Electronic trip-pop trio Howlite have been crafting their dreamscape sounds since 2016, garnering attention both locally and internationally starting with their debut EP Reasons. The current release of single Canary builds on from their quadruple roll out of singles over the past year, and fills out the body of their latest EP Not Here. Canary further builds on the groups ethereal, indie foundations. With pulsing heartbeats, swirling soars of harmonies and frontwoman Alison Thom’s gloriously powerful vocal lines, Canary encompasses the textured and incredibly captivating Howlite sound. We catch up with the band to talk about the EP.
Have you been happy with the feedback from the EP Not Here?
Absolutely! It’s been so nice just to share it with the world after sitting on it for so long, and we’ve had a bunch of lovely people say a bunch of lovely words. There’s definitely been some stand out moments like getting the chance to chat about the EP with KALTBLUT Magazine in Germany, and finding ourselves on Spotify Fresh Finds playlist. We’ve been blessed with some really beautiful reviews as well from Futuremag Magazine, Forte Magazine, Buzz Music LA and Messed! Up Magazine. My mum wasn’t very pleased that I wrote the song ‘Stranger’ about her though, which she discovered in an interview we had with The AU Review – but at least that means she’s listened to it! It turns out that everyone’s a critic.
How did you celebrate release day?
The same way we have been celebrating every event under lockdown; cheap beer and delicious cheese and onion chips from the geniuses at Smith’s, who at this point should probably be our sponsor based on the sheer volume of band consumption. The checkout team at our local Liquorland definitely don’t know us by first name either.
On reflection is there anything you would do differently next time?
I mean, yeah, most of my life up until this point, really. Oh wait you mean with the EP! To be honest though no, as Homer so finely put it “I want it all: the terrifying lows, the dizzying highs, the creamy middles.”
Did COVID add another layer of complexity in getting it done?
Yes and no. On the one hand, a lot of doors closed for touring, film clips and promotion, but on the other hand we didn’t have to worry as much about coordinating a touring schedule, or pay for a band to schlep around the country. It also meant there was a bit more space on the release radar, which gave us that extra opportunity to get our music heard while some bigger artists were delaying things. On the whole we’ve been very fortunate, in that we’d recorded and completed everything prior to March, when the pandemic really hit, plus we don’t rely on touring or live shows as an income source. The downside has definitely been that things have felt quite disconnected though – you do miss playing the new songs and doing radio promos and stuff like that. It felt very much like we just kind of threw it out into the world.
Sonically, how would you describe your EP?
I would describe it as a warm, dark, velvety hug for your ears.
Do you think your sound has changed much between EP’s?
Yeah definitely. I think just by virtue of getting older – it’s been four years between our first EP and this one, so there’s been lots of development artistically and personally, and things like our musical goals and influences changing constantly as well. We’re a lot more confident in our sound and our style with this release. Everything has been just a bit more polished, a bit more pop and a bit more succinct stylistically, and I think a lot of that came down to our producers Tyson Fish and JP Fung, and our engineers Daniel Caswell and Joe Carra, who all had a hand in creating and refining the soundscapes. We’re a bit more sure of ourselves this time around.
Have you learnt a lot about yourself and your band mates this year?
I’ve definitely learnt a lot about myself this year, and so has my therapist! I think a lot of people are experiencing a lot of introspection and growth this year, just because we’ve all been trapped inside with nothing to do, while at the same time seeing such a huge social shift happening outside. It forces you to look at your life and your behaviour, and motivates you to try to fix it and get better. I haven’t really seen the band much beyond Zoom meetings, except for Ben who has the pleasure of living with me. I busted him watching The Hills the other week, so I’ve learnt he has awful taste in reality TV shows.
Are there plans for new music next year?
Absolutely! I have an extensive Soundcloud playlist of demos which I am very proud of and constantly adding to, so there’s definitely material ready for EP 3. We’re applying for a bunch of grants and cutting back on our cheese and onion chip intake to save enough to hopefully be able to finance for some studio time. Being an independent artist unfortunately means always being trapped between the realm of ambitious possibility and financial reality. We’ll definitely be playing some live shows though, as a belated celebration for this EP.
How excited are you about the prospect of touring?
So excited. Honestly just excited to leave the house. And excited to play Melbourne again, let alone leave the state. We haven’t played since the start of the year, I am very keen to make music again, even if it’s just for ten people. We only had ten people at our shows before the pandemic, so we’re well prepped!
What’s a fun fact that your fans wouldn’t know about Howlite?
Ben and I actually met through a dating app before he joined the band, which could be the most unorthodox interview process ever? Happy to say that our relationship and the band dynamic remain strong to this day though!
Interview By Rob Lyon