HamaSaari: "We decided to record ourselves playing together in the main room of the studio, as we wanted to keep this energy"
Looking at the French scene shows a very vibrant place in terms of rock and metal music at the moment, and newcomer HamaSaari are clearly a band to put on the radar if you're into heavy post-progrock. They're set to release their debut "Ineffable" on March 3rd, 2023, which caught me immediately with its intense atmosphere and amazing variety.
Glad about the opportunity to learn more about their work, welcome to read our chat here:
Hey, thanks for making time to answer my questions. How are you today?
Hello! We are all good, thank you, playing together over the weekend to prepare the next shows.
That sounds indeed good to me :-) Could you please introduce yourself and HamaSaari to our readers?
The band is new, just founded during the Covid times. Since then we composed an album, with our music being best descibed as post prog. We are five: Elie on drums, Sullivane on keyboards, Jordan is singing and playing guitar, Axel as well on guitar, and Jonathan is our bassist.
You mentioned your debut, which is called "Ineffable" and will be out on March 3rd. How do you feel about it, and how was the reception so far?
We are excited and can’t wait everybody to listen to it! So far, we had really good feedback after releasing the first single, and also from our recent shows.
This single, “Bleak”, was accompanied by an intense video with an amazing visual language. How did you come up with the idea for this short film?
"Bleak" depicts this feeling of routine, where the days follow one another and just merge. The character slips into boredom, drowns in solitude before touching the limits of his reality. A dark and intense track at the crossroads between soaring post-rock and intricate progressive music.
After brainstorming and analyzing the text together with video director Eliott Larat, we had the idea for a short film based on "The Truman Show". The video catches the melancholic mood in complete synergy with the musical development of "Bleak". The actor (Killian Lens), cornered by an indigestible routine, runs in vain after a reality that escapes him. We wanted to include an idea of madness, and we found that dance would be a good way of expressing this.
It's absolutely amazing :-) Your music is varied, atmospheric yet expressive, and I love how you melt different stylistic elements to a wonderful, new whole. What is your musical background, and where do you draw your inspiration from?
Since we like and listen to all kind of music, and also play metal, jazz, or traditional music in other projects, it’s pretty natural for us. When we play together, ambiances are just coming depending on the mood of everybody.
We all started by playing with other musicians, curious about everything, asking for help when we got stuck.
Could you briefly describe your writing and recording process, please?
There is no recipe, we just put in our energy and ideas - Sometimes it’s coming with a rhythm, or a melody, that could be simple, complex and/or original. When we feel what we created makes us vibrating, we know we are in the right direction.
For the recording, we went to La Grange Studio. The place is lost in the countryside, without network and all the stress of the cities. We decided to record ourselves playing together in the main room of the studio, as we wanted to keep this energy we have when the sound of the drums, amp and keyboards are merging in the room. We worked when needed, recording every version until we were happy with it.
Then we asked Forrester Savell (Animals as Leader, Karnivool) to do the mixing and mastering, and sent the tracks to Australia. Forrester succeeded to sublimate our music, keeping the dynamic - It’s loud, deep and beautiful.
It is absolutely :-) Let’s take a look at the wonderful cover artwork. What can you tell us about its origins, and how does it reflect the album thematically?
We worked with Lucie Cros, an artist and friend. She created the artwork while listening to the music, and we are really happy about the result.
Could you dive a bit into the record’s topics with us, please?
Since we’re friends, we’re sharing a lot, and often speak about what we live, our experiences, feelings… between us. Our lyrics are inspired by these discussions, but they're not literal descriptions of our talks. They deal with the actual world and the catastrophe we’re about to cope with. But as they are written with emotions, the exact meaning of words is as much important as the sounds and rhythms they deliver...
Let’s make a little time trip, as behind every band, there’s an individual story. When and how did you guys get together?
Jordan, Jonathan, Elie and Sullivane already played together in a band called “Shuffle” before, which was a progmetal band, but with an “Incubus”-like alternative rock feel. After 10 years of touring with Shuffle, we wanted to make a new start with HamaSaari, and a name that suited better what we wanted to say now, as we were moving towards something more progressive and post-rock.
Jordan and Jonathan are brothers, so they have known each other for a long time haha. Jordan and Sullivane were at secondary together, Elie has been playing in many bands since he was very young, so we had the opportunity to meet him several times on stage. Axel joined us afterwards; he was in a progressive rock band called “Acanthe” before.
How did you find your name, and is there a deeper meaning or story behind “HamaSaari” for you?
We wanted to find something unique and not from a latin language, and thought about an unexplored island in northern Europe, the land of northern lights. A kind of island where man would never walk, so this small world is organically and simply cohabitating without artificial disturbance.
"hämärä saari" means "twilight island" in Finnish - We have shortened the word and liked the sound and symmetry of it.
Awesome :-) Let’s talk about HamaSaari live: What was your most memorable show so far?
Being a new band we only did a few shows so far, but we created lots of great memories with our previous band Shuffle. Nevertheless, we can talk about the concert we did one week ago in our hometown Le Mans in support of Klone. It was very special as we played "Ineffable" for the first time live there, and got lots of positive feedback on both, the concert and the album, from family, friends, musicians and Klone.
How would you describe your local rock/metal scene, and is there anything special about it? Did you notice changes over the past years?
We have a lot of very cool bands in Le Mans representing all kind of styles, with the musicians being well connected and setting up projects together. We have seen a rise in the number of places to play, and an increasing professionalization of musicians.
Even though there are not a lot of progressive bands in Le Mans, there are very good rock / metal acts of friends, like Stone From The Sky, Could Seed, Acanthe, Among Tides, Kristel, Climat, Novels... just to name a few.
Sounds like a vibrant place :-) What can you tell us about your future plans?
We will try to present this album as much as possible on stage, have concerts coming up with Klone and Lizzard, and some shows abroad. In parallel, we have already started writing the second album.
Before we wrap things up, do you have any further thoughts you’d like to share here?
Thank you for highlighting new projects like ours. We hope that you enjoy our album, as we put all our heart into it, and we hope you could come and see us on stage soon.
You're most welcome :-) and yes, that would be awesome! Thanks again for your time and these insights into your work.