HAERTS is a household name for the avid All Things Go reader. The NYC-based four piece have been making waves with their swooning, gorgeous synth pop since the release of their first EP, Hemiplegia. With a debut full length due out this October, the band has a slew of exciting things ahead, but none more so than their appearance at the All Things Go Fall Classic on Saturday, September 13th at Union Market. ATG’s own Fiona Hanly had a haert-to-haert with vocalist Nini Fabi to get us all caught up on the band’s latest.
How did HAERTS as we know it come into existence?
Fabi: It all started with Ben [Gebert, on keyboard] and I, getting together and playing music when we were about fifteen. We lived in Germany at the time,and really enjoyed listening to music and playing together. Then eventually, over the years, we ended up in New York City, working on a few different things. We met up with Jean [-Philip Grobler] from St. Lucia and did some studio time with him. Jean then introduced us to Garrett [Ienner] on guitar, and then we had known Derek [McWilliams, on bass] for a few years. We really came together in the studio and went from there, figured out how to be a band.
What are your musical influences as a band? Is there a sound or style you try to emulate?
Fabi: Benny and I definitely had similar yet completely different tastes. The same goes for the other band members – obviously we all loved Michael Jackson, Prince, and Radiohead, what we grew up listening to. But everyone has their unique taste. As a band, we don’t really try to emulate anyone, we try more to see what best fits our songs, it isn’t an option for us to sound like anything else. We just write what we write, and to whatever extent our sound is influenced by what we grew up listening to, we ultimately want to sound like HAERTS.
Can you talk about your EP and tell us about the inspiration for its cover?
Fabi: Hemiplegia was named after the track of the same name, and I think at that time, as it was the last song we’d written, it was the closest to our hearts and the closest to what our sound had evolved to, both in theme and content. The image is funny, it actually goes back to the first image we ever chose for our Facebook page – it was a cloud that looks like a heart, by Gerhard Richter, a German artist we love and are always inspired by. His art was kind of a presence when we were doing the record, so when it came time to pick the artwork for Hemiplegia, we went back looking through his work. There’s one piece he did called IG, which is a portrait of his ex wife Isa Genzken, where she has the same posture as I do. We asked Richter if we could emulate his portrait, and he was kind enough to let us, so we were in a hotel somewhere and Benny just took a picture of me imitating that piece of art we liked.
What was the impact of your first tour? Where was your favorite show?
Fabi: We all really like going on the road, it’s been a transformation for us, being thrown together quickly and doing a lot of touring. It’s been a great experience, going on tour with bands we really love like Washed Out and London Grammar, such great people, and really great musicians. I think we’ve had really great experiences, it’s important as a new band to go on the road and figure things out. For us it shaped our album in a different way, we went through a phase when we were only in the studio, then when we started touring, how we played our stuff live changed how we did it when we went back into the studio. We even re-recorded some stuff, which was really cool. As far as touring goes, Washington, DC is special to us, we actually had one of our very first shows there, at the Gibson Showroom — it may have been our first official show. We always like coming back and really love the crowd. It was also our first time playing festivals this summer, which is really different than doing a normal show — it’s outside in the daytime, and you get to perform in front of a lot of people who would normally not see you. It’s also great to see other bands, friends, and catch up. Bonnaroo was really great for us, one of our favorites, and Governor’s Ball of course because it was at home!
If you could bring any musician on stage to perform with you at the ATG Fall Classic, who would it be?
Fabi: It would have to be Jean from St. Lucia. We’ve worked together for such a long time, our music is very close to him as well, he’s a fantastic singer and he’s wild on stage.