Behind the Music: Interview with Hello Yes

‘For us, it’s all about experimenting with a palette of sounds that we like.’

Following the release of their debut EP ‘Listen Clearly’ last month, I chatted to Hello Yes to discover more about the tracks within it, their love for including sax lines, and what would make the perfect listener experience. 

Hi guys, thanks for taking time to chat. Please describe your sound in no more than 5 words.
Hazy. Synthetic. Nostalgia. Beef. Noodle.

Why the name ‘Hello Yes’?
There are two parts to this. When in Bali, all the locals would say Hello! yes to try to get your attention to sell something which is not ‘correct’ English, but totally makes sense and logically should be part of English vernacular. Then Hello Yes became a joke. We were on tour with our buddy Zhu and decided it would be fun to prank call some craigslist scalpers that were asking ridiculous prices for show tickets. One of the characters we created for the pranks greeted scalpers with “Hello… Yes… I’m calling about the Zhu tickets you have for sale…” some of the calls turned out outrageously funny. We have them recorded on some old iPhones somewhere, and we may or may not have used them as show intros for that tour.

Who is involved with ‘Hello Yes’ and what do they bring to the sound?
The two of us mainly find melodies and sounds and then eventually turn them into songs. We did call on some of our incredibly talented friends to help us out with the EP. Taylor Johnson (Lunar Manor Studios) helped us in the final stages of production and mixing. He’s an incredible musician/producer/jokester. Billy Reid (Audiobook Club/Endocrine Twins), Nick Ley & Matt Duckworth (The Flaming Lips/Brothers Griiin), and Tremaine Wade (Swim Fan) played drums across the EP. Garrison Brown (Twiggs/Thunder Jackson/Jason Scott) and Gabe Steiner (The Marias) added trumpet parts to Out Of My Mind + Moon Cloud.

Turning to your EP Listen Clearly, what is the story behind the release and its title?
Listen Clearly is a lyric from a sample we created for the beginning of “Out Of My Mind.” We didn’t think the lyric would become the EP’s title when we first made the song. However, when we started picking songs for the EP and how we wanted to brand Hello Yes, all these fun ideas about seeking authentic connection and vintage phone imagery started to emerge. So.. With that and our lyrical themes of bliss and hardships that we experience in our relationships, Listen Clearly felt like an obvious fit for the EP’s title. Simply being a better listener in our relationships is at the core of the message.

‘In today’s musical landscape, it’s important to be as high output as possible.’

Across the four tracks there is musical diversity, but common elements too. How do you approach finding the right balance of these?
For us, it’s all about experimenting with a palette of sounds that we like and then trying to be specific about finding ideas and parts that can become songs. We wrote about 50 songs, and through that process, we found a balance that feels like Hello Yes.

And linked with this, I love how much the saxophone content is integral to the overall sound. What is the process for deciding where these will be used?
We think of the sax as a voice and try to create verses and choruses that the sax can sing. It’s such an expressive instrument, so it’s fun to find parts for the sax where a vocal might normally happen.

What is the most surprising thing about a ‘Hello Yes’ recording session?
The initial ideas come very quickly. 5-10 minutes max. The rest of the session is questioning what the hell to do next and making sure we have ice for our whiskey.

Although you only started releasing music as ‘Hello Yes’ this year, you’ve already delivered 6 tracks. How important do you think a fast rate of output early on is to an artist’s development?
It’s important to be as high output as possible in today’s musical landscape. Not saying you need to release everything you create, but as an artist, you need to create a lot to learn how to deliver work that is consistent in quality. Even with all of the early throw-away Hello Yes songs that we made, we still learned a tonne from them. They helped us get to the point where we’re like, yes, we have a more refined sound now… It’s enabled us to explore possibilities inside and outside the boundaries of our little sonic system. If you look closely at many successful artists, they work on their art more than most realize. Prince, Drake, Picasso, and Warhol quickly come to mind. Success leaves clues.

Within those releases is a remix of ‘Praise You’. Why did you choose to rework this track and are there any others in the pipeline?
We both love Fatboy Slim and thought it would be fun to make a simplified house version of “Praise You” that could fit in our live set. This was one of those trailblazing records way ahead of its time for the genre. Way before Calvin Harris made EDM pop music with Rihanna, Fatboy Slim had fooled everyone into thinking that Praise You was a typical pop hit, which it totally isn’t. Yes, we have another cover that is ready to release. We may put it up on our Sound Cloud soon. Or we may make something else? What should we cover next?

How have your experiences of working with other artists pre-Hello Yes impacted your recent releases?
We’ve been lucky to work with some successful artists, and we’re grateful that we’ve been able to take some notes along the way. Indeed, it has helped us become more aware of what goes into larger release strategies, but ultimately we’re trying to find our unique pathway and do what feels right for Hello Yes. Also, I think working with other artists establishes your taste, gives you a foundation of what you like and don’t like. Those little things you take away from memorable sessions or performances with them inevitably become a part of your musical DNA.

What are the main blessings/curses of being producers as well as songwriters and performers?
Hmmm… Blessings: having more creative control and being able to turn a feeling into a song. Curses: having too much creative control and over thinking. It takes a considerable amount of time to get to the point of actually releasing music. Then once you release it, tons of other work needs to be done. It’s a process we’re learning and a process we want to understand fully. Hopefully, we’ll get to a point where we can get a larger team of people to help us on all creative fronts. But for now, it’s fun writing our blueprint.

‘We think of the sax as a voice. It’s such an expressive instrument.’

And on the topic of performing, what are your main considerations when putting your set list together?
We actually played our first show at Lightning In A Bottle on May 28th at the Grand Artique stage. We still have a lot to learn about what goes into making a great Hello Yes live set, but we were super stoked about what we had ready for LiB. We have years of touring and building shows with other artists that have helped inform what kind of musical moments elicit desired reactions and we are definitely baking all of that into the live show.

If you could create the perfect setting for someone to experience your music, what would it be like?
Excellent question! It probably involves a small group camp for a few days in Moab, UT, to tune into the environment and build a community around love, acceptance, and empathy. Maybe like 50-100 people tops. Once a unified consciousness forms, we’ll find an area to set up so that the natural rock formations become a part of the sound and visuals. After the encore, we’ll make s’mores 🙂

And finally, which artists are you loving right now and why should we give them a listen too?
Lately we’ve been digging Ekkah, Verzache, Polo & Pan, Spirit of The Beehive, Matty, Lord Echo,….

Thanks Hello Yes for chatting with Listen to Discover
Photography by: Madelyn Amacher

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