Interview with HUSKY GAWENDA of HUSKY (Q&A)
of HUSKY (Q&A)
Husky is an indie folk band from Melbourne, Australia. They won the Triple J Unearthed contest to play the Push Over Festival and have opened for bands such as Devendra Banhart, Gotye, Noah and the Whale, The Shins, City & Colour, Neil Young and Crazy Horse.
In 2011, they became the first Australian band to be signed to Sub Pop records and they appeared on RocKwiz on 14 July 2012. On March 25, 2013, Husky Gawenda won the bi-annual APRA award.
Late 2016, Husky announced the release of an upcoming third record for 2017 which also marks the duo’s return to their home country after some time spent in Berlin. The first single “Late Night Store” was released in November 2016 and a video was premiered at the same period on HighClouds.
Husky have just released their latest album “Punchbuzz” so we thought it would be a good idea to catch up with them and ask a few questions.
I love the band’s recently released album Punchbuzz – it is a pretty interesting title, how did it come about and what does it mean to the band?
I wrote the word down in the middle of the night on a sticky note and stuck it on my wall. I woke up in the morning and realised it’s not an actual word. I liked it though. If it’s not an actual word, it can mean anything. I like the endless possibilities of that. I imagine being hit by a warm, fuzzy, intense wave of some sort.
You are currently in the midst of a national tour, I read that Husky Gawenda recently came down with glandular fever. Is he okay, and how is the tour going now?
It was pretty grim there for a while, but I am back on my feet and feeling fine! The tour started off really well. The new songs are feeling really fun to play. The sound we’re creating as a band now has evolved so much for this record. It feels the best it’s ever felt, live.
Your previous albums lean more towards acoustic, classical folk sounds whilst with Punchbuzz you guys have experimented more with alternative sounds. What has been the inspiration and influences for this album?
We were listening to music that was driven by drum grooves and bass lines, guitar riffs. The National, Tame Impala, Vulfpeck. A lot of the songs on Punchbuzz grew from guitar riffs and then drum grooves and bass lines which we were working on at our home studio, and then I wrote the lyrics and melody, In the past, our songs have started as a lyric and some chords, written on an acoustic guitar, and then grown from there. This doesn’t make the lyric any less important, but it did change the way I wrote and I think in a funny kind of way it freed me up. Having a structure to write to, a rhythm and a tempo and a harmonic template meant that I had a focus, it narrowed down my choices, so that I wasn’t busy making decisions, I was just busy making it sound good, making it work. Sometimes rules free you up in a weird way. And then you get to brake them too, which often makes for good art.
What was the band’s creative process and did it feel natural subtly moving in a new direction with your sounds?
Usually, I sit down in a designated spot, which is normally a desk by a window if possible, and i open a notebook or the notes screen on my computer and I just see what happens. Sometimes I fool around on my guitar until something interesting happens. For a lot of the songs on Punchbuzz, I wrote with my electric guitar and loop pedal. So songs started out as guitar riffs and I then built the chords, lyrics melody around that. It made for different kinds of songs. Different kinds of feels. Different lyrical themes and phrasing. And called for different production techniques. I’ll take a song or an idea to Gideon, we mess around with it for a while, until we love it. Then we mess around with it a whole lot more, until we hate it. At this point we usually take a break from it and then when we come back to it we’re either in love again or it’s canned. A bit like a boyfriend or girlfriend. You spend too much time together, you need a few days off. When you see them next, either you’re stoked to see them or it’s done. Only with songs, it’s harder to let them go.
You worked on this album in Melbourne with uber talented producer Matt Redlich after spending a fair amount of time abroad in Berlin. What’s that transition been like, and how is it working with Matt?
It’s the most fun I’ve ever had making an album. I wrote a lot of songs initially but it was really clear which songs were the songs we wanted to work on and we went into the studio with 9 out of the 10 songs demoed and pretty well mapped out. Matt brought not only his technical brilliance but also a lot of imagination and heart and excitement and vision and the three of us got on like a house on fire and had a great time making a record which, is the way it should be, but isn’t necessary, so I’m grateful for it. His greatest skill, although he has many, is his ability to understand a vision and steer the ship in that direction.
What have been some your favourite aspects of creating Punchbuzz and is there any particular song you really connect with?
Cut the Air was the last song I wrote for the album and I think Gideon created an incredible and unusual soundscape on that song. I also think Matt’s quirkiness and creativity come to the fore in the arrangement of this track. I like the way it starts somewhere and ends up some other place you don’t expect.
What are the main instruments and sound tools utilised through the album? – It’s so diverse with each song telling its own story, but the album flows seamlessly due to the enchanting, warm melodies that underlay each track.
I guess guitars, vocals, keyboards, drums and bass are the main instruments underpinning most of the songs. Gideon used a lot of different keyboards and synths – Prophet, Moog, all sorts of soft synths. There were plenty of guitar effects – delays, reverbs, flange, etc. And Matt did a lot of manipulation of sounds inside the computer – reversing things, warping things, distorting things, doing things I wouldn’t even know how to explain.
Husky are known for hauntingly flawless harmonies and the new album is laced with rich carefully crafted vocals. You guys have been creating music together for a while, and you and your cousin grew up on music together – do you think that is reflected in your sound and creative process?
Yeah, I think the family connection creates a harmony and a chemistry between us that is reflected in the records we make and the shows we play. I definitely feel it and I think our fans do too.
Your live shows have been described as “Oustanding!” (beat magazine) and are known to take audiences on a journey as you intertwine each song gently into the next, creating a “lush, warm and evocative” (Sydney Morning Herald) atmosphere. For anyone who hasn’t seen you live – how would you describe the experience you try to create with each show?
We try to throw the doors wide open so people can easily come in and have the experience they want to have. It’s about the music being vital and effortless, and it’s about us being open as performers. We’re there to connect and to provide a portal for people to go…somewhere else. To escape.
AMNPLIFY – DB
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- Brianna Denmeade