We´ll continue our interview section with another London-based band that actually we enjoyed their music on 09/02/2013 at Buffalo Bar. HaloHalo, or as quoted in their bandcamp: “dance-sinawi-pop trio”.
Here’s what we asked them! Enjoy!
1-. HaloHalo: According to Wikipedia:
Halo-halo (from Tagalog word halò, “mix”) is a popular Filipino dessert that is a mixture of shaved ice and evaporated milk to which are added various boiled sweet beans and fruits, and served in a tall glass or bowl. In your social pages (Soundcloud , Blogspot , Facebook and Bandcamp ) we find that you define your band as a “WE ARE A MULTI-COLOURED PUDDING! And a Pop/Sinawi/Dance Band from London”. Reading your blogspot we´ve seen you guys have been playing as a duo in Philippines. Coincidence with the dessert? So I think we are not the first ones to ask you this: Where does HaloHalo come from? When did you guys started to play together? tell us a bit about yourselves and the beginning of the band.
Gill: The band started in 2011. It was originally a duo with Jack (drums) and Rachel (banjo), but after a few shows I joined to play Bass and Keyboard. We all knew each other and had played together before a little bit in other bands, and with other instruments. Yes, there is a Filipino connection: Rachel’s mum comes from there, which explains how the band got to play in Manila earlier this year. It’s also partly why we are named after a Filipino Dessert. HaloHalo is multi-coloured and has lots of different ingredients and is topped with purple ube ice cream. It also means ‘mix mix’, so maybe it’s a good description of our sound.
Rachel: When we were trying to pick a name we couldn’t think of anything, i use to have a blog called halo halo dreams and i just thought why don’t we use that name, i love Halo Halo and as Gill said the word kind of encompasses what were trying to do as a band, mixing together sounds, ideas, stories from different cultures and places.
Jack: I’m ashamed to admit I don’t like Halo Halo. I hate milk, which is a pretty vital ingredient! But I do like the name a lot.
2-. Recently we could see you guys playing at The Buffalo Bar (09/02/2013). The previous bands that played were all almost into indie rock sounds. Then you came into action. Mellow voices, shouts, Hypnotic rythms, seriously never heard a band playin like you do. Is HaloHalo the product of each member evolution into music, something you used to do previously and now you´ve found the right pieces, or is just that you decided to try to do something different?
Gill: We didn’t consciously decide to try and sound a particular way or play in a particular style. It just comes out like that. One reason is that Jack and Rachel’s vocal harmonies are big part of our sound – sometimes they work as an extra instrument. But also maybe we sound distinctive because of Rachel’s banjo, which sounds quite different to a guitar. It isn’t tuned like a guitar, and has to be played in a different way, so it produces different kinds of melody. Another thing is that we are all drummers, so we all play in a way that is quite rhythmical, too.
Rachel: I think for me with Halo Halo i wanted to try and combine my love of different folk traditions and produce in some ways my own kind of folk music. Its a way for me to express my mixed heritage and explore and reconnect with my filipino roots.
3-. Talking about influences, which bands/ music does the members of HaloHalo listen to (when not listening to HaloHalo ) ?
Rachel: Well my two musical icons are Kate Bush and Prince, recently i’ve been listening to Stromae quite a lot, and Chris mingus too. Also a lot of Pansori music and huun huur tu.
Jack: I’ve been listening to the Yellow Magic Orchestra a lot lately, particularly Technodelic, its such a good album! Peepholes and Cold Pumas have just put out really amazing records so I’m listening to those a lot too.
Gill: No music, just the news in German.
4-. We could feel at your live concert as if we were listening to some etnical/tribe playing…probably because of some of the sounds and rhythms you use but as well as that, we were also impressed when suddenly you start going to a more noisy state. When you guys compose the songs, you look for this particular mix? is it something that just flows? How you compose the songs, all the members participate in it?
