Stratospheric Ascent: HAAi Interviewed | Characteristics

Fewer than a minute into our dialogue and Teneil Throssell, much better identified as HAAi, is already eyeing up a bunch of vinyl. “On the other side of the pc, you can just see boxes of what seems to be like documents and I’m like, ‘what can I take from it?’” she grins. It is this inquisitive tactic that has built ‘Baby, We’re Ascending’, her debut album, into 1 of the year’s most worthwhile releases, as tricky techno, ambient, breaks and soul crash in a person superb rush. If you were being blessed adequate to capture one particular of HAAi’s marathon sets during her Phonox days, it resembles a little something similarly chaotic, akin to the sharp modifications of “really aged MTV”, flitting from one turbo-charged skit to a psychedelic cartoon in 1 glorious swoop.

Handful of have made residencies very their possess in modern memory like HAAi, who took regulate of the Brixton club for two yrs and, following bowing out, located herself in substantial demand from customers and catapulted into a punishing tour program.

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Adhering to a handful of EPs, crafted “on an plane or in a lodge lobby” which showcased her ear for warped melody, she began to ponder a launch not totally club-targeted. Then the pandemic strike and she discovered the compelled isolation unexpectedly invigorating, prompting her to approach songwriting in completely novel methods.

“The album felt like a thing that I could definitely dive into and make it much more self-reflective and be far more of one thing to be performed than just to be danced to. And also mainly because, you know, there was no dance for us at that position,” she grimaces. “And we didn’t really know when they have been heading to come again. And I felt like, as significantly as it was a shitty time for so lots of persons, owning the luxurious of staying equipped to be in a studio and make a complete studio history and have attendees and use real devices and new music components, I felt actually privileged to be in a position to get to do that.”

Newfound studio time was not the only matter that knowledgeable ‘Baby, We’re Ascending’ in unanticipated ways. By her possess admission, Teneil experienced always been reluctant to get the job done collaboratively. However, by means of gradual enter by shut buddy Jon Hopkins, who requested to add soon after listening to snippets of early tracks, she commenced to simplicity into the process. Teneil recalls, firmly tongue-in-cheek: “He called up straight away and was like, ‘can I be a component of this? Or can I collaborate? Or can I assist in any way?’ And I was naturally like, ‘absolutely not.’” Following stem sharing and studio time with Hopkins, collaborations with Alexis Taylor, Obi Franky and Kai-Isaiah Jamal materialised, which gave the group an optimistic reason that has only dawned on Teneil in modern instances.


“…Because we couldn’t see anybody, and I’m so utilized to doing every thing in this sort of solitude, I believe I was reaching out for a little bit of innovative togetherness,” HAAi suggests, “to open up up and feel like you have this resourceful relatives that you could operate with. And it was certainly not the exact as staying on the highway and viewing your pals, but it felt like we ended up all linked in some way.”

“I felt like we’d misplaced the matter that anyone was genuinely craving,” she continues, “this togetherness that we used to have, like in a club or at a pageant, so to be equipped to have that in the kind of a musical stem was genuinely special. It felt form of hopeful in a way because we were all just developing some thing alongside one another.”

If a collaborative strategy felt alien, experimenting with her voice on tracks these kinds of as the hypnotic ‘Bodies Of Water’, designed her experience even much more susceptible. After to begin with sending ‘Tardigrade’ to Mute for comments, she been given no speedy reaction and began questioning stepping outside of her convenience zone. “I was just like, ‘Oh my God. Why did you sing on a observe? You need to have just built techno!’ Sat in my flat like: you idiot…”

Stratospheric Ascent: HAAi Interviewed

Fortunately, the good reaction finally arrived and Teneil felt inspired to underpin the chaos of ‘Baby, We’re Ascending’ with her vocals, which allowed her to “pump the brakes a very little bit in parts of the album.”

It’s this approach, realizing when to launch dancers into eye-rolling euphoria or deep introspection, that informs both Teneil’s songwriting and DJing. “I truly feel privileged to understand what can make individuals move on the dancefloor, or what can make individuals really feel a thing. And which is a little something I care about so significantly when I’m participating in,” HAAi emphasises.

Like her DJ sets, substantially of the album feels like a voyage of discovery. ‘Channels’ kicks off the history with the familiar crunch of a cassette being positioned in a tape deck, the resounding thud of the play button remaining pressed and the comforting hum as it commences to whirr, as if Teneil is melding the ponder of the past with her very own futuristic audio. Close to the album’s midpoint, ‘AM’ sparkles concerning channels, transferring from glacial speed to breakneck speed in considerably less than a moment, prior to ushering in ‘FM’. “The notion was that you’re flicking through the radio, attempting to locate the suitable station or the keep track of that you want to hear. And you hear to some thing like, ‘yeah, up coming a single, next one.’ Ultimately, you drop on the just one that you are like, ‘Oh, this is the one’, which was ‘FM’ for me.”

Stratospheric Ascent: HAAi Interviewed

And what about the origins of that excellent album name? Inspired by meme web site Do You Ever Just Fucking Ascend, Teneil concluded “it could be easier to market a report that didn’t have the phrase ‘fucking’ in it.” The eventual title, ‘Baby, We’re Ascending’, fits beautifully, not only symbolising a transcendental experience on the dancefloor, but the stratospheric trajectory Teneil finds herself on in songs appropriate now.

With refreshing releases to observe on own label Radical New Idea, tantalising sequels promised to fleeting observe ‘AM’ and the box of information capturing her imagination just out of shot, HAAi, the wonderful inquisitor, shows no indication of shedding her curiosity.


Phrases: Lee Wakefield
Images: Imogene Barron

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