Q&A with Ethereal Electronic Synth Duo, NÉONHÈART
Posted On 02 Jul 2015
Tag: All Access, All Access Music, All Access Music Group, allaccessmusicnicole, Alt Rock, Artificial Flavour, Awakening, Awakening EP, Backstreet Boys, Banks, Beethoven, British, Canada, Canadian, Chet Faker, China, Chinese, Chinese-American singer, Chopin, Christina O'Connor, Coco Lee, ColdPlay, Comatose, Damien Rice, electronic, electronica, Ellie Goulding, ethereal, Hao, HAOO, Haoo Wang, iTunes, Jeff Buckley, Julia Jack McCabe, Keane, Los Angeles, Los Globos, Madeon, Mike Posner, MUSE, Neonheart, Nicole DeRosa, Passion Pit, Purity Ring, Radiohead, Son Lux, Spice Girls
With haunting ethereal vocals that sounds like Ellie Goulding meets Daughter, NÉONHÈART incorporates heavy synth textures and electronic drum beats to create their own unique sound. The duo formed when Canadian singer/songwriter, Christina O’Connor met Chinese songwriter/producer HAOO in Los Angeles, CA.
The duo has a variety of influences, with that of a more folk background from O’Connor, and HAOO with heavy Alt Rock influences, coming together with a modern spin to create a fresh new sound. The band is gearing up to release the debut EP entitled Awakening (now available on iTunes here) comprised of 4 songs, each varying in sound and feel, but are a collection of the band’s journey to find their unique sound. The album is set to be released June 30th, 2015.
Hi Christina and Haoo! How are you today? What’s on the agenda today besides our interview?
Christina: Hi Nicole! We’re doing well, thank you for having us. We’re constantly in the studio these days just working on new material.
How did you get your start in music? Who or what was the catalyst for you to want to be a musician, songwriter and performer?
Christina: Well that’s a loaded question, but music has been a passion of mine since a very young age. I’ve been singing since I can remember, and took up guitar when I was about 13. I started an all girl band in junior high called “Artificial Flavour” and we were absolutely terrible but I guess that was the catalyst for me to pick up the guitar, and then I started writing more folk singer/songwriter type stuff in high school, and after graduating I just decided I wanted to take it more seriously, and really try and make a career out of it.
HAOO: My life has always been surrounded by music. All my dad’s friends are musicians. I started to learn piano at age of 5. But I decided to pursue music as a career when I was 18. I wouldn’t say there’s one particular artist that inspired me to be a musician, it just seemed natural to me through the years.
How would you describe your music to those that are not as familiar with you and your sound? How did NÉONHÈART form?
Christina: Overall, our music has a more melancholy feel. We listen to a lot of different artists that we draw influences from, but generally we gravitate towards a more electronicy and synthy vibe. Experimenting with different sound and vocal samples.
We met through a mutual friend and actually I had hired HAOO to produce an EP for me prior, which I never ended up releasing but from there we just vibed well and started writing more together and we just decided to form NÉONHÈART.
HAOO: Great story. Haha
What did you learn between collaborations and playing live, that you felt you wanted to infuse into your latest EP, Awakening and soon to be released album?
HAOO: I think we learned working in the studio and playing live are two totally different things. We’re pretty new to the live thing so prior to releasing the EP we didn’t have much live experience, but Awakening is very much a collective of our experience coming together as a band and “awakening” to what NÉONHÈART really is.
What was the inspiration for your new single, “Comatose”?
Christina: We wrote the song in the studio together and I guess we were just really feeling it that day and it just came out very fluidly. The lyrics took on a more personal meaning for me. I wrote them about a time in my life when my sister had been in the hospital for cancer, so for me, it’s about that feeling of being completely helpless to another person’s circumstance, in that exposed vulnerable state.
I love the video. It is quite moving to say the least. Can you tell me about it more? Did you help come up with the treatment for the video as well?
Christina: For the music video we met up the director Marta and just talked to her about the meaning of the song, the lyrics are very vague and abstract that we just wanted to give her the freedom to come up with her own interpretation of the song, so she came up with the treatment for it.
Who have been your musical inspirations growing up?
Christina: For me, I’ve gone through a variety of different phases. But I think I found myself more as an artist during high school. Jeff Buckley and Damien Rice are huge influences of mine. The way that they’re able to be vulnerable in their music just inspired me to try and write from a truly honest place without restriction.
HAOO: Well, I’ve been playing classical music on piano since I was a kid. There is definitely a lot of influence from it. Chopin, Beethoven accompanied my whole childhood. I started to listen to pop music when I went to high school, there was this Chinese-American singer Coco Lee who opened a door for me to the western pop music world, cause back in the day there weren’t too many options for us to listen to in China.
Because of Coco I started to listen to every English song that I could find. Later, I developed an insanely affection towards British bands, like Coldplay, Keane, Radiohead and Muse. They are the reason I eventually came to America to study music and pursue my music career here.
What is your songwriting process like? How to do capture inspiration as it comes to you? Do you and HAOO collaborate on the lyrics?
Christina: Each song is always different, sometimes we start a song from scratch in the studio or one of us will have an idea and we’ll work on it together. Generally it will start with HAOO playing something on piano and I just sing on top of the chords until we come up with something we both really like, and the whole process is recorded on mine or HAOOs phone. It’s a very glamorous process haha…We do write the some of the lyrics together, it just depends song to song, but I think on this EP we wrote the lyrics for Road and Nothing Left together.
Do you remember the first song you fell in love with and why? How about the first album you ever purchased for yourself?
Christina: Oh my gosh, I don’t, is that bad? I know my mom listened to a lot of reggae so probably something like that. First album was probably Backstreet Boys or Spice Girls haha
HAOO: Uhhh, yeah.
Who is in your current playlist? What artists or bands are in current rotation for you?
Christina: We just saw Mike Posner play a show and I’ve been listening to his new EP non-stop the past few days, but other than that the new Madeon album, Purity Ring, Chet Faker, and Banks.
HAOO: Well um, I discovered this guy Son Lux and I think he’s super cool and I’ve been listening to him non stop, but in general, my playlist consist of music from Ellie Goulding, Chet Faker, Passion Pit, and Purity Ring.
What’s on tap next for you? What are you most excited about for this year?
Christina: Well we’re really excited that our EP is finally out as of June 30th. We’re playing a show at Los Globos on July 9th to celebrate our EP release. And yeah, just staying busy working on more new music.
HAOO: We already have the concept for our first full length album. So we’re excited about that! But you can keep in touch with us on our social media: