Here on Teenage Vulture, you know there aren’t a whole lot of interviews — that is, unless it’s with a band I can fully get behind. As is the case with HAERTS, who happen to be one of my favorite bands out, and have shown up on the site quite a few times, including last year’s Songs of 2012 list with their break out single “Wings.” I spoke with singer Nini Fabi about the band’s musical influences, the upcoming EP and comparisons to Fleetwood Mac.
So, how did HAERTS form?
Nini Fabi: HAERTS started as a studio project in 2011. Benny and I had been writing a lot of new material over almost a year and started experimenting with more synthetic sounds. When we met Jean from St. Lucia, we started recording the first part of the HAERTS material. We had known and been playing with Derek and Jonny before in various other projects, but Garrett joining in the summer of 2012 really marked the beginning of HAERTS as a band. We played our first show as a quintet in December 2012.
If I remember from our other conversation correctly, Nini, you’re from Ohio. I also learned by talking to Jonathan, he’s from Colorado. What about Garrett, Ben and Derek?
I was born in Ohio, but grew up in Munich, Germany. Ben was born and raised in Munich, Germany. Derek is from the U.K., near Cambridge, and Garrett is from New York. We all live in New York City now.
So people can get a sense of where you’re coming from musically, can you share some of your favorite albums of all time?
To just name a very few of our combined favorites, we’ll say Prince 1999, Patti Smith Horses, Radiohead OK Computer, Fleetwood Mac Tusk ;), Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young Dejavu, MJ Thriller, Bon Iver Bon Iver, Robyn Body Talk, Peter Gabriel So!, Radiohead In Rainbows, Jeff Buckley Sin-é.
I’ve heard some people compare your vocals to Stevie Nicks, or say that you guys sound like Fleetwood Mac — not gonna lie, I myself, when I first heard “Wings,” thought of Fleetwood Mac. Do you take that as a compliment, or is it annoying when people try to compare your sound to other bands?
I think it’s not a bad thing to be compared, especially to an iconic and beautiful singer like Stevie Nicks or a band like Fleetwood Mac. Comparison is most people’s natural way of absorbing music. It’s a way to evaluate it, speak about it and categorize it. When you share your music, or any other form of art, there is really no way around this process. The only problem with it is that there is a very fine line between comparing and “accusing” someone of imitation, and that’s why it can be tricky and a bit redundant if a certain name keeps coming up when someone is just doing their own thing. I can only sing the way I sing, and there is nothing stylized about my voice.
The Stevie Nicks thing was funny, in a way, because I never heard it until I sang at a small club in Boston a few years ago, when a girl approached me after the show and said: “You sound like Stevie Nicks.” A few days later, I was on the phone with my sister, and told her about it, and she started laughing and reminded me that Nicks was our dad’s favorite singer. I somehow had not remembered it, but obviously grew up listening to Fleetwood Mac and her voice, and since music, for me, at least, is learned through listening, that might have influenced my voice in a certain way… In the last few years, I have started listening to a lot of Fleetwood Mac, and I personally don’t think that I sound that much like her. Maybe it’s a certain emotion that her voice carries that people hear in mine…I don’t know.
What is your opinion on how fast buzz builds around bands in the Internet age? In that, I mean, it seemed like HAERTS was an unknown band with one really good song out, and then, the next thing I knew, you guys were signed to Columbia, and every blog was talking about you.
Buzz builds so quickly around bands and songs today, but it also dies the same way. You hear about the next big thing every day, and it’s really important to realize that buzz is just a small stage that you get for a moment. It’s so important at the beginning, but it’s way more important to make it last and to actually have the ability and need to make it last. The buzz around “Wings” was nothing we anticipated, but we do believe in our music and know that it is what we have to do in our lives. We’ve been very fortunate to have people on the business end of it believe in it as much as we do. That definitely helped in creating what you call “buzz,” and it, luckily, gave us a chance to share our music with a larger audience through it.
Was it a deliberate decision to sign with Columbia over an Indie label?
Of course. It was a very conscious decision. It was a crucial step for us, but Columbia was the only label that we spoke to, and the only place we wanted to be.
In “Wings” and “All The Days,” there seems to be a sense of longing for a time or person. Was there a particular instance/set of events that inspired the songs, or are they about two completely separate things?
There are no particular events that I could pin down as inspirations for these songs, or for most of our songs in general. “Wings” has a coming of age theme that is definitely, as you say, connected with a longing — maybe a longing for a moment or time that has passed, but also the relief and hope that comes when you realize truth or a change and are forced to move on. “All The Days” is a lighter feeling, almost a dream of something beautiful that is safely kept in a memory.
What can you tell us about the upcoming EP, Hemiplegia?
Hemiplegia will be out in October and will be a four-song EP. We look at it as an introduction to the music that will be on the album, which is planned to come out in 2014.
I noticed “Heart,” the song played on the Yours Truly session, isn’t on the tracklist. That’s a shame. It sounds amazing. Is it being saved for the full-length?
Thanks! Yes, it’s not on the EP, and we are saving it for the full length. It’s a special song for us. It was the first Ben and I wrote of all of them, and it’s really come a long way ever since. We still love playing it, and can’t wait to share it next year.
Speaking of the full-length, is there any information you can share about it?
The full length is a big surprise, and parts of it are still a surprise, even to us, as we are still finishing it between touring right now.
If you were given the opportunity to record the soundtrack to any movie past, present or future, what movie would it be?
Because we are all obsessed with Blade Runner, its soundtrack by Vangelis and, of course, Harrison Ford, we would love to score the sequel!;)
On a personal note, between you guys and — my other favorite “H” band — HAIM, I’m loving the state of pop music right now.
Thank you … We actually also feel that this is a very good time for music and to be a musician, and we’re very grateful to be part of it.
I recently had the opportunity to catch HAERTS live
, and you should too — they may be slightly new to the game, but they have the stage presence of a finely tuned veteran band — on their current tour
with Washed Out. Also, be sure to get their debut EP, Hemiplegia
, out October