it used to be hard to access, but now that more people have access to equipment it’s better.”

Their popularity signifies more than a step up for a band who clearly are making waves and are just responding to demand, of which there are volumes, their crowds are hungry for it with an appetite that’s unwavering, and their show at Oslo Hackney later that day only goes to cement it. 

Still there are shows where audiences are quiet, they watch as if they are unsure of the right behavioural etiquette, almost as if they feel a need to establish that before they will allow themselves to get lost in the sweat and the euphoria, be fully immersed. 

Fair play to them. Complexity feeds right into the quintessence of Haiku Hands. On the one hand it’s fun, full-blown party vibes, but there is a darker side to the music, a thoughtful and critical perspective. With themes that touch on anti-capitalism, power structures in society, the proof of an independent voice is there for those who are ready to respond. 

Released December last year, studio album ‘Pleasure Beast’ saw them lift their ambition and take things to the next level. A confident body of work, it shows some of their colours, exploring the world through their eyes, a stirring, genre-defying moment of experimentation and vibrancy.  

“Musically I’d do a whole bunch of things that I’d love by artists,” reveals Nakazawa. “Things that I really admire. With this feel, this album I found more of my own voice, because that’s what was available at that point in time artistically.”

“The sense of intention was great,” she considers. “I don’t know punk ethos other than just doing what we want it to do, and trying to push against the norm. It feels good internally and externally. It’s challenging internal energy, you want to do something cool and palatable.” 

“Internally and personally I don’t want to fit in, I feel anti-establishment, I feel like the establishment is failing us all. Why would I try and fit into whatever everyone else is doing or what I think I should be doing.”

The response to the full length record has been positive, the sold out live gigs mirror the same trend, but there’s another route, another avenue to which the band keep adding to their track record. 

Sync deals are a useful source for artists, and Haiku Hands’ track ‘Not About You’ featured on RuPaul’s Drag Race, Season 3. Some of gig goers became aware of the band because they were fans of the popular TV show. 

“A lot of them have come through syncs,” says Nakazawa. “Hearing a song on a movie or a on TV show, it’s really awesome when people say they enjoyed hearing it there.”

She continues, “I talk to some of the audience afterwards. We always come out and say hi, I feel so much gratitude, I’m grateful that people come to the shows. It’s interesting to see how people know the music as well. I’ve been really curious about that, why they’re there.”

As for the future, the band want to go as far as possible. Keen to cross more geographical borders to reach audiences on other continents, festivals are a vibrant outlet for it, a fitting opportunity to broaden the scope of what they want to achieve. 

“Hopefully we get to play some festivals,” Lewis says. “I would like to come back the UK and foster the relationship because of the people here. I also really like the energy in Europe. I love the dance scene, I’ve got lots of friends who are really good DJs, I like the European festivals and the UK ones, just so many festivals that are brilliant.”

‘Pleasure Beast’ is out now.

Words: Susan Hansen
Photo Credit: Bronte Godden

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