Haiku Hands chat collaboration, finding humour in pretentiousness and their debut record
Having first come to national attention with their breakout single ‘Not About You’, Australian dance trio Haiku Hands, have not only proven that they can dominate the dancefloor (or literally any festival set), rather that there’s huge heart behind their energetic presence. Their self-titled debut, out today via Spinning Top, is more a collection of experiences than straight-forward dance music. These twelve tracks may differ in tempo, but they all share a pulse that none other than Beatrice Lewis, and Mie and Claire Nakazawa could create. In the works since they formed in 2017, and collaborated on by a series of producers including American duo Sofi Tukker, the names of the tracks that form Haiku Hands may escape their producers, but like all good electronic music, the feeling is the most important element.
To celebrate the release of their record – one that I’ve been eagerly awaiting since I caught their electric live show back in 2018 – I had a chat with Haiku Hands about the nature of their collaborations, and their record’s formation!
Being your debut record, what are you most excited for about its release?
Claire: We’re excited for people to hear the songs that we’ve never shown anyone, ever. It’s terrifying [Laughs] and exciting!
The album sounds fantastic! You open it with ‘Not About You’ which was the first song you released as a group. Was it important for you to carry this through and open the album with it too?
Bea: Yeah, I think so. For me, it was such an important song in our journey as a group. It was quite defining. We’d been writing for a while and it decided for itself. It made its own decision. It’s kind of nice to have it at the start to represent that part of the journey.
Claire: And it’s a banger!
There might be one other song on the album that’s even more of a banger than ‘Not About You’ and that is ‘Eat this Bass’! It’s one hell of a serve! What was it like writing this song?
Mie: Cathartic! Very fun. It was a quick song. The hook was in existence for a fair while. When we came together to write it, it was a quick birth. The first take created the structure for it. That spontaneous, gibberish take turned into the lyrics. It was fun. I think when we don’t overthink things that’s often the best.
Was it just as fun in the studio recording that one?
Claire: The best!
Mie: Claire was on the ground. On her hands and knees! [Laughs]
The last single, ‘Fashion Model Art’ is such an anthem! I remember being at Listen Out 2018 and when you played it live. Since then, Sofi Tukker have jumped onto it. How did their perspective help to shape the track?
Bea: I think it’s very them. Tucker’s take on the beat was very influential. He loves house and dance music, so that was definitely an influence. I also think that their vibes suit ‘Fashion Model Art’. Tucker would slay a catwalk! That’s the vibe.
The album is full of collaborations. Is that something that you’d set out to include in the album?
Mie: I think the whole album came quite naturally. From my perspective, it wasn’t planned out as a themed album. Producers kept on coming up and we were like, “Yes yes yes!”
Claire: Even from the start, I feel like Haiku Hands is so much about collaboration that it just happened that way.
The music video for ‘Fashion Model Art’ is so much fun! What was the idea behind it?
Mie: We worked with a director, Jasmine Tarasin. It was really her vision. She really took the whole theme of the song and translated it really well. It was weird and funny and beautiful. It was everything that weird, art model world is. It’s awkward and enjoyable but also feels a bit uncomfortable. It’s beautiful as well. I think the costumes show that that world is really attractive, but when you’re in it it’s also very uncomfortable sometimes.
I love how self-aware those lyrics are. Was that important to you?
Claire: We thought about the tone of it a lot. Not wanting to make fun of people, but it was self-aware from the start. The first thing that came about the song was “Fashion fashion, model model, art.” It came about out of a self-aware moment after being at the Biennale. Talking about art and then recognising what we were doing. We were making fun of ourselves in a way. That idea spread out into the whole industry, not making fun of it, but recognising what everyone knows to be true about it, whilst also celebrating it.
Bea: I think for me it’s about celebrating that part inside yourself. You’re aware of it and you can enjoy it, but it’s good to be aware of it.
It’s super campy!
Mie: Yeah, you’ve got it!
Do you find the way you interject humour into your music keeps you grounded as a group?
Claire: I think it’s come about because of who we all are. We all tend to take things seriously, whilst recognising the silliness of everything. We have that dualistic thing, where we’re like “Ah! This is all so important, we’ve got to do the best we possibly can!” And then in the back of our heads, we’re like “actually…” we have this existential view on life – “it’s all so silly and we’re going to die!” I think humour is one of the best things in the world, so why wouldn’t you occupy that space whenever you can? That’s my take on it anyway.
Bea: I think for me, it’s a lifelong emotional coping mechanism. It’s going to seep into most things. [Laughs] Particularly now… I was just talking to Kira Puru. She was saying how much she’s struggling in Melbourne, but then she said, “Thank god for Tik Tok!” We were laughing about social media actually becoming something that’s really helping us and not being so destructive but being really engaging and helping people connect when people are in different types of isolation.
If you were to guess and say which one of your songs would go viral on Tik Tok, which one would it be?
Bea: Maybe ‘Eat this Bass’?
Claire: That’d be good! The gibberish section of ‘Eat this Bass’!
Mie: What’s the song that goes, “Fuck this shit, Imma do this if I want what I want”? I don’t remember any names, but that! Who doesn’t want to sing that every single day?
Haiku Hands‘ debut album is out today via Mad Decent. Buy/stream here.
Words by Sean Tayler
Image by Cybele Malinowski