Electronic Trip-hop trio, Howlite announces their much-anticipated single, “Canary,” from their long-awaited, forthcoming EP, 'Not Here.'
This Melbourne trinity has been mastering their dreamscape reverberations since 2016, garnering attention on a local and international spectrum. Rolling Stone Australia has described their sound as “brooding, borderline folk, but inches-from-pop,” and we can’t help but agree. Their direct yet wistful sound is the result of lush, immersive, vocals, propulsive guitars, and trip-hop stimulated beats. The present release of their single “Canary,” builds on from their quadruple roll out of singles over the course of the past year, and fills out the body of their latest EP “Not Here.”
“Canary,” opens up with the cinematic elements of dark, resonant vocals, sending a chill down your spine. Minimalistic, ominous instrumentation accompanies the resonance creating a spotlight on the words being spoken into existence, the tempo slowly picks up in a storytelling manner with electronic elements casting a striking ambiance, setting the tone of this record.
There is something so effortless yet strategic about the placement of natural breaths being left in “Canary.” It gives a lifelike feel, linking you to the energy and passion Howlite exudes. The chilling vocal effects and harmonies that come into actuality in the bridge and final chorus, create a bodacious and triumphant finish that this record warrants.
Howlite has us exclaiming over “Canary,” one of the four singles in their roll out throughout this past year. With this sonic voyage being slightly over three minutes, it has us clicking repeat in such an effortless manner.
Congratulations on the release of your single, "Canary." Welcome to BuzzMusic! As this being one of four singles in your rollout over the past year, what inspired you to strategically release the singles prior to the EP, "Not here?"
Thank you, and thank you so much for having us! To be honest, the rollout of singles ahead of the EP got blown out of the water by the pandemic, there was a bit of strategy and a bit of adjusting the sails as we went along! While part of us would love to do the King Gizzard approach and just release twenty albums in a week, it’s so hard for us to distinguish a particular song that way. When you put so much time and effort into creating what could be considered a mini album with 6 tracks, you want to make sure those tracks are given a proper chance to be heard. So the strategic singles approach lets us turn the EP into more of a celebration. We released two tracks from the EP in 2019 [Reducer and Olympia] as lead singles, and had planned to drop the EP in mid-2020 with an Australian tour. This was pretty much derailed once Melbourne was placed under lockdown, and any chance of making film clips or playing live shows was completely off the cards for the year. Fortunately, the world of streaming has changed the way we consume pop music - there is a big focus on getting a song playlisted and connecting with fans online, and so dropping multiple singles lets us have a proper celebration for each song, it’s like making an excuse to party every few weeks. Having the singles throughout the year gave us the chance to connect with other artists, media folk, grow our audience base, and remind our friends and family that we still exist! So it’s been a nice way to stay active in the industry during a difficult year and has really helped us connect with a bigger audience.
How did your unique and distinct sound come to be?
We’ve been really guided by our amazing production team through this latest set of releases, but it's been an evolving process of inspiration and refinement over the past four years - working out what we liked, what was fun to play live, what worked on the recordings and ultimately, who we wanted to be as a band. There are so many amazing artists who have influenced us all, and that makes for an interesting combination. Our keyboard player Andrew is a jazz musician who loves Coldplay, our drummer Lyle is from a punk and hard rock background, our bassist Ben played in punk and electro bands, and I grew up playing folk music and Avril Lavigne - it’s an unholy mess but it somehow works. I think a lot of what makes us unique is what makes every artist unique - my voice doesn’t sound like anyone else’s voice, my words aren’t anyone else's words. So we’ve really focused on building tracks around that, which has helped to define our sound. And I think we’re not so fussed these days with trying to do anything other than making music that we like, so things like instruments and stylistic decisions become fun because we’re not trying to adhere to any trend in particular. I’m happier to take risks or do things that aren’t cool, purely because I like the sound. We often hear of comparisons to artists such as London Grammar or Florence + The Machine, but our favorite was someone who said one of our songs reminded them of Enya, and I was like, hell yeah! I love Enya. Enya lives worry-free in a castle with her cats, who wouldn’t want to sound like that? When you’re not trying to remain in vogue, you have the ultimate freedom to create without judgment, and I think that’s why a lot of our stuff kind of sounds like it’s from another era, and why it resonates with people. Good music shouldn’t have an expiration date.
Could you please tell us what the meaning of "Canary" is and what you want your fans to take away from it?
I wrote ‘Canary’ a few years ago. It talks about a time in my early to mid-twenties where I was grappling with an identity crisis that ultimately led to a breakdown, therapy, and antidepressants. A complete shattering of the ego. I think we all pass through different versions of ourselves at transitional moments; sometimes the change is subtle but for a lot of us it’s quite drastic and disruptive. Mine was very drastic because I realized I didn’t know who I was - I didn’t have that foundation to ground me and so much of my personality and self-worth was defined and dependent on the people in my life, their values, their interests, and ultimately, what they thought of me. I’ve always been a bit of an outsider and struggled to connect with people or make friends, and for me, the only thing more terrifying than being an outcast was realizing I had friends and was working hard to please them, but I still didn't feel accepted or worthy. It’s a special kind of loneliness. Ironically, what I would like fans to take away from the song is a feeling of connection. I think so often we all feel like an imposter, as the odd person out in the room or the only one who doesn’t “get” life - it looks so easy for everyone else. As someone who intrinsically understands what that feels like, I wanted the song to be honest and admit that I feel this way a lot so that other people can have that sense of being understood and validated, and maybe don’t feel as alone. I think that message of “it’s gonna be okay, kid” is one of the most important functions of music and I know songs with this sort of theme helped me a lot growing up.
Where do you find inspiration in the world during times of uncertainty in 2020?
Personally, my inspiration tends to be quite introspective - the world feels so out of control and chaotic that I can’t even begin to interpret or comment on it in a way I would consider useful to others. It would just be a concept album of me scrolling through Facebook and screaming into the microphone. But I can look at myself, my reactions to the tiny events in my life and work to make them relatable, or comforting, or at least entertaining, and so I tend to have songs that focus on making sense of yourself and trying to improve as a person. It’s all we can do, in the end! I am always inspired by stories - our art, music, folklore, history, and human connection; I think they are the most valuable things that we have as a species, and it’s comforting to know others before we have felt what we feel, or endured hardships and thrived. In times of uncertainty and negativity, I think people tend to want to come together and connect with each other more, and I am interested to see the kinds of art and music people will be creating over the next few years, especially as paradigms continue to shift and new voices are amplified. I have an unwavering optimism about mankind which I cannot rationalize, and I hope I am proved right.