Hiatus Kaiyote | Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
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Hiatus Kaiyote

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Mar 13, 2013 Hiatus Kaiyote Bookmark and Share

Recently, Nai Palm found herself in a potentially doomed relationship. Like so many great affairs, it happened the Hiatus Kaiyote frontwoman was least expecting it.

“We were in Sydney Australia, and we were playing a show out there,” she says, gleefully setting the scene. “We drove past a store, and there was an amazing electric blue jumpsuit in the window. I fell in love with it!”

Despite offering the storeowner more money, he wasn’t ready to part with the garment, due to a policy that anything in the window had to remain there for three weeks before being sold. That, Palm says, is when things started to get silly. The singer took to social media to enlist the help of her fans. The prize for successfully buying the jumpsuit would be a credit in their next album. Within twenty-four hours, the outfit was hers.

“It started off as a ridiculous thing,” she admits. “But it was a real testament to how present our fans are with us. It was really crazy.”

The Australian quintet (Palm, Perrin Moss, Paul Bender, Simon Mavin) are only started to realize the vested powers of their collaboration. Their debut album Tawk Tomahawk, has been dubbed “future soul.” But the band’s sound sprawls far past that description to include elements of ambient pop abstraction akin to Here We Go Magic and Grizzly bear, jazzy vocal slurs, Latin beats, and cinematic synths. It’s heady blend, the kind that has their fans (a group that includes Questlove of The Roots), struggling for the vocabulary to describe what they’re hearing. Most, it seems, settle on some combination of “otherworldly” and “magical.”

It’s an idea that Paul Bender (bass and guitars) doesn’t dismiss.

“It’s an undisputable scientific fact that your eyes can only receive a certain amount of information,” he notes. “Your ears can only hear a limited band of frequencies. Other animals on our planet experience a totally different version of reality, because they have different apparatus.”

Driving north along the California coast between gigs, Bender finds himself taken with the landscape, often pausing between answers to point out a feature to his bandmates. Having spent his childhood in a sparsely populated area of Tasmania, he can see the benefit of dramatic scenery on the creative process.

“I grew up in a somewhat isolated, introverted headspace,” he muses. “I went into my imagination quite a bit growing up there without a whole lot of other people around. It was really beautiful.”

It’s that idea of escape that feeds much of the band’s creative process. As Palm explains, the idea of pressing pause, even briefly, can be a powerful one.

“Hiatus is a moment in time, or taking a break,” she says. “I guess it’s essentially the songwriting process. It’s a hiatus to stop and absorb your surroundings. Experience it. Kayote is the expressive part. Expressing it in a way that involves the listeners’ imagination. By doing that, it means people can connect on that emotionally in their own way—rather than spelling everything out for people. We’re very conscious of that in the music as well.”

“For us, that’s what it’s all about,” Bender confirms. “Getting into people’s imagination. It’s not just about fantasy. We consider everything that is real that we take for granted. We can really see it, but it’s there. There’s forces and everything that we as little humans, it’s beyond us.”



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