Home » Artists, Features, Music, News & Updates » Nai Palm: ‘There is Pressure to Write Pop Shit and Get a Boob Job’

Nai Palm: ‘There is Pressure to Write Pop Shit and Get a Boob Job’

Australian soul/funk band Hiatus Kaiyote's vocalist on Grammys, touring and the current state of the music industry


  Share
(From left) Paul Bender, Nai Palm, Perrin Moss and Simon Mavin of Hiatus Kaiyote. Photo: Courtesy of the artist/WILK

(From left) Paul Bender, Nai Palm, Perrin Moss and Simon Mavin of Hiatus Kaiyote. Photo: Courtesy of the artist/WILK

Hiatus Kaiyote’s music can never be a soundtrack to a setting – a road trip, house party or morning workout. Rather, it is the kind of stuff that you push play on and consume with gripped attention, lest you miss a genius polyrhythmic twist or a delicious key change. Hiatus Kaiyote are not a background score to a movie; they are the movie.

The Australian soul/funk/jazz band came about in 2011 after vocalist Nai Palm and bassist Paul Bender started working on material together. Soon, keyboardist Simon Mavin and drummer-percussionist Perrin Moss joined and the band was good to gig. Given their stylistic spread, Hiatus Kaiyote take the cliché of the ‘genre-bending band’ to another level – try grouping all the songs from their two albums within genres and you are most likely to end up with a very confusing Venn diagram. Says Palm on the phone from her hometown Melbourne, “The thing about our music is that it is very eclectic – everyone from metalheads to eight year-olds seem to like it.”

Following the release of their 2012 self-released debut album Tawk Tomahawk, the band were nominated for a Grammy for Best R&B Performance for their standout song “Nakamarra”. Their second nomination in the same category came this year for “Breathing Underwater” [from their sophomore 2015 record Choose Your Weapon]. The Grammy losses mean as little to Hiatus Kaiyote as their growing fame and ‘mainstream’ attention. “We’ve been to the Grammys twice and seen the crux of the music industry. A lot of music is directed towards entertainment; it’s eager,” says the singer-songwriter, adding, “Music industry is mostly about ‘what’s hot right now’. We’re completely esoteric. I am not in it for fame and I’d create music regardless. Success to me isn’t about being famous.”

YouTube Preview Image

Despite receiving overwhelmingly favorable reviews for their gigs and tours [read the ones online for their Sydney Opera House debut gig last month], for Palm, it’s the little things that count and provide validation. Like when people send videos of their kids singing their songs. Or the one time when a fan from Syria wrote to them. “She said that our music gave her a sense of solitude and sanctuary living in a war-torn country,” says Palm, who has a peculiar knack for attaching themes of hope and love to lyrics that celebrate both the earthly and the celestial. On “Nakamarra”, she assures Hannah the addressee that “sweet red earth will hold you like the strength you bless to me” while on “Shaolin Monk Motherfunk”, she says her “constellations burn to be strung to yours”. That’s also the song where the band switches from an R&B groove to a sprightly Indian rhythm characteristic of Punjabi dhols. It further lunges into a dense hollow with anticipative drums and bass before returning to the original groove.

Musical mischief is second nature to Hiatus Kaiyote. “I listen to a lot of music from around the world. My sense of home has always been records and albums,” says Palm, who was orphaned as a teen and lived with different families before going independent.

LOW_shutterstock_291567446 Anton Gvozdikov  Shutterstock.com - Copy

Nai Palm of Hiatus Kaiyote at XII International Jazz Festival in Tsaritsyno Park in Moscow, 2015. Photo: Anton Gvozdikov/shutterstock.com

The past year has been very satisfying for the band. They played 160 shows across the world. “We traveled to Europe, Japan, US, and then came home. One of the most rewarding things is the opportunity to travel internationally. The reason why we share our music is for that connect with people,” she says. This month, the band will return to Europe with shows packed across the UK, Spain, the Netherlands and Croatia. They’re also heading to the US and Canada for what looks like a pretty extensive tour before going back to play in Japan. For all the charm of their records, many believe that Hiatus Kaiyote are a band that must be experienced live. Palm’s magnetic stage personality is equal parts endearing and intriguing, and the mystery of the musical essence of the band [is it future soul or experimental jazz?] only adds to their allure.

Although Palm has so far been able to fight off the demands to go mass-y, the struggle is real. “There is pressure to write pop shit, bleach my hair and get a boob job,” she admits, but adds that she draws comfort from the knowledge that some of the greatest artists that stood the test of time are those who followed and explored their creativity. “When I think of role models, I like those who are fearless in imagination. Björk is integral to my life. She is so much herself. Also Patti Smith,” says Palm. Ask her about whether an India tour is on the cards and she can’t contain her happiness at the prospect of coming here. “We would love to; it would be wonderful. Let’s hope for it.”

  Share

"Wasting Away" by BLEK


  • January 25th, 2017 Mike Posner, Prateek Kuhad in New Delhi at Kamani Auditorium
  • January 25th, 2017 Blakc, The Lightyears Explode in Mumbai at AntiSocial
  • January 26th, 2017 The Abomination Chapter 4 ft Yonsample, Chronic Xorn, Dark Carnage, Evil Conscience, Orphic Cosmogony and Noyze Akademi in Kolkata at Triguna Sen Auditorium, Jadavpur University
  • January 26th, 2017 Mike Posner, Prateek Kuhad in Mumbai at Summerhouse Cafe
  • January 27th, 2017 Sax Machine in Bengaluru at Blue Frog



Coming Soon
subscribe
Rolling Stone India
© 2017 Rolling Stone India. All Rights Reserved.