Gill: We usually write songs by accident. We just start playing together and if something good comes out, then we use it. Usually it starts with a banjo melody and the bass and drums fit around that. We like to play loud sometimes, but again it’s not premeditated. Originally we used an acoustic banjo and the songs were quieter, but now Rachel uses an electric banjo and we also have some effects pedals so we are able to produce different, more noisy sounds. A few of the songs have noisy parts in them, but that sort of happened organically because it’s fun to play the like that.
Jack: Songs pretty much always start with the music and then we start singing along, just sounds, yelps and the first melodies that come into our heads, playing the song over and over until we get something. Its best not to think too hard about it and just have fun! I find writing lyrics the hardest thing, we’re all drummers but none of us are poets.
5-. According to your blogspot, you’ve been playing in other countries. Tell us about this. Is that when you guys go on holiday you try to play, or were just friends/family visits, you have foreign contacts..etc.?
Gill: Apart from the Philipines, we’ve played in Sweden as part of an art residency project, Spain in a film and music festival, Israel because our friend Naama invited us, and France/Switzerland on tour with Trash Kit. One of the best things about being in a band is getting to go to new places and playing gigs. If people invite us somewhere or we have the opportunity to play a new place, we’ll go!
Jack: Me and Rachel played a gig in Manila just after Christmas. We were there to visit Rachel’s family and took the opportunity to play a show. There was a really receptive crowd who were going crazy. Also for once everyone understood the name of the band! There’s a small scene of people there, promoters have to work hard to get bands to come and play shows in Manila. They work together with other promoters in places like Japan, Hong Kong and Singapore so that more bands include the Philippines when they tour. We met some people who are doing some really interesting things too. We met someone called Erick Calilan who is organising an exhibition at the University of the Philippines all about Jose Maceda, an avant garde filipino composer, its definitely worth checking out.
Rachel: Its been so fun playing in different places, i really loved playing in the Philippines although it was scary because i never imagined that my family over there would ever get to see me play, its also interesting as well because in different countries people obviously have other cultural references so when you talk to people you can get really interesting feedback. For example when we were in Sweden we were very far north inside the arctic circle. Around this area you have Saami communities, one of the punters said the vocals in one song reminded them of saami yoik singing. I had never heard of this type of singing before so it was really interesting to then go and look it up and find videos of people doing it.
6-. How are you finding the London music scene? Is it good finding people that really likes your music, how many live shows you do per month?
Gill: We do about two or three shows a month. The london music scene is pretty healthy – there’s a lot happening and we know a lot of other people in bands we like (Peepholes, Trash Kit, Covergirl, Pheromoans, Sacred Paws, The Sticks, Flamingods) It’s really nice to play to new people who like your music, and we have to keep doing shows regularly to keep us on our toes. The danger is that your friends see you too many times and get bored!
Rachel: It is nice when people say they like it, its not the reason we make music but knowing that people have appreciated it before makes it less scary having to go on stage!
7-. Your Cd covers are colorfull. Is there an artist between you? who designs the covers?
Rachel makes the artwork. Jack makes the videos. Gill makes the tea.
8-. Something we found really imaginative is that the Live at Levontim7 comes with a bit of dead sea sand. How you came with that idea?
Gill: We went to the Dead Sea when we visited Israel. We all got completely covered in mud and it’s really hard to wash it off. We came back with lots of it in our shoes. It seemed like a nice idea because the live CD covers have photos we took at the dead sea. Also, if you bought a CD and wanted to know whether we really went there or were lying, you could take it to be analysed.
Jack: When we’ve sold CD’s before at shows, its really funny seeing people pulling the bit of mud out and inspecting it, not knowing what it is. I had to stop someone from eating it once! They must have been a bit drunk.
9-. To end this interview, when the member of HaloHalo want to listen to some good live music, where do they go in London? which places you like to go?
Gill: Power Lunches in Dalston is a good venue to hear indie/DIY/punk bands. Cafe OTO is great for more established experimental acts. Upset! the Rhythm (who are putting out our new album in the summer), put on some great shows all the time in various venues. Anything they organise is usually guaranteed to be good!
Jack: Our friends Rachel and Andrew have a brilliant night at Power Lunches called National Minimum Rage, check it out!
Want to know more about them? Check this out!