HAAi has fast become one of house and techno's rising stars. We catch up with the London based, Aussie born DJ and talk life on the road, new Pacha residency and playing to 5000 people at DGTL earlier this year.
Ibiza Voice - You’ve really blown up in the last year. Has it been as you hoped and dreamed? Does it feel real?
HAAi - This year has gone above and beyond what I could have imagined. It’s a weird though one ya know. Besides being a lot busier, the other stuff kind of goes over my head a bit. I know I’m really happy and super super grateful, but the rest you kind of don’t really see so much when you’re workin’.
Is there any one moment that sticks in your mind where you thought, ‘fuck, i’ve made it, I’m living the dream’?
I think every week when I get to go somewhere different I have a “living the dream” feeling. Playing the DGTL party to 5000 people in Amsterdam this year was definitely a career highlight and actually a big part of the reason I have this residency at Pacha this year.
Have you felt more pressure to perform now you have a bigger audience? Do you get anxious or nervous before gigs or does it all come naturally by now? You certainly look to be taking it all in your stride.
You naturally put more pressure on yourself. I kind of want every set to be as unique as possible so a lot goes into that. As far as nerves go, some pals and I coined the term “excieties”… which is basically the feeling you get before you go on that’s just a rush of emotions. I kind of feel more comfortable in front of larger crowds to be honest.
But yeah, I think generally I just get really excited. Not nervous so much.
What is the art of being a resident vs a headliner? How differently do you play at Phonox vs elsewhere? Is there a distinction? Does one allow more risk taking than the other?
When I’m at Phonox I play for 6 hours from start to finish so you definitely have the time to swerve through different genres as well as more time to take risks. On the other side of that, it all really depends where you’re playing and how well the crowd know you. I never really edit how or what I play too much for each show, I think that is kind of a risk in itself. Certainly not in an arrogant way, but I think it’s important to stick with what you know the best and what gives you that feeling.
Your first EP is not what a lot of people would expect. It’s challenging and far from standard club beats and harks back to your shoe gaze, band days. Is that a sign of things to come? Will your DJ sets follow suit? Are the two related for you?
Thank you :)
It’s definitely a sign of things to come. I feel it’s loose and weird, kind of swings between genres like my sets do. I’m not really a house/techno producer per se, which I've kind of accepted over the last 6 months. I like the idea of it getting a lil weirder. They are definitely related. I think when you listen to so much music, you can’t help but be influenced by it when you’re writing your own stuff. I love that part.
Do you ever have an off day. A day where you’re in a bad mood and can’t be arsed. What happens in that situation? Do you just get through it, can you fake it, or does it reflect in how you perform?
I had a day off yesterday and it was wonderful. But there’s kind of always something to do, as well as the fact I really really love my job. I have never felt like I can’t be arsed to play… I’m often a bit grumps on Monday after the weekend. I think most of the world is. Just from being tired from travelling etc ;)
Has being based in London changed you in anyway? Do you feel like the city is home now, or will you always feel like an Aussie abroad, do you think?
I’ve been in London for 7 years and it’s definitely home right now. I’m very lucky to have been embraced by this city. I don’t have a proper home base back in Oz. My family is all spread over different parts of the country and there’s no real family home, so I kind of feel like wherever my records are is where my home is. Right now it’s in London and I’m very happy with that.
Do you miss home, have you had chance to go back to see family and friends? Anything other than people that you miss about Aus?
I miss parts of it. My mum and sisters, the beaches and the food. I’m going back for a bunch of shows at the end of the year so really looking forward to that and to catching up with friends and family.
You are soon to head to Ibiza to play a few dates. Have you been before? What does it mean to you? How will you prepare?
I have a couple of dates remaining of this Pacha residency. Previous to this I had only played there once before, at Pikes with Midland last year which was a wild ride. I really love the island and absolutely loved playing the Labyrinth/Hot Since 82 party at Pacha. The next one is with DJ Harvey on the 31 July. I love him and know this one’s going to be top shelf.
On the other side of that though, the beaches and food and the whole other side of the island that’s just so chill, I love it. I can’t wait to explore some more of it.
Are you doing anything to make sure you stay fit and healthy of body and mind now that you’re so often on the road? Do you have any routines, go to super foods and so on?
I go to the gym every day when I’m home. Also make juices every day. So important no matter what your lifestyle is. My biggest thing though is ginger. Ginger in everything all the time. Keeping a pretty poz attitude is a biggie as well. Good for you and everyone around you.
Fashion. Where do you get yours? What inspires your look? Is colour the first thing you think about?
Ummm… it kind of changes all the time to be honest. For many years, even back in my band days I’ve had a thing with colour blocking. Used to be pink, but in recent times I’ve had a thing with yellow or orange. Colours just make me kind of feel good I guess.
Tell us about your relationship with Daniel Avery. Why have you hit it off so well? What’s he really like away from his brilliantly moody techno? Is it hard to make friendships as a DJ, always on the road?
Dan is one of the most caring and loyal friends I’ve ever had. You know when you meet someone and immediately you both kind of go (in yer heads) “I like you, yeh, I reckon we should be pals”. We basically did that and never looked back. He’s also one of the hardest working people I know. And is very funny….