Hiatus Kaiyote have been making waves worldwide in recent months with their unique blend of music dubbed as "future soul." The band have just released the remix compilation, Tawk Takeout, and their debut, Tawk Tomahawk, is still on high rotation in my home, and I'm sure in many others. As they are about to embark on an Australian tour, presented by Niche Productions, and with hopefully a European and US tour in the not too distant future, I put a few questions to Hiatus Kaiyote's Paul Bender to try and gage what inspires this intriguing collective.
SoulBounce: Can you explain to us the meaning behind your band name?
Hiatus Kaiyote: Like our music, we want people to draw their own conclusions about the meaning from the feeling it evokes. That being said, in 25 years from this day, we will publicly announce the true meaning of the band name, at which point we will fly our hover-camel into the center of the sun and never be seen again. So make sure you come to all the shows and buy the records until then. Thank you.
SB: How did Hiatus Kaiyote come about?
HK: The band came about through a shared intention, the right people and the right moment, and many years of our personal and musical journeys leading to a realization that we all had to make music together as an absolute necessity.
SB: You call your music "future soul." It's definitely a fusion of genres and styles that pushes boundaries and breathes fresh energy into soul music. Considering that, how do you see HK as shaping the future of soul music in Australia? Do you see yourselves as setting a new standard for local musicians to aspire to?
HK: We have called our music many things, such as Wondercore and Multidimensional Polyrhythmic Gangsta Shit; others have their own labels. In an ideal world we would not have to label our music at all, as ultimately it creates a limited perception of what any band is about. It's the inclusion of so many other influences and concepts that creates this idea that we are changing or shaping "soul music." In reality we are simply creating whatever we want to at the time, using all the elements that have inspired us from any and all music. The soul tradition just happens to be a big part of that wider picture. As far as our place in the local scene, we are proud to say we are part of a thriving music community in Melbourne, and we hope that our success leads others to pursue their music goals with even greater passion and determination.
SB: You've received praise from influential names in the hip-hop and soul scene, Erykah Badu and Questlove to name a few, how has that felt for Hiatus Kaiyote to receive such strong support internationally?
HK: It has been nothing short of mind blowing. Industry success is one thing, but for your work to be admired and respected by some of the very people who have influenced your sound and your concepts, artists who have created their own worlds and continue to inspire and blow our minds...you really can't ask for more than that. What's especially exciting is that it hasn't just been from the hip-hop and soul scene, there's been support from artists from a really wide spectrum of people doing really exciting and inspiring things, definitely a few of our heroes in there.
SB: You've recently released a remix album, Tawk Takeout, where tracks from your debut, Tawk Tomahawk, are re-worked by 12 producers, such as Mark de Clive-Lowe. How did that come about?
HK: The remix comp was an obvious extension of the "Beat Battles" which we featured at most of our Melbourne shows thus far. Most of the crew on Tawk Takeout are Melbourne-based producers who have been regular entrants in these competitions, remixing our tracks, and classics by Bowie, Zappa, songs off Disney soundtracks, etc. It's been a really special aspect to our gigs, and has demonstrated the quality of musicianship and creativity that we have here.
SB: How does it feel to see your tracks given new life and taken in a new direction on Tawk Takeout?
HK: Well, there have been many more Hiatus remixes created during the Beat Battles, so it's pretty normal now to hear our stuff sliced and diced and made into something new, but it's amazing and exciting to have some of our new international friends adding their flavor to the mix.
SB: If Hiatus Kaiyote could collaborate with any artist in the world, who would that be and why?
HK: Last time we were asked this question it became reality (with Miguel Atwood-Ferguson) so we better pick carefully! Mulatu Astatke is definitely an inspiration and a living legend. Flying Lotus is a huge inspiration, and we've had some contact with him. Ummmm...STEVIE WONDER? (If you're out there Stevie don't be shy!)
SB: What artists inspire Hiatus Kaiyote and why?
HK: That list is too long, and instead of why, we'll just assume you'll just go listen, and it will be apparent why. Here's a few:
Bjork, Animal Collective, Dirty Projectors, Grizzly Bear, Georgia Anne Muldrow, Aphex Twin, Flying Lotus, Jimi Hendrix, Aretha Franklin, Michael Jackson, Herbie Hancock, Madlib, Bill Evans, Jaga Jazzist, J Dilla, Tom Dissevelt and Kid Baltan.
SB: Aside from artists and music, what inspires Hiatus Kaiyote?
HK: Friends and family, nature, dreams, the ancient traditions of indigineous people around the world, the infinite vastness of space, small animals doing cute things, large animals doing terrifying things, a damn good coffee.
SB: What can fans expect from a Hiatus Kaiyote live show?
HK: A whole lot of energy, and a synchronized intention to make you feel good while simultaneously confusing the shit out of you...and if you are at a Melbourne show, some DAMN SEXY backing vocalists!
SB: What track is the favorite for Hiatus Kaiyote to perform live and why?
HK: Probably a new track we've just recently put together called "Atari." It's a psychedelic 8-bit high-speed homage to a beautiful pixelated world beyond the edge of time. Yeah!
SB: Where do you see Hiatus Kaiyote heading in the future, what's coming up next?
HK: Well, there's our November tour, plus setting up a new studio space so we can make more records, some exciting collaborations planned. Hopefully we'll be touring the US and Europe in 2013, fingers crossed!