Last week, Husky Loops put a really, really big billboard up in west London, emblazoned with the title of their debut album: ‘I Can’t Even Speak English’. Much like the record, it was an ode to the people convened together in this city from different circumstances and places from all over the planet. More now than ever, it seems a pertinent move.
Sometimes Danio (singer of the Italian-born band) would go down to it and watch people’s reactions. Some appeared comforted by the unity in the title, while others looked positively miffed. It’s exactly what the London-based trio are all about: community and provocation.
They did something similarly revolutionary for the album. Instead of picking a single image to represent the genre-bending album they pushed for their album to come, essentially, as a blank canvas. They attached a black marker pen, and basically told their fans to do whatever they want to it. Some will be left pristine, no doubt, but others have been playfully defacing and creating on the album artwork and sending it over to the guys.
Defacing and bucking expectations is key to the Husky Loops machine. Look at their journey so far: early singles like ‘Tempo’ and ‘Dead’ hinted at a rock behemoth in the making, but instead they’ve blossomed into something far more intriguing. ‘I Think You’re Wonderful’ and ‘Everyone Is Having Fun Fun Fun But Me’ are rave-fuelled delights, while the murky beats and bass on songs like ‘Slippin’ and ‘Temporary Volcano’ pull together their love of hip-hop, grime and beyond.
With their dazzling debut album wrapping its tentacles around listeners, and a mighty UK tour set for next month, Danio talks about the daring artwork, linking up with grime icon Jammer and why they’ll never fit into any boxes. Metaphorically, of course.
What’s the response been like to the artwork?
“I can’t believe that it actually happened. Everyone has been so creative and sending us drawings and that kind of was the point of the concept anyway, it is great to see how everyone’s making different things – we wanted to underline the uniqueness of each listener with an artwork like that. Plus we’re not good at sticking to the rules…”
Could you have imagined working if you weren’t unsigned?
“We’re unsigned out of choice – we want to be in charge of what we do. We want to make cool shit and inspire people, that’s ultimately why we moved to London from Italy: to make a difference. I’m sure that if we proposed this to any major label, they would have said, ‘you’re fucking mental, no way’. But every major label person we’ve met still so stuck in the past, and want to put us in these weird boxes – like in the past, just because I had a guitar made the band was defined as ‘indie’. I think this album might take a bit of time to get into people’s heads. In Britain, we’re still boxed into the indie/rock world, because no-one seems to understand what we do yet, I think. In the future will look back on us and see it as a very contemporary record of 2019, because that’s what I wanted to do.”
You guys frequently bash out EPs and mixtapes. Did the album feel like big step forward?
“I remember that at the beginning, we didn’t really want to make an album. But when we clocked what an album meant to us, then the whole thing felt quite easy. We realised for us that album is more about the songwriting than the body and format. We loved the EPs and mixtapes which we take in a more experimental way, but with an album we wanted to showcase our songs.
“We definitely wanted to do something for people with a short-attention span, which is just like us. That’s why we find hip-hop was so inspiring. Every 30-seconds, an artist can get your attention with a song or a lyric, and I find that so exciting – and that’s what our album tries to do. People say that it’s sad that you only have 15-seconds to capture someones attention, but I think that is a great challenge because if you can do that, you’re a fucking genius!”
The album feels quite timely with the latest round of Brexit nonsense. Did it feel that way at the time?
“A lot of reviews say that this album reflects the confusion of our times and I think it’s because we were confused. Our drummer Pietro has been to basically all the anti-Brexit marches, and why wouldn’t you want to be there? I went to go and stand by our billboard the other day and just watch, and I could tell that some people really related to that sentiment. But at the same time, I saw a few people that came and looked very annoyed at it – that’s exactly what I wanted to do, to annoy some UKIP guys. Some people have been writing some negative things on it as well, but it’s not that hard to piss people off today!”
What influenced you during the making of this album?
“Jammer from BBK really influenced us a lot. It was amazing to be able to work with him in the studio on some songs, because he’s got the real essence and energy of grime, and the way those artists work is so fast and just amazing. I need to be careful with it though, because every white boy in a band seems to say grime is their biggest influence, but we actually just do it, which is funny because we’re from Italy, and it’s quite weird that we ended up working on grime tracks with people like Jammer and got to know so many MCs and artists. In the studio, he’s like a mad grime preacher with a great flow. He once punched me really hard in the ribs because the beat was so hard. I don’t think he realised how much it hurt.”
See Husky Loops live on tour:
9th – Jimmy’s, Manchester
10th – Sunflower Lounge, Birmingham
11th – Blue Arrow, Glasgow
12th – Hyde Park Book Club, Leeds
16th – Bermondsey Social Club, London
17th – Bermondsey Social Club, London
19th – Joiners, Southampton
23rd – Molotow, Hamburg
24th – Maze Club, Berlin
26th – Rotown, Rotterdam
27th – Paradiso, Amsterdam
29th – Supersonic, Paris
30th – Kater, Zurich