Haiku Hands: “making music and art feels like the biggest joy in our lives”
Imagine music as a forest or a landscape of sorts: there are peaks, valleys, different shades of weather and texture, all combining into the lush, teaming space we find before us. Now imagine the eruption of springtime in this scene; flocks of colourful birds fly past, a sea of bright feathers trailing behind them, flowers burst through the cold earth, and the sun burns down to defrost everything in sight. This is the most innate way that I can explain what Haiku Hands have brought to music.
What Beatrice Lewis, Claire Nakazawa, and Mie Nakazawa have achieved since their 2017 debut is nothing short of explosive. To Haiku Hands, originality isn’t just something they strive for, it defines their entire creative output. Their artistry is utterly limitless, boasting a kaleidoscopic sonic and vision that can ignite any venue, while still feeling utterly raw and nuanced. It is multimedia art that leaves you feeling richer just for being in its presence. You just need to look to their latest release for proof.
The trio’s self-titled record isn’t so much a debut as it is an opus of discovery, consolidating three years of creative vision, decadent performances, and unbounded sonic. Cosmic and immaculate, it is a living, breathing sculpture that captures everything that Haiku Hands has grown into.
Fresh off the release, we caught up with Bea, Claire, and Mie to chat lockdown, creativity, and the story behind their artistic inauguration.
HAPPY: Hey guys, how’s it going?
MIE: I’ve been tie-dying.
HAPPY: Oh, love that!
MIE: So, we’re doing tie-dye merch and… oh, that one’s not so good [shows shirt]. I’ve got these.
HAPPY: Ooh, that’s sick!
MIE: Yeah, I’ve ended up doing like 140 or something.
MIE: Yeah. So, I’ve been doing that mainly, which has been really fun.
HAPPY: How long did that take you, to do 140?
MIE: I’m still doing it. I’ve done maybe 60 now. And it took me a while at first to figure out what looked best and whatnot. I’ve got it now so I can be a little bit quicker, but it does take a while.
CLAIRE: Do you have to wash them all?
MIE: Yeah, I wash them all twice to get the bleach out, like, the smell. I’m trying to use as least bleach as possible. So, I’m like dribbling every little bit onto the next t-shirt. I felt a little bit bad about that…
HAPPY: No, that’s so cool! So, congrats on the album, guys! How’s it feel having it all done?
CLAIRE: Really good. I don’t think I’ll get that elated feeling until it’s out, though.
HAPPY: Yeah, that’s true. Cause, you’ve had some of the singles out for a while now, hey?
HAPPY: So, it must be nice to have it as one complete body of work.
CLAIRE: Yeah, I feel like the other songs really rounded out what we are and has a holistic, kind of, view.
MIE: The other songs on the album, I feel like there’s a few weirder songs. So, I’m excited for people to hear those ones.
HAPPY: Is there a concept that you guys put into the album when you were writing it?
CLAIRE: No, I think each individual song has a concept of its own that it explores and then the combination of them all together, I think represents heaps of things that we’re interested in. Or heaps of energies that we all have and want to express.
HAPPY: Yeah, for sure. Could you give us some examples?
MIE: I feel like, in a lot of the tracks, we’re exploring the human consciousness, or commentary on humankind and how fickle we are. And also about technology and then about letting out, I don’t want to say rage, but energy? Like expressing your bolder self in the songs.
CLAIRE: I do want to say rage as well because I feel like there’s not that much of a forum or platform for us to let out our rage in a healthy way. And I feel like some of the songs could be really beneficial for that. Like, being able to let that feeling out in a positive way, I guess. Or, just let it out, period, as opposed to be sitting with it and it coming out slowly. I like that about it.
HAPPY: Yeah, for sure. Well, you said that the album has an attitude of empowerment about it. Were there any particular energies that you were hoping to convey across when you were writing it or did it all just come very naturally?
CLAIRE: Yes, for me, I wanted the voice to be about showing our more confident side because I guess it’s like, who I would want to be my confident self. And then to put that energy out into the world, hopefully will contribute to others feeling also confident.
HAPPY: Yeah, you’ve always had this amazing intersection with Haiku Hands between visual art and pop. Were there any particular artistic influences that went into this album?
MIE: Hmm, I keep on thinking about the Hello Nasty album by Beastie Boys and how the album has all these interludes. And sometimes they’re just talking or there’s… yeah, you go on different journeys within each song. And I feel like that really inspired me listening to that and then listening to our album, I could see some parallels in that. So, the Beastie Boys and Hello Nasty, they were definitely an inspiration in how we put the album together.
CLAIRE: I think there’s heaps of influences, so many. Aesthetically, we just collect things all the time and share it with each other.
HAPPY: Are there any themes that you find continually started to crop up when you were writing the record?
CLAIRE: More like an attitude, I think. Well, what is that attitude like? I guess a defiant attitude about like a non-conformist, independent.
MIE: Unexpected, I think.
CLAIRE: And then, ideally, we’re gonna be aware, someone who’s like almost existential… or maybe that’s not the right word. But who sees subtext of what’s going on around us with each other and ourselves and stuff.
HAPPY: Yeah, for sure. So, do you guys ever find it hard to step back from a project and to say, hey, this is done, I’m finished? Especially when you’ve got such a diverse range of influences coming in.
CLAIRE: Yeah, I think that’s like a huge lesson for artists, not getting caught up in perfectionism. Like, everyone has such different approaches as well, of working. So yeah, that has definitely been a challenge: how to balance that. I think I’m often the one who’s like, it’s done, don’t change it!
