Hiatus Kaiyote played Minnesota for the first time a few days ago. Among those who took in their set at Minneapolis’ Fine Line Music Café was none other than Prince. Although it admittedly gave the Australian soul quartet more pre-show butterflies than normal, it really wasn’t much of a surprise.
When the Melbourne-based group released their debut album, 2013’s “Tawk Tomahawk,” the Purple One wasn’t the only iconic musician touting it. Public endorsements came from Questlove, Erykah Badu, Q-Tip, Animal Collective and more.
And their fan base is growing exponentially. The foursome just released “Choose Your Weapon,” an expansive, 18-song opus that clocks in at nearly 70 minutes. Filled with joyful, meandering, polyrhythmic excursions and spaced-out interludes, Hiatus Kaiyote certainly isn’t pandering for accolades.
“We definitely wanted to say more this time,” says keyboardist Simon Mavin. “‘Tawk Tomahawk’ actually started out as an EP. It wasn’t until we got in the studio that we added a few things to stretch it into 10 tracks. So I think we were keen to make a full album.”
Singer Nai Palm takes a more philosophical approach.
“Everything we do,” she says, “is going to be an evolution of us as people and musicians. We had only been together for about six months on our first record. So this album is the evolution of our relationship together as musicians with multiple world tours under our belt (that helped) to refine our skills.”
To say Hiatus Kaiyote does a lot of touring is an understatement. But all of that traveling around the globe has only bolstered the quartet’s creative mindset of exploring all ideas that come to the table.
“That’s the exciting thing about this project,” Mavin says. “We just go in any direction we want.”
“We’re constantly challenging ourselves,” Palm adds. “We like to create a cohesive journey from start to finish, like a movie. Everyone now is so consumed with the temporary buzz of a hot single, and a lot of time and beauty is lost in the craft. We strive to achieve music that is timeless.”
For now, the band will have to relegate making new music to sketching out ideas on their laptops as they travel from one gig to another. Their current U.S. tour goes through May, and in June they’ll start an international run that will keep them busy until at least August.
And while their unique creative freedom allows Hiatus Kaiyote to think about incorporating new instruments and sounds like gamelan orchestration, shakuhachi flute or the kora in the next release, the band refuses to decide on any part of the process until it’s upon them.
“There’s no time limit or habitat for creativity,” Palm says. “It builds as you go and you sketch ideas and inspirations out all throughout your life.”
“There are no real boundaries to our creativity,” Mavin adds. “It can really go in any direction. We’re definitely still exploring. And that’s never going to stop.”
Hiatus Kiayote plays the Voodoo Room at House of Blues on May 22 with openers Low Leaf. The show is sold out.
Scott McDonald is a writer, on-air personality and consultant with 15 years of experience in the San Diego music scene. He has interviewed hundreds of artists, from the legendary to the underground, for print and television. Follow McDonald and his melodic musings on Twitter @eight24_ or Instagram @scotteight24. Send your music musts to firstname.lastname@example.org.