Anyone who doubts the continued worldwide appeal of soul music need look no further than the band Hiatus Kaiyote. Although the four-member crew (consisting of vocalist Nai Palm, bassist Paul Bender, multi-instrumentalist Perrin Moss, and keyboardist Simon Mavin) hails from Australia, the group's sound is rooted in classic, American-made soul motifs, while still stretching the genre toward the future. The group's debut album, Tawk Tomahawk, has been garnering the crew accolades since being released last year, and has propelled the band on a worldwide tour (which hits Atlanta, Wednesday, August 14), giving audiences across the globe the chance to hear live renditions of the acclaimed tunes. Before playing a recent West Coast gig Bender and Palm took a few minutes to chat about performing for American audiences, their musical evolution, and more.
What has been the reaction to your band by U.S. audiences?
Paul Bender: The States have been really good. Last time we were over, we did SXSW. That was exciting, but there was a whole bunch of shit that people were checking out. We couldn't really get a gauge of what the impact [of our appearance] was until we did our first headline show, which was in DC. It was crazy. We did the soundcheck, went to get some dinner, and when we were walking back from dinner there was a fucking huge line around the block. And finally we got ourselves in the venue and it was packed and crazy. Then it turned out it was kind of like that everywhere we went in the States. It's, like, huge crowds and people singing along to all the stuff that's on YouTube; a lot people just really getting involved with the music. It's been really mind-blowing.
Since you've been doing so many shows lately, is there an intentional difference between recording and performing your songs songs live?
Nai Palm: Our approach [to live performances] is to try to reproduce something that's been produced. For example, for a vocal part that I want to sound like has been effected - but without using effects - I try to simulate that live. And as much as you want it to be somewhat accurate to the record ... We flip a lot of our songs to keep it interesting for us and [the audience].
I hear a heavy jazz component in much of your material. How much improvisation comes into play when you are in the studio or on the stage?
Bender: There's definitely a lot of people who have lumped us into the "jazz" category, which is definitely a massive influence - but that's only a small part of what this band is about. I mean, there is some improv, but a lot of the music is very tightly structured. We spend a lot of time to create this combined effect.
Seeing as you're a relatively new unit, how have you felt about the evolution of the band so far?
Palm: Well, we've been together, what, like two and-a-half years? Yeah, it's been pretty amazing. It's nice to see our musical chemistry grow as a collective. Like, in the beginning it was just like we got together to work on my songs. But pretty shortly after that we realized that everybody had the same artistic vision. The more time we spend together, the stronger that chemistry gets. It's pretty bizarre how you can have an idea that's pretty abstract and contemporary but everybody just gets it. That's been really refreshing.
Catch Hiatus Kaiyote at Vinyl on Wed., Aug. 14. $15. 7 p.m. 1374 West Peachtree St. 404-885-1365.
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