Interview w/ Husky Gawenda

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Following on from Mel T’s interview with Geoffrey O’ Connor. I spoke to Husky Gawenda of Husky, another Australian band set to play the Laneway Festival circuit this summer. Husky have had a lot of love on the site for their singles and live shows. In October they released their debut record ‘Forever So’ and have been touring the country playing to sold out crowds and very happy fans.

I started by asking about the release of ‘Forever So’.

We finished the record last year so we were sitting on it for a little while. We’d spent a lot of time and energy and love on the record so waiting to release it was a bit hard in a way cause we really wanted to get it out there and have people hear it. So to finally put it out and start to get feedback in all sorts of different ways – on Facebook and twitter and all the ways you get feedback these days – it’s been quite amazing. The fact that there are people out there connecting with it and enjoying it is an amazing feeling.

and having that direct connection with fans?

Yeah, its a beautiful thing because in the past the only feedback you get other then meeting people at shows, which is a great way to get feedback but other then that the only feedback you get is from critics. That’s all good but it’s a different sort of feedback I think. So to be able to just read people responses to the album on our Facebook wall is great. It’s a great way to gauge how people are feeling about it.

How has playing shows and the time since writing the record changed the way you feel about the record ‘Forever So’?

It’s interesting, I don’t listen to the record. I don’t think that much about the actual record. Obviously we’ve been playing and touring a lot so the record has become a live creature. It’s a thing we do live, we’ve had to work on translating the recordings to a live setting and we’ve had a great opportunity to do that this year because we’ve had so many support tours and now we’ve had our own tour. I’m still feeling really good about the songs, I still feel that most of the time I can connect with them while I’m playing them. Sometimes they mean something different to me while I play them to perhaps what they meant when I wrote them but there is nothing wrong with that, that’s the nature of songs and any sort of art. I’m really enjoying playing the songs and seeing how people respond and connect with them – it’s great fun.

The arrangements on the record are quite unique, have you had trouble translating that to a live set – you have a lot of scope to play around with?

You can’t do live exactly what you do with a recording but because the arrangements are so intricate and layered it does mean that we choose parts of the song to reproduce live and it also means we can change things as we go and do different things at shows. I suppose what you miss live is having the ability to reproduce all the different layers that you hear on the recording but there are things you can live that just don’t apply on the recording. So what you loose in some ways you gain in other ways. Since we’ve been playing so much and had such an opportunity to work on it, I think the songs are coming across really well live now.

Yeah the tracks def lend themselves to new arrangements and your voice is quite strong to carry it, I’ve heard of you guys doing a cappella performances at shows?

Yeah, that’s been fun… we’ve been doing that at most shows on our national tour. We spent so much time on the production, arrangement and the layering of the record it’s nice to unplug our instruments on the stage and sometimes we’ll hop of the stage and get out into the audience and just sing a song. No electricity, no microphones, no reverb, no anything… y’know, just voices. Sing a song the old fashioned way, It’s a lot of fun.

You’ve been supporting some great acts on tour including Devandra Banhart who really came from performing in that way – of course now his shows are different. What have you learnt from that process?

Yeah, you’re right that is where he came from, his live show is surprisingly electric these days. He’s got three electric guitarists including himself and a drummer and bass player. In terms of what I learnt, I’m not sure it’s so much that you learn things. It was certainly an awesome experience to be sharing the stage with a guy who has done such great things and made such great records. He’s a great performer and it’s always good to see other performers and see how they do it. That’s definitely the learning experience but the main thing is the honour of sharing the stage with those guys and the opportunity to play in front of bigger crowds has been really good for us.

Taking a back step, how important was Triple J unearthed for you guys and how important is it for other Australian musicians?

It was very important for us, it certainly gave our music a vehicle. Before Triple J unearthed we hadn’t had much radio play and not many people knew who we were or had heard our music. We had this record that we recorded ourselves in my house in the bungalow. We just had this record with a bunch of songs and didn’t really know what to do with them. I suppose Triple J unearthed brought our music out of hiding (he says with a laugh). It meant that a whole lot more people heard it and knew who we were. It’s difficult in this country and probably anywhere for a young emerging band to get their music out there. I think unearthed really does do that, it unearths bands that otherwise you probably wouldn’t hear of and that would be a shame because there are a lot of talented, really great young bands in this country so I think unearthed is really important.

So once you had won unearthed you were picked up by Liberation?

Yeah, we finished the album right at the end of last year and early this year we released ‘History’s Door’. We won unearthed around then in early March and not long after that Liberation got in touch as did a bunch of other people in the industry. So yeah, unearthed brought our music to the attention not only the public but also the industry.

Liberation has some interesting bands on there, Temper Trap, Cloud Control and Violent Soho – does that play a part in making that decision?

You look at everything and you definitely look at the other bands they’re working with and what they’ve done with them. The most important thing was meeting the people at the label and getting to know them and working out what their vision was and how they operated and what they were like, what sort of human beings they were. Y’know, you’ve got to work with these people closely, so that was a big thing. We found them to be great people and our vision for our band and music was the same as their vision and they were wanting to support our vision so yeah… so far it’s turned out to be a great decision.

The title of your record ‘Forever So’ suggests some sort of wisdom or perspective on life – are you a reflective person by nature?

Yeah, probably a little bit too reflective (again laughing). I think it’s hard to know, it’s hard to generalise about people but I think that people are perhaps preoccupied with the past. We do that as human beings, we think about the past and we think about the things perhaps we wished we’d done or the dreams we had that perhaps have turned out a little different in reality. So yeah, I would say I’m a little bit reflective and you can hear in the album a reflection of times gone by and people and places and perhaps loves that you remember fondly or otherwise.

You guys are on the Laneway festival circuit – are you excited about that?

Yeah, super excited! We were surprised to be chosen for that line up. It’s a great line up and the beauty of the line up, which is always the case with Laneway is that it’s so consistent throughout. Their attitude is not to get huge headline bands and it doesn’t really matter what the rest of the line up looks like. They get big headliners but it seems like they very carefully choose the rest of the line up. So yeah, we are very chuffed to be amongst it.

It’s my fav summer line up and they seem to put musicians first and ticket sales second.

That’s right and the other great thing about is that it means that people will go along and discover other bands which may not be their favourite bands but they might end up being their favourite act of the festival.

Would you like to plug some Australian bands while we are talking about new discoveries?

One of the bands on the line up are ‘The Panics’ who are a great band, their new record is really good… I’m excited to see them live. I also really like ‘Ballpark Music’ who have a great energy live, which is quite unique. A lot of great bands in Melbourne who I really like are ‘Ainslie Wills’ they are putting out a record sometime next year. ‘Clairy Browne & the Bangin’ Rackettes’ who have just put a record out, they’re awesome so definitely check them out. I really think there is a lot of great music going on in this country at the moment.

Catch Husky playing the Laneway Festival around the country, dates here



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