Friday, April 20, 2012

Halo Halo: Interview

London three piece Halo Halo have just returned from playing in Israel, they tell us a little about their trip, what Halo Halo is and Vivienne Westwood....

A quick introduction...


Gill, I read on your facebook band page you play 'Every other instrument in our house' - what can you play?

I can play various things but not very well. I have played piano, drums, guitar, ukulele, synth, bass and bongos, not all with Halo Halo though: They won't let me play the bongos. Secretly I like playing the drums best but annoyingly both Jack and Rachel are better than me. We are working on a song which ends with us all playing the drums. It's really good. If I get my way the whole set will be like that. We'll be like the Boredoms, each with our own drumkit.

What do you want to achieve with playing music in Halo Halo?

Rachel: mmmmm get better at singing and playing banjo and learn how to speak Tagalog

Jack: I want to make up catchy pop songs, keep making new friends, and play in Yoyogi park in Tokyo for the Cosplay Teddy-Boys.

Gill: We have played in Lappland and the Holy Land. The next project is a gig in Poundland. Then our journey will be complete.

I google-d 'Halo Halo' and a description of a dessert from the Philippines came up, is this where the band name comes from?!

Rachel: Yes, it also means mix mix in tagalog and we thought this was a good description of what we are/ trying to be/do.

You're traveled to Israel recently, tell us a bit about your experience playing in this part of the world!

Jack: We’ve just got back! We had a great time, our friend Naama returned home to Tel Aviv at the end of last year, so we thought it’d be cool to go visit and play some gigs at the same time. We played a show in a great venue in Jerusalem called Uganda, which was a cross between a café/record shop/bar/venue, it had a similar feel to Power Lunches actually, and a few people we’ve seen at Café Oto have played there too, they’re into the noisy/experimental stuff, they played a lot of doomy drone music whilst we ate hummus and dried our socks, which was really nice. The first time we were in Jerusalem in rained ALL day! So even though the weather was horrible, it made for a really memorable experience, we went for a walk into the city, knowing we would get soaked, but wanting to soak up (sorry) the holy atmosphere. We ended up at an Austrian hotel in the old city, the arab quarter, where we had apple strudel and hot apple tea! Because of the rain no one had really been out in the streets, so it was quite eerie.

Naama took us to the front door of the hotel, which was just a small door on the corner of a road. At first it didn’t seem like it was open, we kept ringing the bell to no answer, so we tried to push the door open just as someone was opening it from the other side, we suddenly came face to face with 30 Austrians wearing cagoules and a priest ready to go out into the city. We were really happy that the hotel was open, and happy to see people too, so we were a bit over-enthusiastic, and shouted “HEEYYY!!!” at all of them, so they were all quite confused and bewildered. From the roof of the hotel you could see the famous dome of the rock. Its lit up at night and you could see all the rain coming down around it, and I have to say, it was pretty beautiful.

We went down really well at Uganda, so much so that we went back to play again for an extra show, and this time the sun had come out so we went to the dead sea for a float before the gig!

Rachel: Yep going to the Dead Sea was really cool, We took home loads of pebbles from the beach! We also drove around together the whole time, Naama was amazing and showed us all the best places. Our friend Sara (Colin Min Sai) also went a bit crazy, we think she might've got Jerusalem Syndrome, she started getting obsessed with really weird things like Hyundai Hatchbacks. Naama's mum also deciphered and told us our Kabbalah on Sara's Birthday, which was lovely, she's really wise.

Your blog touches on Rachel's Filipino roots showing through in your sound, what else drives the songwriting in Halo Halo?

Rachel: mystical things, personal things

Jack: I think when me and Rachel started the band, we were already playing together in other bands so we just wanted to see what we could come up with if we tried something out together, and really tried our best, which sounds really earnest, but that's why it took quite a while to settle on something we were happy with. We tried different stuff out for almost a year before we played our first gig! Now there's 3 of us and we've played a lot together, our new songs tend to come out jamming together in practices, so I think we equally bring our own thing to the sound. I'm trying to get better at writing lyrics, I don't think its something I'm naturally that good at though, some of the words start out as weird noises that I sing and turn into the words they sound like. Or they just get left as noises or a "WOO!" ...which is often the best I can come up with

Rachel, what can you tell us about the Philippines that us curious westerners may not know about the region, feel free to talk about culture, way of life etc...

Where to begin! There are so many things I need to learn about it, everything i know from the philippines is through my mother and her friends as i've only been their a few times and I think Halo Halo definitely needs to play a gig there! Its a very catholic country and its has been very "hispanicized" so the culture is really mixed up I wasn't sure what else to write in reply to this question so this is what my ma has to say about it "the Philippines is a beautiful country with warm and friendly people and yummy food!"

You played a show with Group Inerane just before Christmas, I had a blast watching you guys - how was it to play?

