Hiatus Kaiyote is soul utterly inspired

Hiatus Kaiyote is soul utterly inspired

The colourful, eclectic neo-soul group, Hiatus Kaiyote, talks about their beginning and how they work together

Hiatus Kaiyote is a band with an unremarkable tale of how they formed - after jamming together in a houseshare in Melbourne, Australia, they took their songs to a studio called Clark Street. But as soon as their song Nakamarra was nominated for a Grammy in 2013, things were anything but formulaic.

The band hit it off pretty much from the get-go, as singer and guitarist Nai Palm explains: "Even in the first rehearsal, we were starting to write collectively, which is rare. The ethos of our project is that everyone can contribute; the music is eclectic because of that."

Bassist Paul Bender says "It's like drawing a picture, in that sometimes you don't really know what you're drawing. And at the end when you look at it, you realise you can find some sort of connection or meaning in it."

The band's creative process draws influence from everywhere, synth player Simon Mavin says. "It might start small with a little riff or phrase. But everyone helps water it, and lets it grow. There are really no limits when it comes to gathering ideas."

When they say that ideas come from everywhere, they mean it. The Aussie quartet have taken inspiration from both Atari, the game console, and Laputa, the Hayao Miyazaki film, and woven it into their sunny, neo-soul sound.

Palm says, "Ideas could come from visual art or wanting to make a song that sounds like water."

Bender adds "Sometimes it comes from trying new tricks. We might get together to work on something difficult, or try to explore new areas of music."

There are many ways to write a song, but the reality of needing musical skill remains. Drummer Perrin Moss says, "In the rehearsal room it's more about the technical side. You have to combine two worlds. You can't tell a story with an instrument you can't play."

"We take a small segment and play it over and over again to make sure everything fits together right," says Mavin.

While the Grammy nomination opened doors for them, it hasn't made them feel they should change their sound to attract a wider range of fans. Moss says "If we tried to go more pop or make ourselves more accessible, our fanbase would go 'What are you guys doing?'"

Not that they didn't appreciate the nod. Palm says, "The Temptations won their Grammy for the classic song My Girl in the same category we were nominated in. To be qualified in that particular category puts you up with the giants.

"It's an amazing feeling for someone who grew up on soul music."

The band's future plans involve them taking a break after this tour; Mavin explains: " We've been to America, Europe, South Africa, Asia, and back to America and so on. It's been pretty frantic."

Moss adds "You just need time to grow ideas. It's a state of mind. You need something to guide you there."

This article appeared in the Young Post print edition as
Soul utterly inspired

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