Thursday, April 25, 2013

Q&A with Haiku Salut
Last week I had the chance to do an email Q&A with Louise Croft from U.K. trio Haiku Salut. For those of you playing at home, you might remember the band from an earlier post this month about their song "Los Elefantes." Haiku Salut's debut album Tricolore, which came out on April 16 in the U.S., is such a fascinating mix of styles and sounds, that I had to shoot a couple questions their way. Here's what Croft had to say about writing instrumental songs, taking cues from foreign cinema, and being a sound guy's worst nightmare.

TMI: How did you three get together/how long have you been playing together?

LC: We’ve been playing together as Haiku Salut for three years now. We all met at Derby University and used to play in a band together previously, which had seven members. We had a stupid amount of fun in that band, but it was totally chaotic and raucous, and it could never have lasted. When that band split up, the three of us branched off to try something which couldn’t have been any more different! I think this surprised people, but it made a lot of sense to us, and we really ended up finding our feet!

I loved the mix of baroque/pop-folk/electronica on the record– how did you develop your sound to incorporate those styles?

Our music has definitely changed since we started out as Haiku Salut. Our earlier songs had a more classical/folk feel to them, and then when we started to develop musically we introduced the electronic elements. Sophie took influences from electronic artists such as Pawn and Serph and began to introduce beats and glitch interludes to the music, through the Launch Pad, which gave it a whole new sound and depth!

Going off the last question, I also thought I heard different places throughout the album, whether it was a Spanish guitar or a bit of an Eastern European melody, does place have an influence on Tricolore?

The style in Tricolore changes throughout the album. We are influenced by such a wide array of music from all over the world, from Múm and Detektivbyran, to Yann Tiersen, to Shugo Tokumaru. Gemma plays classical guitar and the style often has a European element, which blends well with the folk and electronic sides to our music.

You’ve mentioned being influenced by French and Japanese cinema, could you talk a bit more about that? (How does it translate on the album?)

As mentioned earlier, Yann Tiersen is a huge influence for us, as well as the French director Sylvain Chomet. The Japanese author Haruki Murakami is someone we all admire as well. We often get told that our music has cinematic qualities, which we love. We’ve written a soundtrack to a series of animations, and had our music played as part of short films, but we’d love to have much more involvement with film and cinema in the future.

What’s the group dynamic in terms of how you three write and arrange songs?

Songwriting tends to be a fun time for us because of the choice of instruments we have! We always keep ourselves busy, usually swapping instruments at least once during a song. If we think a melody would sound especially good on a certain instrument, even if that instrument is not in our collection (unlikely), we will seek it and learn it. Our writing styles can have a mind of their own, we find that our songs tend to have a beginning, a middle and an end, rather than the usual verses and choruses.

There are so many interesting sounds and textures in your music, could you talk about how it comes together at a live show?

We love playing live, but it can be challenging– we’ve been described as "a soundman’s worst nightmare!" Namely because of the array of instruments we use between the three of us: accordion, trumpet, guitar, drums, glockenspiel, loop pedal, laptop to name but a few. We enjoy surprising people with our music, and hopefully that shows when we play live, from the layers we produce from the loop pedal, and the multi-instrumentation that we incorporate.

What’s been the best experience attached to Tricolore so far?

We’ve played 2 album launches for Tricolore (I know, greedy)– one in London and one in Derbyshire, where we all live. They’ve both been sell-outs which is amazing and they’ve both been really fantastic nights. The one in Derby was extra-special though, as we prepared a light show to accompany our live performance, which was held in a theatre space. This involved 20+ charity shop lamps of all shapes and sizes that were triggered by the Launch Pad to flicker/flash/fade at alternating times. We couldn’t believe how amazing it all looked! On the contrary, it was also the most nerve-wrecking terrified we’re probably ever been in our entire lives! Totally worth it though…

 (Video courtesy of Ian Watson) 

What’s next for Haiku Salut?

At the moment we’re enjoying the release of Tricolore, but we’re eager to continue with more songwriting. We’re playing some festivals in the U.K. this summer, and hoping to sort some European dates and fingers crossed a tour in the U.S.!

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