Touted by the press as being the perfect crossover between Charli XCX and the Beastie Boys, the Australian trio – comprised of Beatrice Lewis, Claire Nakazawa and Mie Nakazawa – fuse rowdy rap crew sensibilities with pumping dance grooves, making for an irresistible formula that’s seen the group tour alongside the likes of Tame Impala, Hermitude, SOFI TUKKER and CupcaKke to a rapturous response. They’re one hell of a live act, and when the world returns to some kind of normal, we’d 100% recommend going and having a stonker of a night at one of their shows – you won’t regret it.
To hold you down until those live performance fantasies become a reality, last week, Haiku Hands released their highly anticipated self-titled debut album via Spinning Top Music and Mad Decent, and it’s safe to say that it was well worth the wait. At a surface level, Haiku Hands is one of the most ludicrously enjoyable Aussie dance releases of 2020, with the group linking up with Melbourne producer Joel Ma (Joelistics) to deliver 12 juicy jams that cover everything from relationships and social commentary through to technological tales and beyond.
With the recent release of the record, we linked up with Haiku Hands’ very own Beatrice Lewis to receive an insight into the tracks that inspired the overall sound of the record – or, as music nerds like to call them, reference tracks.
‘Revolusion’ – Elliphant
We had a few tracks that very early on we sent to each other as kind of reference tracks for the vibe of the band. We didn’t know each other very well before we started writing together so it was very much sharing our individual tastes and finding the cross over points.
This track was one that quite regularly ended up on reference playlists. It has a real boss energy that I appreciated and made me head band in the car every time it came on. I love the vocal delivery, the vocal production and the drop in this track.
‘Water Fountain’ – tUnE yArDs
I personally think tUnE yArDs is one of the greatest musicians of our generation.
This track came up once or twice in writing sessions as a reference track. Things that stuck out to me were her vocal rhythm and cadence, her flow, the lyrical content, the layered vocals she does where it sounds like a group, the ‘whoops’, it’s all so good.
I don’t know if we ever ended up referencing anything really specifically, but definitely the group chant vibes was something that we use a lot.
‘Picture Perfect’ – Little Simz
It’s really hard to choose one track from Little Simz! This is a song from the album we went and saw her release at the Oxford Arts Factory in Sydney when she toured here. It was nice, as I live in Melbourne and Claire and Mie live in Sydney. Whenever I’m in Sydney we are mostly doing shows or rehearsing and when the girls are in Melbourne we are writing, so this was a rare night off for us.
Also LITTLE SIMZ IS JUST SO GOOD!! Her flow, her stage presence, musicianship – she’s next level.
‘Get Free (ft. Amber Coffman)’ – Major Lazer
This is honestly one of the best vocal tracks I have ever heard. Amber Coffman is from a band called Dirty Projectors, who are super progressive amazing musicians – they did a collaboration album with Björk, which is pretty much my definition of success.
Major Lazer came up for us as reference tracks quite often, but there is something really special about this specific track. The laid back vocals, her harmonies and the hooks are great.
I love the more chill vocal tracks that we make: ‘Sunrise’ and ‘Morning Becomes’ are good examples. It’s nice to be able to explore the full spectrum of emotions musically – hypebeast mode is obviously super fun, but it’s also good to be able to delve into the more reflective parts of ourselves.
‘Tear The House Up’ –
This track. I have been playing it for years and the drop still flaws me everytime!!
We’ve used this track in Haiku Hands DJ sets and mixtapes for ages. The beat rules, and the vocals are super cool and unconventional rap vocals. He’s a great vocalist and has a very unique style which I really love.
Joel, who we work with in the studio (in a very supportive tone) likes to remind us that we aren’t rappers, which is true. So we approach our vocals from a different perspective, which is cool – we aren’t trained singer or rappers so we just use what we’ve got, and end up writing and performing from a really explorative place which keeps it interesting and fresh.
‘Haze.Boogie.Life’ – Mykki Blanco
I remember driving with Claire when I first met her from Sydney to Bellingen to my friend Saskia’s party. We put this track on and Claire was driving and she started dancing so hard I thought we were going to have an accident.
This track was definitely one that was a musical crossover for us. The beat is mad, and the vocals are so loose and sick. I was going to DJ at the party and we were showing each other tracks, she mentioned that her sister Mie (who I hadn’t met) liked another track from this album called ‘Wavvy’, it was the first time I heard that and I thought in my mind, ‘Mie must be super cool’, and when I met her she was. Still is.
Haiku Hands is out now through Spinning Top Music / Mad Decent.