MIE: Yeah, we all have listened to similar music, but I think we’ve all been drawn to kind of different music in our day to day listening. I’m really drawn to punk music, and so I’m always like, first take is always the best. I know that that sound doesn’t sit in the pop world as much, but I’m drawn to the always the rawest vision of the tracks. And then everyone has other different ideas so it does take a while, but then makes it great, I think, having all those different minds in one thing. It’s definitely better, different abilities and strengths.
HAPPY: Well, I know for a lot of artists, as challenging as this year has been, they found it a really great source of creativity, like the added downtime and everything that’s been happening. Has that been the same for you guys?
CLAIRE: Yeah, so much. I feel like my creative energy was all used up from touring and I was just tired, like even the thought of choosing our album cover and stuff like was becoming hard because it was just like my mind wasn’t energised with sleep and solitude and reflection and stuff like that. I think that those things that we’ve been able to have a bit more of, like space and time and rumination and dreams, that contributes so much to creativity, general health, vitality, and energy.
MIE: Like eating proper meals that you don’t get on tour.
CLAIRE: A routine of sorts. Yeah, it’s really good for creativity.
MIE: Yeah, I agree because having space is really huge. Having time and then also like being in one spot is actually quite inspiring for me because I’m limited and I realise that limitations have been really beneficial for me in creating stuff.
HAPPY: Yeah, it’s really interesting actually…
BEA: [Bea enters the chat] Hi! Sorry about that, I was meditating in the bush. I was like, so far out.
HAPPY: No worries, jump in! We were just talking about creativity.
HAPPY: Have you found that lockdown’s been particularly helpful for your creative flow?
BEA: For me, it’s been really amazing. I’ve really had a good time being in one spot, so not travelling so much has been very good for my being and also, therefore, for my creativity. I’ve got to do a bunch of stuff like I learnt transcendental meditation and I just had more time, a life which is really fed music.
HAPPY: As you guys have all pretty much said, has touring ever come into conflict when you guys just want to try and have a little bit of time to just work on music or your art or anything like that?
CLAIRE: I think it plays a part in why it’s taken so long to release the album. We just couldn’t do both, like energetically. All of our energy goes into our live shows and socials and promotion and that’s like enough.
MIE: Yeah. But it has been inspiring touring to see other artists and meet people. Yeah, it has also fed our creativity as well.
HAPPY: Absolutely. Well now that the record is out in the world, what’s on the horizon for you guys?
CLAIRE: Collapse in a heap?
HAPPY: [Laughs] fair enough.
BEA: Sleep for a couple of days at least.
MIE: Maybe do a bit of personal art. I want to do more of my visual art stuff.
CLAIRE: Yeah, I have three murals to do after the album’s done. So, that’ll keep me busy for a while.
CLAIRE: Yeah, outdoor murals, it’ll be nice.
HAPPY: Yeah, how do you go about balancing Haiku Hands with doing all your solo art?
CLAIRE: I just haven’t really done any at all for three years. And now that people know that we’re not touring, or the universe knows that we’re not touring and I’m around, there’s like opportunities coming and I can actually say yes to them and stuff.
HAPPY: Yeah. I guess music is another artistic outlet anyway, so it hasn’t been a complete diversion.
CLAIRE: This is a fantastic outlet. And like, super stretching. You can still take the skills across socials and confidence and all that.
HAPPY: Absolutely. Was music always something you wanted to do or was it just a nice mix with art?
CLAIRE: Yeah. I think I wanted to do it but couldn’t admit it to myself for like five years. I would listen to triple j while I was painting and be like, I can do that!
HAPPY: [Laughs] Is that the same for the rest of you guys?
MIE: I personally didn’t. My favourite thing when I was a kid was Sister Act and I thought that was to be like, I wanted to be… I wanted to be Lauryn Hill realistically.
HAPPY: I vibe with that.
MIE: I wanted to be in Sister Act all the time but I never thought it was possible, to be honest. And so visual arts was so easy and came really easily to me and I did that. And then I would say maybe fell into doing Haiku Hands. It’s been probably the most challenging thing I’ve ever done in my life, I reckon. But, very beneficial.
BEA: Yeah, Haiku Hands, to me, feels kind of like a multimedia project rather than just a music project, which is something that I really like about it. It feels like it’s multidisciplinary arts. Like, Haiku Hands is just a banner for lots of different kind of interests that everyone has. But yeah, I always wanted to do music. It kind of just feels like the thing in life that feels the most reassuring. I feel like music is like a best friend or it’s always there; when I’m really sad, when I’m really happy.
It’s something I always want to share with people. It’s like something that makes me really… making music and finishing something, or even just the process of writing something that I really love, it feels like the biggest joy in my life. It’s like, you can just create this thing that perfectly surmises an emotion. And it’s like, that’s fucking it! That’s exactly what it feels like. Yeah, I really love it and I love it more and more. It’s like, I’m in love! And I guess, like Haiku Hands is really cool because it’s really different to what I normally make. And so, it’s been really challenging, like artistically and also emotionally and production-wise. It’s really cool. It’s like a whole new world for me.
HAPPY: Yeah. Well, you said that you say it was like a mixed media project anyway. Are there any different artistic routes that you’d be keen to explore with the group and with your music?
BEA: Yeah, I really want to get way more into film and, yeah, just doing way more video stuff. That is something I’m super into explore. And, you know, as Claire said before, it’s really hard when you’re touring to have time for anything else because it’s just like, we put a lot into our live show and I guess that takes up a lot of energy. It’s kind of cool to have a bit of time off. Like it’d be nice to explore more film stuff, making the Fashion Model Art film clip recently was really quite a cool experience. I’d love to do more of that, more like collaborating with people.
HAPPY: Yeah. Well, thank you guys so much for the chat. It was lovely talking to you all.
EVERYONE: You too.
Haiku Hands is available on all streaming platforms. Grab your copy here.