Social distancing at gigs might be a thoroughly new thing, but some musicians have more equipment in their arsenal to deal with it than most. And if you thought The Flaming Lips’ big inflatable hamster balls could prove a genius move, then Australia’s Haiku Hands are hot on their heels. “You know, on our first gig we wore fat suits,” Mie Nakazawa laughs. “Let’s bring them back!” Claire Nakazawa beams, backed up immediately by third corner of the triangle, Bea Lewis: “Yeah, and all the audience have to wear them as well to stay far away from each other! Wait, are you going to put this in the interview? Because we should copyright it…”
Fat suits or no fat suits, the Aussie three-piece have been making inroads in the dance world for several years now - known for their high-octane live sets and infectious, synchronised moves. “Our first dance actually came from wearing those fat suits and we were bopping at the same time as the fat suit went the opposite way,” Mie giggles. “I don’t know why we did it. I think we just thought ‘That might be fun?!’”.
First forming when Bea saw Claire playing at a festival, the pair were introduced by a mutual musical friend before Mie (Claire’s sister) completed the trio. Releasing their first track ‘Not About You’ back in 2017 - a pulsating, club-ready anthem with scream-worthy lyrics (“I’m going to tear up the lexicon with a hexagon and my sexy thong on”) - it’s been pretty non-stop for the girl gang ever since then. “It all happened so quickly!” Mie emphasises. “When I joined, Claire and Bea had been writing a little bit, but as soon as we started performing we gigged so much that there wasn’t really a chance to keep on writing music. The last three years have been very full on.”
Now, having finally found time to return to the studio, their long-awaited, self-titled debut is set to encapsulate all the fun from those hedonistic live shows. “When we started it was all playful and experimental; we were just seeing what was possible with our voices and it was just this very open minded approach that we had, very low pressure,” Claire details. “I think fortunately we wrote the majority of the songs on the album in that headspace: that’s why they’re playful and silly and experimental, because we were just literally experimenting.”
“I love bangers with intention; I think they’re important, particularly in today’s world.”
— Bea Lewis
Spanning their time as a band - ‘Not About You’ opens the album, while previous releases ‘Jupiter’ and ‘Onset’ also appear - the three are eager to show what other musical muscles they can flex too. “There’s quite a few more ballad-y type tracks which aren’t as raucous,” Claire says. “I wouldn’t say ballad-y, they’re not like Beyoncé ballads,” Bea counters. “I’d say more like ‘song’ songs - things that you can hopefully sing along to that we don’t include in our live set yet. It’s a bit more emotional; more feelings, rather than just high energy.”
Mie pinpoints ‘Car Crash’ as one of those tracks: a lighter-than-usual ode to friendship with a classic, catchy Haiku Hands chorus of “You’re fucking awesome!”. “My other favourite is ‘Eat This Bass’,” she continues. “I think it has a lot of guttural energy within it. All the songs are just so different! It’s going to be interesting hearing what people think about the album as a whole.” “They’re all kind of singles in a way,” Claire agrees, “and then they’re all just forced to hang out together. Hopefully the fact they’re all so eclectic will be the thing that unites them.”
Haiku Hands are also keen to stress how their debut is about more than just the dance-along tunes they might be pigeonholed as making at first glance. “We manage to pop serious themes in most of our songs, just in disguise,” Claire explains. “There are some songs on there which are exploring technology and surveillance, and then there’s other ones about friendship and conflict.”
“Yeah, I’d say that the bangers hold just as many important messages as the other tracks for sure,” Bea continues. “I feel like every track, to me, has a deeper message or a bigger thought behind it. There’s a lot of intention in all of them, which I really love. I love bangers with intention; I think they’re important, particularly in today’s world.”
But their overall aim for their debut? “I hope it makes people feel fucking amazing!” Bea smiles. “This year is so challenging for so many people on so many different levels, and I feel like music is a really good companion in so many ways. I would really like this to be a companion and an offering to people to make them feel strong and free, and help them get loose. There’s moments of reflection, moments of pelvic-thrusting joy, and something for everyone.” “People in lockdown still need fun, happy music!” Claire nods. And Haiku Hands are about to give us our much-needed happy music fix.
‘Haiku Hands’ is out 10th September via Mad Decent.
As featured in the August 2020 issue of DIY, out now.