British trip-hop outfit HÆLOS play a headline Belfast show at Voodoo on Saturday 19th October 2019. HÆLOS released their sophomore album, 'Any Random Kindness' on May 10th via Infectious. The follow-up to 2016’s 'Full Circle' finds Lotti Benardout, Arthur Delaney, and Dom Goldsmith “experimenting” with new songwriting approaches. Mark Millar caught up with Arthur Delaney to talk about the new album and current UK tour.
HÆLOS play a headline Belfast show at Voodoo on Saturday 19th October 2019 Are you looking forward to playing for the Belfast crowd?
Yes. It's our first show in Northern Ireland and we love playing in places that we haven't managed to tour yet, its an awesome feeling to turn up somewhere new and find you have a following there who have been waiting for you to come. I also happen to have a personal connection to Northern Ireland as my grandpa was from Newry so looking forward to doing him proud.
How has the tour been going so far?
It's actually been one of our best tours. We have come all the way back west from Prague so there has been a lot of driving and with some epic and very memorable shows along the way. Musically we feel like the set is the best its ever been. As a band, we are in a great place, lots of laughter and good energy and we have had Bo our longtime drummer back playing with us which has made us feel complete. Also at this strange moment in the history of our relationship with Europe, it's cool to travel, meet real people and to find that we are all more alike than different.
What is your approach to putting together a setlist - do you strive to always include your most popular songs, or are you prepared to leave them out if there are others you would rather play?
Our setlist has evolved over time. We have got it to a place that has the effect we want it to on the audience, building and releasing at the right moment with a euphoric climax at the end. If we have to drop songs then we tend to lose ones we think might not come across to the particular crowd. Its a mixture between what we want to play and the experience we feel like people are coming for.
The band recently released new album ‘Any Random Kindness’. Did you go into the recording with any preconceived ideas how it should sound and the kind of songs you wanted to write about?
We definitely went in with some ideas about the kind of record we wanted to write. We had been touring the world and had seen and experienced a lot of things that we needed to make sense of. In 2016 / 17 when we started demoing the songs that would end up on the record there was so much political and social upheaval going on that it was impossible not to write a record that looked out at the world. We knew our key themes: climate change, social media, corruption, isolation and our reliance on technology so they informed the lyrical backdrop and artistic themes of the album.
Musically we wanted to write an album that was stylistically freer than Full Circle. Dom got massively into modular so you can hear that all over the production. Lotti, Daniel and I were all much more up for being ourselves and caring less for conforming to a particular genre. We threw lots of different ideas into the mix and the challenge then became to tie that all together into something that resembled the HÆLOS sound that people had got into on the first record. I think we all grew massively as musicians from the experience.
Why did you decide to approach songwriting differently for this record?
The second album is always known to be the most difficult because your fans get into your sound and they want to hear it again. That expectation can be a bit restricting and the self-consciousness that results from it can stifle creativity. He had faith that our audience would appreciate us challenging ourselves to push the boundaries again and take some risks.
I have been enjoying your latest single ‘Messiah’ with Dutch producer Joris Voorn. How did that collaboration come about?
We are on the same label as Joris so when he was working on his new album he sent over the beginnings of the track for us to top line as it felt like a good opportunity to collaborate. To be honest, normally we would take ages crafting the production of a track so it was quite refreshing to not have to worry about that and just concentrate on the melody. It only took us a couple of days to get it written and recorded.
If you could change anything about the music industry, what would it be?
There are loads of amazing UK bands out there at the moment that aren't getting the radio play they deserve. So I wish that UK radio was a broader church as there's so much talent out there finding it hard to get a platform.
What do you enjoy most about being a musician? What do you hate most?
To have the opportunity to make music for a living is a blessing. To create your art and build something from nothing is one of life's great joys so to get paid to do it is awesome. We find that because our job is your hobby it can sometimes feel like there's no off switch. I got really into climbing at the end of Any Random Kindness because I needed an outlet that wasn't musical where I could go and clear my mind. We love touring because to play live music is one of the most intense and heightened states. Connecting and sharing energy with people is truly magical. I guess the only downside is that we can be away for long stretches of time so I can miss home, my girlfriend and our dog.
Do you have a favourite record that you always return to?
There is actually quite a big list. The entire Radiohead back catalogue, Massive Attack - Mezzanine and probably the two most important ones for me emotionally would be Talk Talks two iconic albums - Spirit of Eden and Laughing Stock. They have withstood the test of time and seem to be just as relevant now as when I discovered them.
What have you been listening to recently that you could recommend?
Just recently rediscovered Blur - Think Tank which I hadn't listened to for many years. It has such amazing production and songwriting. In terms of new music, I recently got into to Zenker Brothers who make really progressive Berlin Techno. I watched their set at Glastonbury and it felt like I was listening to the future.
Stream 'Any Random Kindness' - BELOW:
HÆLOS UK Tour:
Sat. Oct 19th - Voodoo, Belfast
Sun. Oct 20th - Whelans, Dublin
Tue. Oct 22nd - SWG3 Warehouse, Glasgow
Wed. Oct 23rd - Band On The Wall, Manchester
Thur. Oct 24th - Wardrobe, Leeds
Sat. Oct 26th - Metronome, Nottingham
Sun. Oct 27th - Thekla, Bristol
Tue. Oct 29th - Electric Brixton, London