Five Minutes with Haelos
Haelos have just released their debut album Full Circle, cementing themselves as one of the acts of 2016.
Haelos, pronounced Halos, started their career out by photocopying their faces, literally sticking them onto the screen, and uploading the photo as their first display picture. A lot has happened since then with the release of a trip-hop inspired cover of Earth Not Above, signing to Matador Records and with the release of their debut album Full Circle we took five with Dom Goldsmith.
I want to start this interview talking about film trilogy you did for Earth Not Above, Pray and Dust. I read in a separate interview that you guys liked the Trellick Tower and if I’m correct in the Earth Not Above clip it’s present.
Correct! Good geography there!
Are you guys from around North Kensington?
Well Arthur is from West London and it’s one of his favourite buildings. Those kind of brutalists buildings which everyone was really rude about in the 90s claiming it was a horrid example of 60s-70s architecture but if you look at them now they are strangely beautiful. That kind of style reminds us of the book Highrise by J.G. Ballard. It’s one of Arthur’s favourite book. But for the videos, we are heavily influenced by cinema so we wanted to create a video with cinematic sensibilities. and the way we could do that financially was to shoot everything in three days. It was all shot on 16mm and the finished project is about what we write about, returning to yourself. The idea of life being cyclical and how we are constantly in a state of movement, there’s only a journey. There is just now. Which is why we opened the record with a sample of Adam Watts’s Spectrum Of Love.
You also put up a series of Spotify playlists that clock up to 24 hours if I’m correct?
Yeah that is it.
And then the image of the Halo which can connote different things depending on where you’re from.
Yeah the halo, for me it is a halo, whereas other people see it is an eclipse and I get a little cringed when people say it’s otherwise. Arthur and Lotti are different again and these things are open to interpretation. And that’s something we want to put out, our music is up for interpretation.
I also wanted to ask about The Beloved cover of Earth Not Above. How did that come around?
Sweet Harmony was the song I used to put on every time the party got to about 6am. It was that or Come Together, there was a few go to songs but I’ve been a fan of The Beloved for that reason. It has a lightness to it but it does have those dark undertones which resonated with us. So The Run Rising is probably my favourite song and we wanted to do an interpretation of the song.
And you’re signed Matador Records, why did you sign up with them?
'Cause they are the best. It’s a proud moment when Matador are interested in your music. Initially we were meeting with a few labels at the time but it was a no contest. It’s a wicked indie full of imaginative people that has stood the test of time and put out some of the best records. It felt great and humbling to be able to do something you love full-time.
Indeed, Haelos has taken you guys to States where you dropped into Seattle to play a KEXP session there and one of the things you talked about there was layering voices to create one voice, would you agree?
Well not necessarily one voice but obviously having unity between the vocals is key. We’ve been quite lucky because we fit together quite nicely. However, we really try to make it emotional and direct for a listener even though there is a group singing. Sometimes when you layer vocals that can be quite difficult but we tried to make it so the listener gets an image of us almost standing around them singing.
And why is that important?
I think with the record and the sound of Haelos we wanted to make electronic music that feels like you’re in the room with it. So it was important to keep it tight… I suppose the record is not necessarily electronic because we wanted to make it feel like there were guitars and drums present in the room too.
Live Haelos is a six-piece, why is that important?
In previous projects we would have used Abelton quite heavily but this project we wanted to play the music and it was important not to have an Apple logo on stage. I personally don’t disagree with people doing that because acts like Caribou smash it when they play live. However, our sound is built around wonky synths that require us to sample bits and pieces because they go out of tune all the time, two drum kits on top of keys, more synths and then vocals from Arthur and Lotti.
Now I wanted to talk about concepts behind the album. I read a statement from Lotti who said the album was a place you can get lost in.
Our over-arching goal was to make it mean something to three of us which is difficult because everyone interprets things differently. What a song means to me, means something different to Arthur and something different again to Lotti. And we felt if we could make the music means something to three of us then hopefully that will amplify into the world. Music is always a dichotomy, it’s never one thing and we wanted to make an honest record and that’s hopefully what we have achieved.
And my last question is since you’re playing at SXSW and appearing at the SITG showcase will you be coming down to Australia at all?
I really hope so dude, there’s a smattering of talk here and there and I think a lot of depends on how well we play at SXSW.