In a short span of two years, Australian band Hiatus Kaiyote has undergone something reminiscent of a global takeover, releasing debut EP/LP Tawk Tomahawk that earned them said worldwide acclaim and recognition from the likes of Questlove, Erykah Badu and Giles Peterson. The four-piece band pulls influences from every artist/genre from under the sun — J Dilla to Iggy and the Stooges to Oumou Sangare — that somehow emanates a familiar sound to our American ears, but you’d be at fault to try to slap a genre label onto the group.
Their self-proclaimed “genre” — multi-dimensional polyrhythmic gangster shit — is probably the closest you’re going to get to categorizing their music. But to put it more into perspective for you, imagine an aboriginal world music sound, throw in electronica riffs produced by Q-Tip, then slather on some Yukimi Nagano that just came from rehearsing with D’Angelo. Does that make sense? No? Yeah, it wasn’t supposed to.
To get a better idea of what the band’s about, we managed to catch up with the band for a very brief — and we mean brief — chat last week at their show at the Skirball. We chopped it up with singer/songwriter Nai Palm and the boys about Australia and why it’s so awesome, dope visuals, and how stupid genres are.
LA CANVAS: How’s life? Excited to be back in LA?
Perrin Moss: Yeah, it’s our 3rd time back in LA and it’s great to catch up with the local family — we have met some amazing artists and friends here.
Paul Bender: Yeah, we’ve made some amazing connections with people here. This time we met a homeless wizard with elaborate face tattoos who did his own leatherwork.
LAC: What’s different between playing in Australia and playing in the US?
PM: I think one of the clear differences is the number of people in every city supporting music in every genre. For us, also the type of music we all listen to and has inspired us — a lot of it has come from the states, so the history and education is here, which I guess is why people can hear the influence in our music.
PB: Australia is a giant landmass with a handful of cities separated by large distances, so touring is an entirely different experience. It’s like flying across the entirety of Europe to play 5 shows and then you’re done. So it’s kind of a bitch like that — not that we don’t care about more regional areas, but it’s hard enough finding enough people to support left-field or progressive music within the big cities. US audiences tend to be a bit more vocal; whenever we flip the groove real crazy on a track, the crowd is like “WOOOOOOOO”, whereas in Australia you’ll just hear one really enthusiastic guy scream “AWWWW FUCK YEAAAAAAAHHHH”. I love that guy.
LAC: You guys are coming out at a time when Australia is exploding into the music scene. We’re curious, why do you think that is? Why now?
Simon Mavin: Australia has an awesome world class scene of its own, especially in Melbourne. Melbourne is kinda the musical hub of Australia. I mean for Hiatus, Bender is from Tasmania, Perrin is from the blue mountains, I’m from Melbourne and Nai is from country Victoria. I think the internet has played a big part in international recognition — we got a lot of love from places all around the globe just by putting our record on Bandcamp. (Other than that) I’m not sure why Australia is exploding… maybe its something in the water?
PB: It’s because a lot of people there are super talented.
LAC: What creative process occurs when you guys are writing music?
Nai Palm: The beauty of this project is that there is no set form or method to our creativity; the common denominator in the process though, is trust — trust in the fact that what ever each member brings forth creatively will be nurtured and celebrated, or at least be given the time of day and worth the exploration. It’s very democratic allowing us all to be as connected and involved as possible, which results in the longevity of our emotional intention and less about who gets a solo.
LAC: You talk about how not only sonic pieces can be influential, but also visual can inspire music. What are some visual inspirations that went into “Tomahawk”?
NP: The opening track “Mobius Streak” is largely inspired by the artwork of M.C. Escher. He uses a lot of mathematical optical illusions in his works — namely the Mobius Strip, which is evident in his piece, “House of Stairs.” I used illusions as a lyrical theme, a myriad of metaphors through out the song, it was also a large inspiration behind the sonic layers of texture.
LAC: What direction do you want your music to take in the future?
SM: Thats not really something that we are thinking about, I mean we haven’t really had a musical direction…just play stuff that we think sounds cool!
PB: I know I personally want to do more with other instrumentalists in the future, like percussionists, strings, horns, different interesting sounds from around the world. More of an orchestrated thing for certain shows and recordings…and I think as we go on the scope will only get wider, hopefully to the point where people think of us as something other than a “soul band, or “future soul” or whatever. Like Bjork has no genre anymore, her genre is “Bjork.” We want to make something that makes people forget those classifications and draw them into the intuitive abstract vortex where music becomes transcendent, instead of this thing you try to figure out or classify. That’s the plan anyway. Or maybe we’ll try to do an Electroclash revival, get asymmetrical haircuts and do songs about fashion while playing keytars and shit.
LAC: Who are you listening to right now?
PB: Teebs, The Stepkids, Kirkis, Gris Gris, Silent Jay
NP: Emily King, Fka Twigs, Oumou Sangare, Iggy Pop and the Stooges, Alice Coltrane, Kirkis, Yaw, Skip James and currently revisiting D’Angelo for the billionth time but i give myself a rest from it so it can be kinda new again.
LAC: Favorite remix off of “Tawk Takeout”?
PB: Mine is Clever Austin’s remix of Boom Child. Clever Austin is Perrin, BTW. And he is very clever, isn’t he?
LAC: What are five things you need with you at all times while you’re on tour?
NP: The elements: water, fire, earth, etc. White sage, Palo Santo, nurturingly totemic trinkets for sanity and ritual, bling.
