Interview / In conversation with Husky Loops

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A new Kellogg's cereal? No - your new favourite band. Music Editor Alexia Kirov chats with Husky Loops about the origins of their name, PledgeMusic and whether their latest single heralds a new musical direction

I chat with Bologna born, London based three-piece Husky Loops, perched on a pile of old sofa cushions in a back room of The Crofters Rights. Last time the band was in Bristol was eight months ago when they played the basement of The Island as part of Dot to Dot Festival. Since then, they’ve toured with the likes of Placebo and The Kills, recorded a Radio 1 Maida Vale session and are now two nights into their first headline UK tour.

The band’s name is not in homage to Kellogg’s Honey Loops as you might think, but instead, the result of ‘a long brainstorming session with shit loads of arguments, [where] we came up with these two words that had weird meanings’ says drummer Pietro Garrone. He continues, ‘‘Husky’ means roughness, and ‘Loops’ means repeating - a very musical concept. The two words go together - as a band that plays a lot live, but has a lot of fascination with contemporary music, like electronic or hip-hop - that’s all in there.’

However, both singer/guitarist Danio Forni and bassist Tommaso Medica agree that there is also a more practical meaning behind their moniker. Medica wanted the name ‘to be kind of unique so that when you search it on Google you find out immediately about the band.’ Forni nods in agreement, and adds, ‘Yeah, that was really important to me - that when you Google it you find us and not 50 million other bands.’

In an era of social media and Spotify, the experience of being in a band in its nascent stage is dramatically different than it was in ‘the old days’, feels Garrone. ‘There is a side of me that wishes we could go back to [that time] and we could just be the musicians focusing on the music. Right now you really have to think about the socials daily and stuff.’

But for any misgivings about the digital age, it is undeniable that social media enables an unprecedentedly close relationship between artists and their fans, unimaginable ‘20 years ago, or even [for] bands like The Strokes - they didn’t have any of that’, says Medica. ‘They just based their whole career on touring and playing live shows and that was the contact they had with their audience so [the internet and social media have created] a very privileged situation in a way. You can actually output so much and it’s so easy, you can just let yourself go with it and be spontaneous with it. There are massive opportunities with it.’

One such opportunity that Husky Loops have been utilising recently is the crowdfunding platform PledgeMusic. Dubbed ‘A unique marketplace where fans and artists connect’, the three-piece recently launched their ‘Help for Huskies’ campaign. Forni feels that ‘PledgeMusic is great for us. We come from an era in which we have the opportunity of doing so many things, and we took them all - putting ourselves into an often difficult situation financially, giving up jobs and just going for it. We did it and a lot of people really liked [us]. For us it was amazing, and we improved a lot doing it.’ With PledgeMusic, ‘We were just trying to find ways to exchange things with fans and find things they might like and find things that we like doing as well.’ The items on offer range from the more conventional, signed lyric sheets or test pressings, to the more inventive, a custom written ‘Jingle For Your Pet’ (yours for £30), an hour-long Italian lesson with a band member (£50), or even pasta and an acoustic gig at the band’s flat, ‘Husky Loops HQ’, (£250).

Initiatives like PledgeMusic not only create new and exciting ways for fans to interact with their favourite musicians but also serve as a vital means of financial support. ‘It is really hard to be in a band today - we are unsigned, everything we do is by ourselves.’ Having released two EPs in the last year, with European and UK tours under their belts and a rapidly filling diary of festival dates this summer, doing it themselves seems to be working pretty well for Husky Loops. But talking about the band’s writing process, Forni modestly feels that ‘We’re not the kind of band yet where the songwriting pierces through as much as the sound of the music.’

That’s not to say lyrics are a secondary concern for Husky Loops. ‘To me personally, to them as well (he gestures towards his bandmates), the lyrics are very important - they’re what the song is about. It’s one thing really. It’s never ‘the song with the really good lyrics’ or ‘the song with the good music’, everything is together. Forni agrees, ‘A song is creating an environment in your head, and is creating, hopefully, many different feelings that all need to coexist. The lyrics go towards a certain section of that, but all the other sounds go towards another section - but they all need to work together.’

Music and lyrics seem to be equal over at Husky Loops HQ. What, then, do the three-piece think of books like Jarvis Cocker’s Mother, Brother, Lover that publish song lyrics in a stand-alone, literary format? Medica appreciates them, feeling that ‘Putting that emphasis on the lyrics like they did, releasing those books, helps a lot of people from outside of countries that speak English to focus more on lyrics, because otherwise, a lot of people listening to rock music or modern music sometimes they just take it for granted, they don’t really read, they just enjoy the sound of the words.’ To date, the lyrics to all of Husky Loops’ releases have been written in English, a decision that ‘comes massively from our musical influences. As we were growing up, we were all listening to mostly British and American music’, says Garrone. Forni agrees, and adds that it was a decision made ‘because we were in England, and we didn’t want to communicate to only an inch of the town - Italians.’

I mention the commercial success of Sigur Rós in the UK, who sing in Icelandic and ‘Hopelandic’, their own made-up language. Garrone agrees that ‘There is room to bring two different languages together. I think that right now, we are in a context where we are the first generation that really are mixing up so much, especially in a European context. You have so many foreigners who are speaking English - and that’s actually their own language - but they still are very connected to where they come from. There is so much room to do things like that.’ He turns to Forni, and says ‘I think some of your songwriting, directly or indirectly, very much influenced by where you come from, and that gives you an edge.’

Whilst a Bolognian upbringing might have influenced Forni’s songwriting, the band’s latest single ‘When I Come Home’ has a different Italian influence - the touch of the ‘brilliant producer’ Tomasso Colliva, who has worked with Muse, Afterhours and Franz Ferdinand to name but a few. It’s the first Husky Loops track that Forni hasn’t produced himself. Dubbed on Facebook to be ‘A new step for us as a band’, the band’s latest single has a brighter, sunnier sound than the murky thunder of earlier single ‘Tempo’.

‘Arrangement-wise, it was definitely intentionally [different] - I think that’s what we meant as ‘a new step for us as a band’’, says Forni. ‘This time, we were really influenced by R&B. We listened to stuff like Frank Ocean and Kendrick and Beyoncé. We realised that some of those songs are amazingly intimate but have such a good energy. We wanted to do exactly the same thing in our own way, so it was our intention to do something like ‘When I Come Home’.’ Garrone adds that the track ‘is played in an upbeat manner, but it’s still in your face - and, at the same time, it’s intimate.’ Medica believes that ‘It’s the first time we managed to do one of those songs. Danio writes many different types of songs, and we tried for a few years, taking some of the tunes that were more melodic, and giving them an arrangement and we didn’t manage for quite a while.’

One problem facing any musician is that fans can become attached to a certain type of sound and are then disappointed when their favourite artist deviates from that. Garrone vents his frustration that ‘A lot of people ask ‘When is the next ‘Tempo’ coming out? and [now] people are going to ask ‘When is the next ‘When I Come Home’ coming out?’’ He laughs, but with a note of defiance, says ‘They already came out - go listen to those! We are always going to try and make something new that [makes us] feel like we are growing […], that is exploring a new universe.’ Medica adds that ‘That doesn’t mean that [‘When I Come Home’] is the new sound of the band - it’s just one phase of our musicality.’ Whilst the exact future of Husky Loops’ sound might be unpredictable, it seems certain that it’s going to be good.

Featured image: Flickr / Oscar Anjewierden


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AUTHOR

Alexia Kirov

Music Editor @ Epigram 2017-19 / Photo credit: Catarina Rodrigues, Barbican 2018

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