With politically-charged lyricism, alt-indie rock outfit Hawk have a lot to say.
HAWK are the London based four-piece offering up the soundtrack to your winter, and in these times of social, political and cultural differences and constant clashing, it’s refreshing to hear voices so clear as to what they truly think. Their latest release Mirror Maze provides roaring guitars and a haunting, hypnotic vocal from front woman Julie Hawk, exploring what the world expects of us from a female perspective and how to break free from societal restraints, taken from their upcoming EP “She Knows” set for release on 17 March 2016. It’s less brash punk, and more sophisticated exploration of important issues that Hawk feels they just can’t ignore.
Promising to infuse melancholic and psychedelic melodies, the EP touches upon an array of difficult yet super important themes including inequality, exclusion and generalisations faced by diverse social groups. Despite the obvious punk rock route often exercised by political artists, HAWK express their ideas in an angelic and dreamy outpouring that creates a dreamlike sound that conjures up ethereal imagery. We caught up with Julie Hawk to find out more about the woman behind the trance-inducing, punk-enthused voice.
What’s your first music memory?
I have a very early memory of taking all the spanners out of my dad’s toolbox and lining them up to make a xylophone. I’m sure he was delighted.
Sum up your sound in five words?
Crunchy. Sweeping. Occasion Celtic rage.
What do you want people to feel with your music?
I would love people to hear our music and feel like they can express pain and anger, but that they are also being given space to take a deep breathe. Our favourite albums are the ones you return to again and again, finding a new reason to listen each time. Musically, those are the kind of records we want to make.
You’re very political aware – what are the main important issues that you want to discuss in your music?
We’ve been writing a lot about gender inequality, particularly from my own perspective of growing up in Ireland where a lot of issues are still surprisingly closeted. I think we can all agree that this year has been very heavy in terms of learning about our fellow man. We’ve started writing a lot about how we’ve processed this information; the struggle to stay informed and not to lose your voice when social media and mass media leaves you feeling polarised.
Tell us about your track “Mirror Maze”?
“Mirror Maze” is about the conflicting ideas we’re presented with about body image and femininity. There’s a been a huge upsurge in ‘body positive’ messages over the past couple of years, which I’m sure have stemmed from a good place. But these can be oversimplified and commodified. I’m not convinced that we’re genuinely doing enough to stop trying to fit each other into boxes of gender and image. It still leaves me feeling conflicted and unsure in my own skin, and I’m sure I’m not the only one feeling this way.
“I would love people to hear our music and feel like they can express pain and anger, but that they are also being given space to take a deep breathe.”
What’s your EP “She Knows” about? What themes do you explore, what’s the sound like and what was the starting point?
This was the first record where we really did have a starting point. Previously, we’d had a lot of tracks to choose from. This time, we had a set idea for the EP before we started writing and recording. We wanted to make a record without any breaks, and with a constant narrative of tension and release. We’re writing about themes like political hypocrisy and sexual commodification; subjects that we’ve been confronted with over the past few years and that we felt we needed to vent about. More than ever, we’ve allowed the instruments to play a part in the narrative and to punctuate the lyrics. There’s a lot of atmospheric space and sudden swells in dynamics.
Was music always your chosen career, and when did you realise that you wanted to pursue it?
It took me a long time to take myself seriously as a musician. The band has played a huge part in my changing attitude. I was definitely guilty of thinking of myself as a ‘token band member’ before we started this project. I guess the thing that’s strengthened me is the amount of faith the guys have put in me to write and to perform. For a long time it would surprise me, but now it feels like a job that I’m very happy to do. I still see myself as having other creative goals in life though; in writing and in art. For a long time I felt like I had to choose between them, but I can see myself incorporating all of these things into my career in the future.
What do you think are the most important issues facing us today?
I don’t want to knock social media, for all the doors is opens up for us. But sometimes I feel like it gives all of a platform to have a moan without really engaging with problems or finding a solution. There is so much hate and inequality being unleashed on minorities, LGBTQIA’s and people with disabilities. If we are willing to bitch about it online we should be able to call out this behaviour in person, and look into real ways that each of us can help.
Why do you think music is a good way of spreading messages around the human rights issues that are facing us right now?
I see music as an opportunity to create space to talk about issues that are already happening all around us. The more we normalise these things the easier it is to broach a real conversation.
We just moved to Berlin, so our big plan alongside the EP is to pack up the car and do some European dates. We’ll be announcing some spring tour dates soon!