When HÆLOS anonymously released their debut track “Dust” last year, they threw the Internet into a tizzy. Clamoring to learn more about the makers of this dark, synth-drenched sound, the band received more than 300 press inquiries only days following the track’s release. After cutting their teeth on a series of career setbacks before forming HÆLOS, the UK-based trio—Arthur Delaney, Dom Goldsmith and Lotti Benardout—had finally received the recognition they’d been waiting for.
The band kicks off their North American tour this month playing SXSW, and will release their debut album, Full Circle, via Matador on March 18. Before they hit the road, we chatted with HÆLOS to learn more about their new full-length LP, the story behind their name, and what they’d listen to if they hosted a 24 hour party.
How did you three originally join forces?
Lotti Benardout: Both Arthur and I were working with Don, separately on two different projects. After a lot of back and forth-and-both of us listening to the two different sides of the projects, we felt there was a common theme throughout both projects; we thought it would be a good idea to all get together and collaborate on something. We ended up writing ‘Dusk,’ which was our first song and kind of took it from there.
HÆLOS received a lot of attention after releasing “Dusk” with little to no prior press. How did all the positive feedback effect how you approached Full Circle?
Arthur Delaney: When we posted the track, we knew between the three of us that we liked it. That was the most important thing. We’re not making music to please anyone other than ourselves. People liking it and being into it was a bonus for us. When we put that track up, we weren’t expecting the level of attention that it got. It was kind of overwhelming actually. By the third day and the 300th email, we started to find it a distraction because we were trying to write. When you work for a long time without any exterior validation, you become good at being self-judgmental. It was a new thing for us, letting people into our world. It really focused us and let us know we were really onto something.
How did you come up with the name HÆLOS?
AD: The first thing to get a project started is the name, and we wanted to get that done early on. We wanted it to be evocative and for it to say something greater and we wanted to be multi-dimensional. We really liked the symbol of a halo. It’s been used in every religion, and we wanted it to sum up what the music is about, which is actually perspective. If you look at the earth from space there’s that thin line of atmosphere like a halo or an outline. We liked the circular, cyclical symbol. It says a lot more than just its face value, and that was really important for us.
Dom Goldsmith: The universal theme for the record for us was the cyclical nature of life, and returning to yourself. We’re constantly moving through life; it’s infinite. We wanted to reflect that in the name and the music. It’s the sense that there isn’t always a meaningful end to something, it’s just the here and now and that’s all we’ve got.
AD: And we wanted people to listen to the record and then go back to the beginning, on repeat.
How would you describe your sound?
DG: A friend of ours who runs a music blog in London coined the term ‘dark euphoria’ and it’s been attributed to us ever since, so we’re kind of rolling with that. We’re pretty good about limitations, though. We set some boundaries before we started making the music. We’ve been collecting synthesizers over the last 10 to 12 years. We got a 1972 Fender Rhodes and we wrote the whole record around these instruments. They’ve got a combined age of around 250 years. Working on those instruments and with a particular form of drum programming, that was the basis of the sound and our vocals. Although we sing in unison and in harmony a lot, our goal was to make our vocals unique and really direct so we could connect with our listeners as much as possible. Sometimes if you’re singing within a group of voices you can lose that personal connection that you have from a single voice. It was important for us to restore that, so we kept the vocals quite dry with not too much reverb.
What inspired you to make the 24 Hour Playlist?
DG: We put our heads together and thought, ‘In our ideal world if we started a party and we ran that party for 24 hours, what would we play hour by hour?’ That was the intention, and in doing that we’ve given a nod to all of our inspirations and favorite bits of music.
Have either of you ever partied for more than 24 hours?
DG: Each of us have led heavily partying lives in our 20s, but kind of all in our own way through Haelos we’ve taken a step out of that world, gained perspective on it, and have written about it. We’ve been working 14-hour days pretty much every day for the last 18 months, now, since starting the band. But before that we’ve probably all rivaled about 72 hours.
AD: 24 hours didn’t seem too bad. That’s kind of just waking up and going to bed 24 hours later. If we come back with a three week playlist, then you should start to worry.