Every so often a band comes along that captures the collective imagination, a band that has all the essential elements in place to become a musical movement. The music of Grammy-nominated Hiatus Kaiyote strikes the perfect note merging poetry and polyrhythms. They have carved out their own ecosystem populated with songs, each embodying its own mini-cinematic sonic soundscape.
In late 2014, Hiatus Kaiyote releases their EP By Fire with three new songs that will appear on the band’s hotly anticipated sophomore album Choose Your Weapon - to be released in May 5, 2015 on Flying Buddha/Sony Music Masterworks.
Out of the ether, Hiatus Kaiyote’s 2012 debut album Tawk Tomahawk magically appeared as if the vast desert landscape had opened up, borrowing ingredients from far-reaching lands to concoct a distinctive flavor that is the essence of all its parts. Each song whispers of delicious, ancient and futuristic stories untold.
The four band members suggest that it was fate that brought them together through a series of coincidences in their native Melbourne, Australia. Singer-songwriter Nai Palm
was the gravitational force that crystallized the vision for Hiatus Kaiyote’s brand of future soul. “I always knew I wanted to be in a band, but I never knew it could be my own conversation,” she says. Her performance with a pink nylon-stringed guitar at a small Melbourne club inspired bass player Paul Bender to seek her out. One year later, the two began to collaborate on compositions that felt intuitive. Bender brought multi-instrumentalists Perrin Moss (drums/percussion) and Simon Mavin (keyboards) into the equation, and the electric, organic nature of Hiatus Kaiyote was set in motion.
By chance, the three guys in Hiatus Kaiyote happened to reside in the same shared house, though they’d never previously played together in a band, while Nai lived nearby. From their first jam session, there was an undeniable shared telepathic connection. The nascent band played their first gig at the Bohemian Masquerade Ball among sword swallowers, fire twirlers and gypsy death core bands — a setting that suited their eclectic nature. Nai Palm
had actually worked as fire dancer in Melbourne before she focused wholly on music.
Recording artist Taylor McFerrin came across Hiatus Kaiyote while on tour in Australia in early-2012, just as the band was poised to self-release their debut album, Tawk Tomahawk via Bandcamp, and soon the word spread like wildfire. “Everyone who has come in contact with it has promoted it,” says Nai Palm. “Questlove, Erykah Badu, Pharrell and Prince have gone out of their way to promote the band. There’s been so much support from the community of musicians locally and internationally. As a musician that’s what it’s about.” Stereogum singled out Hiatus Kaiyote as a “Band to Watch”, and Gilles Peterson named them the Breakthrough Artist of 2013. Legendary producer/songwriter Salaam Remi handpicked Hiatus Kaiyote as the first signing for his new label Flying Buddha, an imprint of Sony Music Masterworks, and they immediately gave Tawk Tomahawk an official worldwide release in July, 2013.
On the back of that release the band began to tour extensively, playing over 100 dates in North America, Europe and Africa, discovering that there was a rabid and dedicated fan base everywhere they went.
Whereas Tawk Tomahawk was born in the studio with musicians who were just getting to know each other as band mates and newly formed family, Choose Your Weapon was conceived on stages worldwide, its architecture built from the myriad of shows that they performed. Taking this framework, the band honed the songs in the studio transforming them into exquisite pieces of music, pushing the boundaries of their comfort zone. “We are eradicating labels of barriers,” says Nai Palm. “The words are important, but the way they’re shaped makes them malleable for the listener to absorb. How you proceed involves a larger activity and I love that.”
At the core of their sound is an untethered quality that links them to the wide-open landscape of Australia. “I feel a strong bond to where we’re from,” says Bender. “Everything happened the way it was, because that’s where we were, that’s where we’re from and that’s who we are in the environment.”
Hiatus Kaiyote is on the road again in support of their new EP, starting with dates in Australia and New Zealand, making their way to North America and then Europe in time for the release Choose Your Weapon. “What I’ve learned is the power of sharing your story with people,” says Nai Palm.