Havvk: “Our album is about how you treat yourself”

by James Hendicott
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Moody and jarring, heady and yet at times deeply emotional and reflective, Havvk’s music is sometimes referred to as a modern-day form of grunge, but is more accurately something of a tour of the more emotive end of heady rock, a clever balance of brisk and considered.

The trio consist of Julie Hawk, Matt Harris and powerful new addition Nigel Kenny (formerly drummer with the now defunct Bitch Falcon – apparently he has a thing for bands named for birds!). They’ve taken an unusual road to establishing themselves: with their third record on the horizon, it’ll also be released from their third different location, with the debut two records the product of lives, at that time, in London and Berlin respectively.

With all that experience behind them, the band have adopted a motto for the new album that they intend to carry through the year: “if it’s not fun, we’re not doing it.” Fun, it seems, means playing live, but only when you want to. “There’s a lot of people we want to play with, and we’re working on material for a new record already, we don’t linger,” Harris says.

“Rocky O’Reilly has been our producer since album one. He’s based up in Belfast so we can’t wait to play up there. We don’t play as much as we’d like to, though, as we had our formative years as a band somewhere else. We’re a bit picky and choosy about where we play.”

“Time in Berlin has influenced our sense of community,” Hawk says. “When we moved to Dublin we planned to embed ourselves in the community that we felt closest to, but it aligned with Covid so that’s been hard, and we’re only really getting to it now. What Berlin gave us was a very artist friendly place. We didn’t need to work five days a week to be able to afford to live, so that gave us space. As a band, though, we’re thinking longer term, and the community we want to surround ourselves with is in Dublin.”

“We only get one chance to make a first album in each country we live in, so we’re just going to move again,” she jokes.

“If you put Julie’s voice on anything, that’s an identifying feature, so we don’t have to stick to a style or genre,” Harris adds. “We like being in a free kind of project. Julie’s nickname is eclecto, she likes a bit of everything, from coral music to Japanese electro-pop.”

“I was an excellent sleeper,” Hawk explains, “then nearly five years ago I started waking up at 4 or 5 in the morning. I had no tactics for coping with it, and I had to step back after a while and question how I was treating my brain and body during the day.”

“It had a knock on effect on everything that I was putting my brain through and the stress I was carrying. Sleep also has this mysterious side to it, it’s a scientific area we don’t really understand, and I found it really interesting, and a theme that suited our music really well. It had both peace and inner disruption. So that’s what the album is about.”

“It’s as intimate and reflective an album as we’ve done. It’s not about opinions or politics, it’s about how you treat yourself. I love talking about this kind of stuff, though. I’m a big believer that talking helps.”

‘To Fall Asleep’ is out on March 15. They play Workman’s Club on March 22, with tickets on sale now.

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