HÆLOS, a London-based three-piece of Arthur Delaney, Dom Goldsmith and Lotti Benardout, fall into the latter bracket. The way the music comes out sounding, it wouldn’t make sense for it to have happened any other way. Considered, but emotional, each of their vividly cinematic tracks seems to map the long journey from desperation to relief, stress to sanctuary – the basic dynamic of all urban life. If London tends to be a meandering, alienating hometown, there is an overwhelming feeling to HÆLOS’ music of three musicians having found each other in this precise city at this precise time. In that sense, HÆLOS are very much a band that speaks of modern big city life.
“We’ve all worked independently for a number of years,” say the band, referring to the musical projects all three had pre-HÆLOS, “but to come together and find such a strong connection between us has been really powerful – HÆLOS felt like the therapy we all needed.”
You get the impression that the band needed to go through the emotions of previous projects to get to where they are now. There have been many factors along their individual journeys which has coloured where they are now. Factors that you hear about often enough in music – heartbreak, drug addiction, loss and disappointment. The difference with HÆLOS’ music is that you really feel these emotions in the foreground – lyrically and musically – through the honesty of the vocals, with all three members singing in unison.
Calling to mind the same twilit urban landscapes stalked by the music of Massive Attack, Portishead and the rest of those electronic artists who spent the 90s exploring the pain after the rave, HÆLOS music sounds meditative; a way to cope. Amidst a club culture that fetishises the drop but has forgotten about the comedown, those rituals and coping strategies are more vital than ever.
If HÆLOS’ music bears traces of its influences, it also possesses an undeniable contemporary zeal. Look around you. How much ever really changes? The same Coke cans and plastic bags litter the same deserted dawn high streets. Alone, together, against the soft and hard edges of the city. Young men and women are always there, trudging through the late-night rubble. There’s always that urge to leave the house and not return until it’s another day. The one thing you need more than anything else after finding those edges will never change, either. It’s soul, and HÆLOS have stacks of it – it’s sore, it’s overworked, it’s overmedicated. But despite the night’s best efforts, it is undeniably there.
Full Circle treads that fine line between darkness and euphoria – the undercurrent of pain, but the light at the end of the tunnel. HÆLOS is music for after the drop, the sun finally coming up.
A Los Angeles native, singer/songwriter/actress Hayley Kiyoko immersed herself in all things music early on, learning drums at the age of five before picking up guitar and bass in her early teenage years. Following up her proper solo artist debut in 2013, Kiyoko brings indie pop music to life on her new sophomore EP This Side of Paradise, having personally written or co-written every song on the album in collaboration with producer James Flannigan. Working between London and at a makeshift studio in the garage of her Los Angeles home, together they conjured up a sound that embraces indie experimentalism and pop prowess all at once.
Ask Smoke Season where they get their hazy blend of psychedelic Americana and electro-soul from and they’ll give you two words: “manifest destiny.” Los Angeles-based Gabrielle Wortman and Jason Rosen, the duo that comprises Smoke Season, both grew up around the NYC area, ironically meeting in California after their separate musical paths brought them to make the move west. Their sound stems from what they call “east coast heads and west coast hearts."
From the outside looking in, the first thing one notices about this fiercely independent duo is the buzz that has mounted around them in recent years — earning them a place as "the up and coming band you wish you were in” (Pancakes & Whiskey, 2015). However, it’s where this buzz is generating from that makes for Smoke Season’s most defining characteristic.
Since forming in 2013, Smoke Season has proven themselves to be in a constant state of artistic fervor, with a flurry of activity and creative output surrounding them at all times. They’ve independently released 3 EPs, 5+ music videos, toured tirelessly with internationally known acts and become a regular on the stages of nation-wide festivals, such as SXSW and CMJ.
Judging by their millions of Spotify plays and acclaim from major press outlets (Buzzfeed, Huffington Post, Clash Magazine, LA Weekly, and The New York Times to name a few), it looks like their hard work is finally paying off.
The duo has consistently (if not stubbornly) foregone traditional routes and branded their artistic output as multi-sensory in nature. Their live show is a great example of this, employing synchronized light shows, smoke and unique sampling — all of which are programmed and executed by the duo. “We want audiences to do more than just hear what we’re making. We want them to see, smell, feel it as a multimedia experience. Jason and I both studied film scoring as college students so a fully immersive experience was somewhat undeniable,” Wortman explains.
Expanding upon this multimedia concept even further, the duo organized their most recent EP, 2016’s Ouroboros EP, as a collection of music videos that combine to form a complete short film. Pairing up with APLUSFILMZ, known for their Kendrick Lamar, SZA and Talib Kweli videos, Wortman and APLUSFILMZ’s Scott Fleishman crafted a screenplay and spent almost a year casting, shooting and editing the film counterpart to the EP.
“At its core, our music is very cinematic. Press, fans and collaborators alike have all pointed this out to us. To us, creating the cinema piece to go along with the music was the obvious next step in maturing our artistic output,” Wortman notes. The duo will be the first to admit the film component was no small feat. They opted to tell the story of human interaction, fate and compassion through a cast of renowned talent including Emmy Award nominee Lexi Ainsworth (General Hospital), Nicole Fox (winner of America’s Next Top Model), Julian De La Celle (Ugly Betty, How To Get Away With Murder) and Nicholas Gonzalez (Bordertown).
With music videos for the first two singles, “Loose” and “When The Smoke Clears”, already out on VEVO, the Ouroboros EP itself is being released digitally on April 15, 2016 with the vinyl and short film following for a summer 2016 release. Sonically speaking, they think this release is poised to be their best musical effort yet.
“The songs on this newest EP really capture the heart and soul of who we are as artists in this moment.” Jason Rosen describes the direction of the songs on this release as "1 part electronic beats, 1 part psychedelic soul and 2 parts whiskey under the Mojave Desert stars.”
So what’s after Ouroboros? “Well, we’ve already begun working on our first full length album,” Rosen admits. “We’ve never been big fans of slowing down.”