Listen up, guys. Haiku Hands just called you their “bitch.”
The Aussie rave-pop trio premieres its new single “MANBITCH” today right here (and the Nathan Lewis-directed video below) on PRØHBTD. If their music traditionally sounds like a Scissor Sisters-Beastie Boys mashup, “MANBITCH” shifts it up a gear with bouncy dance beats, audience-ready chants and throwback braggadocio that imagines Luscious Jackson hopped up on Adderall at a Warhol party. Along with the single, the group — featuring Beatrice Lewis and sisters Mie and Claire Nakazawa (plus performing member Mataya Young) — announced their full-length debut comes out on Diplo’s Mad Decent this August.
Started as a music and visual arts collective, Haiku Hands made their arrival known in 2017 with another irreverent club banger, “Not About You,” delivering such attitude-rich lines as, “Chill, it’s not about you, shut up.” More singles followed, but the trio blew the lid off their artistic expectations last fall with the hyper-energized “ONSET,” which coincided with their Mad Decent signing. “MANBITCH” proves the lid is still off and suggests the new album will mark an epic new chapter in the Haiku Hands story.
PRØHBTD spoke with members Beatrice and Mie about the single, album and what role the visual arts play in their music.
Tell me about “MANBITCH.”
Beatrice: I am so happy “MANBITCH” has been released! It was the third song we ever wrote, and it’s one of our most requested songs. For me, the song reclaims the word “bitch” and flips mainstream gender stereotypes that are well past their use-by date. It’s also a soundtrack for your inner confidence beast, and about ownership of your body and the dance floor.
Your debut album comes out in August. How would you describe the current direction of the songs?
Beatrice: There is a whole variety of different vibes in there. It’s been written over about four years so there are songs from lots of different times for us as writers and as people. It will be great for the whole body of work to be released.
Other recent singles include “ONSET” and “Let It Burn.” Are there specific elements in these songs that represent important steps forward in your creative evolution?
Beatrice: For me both of those songs are different vocal/rap styles that I hadn’t really done before. Also, the tempo for “Let It Burn” was a lot slower than what Haiku Hands has done before, which was cool. One was written with Mad Zach and one with Hermitude. I really like collaborating with lots of different producers from different genres, as it’s a core part of the Haiku Hands aesthetic.
How would you describe the collaboration process within the group and with outside collaborators like Joelistics and Hermitude?
Beatrice: Joel has been writing with us since the very start. He was instrumental in bringing us together into the writing room initially. He feels like he is part of the band and a family member. We most commonly write together in Melbourne with Joel, which is always a multilayered experience with lots of experimenting and eating croissants and talking. Angus [Stuart], a.k.a. El Gusto from Hermitude, has also been there since the start. He is the producer behind “MANBITCH” and “Not About You” and a few other tracks on the album. He’s a real backbone of the band, and we feel really lucky he is a part of the project.
You signed with Mad Decent last year for markets outside Australia and New Zealand. Will you or have you collaborated with Diplo on new music?
Beatrice: Not yet but hopefully one day. He’s a great producer and a very tasteful DJ. We went to his place in Los Angeles to write with Phil Scully, one of the dudes from his team. In that house, Diplo has a warming toilet seat, which was the first time I’d used one. It was lovely!
In what ways does being a visual artist make you a better music artist, and vice versa?
Mie: Giving yourself permission to practice two different art forms straight up gives you more confidence and taught me to be braver when creating. The main thing that I am reminded of when I move from one art form to the next is to try not to polish things too much, to be playful and daring.
How do you think the visual aspects of the group influence what listeners hear from the music?
Mie: I think Haiku Hands music and visuals speak in the same tone. They echo and amplify each other, giving our audience the full Haiku Hands experience.
How do the visual arts empower the group’s fashion sense and style?
Mie: Coming from a visual arts background, I get great enjoyment from looking at nice textures and colors next to one another. I love being able to think about what we are going to wear on stage and how the lighting and location affects our decisions. We often wear masks on stage, which are pieces of artwork made by artist Damselfrau. Wearing these beautiful masks is empowering because I feel unified with my band mates and we create a force bigger than the individual.
Certain songs feature elements of classic hip-hop braggadocio. What classic hip-hop group most inspires your braggadocio style?
Beatrice: For me when I first got into hip-hop, I was into A Tribe Called Quest, Naughty by Nature, Wu-Tang, Jedi Mind Tricks, Dre and these mad compilations called Soundbombing, which is where I first heard a female MC, Bahamadia. Those guys all definitely have a “braggadocic style,” but I think the heart of it really came from listening to heaps of the Beastie Boys growing up as well as Cypress Hill, Run DMC and Salt-N-Pepa.
In what ways does Haiku Hands celebrate diversity?
Beatrice: Hopefully in many ways. Right now I really miss doing live shows because we create a dance floor that is all inclusive. Claire, Mie, Mataya and I often create a space with the audience that is so charged that the energy we create together transcends any discrimination or negative thought.