For a band that formed in 2011 and released their first album less than a year ago, Hiatus Kaiyote has enjoyed a whirlwind of accomplishments in a remarkably short period of time: a backstage serenade of their own song “Nakamarra” by Erykah Badu at SXSW; a long and forceful reiteration of support from ?uestlove at his party at Brooklyn Bowl; a sold-out show at their debut performance in New York City.
Hiatus Kaiyote, comprised of Nai Palm, Simon Mavin, Perrin Moss and Paul Bender, is also a perfect example of the limited utility of the “genre” in characterizing an album’s sound or capturing its integrity. But nonetheless, the sources of inspiration for their music are unmistakable. “Atari” takes cues from Flying Lotus’s fractal spidering of digital sounds. The keyboard section on “Jekyll” draws inspiration from Fela Kuti and afrobeat. The woozy space sounds of “Shaolin Monk Motherfunk” are reminiscent of Erykah Badu’s latest album, New Amerykah Part 2. And Nai Palm herself sounds like a blend of Lauryn Hill and Amy Winehouse.
Their inaugural performance at LPR was also remarkable for the depth and loyalty of the fan base they’ve already amassed. Here’s what some fans had to say of last night’s show:
Naikhoba Munabi: “The power of the performance was in the immersive experience. It felt like performance art. Each song individually carries its own weight, but the concert felt like a complete feast as opposed to just one ingredient or one meal. Also, sonically, their tones are extremely well refined so that no one artist is the star of the band. All four of them complimented each other so well and fit together seamlessly. When you listen to their music, it consumes you; I felt like I was a part of it.”
We caught up with Hiatus Kaiyote just before their NYC debut tomorrow at LPR. Get to know where they came from, where they're going, and what they'd fit in their pockets from Australia to bring to us if they could. Details on the March 22 show on our event page.
Giant Step: We are too excited for your performance on the 22nd. How does it feel to be amidst your US debut?
Hiatus Kaiyote: The response we have had so far in the US has totally blown us away. To come all the way across the other side of the world and to receive so much love and support for what you do is mindblowing. Especially when we are so early in our journey as a band. So far, Austin, DC and Chicago have been very very good to us.
GS: You've got some heavy hitters swooning over you. What was it like when you found out you'd won Erykah and Questlove's favor?
HK: It was pretty ridiculous. It totally goes without saying that we have absolute mountains of respect for both those artists. It's an incredible honor to be supported by musicians who have such an impact on the way we play and what we create. It's also daunting and overwhelming at times to process that kind of thing. I mean, we are very critical of what we do, which is an important part of developing artistically, but I know none of us feel like we are on that level. It's been a fast two years since we've been together, and there is so far for us to go before we reach that height of artistry. But we'll keep doing what we do and hope that others will join us on our sonic endeavors, even if we are raw as fuck occasionally.
Join us tonight at The Slipper Room to witness the Israeli-Ethiopian singer, Ester Rada, in a special intimate, acoustic showcase before she flies to SXSW. She has already turned heads with Life Happens, her self-written solo EP produced by Kutiman (Thru-You) and Sabbo (Soulico). With influences such as Jill Scott, Nina Simone, and Erykah Badu, Rada brings a distinct voice to soul and we are thrilled to introduce her to New York.
Check out this live acoustic performance of "Could It Be":
Next week on March 11, we will be introducing folks in NYC to a major new talent from Israel named Ester Rada. In the meantime, we got some interesting bits on the unique artist in the interview below. Read up!
Giant Step: Your heritage is that of a very unique Ethiopian-Jewish people. How does this background and being raised in an Orthodox tradition affect who you are today?
Ester Rada: I was born in Israel, and my family raised me in a religious house and tradition, as this was what they were used to from Ethiopia. When my parents moved to Israel they were "put" in Kiryat Arba, a very religious city. We moved from there when I was 10 years old, due to the security issues there.
GS: Coming up in one of the rougher neighborhoods in Tel Aviv, what it was like growing up?
ER: I was actually growing up near Tel Aviv, in Netanya, and it was a big change for me. Coming from a more religious village, you can call it the country side, to a bigger city, was a big move for me. I also became secular and not as religious as we used to be. But this change was blessing, and I started to know what freedom is like. In the neighborhood I had good friends.
GS: Your sound evokes qualities similar to Erykah, Jill Scott, Janelle Monae. Are these intentional influences? Who would you say are your influences?
ER: I am influenced by a lot of artists. Of course the ones you named, and also religious Jewish music from my early days, as well as Ethiopian and Amharic music such as Mahmoud Ahmed, Mulat Astatke, Muluken Melesse, Israeli music, jazz and soul legends such as Nina Simone, Aretha Franklin, Marlena Shaw, and contemporary music such as Corrine Bailey Rae, Nneka, Keziah Jones, India Arie and more.