On Wednesday, January 22nd, Sonos Studio hosted An Evening with Hiatus Kaiyote in celebration of the week leading up to the 2014 Grammys. The Australian quartet is in fact nominated for a Grammy for Best R&B performance for “Nakamarra” featuring rapper, Q-Tip. Presented by Sonos and Pandora, this special event included an amazing live performance by Hiatus Kaiyote.
With little introduction the band started playing. And quite suddenly, the lead singer, Nia Palm’s voice, like her outfit, breathed color into every corner of the room. Her voice swoops low, flutters up high, rasps with soulful insistence or darts into scat-sung syllables. Her lyrics discuss thoughts of love and transformation in cryptic, elaborate imagery, filled with thoughts of nature and landscapes. While she provides audiences with all of that, the other Hiatus Kaiyote band members; Simon Mavin (keyboards), Paul Bender (bass) and Perrin Moss (drums) impress immensely with their skills.
Hiatus Kaiyote are a soul group or “future-soul” group, as they call themselves. Their music is expansive and experimental and incorporate elements of jazz, hip-hop, soul, electronic and rock. They often use the shimmering electric-piano chords and sultry, breathy vocals of the Erykah Badu school of neo-soul. Indeed, I did immediately compare the group’s music to that of Ms. Badu who really does enjoy their off-kilter melodies and fuzzy performances. “OK,” she declared. “I’m done. In love.”
But the four-piece band isn’t content with the usual swaying two-chord vamps. Hiatus Kaiyote’s songs also invoke the stylings of 1960’s modern jazz. They are constantly shifting meters, indulge in complex harmonies and poly-rhythms.
Whether the music is hovering or becoming funky or scurrying forward, the band makes it all work. We will surely be hearing much more from this incredibly talented group and I wish them all the luck at the Grammys and much success in the future!