On Friday May 8th, I had a chance to escape the heat and relax in the media tent with the band, Haerts. Nini Fabi (vocals), Ben Gebert (keyboard), and Derek McWilliams (bass) stopped by for Concerthopper’s first interview for this year’s Shaky Knees Music and Arts Festival in Atlanta, Georgia (May 8th-10th, 2015). The band was formed in Brooklyn, New York in 2012, after longtime friends and collaborators Nina and Ben signed with Columbia Records. Their debut release, Haerts, was met with great reviews as it was produced by the band and Jean-Philip Groble a.k.a. St. Lucia.
ConcertHopper (CH): Hello. Thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to sit down with me. I know how hectic it has been for you all with the press and media dragging you around since your performance on the Piedmont Stage the afternoon.
Nini: You’re welcome. It has been a great experience today here at Shaky Knees. We have enjoyed ourselves.
CH: So you recently signed with Columbia Records in 2012. How has the journey been since playing as Ben & Nini to the newly formed Haerts?
Nini: It has been a progression since the early days with just Ben and myself. We were both younger and the performances were really raw. The whole process was raw in a sense. Since forming Haerts, with the addition of Derek McWilliams, more structure has been introduced and we are becoming a live band. We are not trying to recreate what we did in the studio. We are developing into this live band.
CH: What was the inspiration behind your debut album, Haerts?
Nini: There is no real concept behind the making of the album. This is 100% of our lives at the time. A reflection of our feelings and emotions. Experiencing new things in New York City. The lyrics are a stream of consciousness in which we tried to crystallize the themes. If I had to say three constant themes that appear throughout the album, I would say longing, heart-break, and hopefulness.
CH: Does any track stand out to you individually?
Ben: “Hemiplegia” from our self-titled EP (2013) which was produced by St. Lucia.
Derek: “Hope” off of Haerts.
Nini: You develop different relationships with the songs. You get mad at them at times. You change the way you see them. You re-imagine them into something else. Right now, I would say “All the Days”.
CH: The album, Haerts, was produced, credited to, both Haerts and Jean-Philip Groble a.k.a. St. Lucia with additional credits to Andy Baldwin. How has it been working with Jean and having his help on the album?
Nini: We met through a mutual friend and it was a natural process at the time. Haerts did not exist at this point so we were all just getting to understand each other. He pushed us to new steps, new sounds and new musical elements. He taught me a lot about vocal arrangements.
Ben: Back then we had no expectation and we just wanted to create something special and beautiful.
Nini: We wanted to bring across a certain feeling with every song. Jean helped us accomplish these feelings.
CH: Well I know you all need to get going. I want to thank you three for taking time out of your busy festival schedule to sit and talk with me. I wish you all a safe journey and good luck on a great career.
Nini: Thank you and we enjoyed it. Thank you for doing some research on us before coming. This was a great time.
Ben: Yes, thank you!
Haerts has three upcoming dates in June: 06/08/2015 in Montreal, Canada, 06/10/2015 in Washington, D.C., and 06/12/2015 in Seattle, WA. If you are lucky enough to catch them live, do not miss your opportunity to see this band. How often does a band surface that is actually great at making music and also really down to earth? It was a treat to sit down with Haerts and I wish them all the good fortune and success that they deserve. Until next time…