In Conversation with Huntly
Bubbly pop, deep house hooks and a minimalist techno mentality come together on Low Grade Buzz, the debut album from Melbourne trio Huntly.
Backed by a barrage of huge singles, like the bouncy pop tune ‘Wiggle’, or the more club-orientated ‘Drop Gear’, the group deliver an LP full of emotion and groove.
Wedged between summery and affirming song-writing are occasional dips into more left-field techno inklings.
The pulsating bassline underlying the track ‘AUR’ elicits the swinging of a guillotine. ’37 Degrees’ closes a six minute autotuned ballad, that threatens and teases to climax throughout, with an industrial snare and a drum-pad collage.
It’s as if Huntly are trying to make a straight pop album but are intermediately drawn back, either for dark club vibes or a youthful electronic playfulness.
Low Grade Buzz is out March 15. Read our chat with band members Elspeth Scrine, Andrew McEwan, and Charlie Teitelbaum below.
The title of the new record is Low Grade Buzz, and it’s also the title of one of the lead singles, what exactly is a Low Grade Buzz?
Elspeth: Low Grade Buzz was the term I came up with to describe this feeling of existential angst and dread, the feeling of not responding to problems like heartbreak or death or something that I might think or write about usually. Low Grade Buzz was the feeling of dissatisfaction and kind of searching for more.
Do you think this is something common today?
Elspeth: I mean, I was writing from my own experience. I could have generalised about the “millennial condition” and these feelings of dissatisfaction, this “search for more” and how it pertains to neo-liberal capitalistic structures. But for me it was just that feeling that I had on a Sunday afternoon.
“Doof you can cry to” is a phrase brought up often with you, but it does describe your music so well. How important do you think it is to have an emotional vulnerability within dance music, and within clubs?
Andy: It’s very important. Clubs can be really unsafe spaces and I feel like if you yourself approach them as vulnerable in your own right, you’re much more likely to act respectfully. But everyone engages in music differently. Some people want to engage in music to not have to deal with their emotions, as an escape.
These things like inclusivity, queer acceptance, and the acknowledgment of country at the start of gigs, these seem like an essential part of Huntly. Would you agree?
Elspeth: I think it’s an essential part of the band. As people making music on stolen land and with the histories of arts being coopted by people with more structural power, it’s something we’re constantly trying to question. Thinking about our complicity in these structures we’re trying to work against, thinking about our own identities.
Andy: Because of the innumerable things that play out in our favour in our current society that have helped us get to this level. We can talk to people, on a stage, with a microphone now.
So it’s about having that voice?
It seems the three of you come from quite a diverse range of musical backgrounds. Is there any overlap in music tastes that play into how you come together as musicians?
Charlie: We’re all interested in electronic music in some form or another. We’d all made music before when we started playing together but not really focused solely on electronic music. I think for all of us this was the kind of the first time exploring that .
Andy: Yeah I think this is the first way we’ve all had a serious crack at electronic music and dance music.
What’s the collaborative process for Huntly like? Charlie and Andy, is the work divided on the production side of things between you?
Charlie: It’s just really totally different for each song. We do a lot of production sessions alone, we do a lot with the three of us, sometimes it’s just two of us.
Andy: It’s divided. But it’s divided different each time. We just kind of make it up as we go along, as it suits the song. I feel like we create a space where everyone’s free to explore the ideas that they want in a song, and then we bring it all together.
How would you describe your live shows to someone who’s never been?
Elspeth: Drama, comedy, romance.
In what ways?
Elspeth: I generally run my mouth. I’ll just start talking about whatever’s on my mind at the time. I’m really passionate about connecting to an audience and feeling like a human being on a stage. So being emotionally vulnerable is something that is quite natural to me. It’s something that I’m not really able to step away from. Technically, I’m singing and playing the keys and using a lot of vocal effects, because that’s really important to my stage set-up.
Charlie: Our shows become dance music shows in a way, so we try to use elements that DJs would use, and focus on the dancing. But as Elly was talking about, kind of mixing it up in connecting with the audience, maybe more like how a pop music show would play out. Presenting it in a very human way.
What are your plans for after the album release and for the rest of 2019?
Elspeth: We have like a dream list. So maybe we could dream big and declare our wish to play some international shows. But in the immediate and more realistic we will be doing a tour and we’re really excited to play launches in Sydney and Melbourne in May.
Andy: There’s just been so much focus leading up to the album release and the shows that it definitely seems like that’s like a whole new frontier.
Elspeth: I want to be playing SXSW next year.