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This piece is part of the Algorhythms project: artists telling stories about music they discovered from humans. Because where we discover music is an important part of its impact, and not all music is discovered through an algorithm.

Haiku Hands on Die Antwoord, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, and Rihanna

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Photo by Cybele Malinowski

To describe Haiku Hands, music journalists tend to draw comparisons between the Australian dance-pop collective and other artists and musical groups. Vogue likened the trio to the Scissor Sisters, Azealia Banks, and Björk; NME equated them with Charli XCX, The Beastie Boys, Brazilian dance-rock sextet CSS, and disco band Gossip. Rolling Stone called the group’s sound “reminiscent of a mash-up of Kraftwerk and Chicks on Speed,” and their triple j Unearthed page lists M.I.A. and Zebra Katz under the “sounds like” category. But when an artist or group evokes so wide a range of musical associations, you have to wonder if their sound is in fact entirely unique.

On the eve of their highly anticipated debut record’s release, Haiku Hands addressed this name-dropping phenomenon: “We aimed to be original in our creative choices,” they explained of their freshman LP. “We were influenced by multiple genres and artists but were aiming to create something that sounded new and different.” In an interview with the group two months later, Beatrice Lewis, who’s “never really listened” to Chicks on Speed, mused, “I kind of like that lots of different people are able to hear lots of different things within the art.”

Haiku Hands’ founding members include vocalist and fine artist Claire Nakazawa, her sister Mie, a fellow visual artist, and Beatrice Lewis, a synth and electronic DJ. Claire and Bea met through the Australian festival circuit in 2013, striking up a friendship that led to a partnership and slew of singles several years later. Joelistics (aka Joel Ma) functions as an invisible fourth member of the group; an MC, solo artist, and multi-instrumentalist by trade, Joel produced and helped write Haiku Hands’ first album, as well as a number of their early singles.

“The ‘Hands’ in our band name ‘Haiku Hands,’ Bea explained to reporters at Clash, “has always been a reference to the many people that contribute to our ever-evolving, swirling, raging, chaotic collective.”

For their Algorhythm, Claire gives thanks to the roommate who showed her Die Antwoord, Bea reflects on her experience at SXSW and newfound appreciation for the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, and Mie divulges her late-to-the-game love of Rihanna.

Claire: There was a period where I was discovering heaps of new music via my housemate Em when I lived in a sharehouse in Marrickville: Little Dragon, PJ Harvey’s album Let England Shake and Die Antwoord. I remember hearing Die Antwoord and watching their videos and feeling inspired and excited. It was something I hadn’t seen before and a style I could imagine doing myself. I appreciated how they were indulging in their difference and not trying to be American and all their videos and visuals were awesome. I felt inspired that it was a direction I could go myself musically because they relied on their attitude and creativity and looked like they were having heaps of fun.
Bea: Last year we went to SXSW for the first time and when we were there I saw a lot of guitar based, non-electronic bands. I have been in an electronic music bubble for quite a long time. The sound engineer for this tour also works with the band, Whitney, so we listened to a lot of them and he also showed us a bunch of other rock music he liked.
When we got home, our long term writing collaborator and friend Joel Ma told me about the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. I started listening to their It’s Blitz! and Fever to Tell albums and I have been totally obsessed. I am 20 years late to the party but they are so good! They were in my "top listens" for Spotify last year and will most likely be this year. I keep trying to show people because I am excited and everyone says “ummm yeah we know.”
I feel like after making music with a computer for so long, I am really enjoying all the new timbres and feelings that live instruments give. It has given me a new sense of life.
Mie: My darling friend Anamari used to sing Rihanna songs to me before I had heard of Rihanna. Anamari would talk about queen riri and screwed her face at me when I said I didn't know who riri was. It wasn't until I listened to Rihanna's album ANTI that I understood the spell Anamari was under. My favorite song is “Consideration.” I want to kiss this song. I used to listen to it before I went onto stage. Not all of Rihanna's tunes are for me but the ones I like I love. Her sexy effortless delivery does it for me.

Haiku Hands’ self-titled debut album is now available through Spinning Top Music and Mad Decent. Stream the full album here and the full Algorhythms playlist here.  

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