Hiatus Kaiyote is a future-soul quartet based in Melbourne, Australia, consisting of Naomi Nai Palm Saalfield (vocals, guitar), Paul Bender (bass), Simon Mavin (keyboards) and Perrin Moss (drums, percussion). They have carved an alluring and unique world with their blend of captivating lyricism and emotive soundscapes. After their debut album Tawk Tomahawk was released in 2012, they attracted a worldwide fanbase. Spawned from Australia’s desert landscape the group was honored with a Grammy nomination for their single hit single Nakamarra. Fast forward to 2016, the band have gallivanted into unparalleled accolades releasing their second full-length LP Choose Your Weapon, receiving a second Grammy nomination and playing to sold-out audiences across five continents.
The fantastically named Hiatus Kaiyote came together over time, its members encountering one another fatefully in various bands, cafes, and share houses. Once we were all in the same room playing, it was just like, This is what it's supposed to be like!, Nai enthuses. Hiatus Kaiyote isn't merely a soul/funk/jazz collective - it's a boldly unconventional paradigm, with Nai a singer/songwriter, and Bender, Simon and Perrin all instinctive musicians and bedroom producers.
Hiatus Kaiyote self-released their acclaimed debut Tawk Tomahawk, of authentic homemade grooves - and shot a mesmerizing bushland video for 'Nakamarra'. Meanwhile, they started to attract influential industry fans starting with Taylor McFerrin whom they supported during their earliest of days. The jazz-hopper shared their music with BBC DJ Gilles Peterson (they'd later win Best Breakthrough Act at his Worldwide Awards). The Roots' Questlove proclaimed their music undeniable. It really went gangbusters, Nai says. Even Prince tweeted about Hiatus Kaiyote. Salaam Remi, the esteemed producer who worked with Amy Winehouse, Nas and The Fugees, signed Hiatus Kaiyote be the flagship to his Sony imprint Flying Buddha, repackaging Tawk Tomahawk with a new version of Nakamarra featuring a verse by hip hop legend Q-Tip. They subsequently became the first Australian act to receive a Grammy nomination in an R&B category (Best R&B Performance). Just to be propelled into that kind of platform and welcomed into that lineage is validation in itself, Nai muses.
In 2015, Hiatus Kaiyote released Choose Your Weapon - imagining the future past, and juxtaposing the acoustic and electronic, a 70 minute musical odyssey. Again self-produced, the sophomore album honors soul music's history while reveling in its experimentation and globalization of sound. This album, in many ways, was born on stage -- Most bands generally write their album as they're making it, whereas we already had so much material that our fans were familiar with, so we owed it to them to actually document it, Nai states.
Above all, Hiatus Kaiyote, tracing the missing links between Rotary Connection, J Dilla and Flying Lotus, chart their evolution on Choose Your Weapon. Hiatus Kaiyote's music is less a genre than an immersive experience - a trip. For Nai, the key descriptor for Choose Your Weapon is cinematic. We definitely see the music as habitats - and each song is its own. It's very visual.
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