Rachel: It was nerve wracking but awesome. I was just glad when it was over so we could dance like crazy to group inerane.

Jack: Really fun, it was a brilliant gig. Something I really liked about Group Inerane was the way they didn’t seem to bother with intros, they would just start a song by picking up a guitar riff or a drum beat, it meant that their whole set didn’t really have a structure and felt really loose, the songs all flowed together which built up the energy of the dance floor, no one wanted it to end! And not forgetting Flower Corsano Duo, who were also insanely good.

What's been the most memorable show you've played so far?

Rachel: Probably playing at a village fete in Puurnuvare a tiny village in Lappland

Jack: I agree! I’d say its particularly memorable because I had a nosebleed half way through our set! So unfortunately it’s become one of those embarrassing moments that will stay with me forever.

Though having said that, we also had a really lovely time, it was awesome for them to invite us to their village to play a gig, not really knowing what to expect from us. But they enjoyed it. I read out a few raffle numbers and they gave us all pots of cloudberry jam after the show! I still had blood on my chin!

What's been the best show you've ever attended?

Gill: The Boredoms at ATP 2009. So many drumkits!!

Rachel: Sufjan Stevens. We saw him last year when he was touring for The Age of Adz album, it blew my mind!

Jack: Yes! It was incredible!! Right from the start where he threw his banjo onto the floor, which was kind've shocking actually! We saw the Flaming Lips play the Soft Bulletin a few months ago too, which was really special and nostalgic, it was one of my favourite albums in school. One more: Electrelane at the Scala last May was Phenomenal!!!

Jack, you have a Fine Art background and I've read you have a penchant of 17th Century Flemish painting, as a painter myself I'm wondering who your hero is?

Aha, yeah the reason I mentioned 17th Century Flemish painting was partly cos I couldn’t think of anything else to write at the time. But also because I was thinking about a talk I saw Vivienne Westwood give at Goldsmiths, she kept on going on about 17th Flemish painting, that we should all go and look at some because it would enrich our lives and we’d be able to understand the difference between high art and everything else. I thought it was a bit pretentious, so I liked the idea of thinking about it and coming up with beatz. So my actual hero without a doubt is Charles Schultz, who I think is better than any of the 17thcentury Flemish painters put together.

Do you prefer playing or recording?

Rachel: for me playing, just because whenever i've recorded stuff i always feel like i could've played it better and i get bored quite easily.

Jack: I guess I'd say playing too. When we played in Jerusalem the second time Rachel started pogo-ing like mad at the end of our last song and we played the chorus for an extra, THIRD TIME! Unexpected/fun stuff like that happens when you've become comfortable playing together, and its great! And yeah, Rachel does get bored easily, and she takes it out on me!!!.....

Gill: We recorded our single in a disused public toilet, which was a definite high point, but generally playing is much more fun. We haven't spend much time recording, so far. It can get a little tense, with people trying not to make mistakes. Playing live you can make mistakes and no one really cares.

How would you describe London's music scene to someone who hasn't been here?

Jack: I guess the obvious answer is : Diverse! There’s loads of scenes, groups, bunches of people doing all kinds of stuff that I don’t even know about. I don’t go out! So its pretty hard to sum up. Because of this diversity though, I suppose scenes get swallowed up by the city as a whole, which would make it hard to find them if you didn’t know where to look, and maybe intimidating. I’d point people in the direction of Power Lunches or Café Oto, where gigs are consistently good and interesting, and Upset! The Rhythm.

Rachel: Yep I discovered really great bands like Talibam! and Nissenmondai through UTR shows!

As far as I can tell you have one single on Savoury Days, can we expect any new material this year?

Rachel: Hopefully! we have enough songs for a album so we need to start recording it!

Jack: Yep, we just put together a Live CD-R of some of the songs from our set in Tel-Aviv, the songs with the least mistakes. Its a split with Colin Min Sai who played the shows with us. We’ve sold out of the Savoury Days single, there are just a few left out there now! M’Lady’s are about to reissue it though. And there is a plan forming to get working on an album this summer!

What do you have playing on your record player at home at the moment?

Rachel: at the moment i am really into Stromae who is a Belgium pop super star!

Jack: I’ve been listening to the new High Places album, which sounds like future club music, I want to make a sci-fi film that has a scene in a club with High Places playing, and everyone smoking those electronic cigarettes. I’ve also been listening to Slushy Guts and Philip Glass’ “Glass works” whilst photoshopping, its really good for working/motivation. Oh, and Slayer.

"I'm full of dust and guitars" - Syd Barrett, if you were split in half what would be inside?

Rachel: Every instrument you could imagine and an array of filipino dishes including halo halo!

Gill: An revolting slop comprising of ginger beer and spicy patties.

Jack: I seem to spend most of my life on photoshop at the moment, so its probably an ALPHA CHANNEL.

Halo Halo Facebook Bandcamp Blog
Find copies of their single from Savory Days

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