Formed in 2011, the Floridian art-pop quartet Hundred Waters released their debut album in 2012. They won over fans and critics alike with their unique brand of ‘digital folk’. Their second full length album The Moon Rang Like A Bell was released towards the beginning of this year and further proved their ability to create genre-bending music that intersects with art.
Having previously toured with The XX, Alt-J, Grimes, and Interpol, the band has recently announced a 20 date headline tour, the first time in two years that they’ll be back playing in the EU. Even better, if you buy a ticket to see them you’ll get a complimentary download of their critically acclaimed recent album.
Not only did we interview the band but today we also have an exclusive premiere of a live recording of track ‘Animal’. You’re welcome.
You’re named after a painter, how much of an inspiration is the art world to your sound and persona?
I’d say it’s a huge inspiration, but I’m not sure what ‘art world’ means. Painting, movies, music aren’t so different to me. In a really general sense. It’s just sort of whatever medium you’re best at you gravitate toward. I know I’m most inclined in music, but I switch between things all the time. Lately I want to draw and paint all the time. Tray’s a great visual artist too. But I/we always go back to music. I know that’s what we’re meant to do. As far as inspiration goes, it’s in everything, cliche answer… but… lately that movie Jodorowsky’s Dune was really inspiring to me. Our friends are inspiring. I just read a book called Please Kill Me which I thought was inspiring.
You signed to Skrillex’s label, has he given you any pointers or advice on your sound and the industry?
He’s not really like that in terms of advice on sound. That’s something you have to find on your own. But he’s great at encouraging you to do your own thing and believe in it.
Your second album WAs released earlier this year, how do you think it shows progression form the first?
It’s more direct in a lot of ways. The more you travel, the more you understand how limited time is. Like you’re in this city for one night, and out of the whole day you’re only on stage for an hour. You have to squeeze everything you have into this tiny grain of sand. We put more time into realising what needs to be there and what doesn’t with this album.
We’re also in a completely different place than we were with our first album. Our self-titled album we wrote when we were finishing school so, you know, I think our minds were more full of the past, lyrically and musically. In school you tend to live in the past. You live in a bit of a bubble. This one we made on the road. It drew more from things happening immediately to us. We poked more holes in our bubble…we tried to pop the bubble.
did you suffer from second album syndrome at all, and if so, how did you overcome any writer’s block?
I heard someone the other day compare writing and listening to being a captain vs being a sailor, which I thought was a cool metaphor. Maybe Moby Dick said it first. You’re a captain when you create something, when you listen you’re a sailor. You get to watch the water and enjoy the ocean and feel the breeze which has its place…but it’s much scarier to steer the ship. When you do you can go wherever you want but you have to deal with fear for some reason, like self doubt. It’s more self doubt syndrome than second album syndrome. What’s that phrase David Lynch uses? The Suffocating Rubber Clown Suit? Melting the suffocating rubber clown suit. That’s what everyone’s trying to do.
That’s kind of what the song [Animal]’s about, you know, “I cannot walk, for my legs I have broken”. I broke them, nobody else. but I “have to have to” find you… I just do. But once you find that way, or a way to talk about it, you know, I “cannot tell you for they took my tongue too”. Like there’s something preventing you. I think it’s an interesting conundrum and a battle I think about a lot.
The beautiful thing about music though is that it can sort of entrance you and take you somewhere above all that.
You blend live instruments with electronica and the result is haunting, rousing soundscapes. What is your creative process like?
It’s all over the place honestly. Some songs come out all at once, some songs are pieced together, some are made over really long periods of time. It’s just working at it until you find the door in the secret garden kind of thing. As long as you’re curious, you’ll end up finding it.
Your videos and visuals also show your more artistic side, how important do you think interesting music videos are to solidify an artist’s aesthetic?
It’s more about having a desire to make a video. Sometimes that desire is so strong you’re like, “I have to make this into a visual or the song’s not complete!” I felt that really strongly for ‘Cavity’ and then later with ‘Murmurs’. So it’s like finishing a song in that way, like it’s incomplete without a visual representation. Unless we feel that, we don’t make videos. I don’t know how it is for other people, but that’s what we follow. I mean there’s definitely an industry-style video that’s about showing the artist and being really up front and selling your music. But if we did that I think it’d just be so silly. It’s just not us.
Your live show has been praised and called a ‘watercolour wash of possibilities’ – how do you create this feeling on stage?
Music is interesting in that it can completely captivate you but it can do the the complete opposite too.. it can kind of fade away and let you start thinking about something else. Something you wouldn’t have otherwise. Like a drug but without the harm. It’s cool to have moments like that in our set. We like beats but we also like music that treats time like it doesn’t exist. Paul’s really interested in ambient music, so a lot of the times he’ll have these washes and big open pieces of music he’s made, and we get to bridge songs with it and mix it up.
You began making music together while sharing a house at university, when did you first realise that you had so much in common musically?
We became friends way before we started making music. So I think at first we first just got along really well… then later made music. We have an equal number of differences, but we get along as people, so we always find a common ground.
You’ve toured with the likes of Grimes and Alt-J, do you think there is somewhat of a movement towards more cleverly made SOUNDS?
I’m an optimist when it comes to music. I don’t believe in a ‘modern symptom’ or that music is being ‘ruined’ by labels, or that music is less clever now. Even if it is, that we’ve evolved to share more interesting things with each other on the internet is kind of more beautiful. People want good music. They’ll end up searching for it. They’re smart. They know what’s being fed to them and what they enjoy. Maybe not immediately, but eventually.
Find out more about Hundred Waters on their website.