HAELOS LEAD singer Lotti Benardout beats me hands down with the best travel anecdote if ‘best’ means the most dangerous one where you recall risking your life, precariously crossing a slippery slope while clinging to the side of a mountain during a landslide.
Lotti recalls: “I once got caught in a landslide travelling from Mexico to Guatemala. I was on a chicken bus with two girlfriends, one was my best friend, and the mud had slid down the mountain.
“It was everywhere and the road was blocked with mud so we had to get out of the bus with our backpacks and climb across the side of a mountain. I got halfway through and froze. My friend was shouting, ‘You have to move Lotti’. There was a line of people trying to get by and I was holding everything up.”
Okay, so Lotti beats me at travel anecdotes. What about party tricks? Surely my putting everyone at a party to sleep in five seconds flat (by telling my travel anecdotes) beats her hands down? Turns out this girl has been busy. She also sang on legendary Terrovision song ‘Tequila’ from 1999 that became one of the catchiest tunes of all time. ‘Con Tequila, it makes me happy’.
Lotti enthuses: “I sang in the tequila song. It’s my favourite party trick to sing that. It was such a legendary tune!”
The singer, songwriter (and of course traveller and TV commercial star) has had an incredible experience and ride in the music industry that most bands and artists would kill for. Having studied Anthropology and Media at the University of Sussex, Lotti landed a dream connection thanks to a friend’s temping job which just happened to be at the legendary bassist, singer-songwriter, producer Trevor Horn’s recording studio. Lotti was determined to get her foot in that door so came up with a plan.
Lotti recalls: “I came in and was desperate to work there. My friend didn’t really care about music so I basically kidded on I was meeting her, sat inside and struck up a conversation with one of the producers.
“I know it’s cheeky and brash but I took his details, emailed him and that really did start me on a path. I got a job in there and started a band called Tricky with the producer’s son. I really threw myself into it. Madonna came in, The Prodigy came in. It was beyond anything I had dreamed as a kid. To get my foot in the door I had to put myself out there.”
And that’s not her only musical connections. While at university Lotti and singer Jessie Ware – back then just a student who shared a love of musical theatre – became friends and lived together.
She recalls: “We met through friends doing musical theatre and we both acted in Little Shop of Horrors. She lives very close to me and we’re still in contact. Our lives have gone in different ways and we have quite different music areas. I used to hear her voice singing in the flat and it was amazing.”
Lotti’s dream of working in the entertainment industry possibly had more of a chance than your average Joe or Joanne thanks to her family’s experience in the business. Her grandma wrote jingles in the Fifties for an American radio station, her mum entered the UK in her early twenties on a dance scholarship and her aunt is a singer and music teacher in the US so entertainment really is in the family. What entertainment legacy, like her mum and grandma’s, does she hope to leave if she ever has kids?
Lotti says: “I hope my kids will be proud of a mum that followed her passion and followed through her dreams to create music she believed in and toured the world with albums that have longevity not just fleeting music.”
Haelos begin a big European tour in October and over the Summer finished a North America tour where they were away for a month in places such as Mexico and appearing at festivals including Coachella.
Lotti says: “There’s something special about being that far away from home. It’s so great. It started at south by southwest in Austin, Texas and was such a vibrant adventure. At one point we played nine gigs in four days. We went into overdrive. We took a videographer of us touring and released it online.”
The band were signed following the release of their first single, having never gigged with their music. No traipsing round dingy bars, busking in dirty streets with a begging hat or open musical case hoping for bystanders to toss in more than some loose change.
“I had a choice whether to go down the music college path or something different at university,” recalls Lotti.
“I chose something different and I still met musicians and other people. I made the right decision though sometimes I’m frustrated I’m not more technical but it helps me break the rules. Haelos were all fronts of previous bands so sometimes there was tension and conflict.
“Back in 2014 I’d been working for a while with Dom (Smith) and Arthur (Delaney) had been working separately. Arthur and I met in Dom’s bedroom and wrote Dust. Two months later we were signed!
“Dom sent the music to a few friends of his and it ended up on a blog. It exploded quite quickly and we were signed never having played music live (as Haelos). Our first gig was in Oslo.”
Most of Haelos’s music has a layered effect similar to that of late Eighties/early Nineties electronica, dance band Massive Attack.
It’s a breath of fresh air from the conveyor belt of similar-sounding pop that is churned out every month. Following their first album and subsequent tour the band experienced different places and cultures and were more outward-looking at the world for their second album Any Random Kindness. Lotti says: “Our music is being true to ourselves. It’s a collaboration and a lot of creating and destroying.
“We all have to feel connected individually to be happy with our music. I think that for this album it (the music) was quite informed. We got signed quickly after the first record. We wanted to write about where technology was happening and the age of climate change. Political conversations also sparked a lot of ideas. We were interested in the synthesis. Our first record had heavy harmonies but this was more upbeat. There was more technology used and more single voices.”
review by Susie Daniels
Haelos play SWG3, Glasgow on October 22nd.