As anyone who has been in attendance at one of their live shows thus far will testify –
where the venues are decorated from floor to ceiling with glitter, doll parts, glamorous
pictures and whatever else the six members of the band have dreamt up in the days
before – HMLTD are a band of grand ambitions. To date they have created a stir in both
their London hometown and in cities around the UK and beyond, attracting audiences as
dressed up to the nines as they are 24 hours a day: a select audience of beautiful freaks,
seduced by their few singles thus far and their accompanying, impossibly striking videos.
They have filled the Scala, the Electric Ballroom and other such places, and are, at
present, what you might describe as a successful cult band.
But this is not enough. Not by a long shot.
“Our plan has always been to connect on a much, much bigger scale than this,” says
singer Henry. “We want to make big pop songs that get on the radio, we want to be in the
papers, we want to be pop stars. And I don’t see why that is something that we should be
“It’s very, very easy to shout into a microphone and make a racket and be accepted as a
kind of ‘cool’ indie band,” adds guitarist James. “But that means you are only ever going to
get to a certain level, playing to the same few hundred people every time you do a show.
We want to go beyond that. That’s why we put so much into our videos, and our aesthetic.
That’s why we signed to Sony, and not to an indie label. We have always thought of
ourselves as a pop group, not an indie band.”
Their striking aesthetic is put together with help from an striking list of collaborators,
which is basically a who's-who of the young London avant garde art scene; Loverboy designer
Charles Jeffrey, visual artist Jenkin van Zyl and director Duncan Loudon to name but a few.
The next step in HMLTD’s masterplan, the connection with the person who is going to help
them make this next step a reality, almost did not happen. A few months ago, they
received a message on Instagram, from someone purporting to be a producer in Los
Angeles, who said he was in love with what they were doing and wanted to help them. “But
we get messages every day from people saying, ‘Oh I’ve got this night,’ or, ‘Oh, I run this
student magazine’,” says James. “And so we just ignored it for a while, thought it was just
another one of those kind of messages.”
“It was only when he tweeted us and we saw that he had a blue tick,” continues Henry,
“that we thought we’d better check out who he actually was.”
The sender of this message was one Justin Tranter who – it is fair to say – is much more
than just “a producer in Los Angeles.” He has created huge hits for the likes of Selena
Gomez, Gwen Stefani, Britney Spears and Justin Bieber – not least the latter’s ‘Sorry’.
Many indie bands would have baulked at the very idea of working with such a producer,
but for HMLTD it made total sense.
“The way he phrased it in the message he sent us was, ‘I’m obsessed with you guys, I
think you’re amazing, and I want to help you become the biggest band in the world,’” says
Henry. “So I think he just saw the way we looked – the look was the main thing for him –
and got a sense of our ethos and our artistic approach. He just saw what we were trying to
do, and that we had these ambitions, and that we want to be very popular, and he was just
like, ‘I can help you make this happen.’”
So HMLTD were very soon after this on a plane to LA, and then in a studio with Tranter.
The band have previously worked with other, more-rock-based producers, and been
dissatisfied with the process, but here, instantly, they felt comfortable and excited by what
they were doing, and how they were doing it. “He left (other guitarist) Duke and I to get on
with the instrumentals,” explains James. “And then just worked a lot more on the melodies
“That’s his speciality,” Henry says. “His thing is that you’ve got a great melody, you can
have any kind of instrumentation in the world underneath it, and it will still connect with
In this way, HMLTD and Tranter worked quickly. In their first four days, they had four
songs. They flew back to England, then came back for another four days, and got another
four songs. It was starting to seem easy. As easy and effortless as great, decadent,
subversive pop music should. The first fruits of this new collaborative way of working will
be ‘Pictures Of You’: a giant, titanic pop song with undeniable, super-infectious hooks that,
rather than sounding like the work of Justin Tranter, still bears all the unmistakable
hallmarks of an HMLTD creation. “And that is one of the more straight up songs,” says
James. “The others are quite avant grade and strange, and totally unlike anything you’d
hear on the radio at the moment, but still very pop, which is very exciting.”
You might expect that a band like HMLTD would have a degree of trepidation about
coming back with this music and presenting it to their existing fanbase, but Henry insists
that this is not the case at all. “The people who really get what we’ve always wanted to do
will get it,” he says. “The songs have always just been a part of the overall aesthetic with
us, and the music we have made with Justin fits in with the aesthetic completely.”
Indeed, when it arrives, the first HMLTD album will, alongside the work that they have
created with Justin Tranter, contain a number of their earlier songs, that are all their own
work, not least the next single, ‘Proxy Love’ which contains as perfect a pop chorus as any
professional songwriter, highly regarded or otherwise, could come up with. “Exactly,” says
James. “It’s all part of the same thing.”
“With HMLTD, there’s definitely a lot of making it up as we go along,” continues Henry. “But
there is definitely the skeleton of plan that we’re fleshing out, and the more that we do, the
more it feels like it is going to work.”
Anyone who hears their new songs will be hard pushed to not agree. These songs are the
final piece of the puzzle of a band who so much seem, in every possible way, what music
needs at this point in time. Ask them where they would ideally like to be in a year’s time,
for example, and there is not a moment’s hesitation.
“We want to be at Number One in the charts, whatever that means anymore,” says Henry.
“We want to be in the tabloids, we want to be everywhere. We want to have hundreds of
millions of views on Youtube. We don’t just want to be playing fucking Wembley or
whatever it is, we want to be huge in America, and everywhere else.”
“Basically,” he concludes, “we just want HMLTD to matter on a massive scale.”
The Coachella Valley is where YIP YOPS were born and still call home. However, there’s an indefinable and indescribable urge that spurned the quartet- lead singer and guitarist Ison Van Winkle, drummer Ross Murakami, bassist Jacob Gutierrez, and keyboardist/ vocalist Mari Brossfield- to send their own kind of aftershocks through alternative music. The band’s singular sound could’ve been signed to Factory Records in 1981, but feels at home on your favorite Spotify playlist. That’s why the group achieved the seemingly insurmountable within a few years of crystallizing its lineup (and graduating high school). They went from gracing the stage at Coachella, Chinatown Sum mer Nights, and Echo Park Rising to building an organic buzz online. Counting New Order, The Smiths, and Pink Floyd among myriad influences, their sound tempers male-female harmonies over swooning synths, robust accentuated guitars, and hyper-charged beats. Rising out from the area’s monolithic musical shadow, they prove the classic possibilities of musicians jamming in a suburban garage. 2018 sees the four-piece release more music as they push the single “She”!