Check out the band’s recent KCRW performance below:
Music nowadays is on some kind of global takeover — what seemed to start in Canada with the likes of Drake and now Ryan Hemsworth and Kaytranada, has trickled to the lands down under in Australia and New Zealand. I mean, let’s face it, some of the folks that we have on constant rotation right now are straight out of the southwestern hemisphere: Flume, Ta-Ku, Hiatus Kaiyote, Lorde, and The Wyld, are all respectively from from either Australia or New Zealand. And, well, we’re about to add another one to our list.
Enter ChoiceVaughan. We caught wind of the Lower Hutt valley native through London DJ/radio host Complexion‘s weekly “Future Beats Show,” and it was love at first bass drop. The featured cut, titled, “Loves BabyFace,” is one off his recently released EP, “The Reveremixes,” a seven track project of favored 90’s R&B reworks with amplified boom-bap production re-sexified for your body-rolling pleasure. We don’t know about you guys, but we think it’s going to be a minute before the whole 90s-R&B-edit trend dies, but you know what.. we’re not complaining. Check out the track below, and check out ChoiceVaughan’s soundcloud here.
The move from Sydney to Los Angeles is, for the most part, a seamless one. The two cities flow at a similar pace, with life lived mostly in the sun. Yet since the day I arrived in this glorious city I have been desperately trying to navigate my way through one of the only culture shocks I experienced – coffee.
This is where the two cities disagree. Coffee in Sydney is a social ritual, delivered with care and precision and enjoyed as a moment to stop, not as a fuel to keep going. In America, the sheer volume by which coffee is consumed on an hourly basis means that for most, it’s a habit, regardless of how it’s served or even how it tastes.
But coffee in LA is well on its way to changing. Los Angeles is in the middle of what’s been dubbed the 3rd wave coffee movement. More and more people are treating coffee as an artisanal foodstuff, like wine, and paving the way for improvements on all stages of production, from harvesting to roasting to brewing—as our friends at LA Coffee Club recently noted.
It is with impeccable timing then that Australian-inspired café Coffee + Food should arrive on Melrose. Placed unassumingly in the ever growing Larchmont-Melrose intersection, Coffee + Food is the brainchild of Australian ex-pat Mel Cain and Angeleno Cyndi Finlke. As is typically the case with these things, it was a vacancy that lead the two friends to go where neither had gone before and open a coffee shop. Born through Mel’s passion for coffee and dream of owning a café and Cyndi’s local knowledge from successfully curating two art studios and running a craft service business, Coffee + Food is entirely about superb, well bodied coffee and wholesome, quality food made with local produce and love.
There’s a pervasive happy feeling you get upon walking in, largely thanks to the supremely welcoming people behind the counter, which is just what Mel Cain always hoped to achieve. “We wanted it to feel like our home, like we were bringing people into our homes and feeding them,” Meg told LAC.
Industrialized chairs and stools give the café a modern feel while barn wood, chalk boards and photographs dot the walls in perfectly cozy juxtaposition. The counter is where it’s at, the espresso machine at its heart, the deli case full of can’t choose breakfast and lunch options and various sweet and savory delights ornately displayed across the top.
The coffee menu reads like a café wall in Sydney, featuring the Australian originated flat white, which to the Aussie expat is a cup of espresso and nostalgia infamously hard to find Stateside. It’s velvety smooth, with milk and microfoam folded into a double shot of espresso so that the ratio of coffee takes over the milk and the two are blended seamlessly. C+F enlisted the help of fellow Aussie Mark Baird of Longshot Coffee to curate the caffeinated beverage menu and teach the staff the art of espresso, which they gladly and passionately pass on to curious customers.
The food is designed by C+F’s “food guru” and you guessed it, another Aussie, Claire Smith.
Never has a deli counter in Los Angeles looked so tantalizing, rich, and colorful. For breakfast there’s homemade granola with seasonal fruit and yogurt, or Bircher muesli with poached pears or the favorite brekky sandwich of arugula, egg, prosciutto and gruyere cheese tucked into Turkish toast, specially commissioned by C+F and delivered fresh every morning from a local baker. Lunch is a mixture of signature dishes like the much obsessed over kale salad and a rotating menu of sandwiches, frittatas, lasagnas, fritters, salads and so on. It’s all made to-go, but you’re more than welcome to stay if you’d like.
Though, the real joy is the signature Aussie fare that pops up now and again, whether it be a meat pie or the breakfast staple for 21 million Australian’s – Vegemite on toast. In case you’re still wondering WTF Vegemite is, I urge you to ask no questions, order it with blind faith and let the pros do the work, for when properly delivered, Vegemite is the right mix of salty, buttery goodness—not to mention a solid hangover cure.
On high rotation above the counter is a collection of homemade sweet and savory treats, like Anzac and Monte Carlo cookies, which can be found in every house and office pantry across Australia. Mel divulges to LAC that the Monte Carlo is a favorite on the menu among expats and Angelenos alike; both seem to have an insatiable taste for the crumbly cookie filled with vanilla cream and raspberry jam that pairs perfectly with a Dirty Chai.
What’s right about Coffee + Food is simply that it’s about coffee and it’s about food, both in their simplest, purest forms and without complication. It’s become a home away from home for this expat and many more, so if you’ve ever had a moment of wanderlust, a desire to know what it’s like Down Under, or simply a longing for coffee and food that gives you joy, then make Coffee + Food your next stop, it might change your life.
Coffee + Food
630 Melrose Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90038
Hours: Monday – Saturday, 7am – 3pm
(323) 962 3390