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Music – Blue Hawaii

Text by Shanna Keetelaar

After their latest release “Try To Be” we were just eagerly waiting for their album Untogether” to come out and finally we can say it is there! Vocalist Ra (a.k.a Raphalle Preston- Standell, whom you might already know from Braids), and bandmate Agor formed Blue Hawaii and released their debut album Blooming Summer” in 2010.  Ra’s dreamy and light-as-a-feather voice combined with a soothing uplifting yet emotional melody makes “Try To Be” the perfect song to dream away into another world where sadness and happiness meld together.  Having produced most of the record individually, it’s no wonder the album is called “Untogether”.  We asked them last month for their two cents on  separation and modern technology.


NOU:  Most of “Untogether” was produced while you two were apart from each other, physically speaking.  Was this a specific choice, or the result of circumstance?  How did this influenced the sound on the record?

RA:  It was a bit of both. We were better able to express our ideas through actually doing, rather than discussing.  The album took on quite a bit of personal meaning for both of us.  I’m not sure whether the space we needed while recording is represented sonically; I suppose at times it sounds cold and sad, and that’s probably due to reaching a very deep and secret part of the mind while being alone.  I don’t think we could have reached some of the emotions explored if we had been together the whole time. It would have been a completely different record.



NOU: The title of the new album “Untogether” also describes the feeling of being together without physically being in the same place.  In which way do you think modern technology influences our communication and human relationships nowadays?

AG:  This idea is interesting because it’s so circular: I tend to feel more disconnected from those around me as I become futher involved with them on a technological level.  The fact that we can stay in touch so easily creates a world in which we are constantly having to do so.  However untogetherness doesn’t necessarily indicate something negative. It’s an organic process a lot of people experience as they discover their individuality, and thus become distanced from a group identity.  At the same time, however, communication technology can help us maintain this group identity.


NOU: Did you have any ideas about how you wanted the album to sound when you first set out to do it? 

RA:  It’s much more spacious than our last album.  Oddly enough, I kept getting hung up on what I didn’t want the album to be.  But usually things just become what they need to become. Okay, this is going to be VERY hippy, but sometimes a song has a soul and a mind before you have written much of it, and it just decides where it wants to go, and you have to allow it to go there. That’s a nice state to reach, but it happens rarely, and when it does it’s so nice to be a part of.


NOU: What have been the weirdest, unexpected or subconscious influences that have affected your work?

RA:  My mother.

AG:  Long, sprawling empty days.


NOU:  What are your current obsessions?

RA:  I recently got two very cute iPhone cases from a sale table.  One is a white cat, and the other’s a sad, brown bear.  Catty and Pensive Beary is what I call them, for obvious reasons.   In the morning I dress my iPhone according to whether I’m feeling pensive, or catty.  Although, the other day I took my friend to get a Canadian work visa, so that was a very-normal-black-iPhone-case sort of day.  I can’t believe I’m telling this… On a side note, I’ve been trying to find cheap cider in Quebec.  It’s impossible!

AG: The weekend!


NOU: The music you make is decidely pop-oriented, but there are some electronic influences as well. Are you electronic music lovers?

RA:  I’m not very well versed in my knowledge of electronic music.  The other day I went online to try to understand the many extremely specific subgenres that make up electronic music.  It’s amazing, like a wine connoisseur identifying the subtle flavours in a glass of wine, but in electronic music – they’re electronic connoisseurs!

AG: I really like that early Warp stuff, and of course Chicago/Detroit/early UK rave/German minimal techno.  But the best decade is now for sure.  I’m really into some new stuff that tends to blend these together in original compositions.  Hard, soulful, musical – the more popular ones including Luke Abbott, Duke Dumont, John Talabot, etc…


NOU: Any favourite new artist/tunes/albums you’d like to share with us?

RA: I’ve been listening to Cadence Weapon a lot lately.  Especially “Get on Down” and “No More Names.”  I like when he says “pissed in the alley.”  It makes me chuckle every time. Such a nice song, very romantic.
“Hope In Dirty City” is still quite new for me; I’ve only listened to it three or four times, and each time it gets better.  I really like putting on my running shoes and my silly head band and heading to the gym and really pushing myself hard and listening to it.

AG: I’m pretty excited to see what Talabot and Pional do next.  I also shamelessly love this guy A1 Bassline and want to hear more.  And of course I can’t wait for all our friend’s music to come out, like Sean Nicholas Savage, TOPS, Grimes, Doldrums, Majical Cloudz, and Mac deMarco.  It’s all sounding so good.