HAERTS is a band from New York hailing from Germany, England, and the United States. The group consists of Nini Fabi, Ben Gebert, Garrett Ienner, Derek McWilliams, and Jonathan Schmidt. The band’s first single, Wings, was produced in collaboration with Jean-Philip Grobler (aka St. Lucia). HAERTS’ debut album is due in 2013.
Thanks to the band
Jordan and Alex / Sony
Nini: Ben and I met as teenagers in Germany and have been writing and playing music together ever since then. Two years ago we started experimenting with different more synth heavy sounds and we started working with our producer Jean from St. Lucia. After spending months in the studio we found a sound that felt right for our new material. It was at the same time when we were introduced to Garrett at Jeans Birthday party. People around us started hinting that the three of us should collaborate and when we finally did it was instantly clear that Garrett had been the missing link, and that was the beginning of HAERTS. We’ve been friends with Derek and Johnny ever since college and always had Derek on bass throughout the years. It was a natural step to bring both him and Johnny on board for this project.
How do you guys split the work when it comes to production, lyrics, etc?
Ben: Nini and I write most of the songs. We’ve been writing together for such a long time and have a certain dynamic and understanding of how far we can push each other and where certain things can or can’t go. We are each others filter and with Nini being more of a melodic and myself being more of rhythm and instrumental writer we really complement each other. It’s always been a very intense process because we both have very strong ideas and concepts of how things should sound. We usually start with a basic idea, which can be a hook for a chorus or a couple of chords with a basic melody. Nini writes all of the lyrics and I do a lot of the production or at least try to give the song a good shell. Our writing process is always different in a sense that we never start the same way. Sometimes we write a song on the guitar and other times a whole arrangement comes out of a synthesizer. Garrett has become an important part of our ‘sound’. A lot of the atmospheric textures and guitar hooks are his doing.
Were you into the same styles of music, or did you arrive at the HAERTS sound from different angles?
B: I think that our sound now is the outcome of all our influences and lots of experimentation in the studio. We all share a lot of enthusiasm for the great records of the 80’s (Michael Jackson, Prince, Peter Gabriel,…) but individually we are also influenced by very different music and genres. This really made for an interesting starting point when we started HAERTS. We started in the studio and there were no limitations or specific goals for what it should be or sound like. We treated it like a blank canvas and it opened many doors and directions to explore.
N: At the end of the day we knew what was right for our songs when we heard it and the sound we have now is still and will hopefully always evolve with time and the same approach. We definitely come from different angles but we have the same goal when it comes to production, writing and performing and in that way we keep challenging each other which I think is very important.
I love your first single ‘Wings’! What was running through your mind while writing it?
N: We wrote Wings three years ago and it started as a slow piano ballad. It’s hard to remember what exactly went through our mind at that point. I think it was just the outcome of things we were thinking about and that moved us at the time and we wrote it pretty quickly in the basement of the house we lived in in Brooklyn. Looking back now the song definitely has something to do with the melancholic feeling of growing up and having to trade certain conceptions and memories for new truths or realities and finding beauty within that. It’s about heartbreak and a coming of age and it’s bitter sweet in that way.
Do you remember the first time the press has talked about you or the first hearing on the radio?
Garrett: We put « Wings » up on Soundcloud in the Fall of 2012. Initially we planned on releasing a different song as a first single, but since the project was so new and nobody knew our name, we decided to put up « Wings » as an introduction so people might have some familiarity with us before we release anything officially. The blog response we recieved soon after the song went up was almost shocking, as « Wings » was really meant to test the waters and we weren’t expecting any recognition at all. I think this was a big step for us because for the first time it brought the project out of the bubble of the studio and people’s reaction to the song made it more tangible for us.
Do films, books, or other works of art ever find their way into your music?
G: I feel that anything that moves you, whether its music, or art, or a life experience, will somehow influence how you feel things or express your work. Most of the time for me at least, what influences me really happens on a subconscious level. You end up chasing a feeling, rarely realizing how you ended up there. A lot of pop, especially in indie, seems to be moving in a darker direction, both musically and lyrically do you think this is reflection of the times or the mindset of new artists, or maybe just a reaction to things getting a little too upbeat in pop music over the past years?
N: It’s true that there are some dark albums out right now. The new James Blake, Grimes and Bat for Lashes are good examples of that. But at the same time there are so many bands on the other end of that spectrum that have a lighter and more upbeat sound. To some extent I feel it has always been like that, but what seems to have changed is that now anything goes. I think whether it is in music, visual arts, fashion and film we’re in a time where people are crossing over and borrowing from so many different styles, times and genres and it seems impossible to pin down a specific current sound. Of course a lot of us feel inspired by the 80s and 90s and the goth and punk scene of those times, but speaking for ourselves I think we can only make the music that feels right to us in the moment. Whether the music is dark or light isn’t really a conscious stylistic decision – what’s most important is that its an honest expression of the song.
If you were to curate your own music festival, who would you want to play?
N: The list of bands that we would like to have at The HAERTS FESTIVAL is very long.
To name just a few we would love to have Avan Lava, Grimes, Phoenix, Robyn, Chromatics, LCD, and of course we will invite Radiohead. Let’s see who shows up…
Do you have plans for touring in the U.K, or even throughout Europe?
G: We can’t wait to go to the UK, France, Germany and all over Europe soon. With Derek from the UK and Ben and Nini from Munich it is very important for us to play over there.We will be in the US this summer but hope to come over in the Fall and next year.
Your last word for our TEEZ’FM listeners?
We can’t wait to play for you in France very soon!