Melbourne-based, Grammy-nominated band Hiatus Kaiyote’s album Love Heart Cheat Code was released to the world on June 28 via Brainfeeder Records of Ninja Tune. The new record captures the band's essence through 11 vibrant tracks that blend spontaneity and simplicity. Known for their experimental sound, touching neo-soul, psychedelia, jazz fusion, and hip hop, this album marks a more relaxed and uninhibited style, reflecting the band’s evolution and clarity of artistic vision.
Hiatus Kaiyote's creative process for this album involved late-night jam sessions, shared meals, and organic collaboration with fellow Melbourne musicians like Taylor “Chip” Crawford, Tom Martin, and Nikodimos. Legendary producer Mario Caldato Jr., known for his work with the Beastie Boys and Seu Jorge, also contributed to the album’s production.
The band’s idiosyncratic approach to both audio and visual storytelling resulted in collaborations with artists Chloé Biocca and Grey Ghost who helped them create a fictional ecosystem, the Love Heart Cheat Code supermarket , stocked with real products and artifacts. Hiatus Kaiyote embarked on a North American Summer tour starting in June, with stops in major cities like New York, Toronto, Montreal, and Chicago, bringing their new music to life on stage.
The phrase “You don’t make friends, you recognise them” is such a lovely way to reframe friendship. Since hearing it and using it in Make Friends, has it taken on any other roles in your life or mind?
I think the reason the phrase “you don’t make friends, you recognise them” resonated with me is not because it was something new I was learning but more something that I felt I was already deeply aware of. So, I wouldn’t say that my opinion has changed since learning it, but I think it’s a really beautiful sentiment and I think it’s universal. And often my lyrics are very metaphoric and poetic, but I wanted to write something that anyone can relate to.
Cinnamon Temple begins with strong distorted guitar lines and more intense energy than most other tracks. Was that especially fun to record?
Cinnamon Temple was a tricky one because it’s an older song. We’ve been performing it live for a while, which means that there’s more pressure to get it right, but my favourite part of recording was that we worked with Mario C, who produced the Beastie Boys, and he was helping us mix our record. And he had a box of microphones, and one was this crazy karaoke mic with lots of distortion and stuff. And I’d already tracked all the vocals, but I did a layer using this mic and we re-amped it into a bathroom, so it had this crazy reverb, and it was kind of the missing ingredient, which was really cool. And then afterward, he mentioned to me that all of the Beastie Boys songs that he recorded, they used that mic. So without meaning to, I used a really iconic mic that’s essentially a part of history.
You and your collaborators Chloé Biocca, and Grey Ghost, created a mini-fictional world, and then real-life artifacts, as part of the record project. How did this all come about? Why did you choose a supermarket as the space for that imaginary ecosystem?
I think my manager actually initially came up with the idea of doing a supermarket-themed thing, and it’s essentially a tongue-in-cheek response to the fact that as musicians, now we’re expected to be content creators, and it’s a product. I think we all really struggle with that, so it was kind of making fun of that by over-highlighting it and making each song a physical product. But it’s also just a really mundane, everyday life scenario that people find themselves in, and by adding an element of psychedelia to it, there’s a really cool duality to that. So that was really fun to work on.
Is there any chance the supermarket motif will make an appearance on tour?
The supermarket motif is not really part of our live format, but the boys in their spare time have been making these kinds of easy-listening versions of our songs to play. We’re going to be doing a bunch of pop-up shops around the world with this album release, and so they’ve been creating weird easy-listening versions of the songs to be playing in our pretend supermarkets. So it’s been really funny to hear how that’s been evolving. So less in the live show, but there are definitely a lot of people focusing on that on this tour because they’re bored and super creative.
Can you tell us more about the items you created as part of the larger creative project? Is there anything that’s particularly special (or just extra cool) to you?
I would say there’s a varsity jacket that I was really hands-on with the design, but, you know, I’m a musician. It’s hard for me to get excited about stuff, but there’s definitely a lot of cool creative things that we all put our heads together for. I would say maybe the thing I’m most excited about is that I think the boys are going to turn their weird ad versions of songs into a tape that people can eventually buy because at the end of the day, you know it’s the music we’re most excited about, seeing as we’re musicians. What a strange thought.
There are four of you in the band: Nai, Simon, Perrin, and Paul. How much do you guys hang out when you’re not working on music?
Yeah, we're all really close and we live nearby. I think we don't have a lot of free time. I don't think people really realise how involved it is, you know, like if you're either recording an album or you're mixing an album or you're doing photo shoots for an album or you're touring an album or you're rehearsing for the tour, so there is not a lot of free time between all of that. I guess if we saw each other as bandmates anymore then we would probably lose our minds. But we are very close and, you know, sometimes go out for dinner or it's not just a working environment. We're like all besties.
The line “We are all amputees of our divination” in Dimitri has stuck with me — but I can’t say I fully understand it. Can you enlighten me?
I'm so glad you asked this. This is one of my favourite lyrics I've ever written. And this song is about, almost, audio hallucinations. So it's like where does creative energy come from? Where does the idea for music or art come from?
Dimitri is actually a reference to Dmitri Shostakovich, a Russian composer who is rumoured to have had a piece of shrapnel in his brain, and it made him hear atonal melodies, and he would transcribe them and it influenced his art. And when they found the shrapnel, he decided to keep it because it was helping him creatively, which is punk as shit, but I guess the lyric “we are all amputees of our divination” — I believe that we are all part of the source of magic and imagination and creativity. And I think from a young age that is cut off from us, or it's trained out of us, and the arts is just a way of trying to sew back on that part of your divinity. I think also losing a breast, losing a body part and feeling that, using a physical reference to highlight that separation. The whole point of being an artist is to try to rebond. There's an Islamic group called Sufism, and they believe that through dance and singing and music — by engaging with your creative energy, you yourself are engaging with the divinity of all things.
Besides the compelling feature of platonic love, what other themes are most important to you on Love Heart Cheat Code?
So funny how often platonic love has come up. There’s an element of platonic love, but there's an element of deep universal love. I don't know why it keeps getting refined to just that. There are songs about literal space. There are songs about going through the fire of personal emotional turmoil, how to meet yourself. There's a song that is about a cat that hangs from Bender’s bass. There's no limit. We like to touch on a lot of different themes and we try not to take ourselves too seriously, but I love depth and sentimentality as well. So it's a kind of everything is everything approach.
Do you have any tips for surviving a crazy period of life (like being on tour)?
Man, touring is no joke. I don't know if people have seen this really famous video of Michael Jackson being asked about touring. He's like, "I hate to tour." It's hard. It's beautiful, and you have moments of joy, but it's pretty gruelling. I would say the thing that helps me the most is showers. I'm such a water baby, and I don't know, water is so healing, but just the basic things, sleep, sleep, and water. And just try to be gentle with yourself and try your best to get into a routine, whether it's vocal warm-up stretches. I also love vintage shopping. Sometimes I just need to get out of my head, go treasure hunting, which is fun. There's a lot of beauty in touring, but it's exhausting for sure.