What is your name and role within Hoko?
Nathaniel Hoho – I am the writer and vocalist for the band.
Where are you currently based?
NYC has been my home for the longest, but this year I spent most of my time in Australia between Sydney and Fremantle WA. I love Freo and am eager to get back.
How did Hoko form?
HOKO formed while I was living in LA working on projects for some other artists as a songwriter. I was focused on being a writer for nearly two years with no interest at all in doing an artist project but as I started collecting more and more songs of my own I started to become obsessed with the idea. Now I’m obsessed with the idea of playing shows.
Your EP ‘Heathen’ is being released on March 26 what influenced the sound and songwriting?
HEATHEN is the first half of a project we’ve spent almost 2 years conceptualizing.
Our aim was to create a body of work that sounded big, but was also sonically interesting, with songs that are accessible, but also have layers and complexity. All of my favorite albums give me something new every time I hear them, so that’s always something in the back of mind when finishing a song. Visually we wanted to pay homage to the artistic direction of artists like David Bowie & Queen who created beautiful images that stand on their own as art, not only as an accompaniment to the music. We’ve been influenced by artists like Terry Gilliam, Cary Foji Fukunaga, Alejandro Jodorowsky and Danish designer Henri Vibskov. Currently we are exploring a dark and muted world. Despite some peoples first impressions visually we are not a hard rock or metal band, haha. For HEATHEN I wanted to create something that embodied some of the struggles I endured trying to find my own voice as an artist for HEATHEN. Mentally I was constantly fighting the pressure of wearing a mask, for fear of not fitting in, based on the opinions and judgments of my peers. We come from a very Alt/DIY background, but for HOKO we wanted to focus on writing Pop music for the first time, which can be taboo in the circles we come from. We worked on HEATHEN bouncing between NY and LA, and ultimately landed back in NY at the end of creating it. LA stretched us creatively into new territories of Pop and the energy of NY kept us inspired to hold fast to our desire to separate ourselves creatively.
What’s the meaning and story behind the lead single ‘Big Mistake’?
I’ve heard that every relationship is practice until you meet “the one”? My dating history involves some pretty big red flags that I failed to miss while wearing hormone enduced rose-colored glasses…including an ex going to prison as an accomplice to kidnapping and armed robbery… I feel like most songs come to you and write themselves through you, but I’m pretty sure Big Mistake is song about some of my exes. Sonically, Big Mistake is a Pop song with sitar’s and yoyo’s weaved through it. It’s perfect example of the line we wanted to walk for HOKO. Exploring Pop, but keeping it unique and a little cynical. For the record, I have no hard feelings towards any of my ex’s that may read this. Everyone is someone’s Big Mistake, I know I am!
Where and when did you record/produce/master and who did you work with?
Because the project was created over such a period of time I would work on it in different locations. At home, both in NY, LA, and Australia. In NYC we worked at Shifted Studios in Brooklyn. In LA we worked at several of our friends studios. Michael Freeman is our mix engineer. Producers that we worked with are Mike Irish ( of Shifted Recording ) John Hill ( Santigold, Portugal the Man, Cage the Elephant) and Andrew Wells ( Kaiser Chiefs, Halsey ).
What programs/equipment did you use?
I work mostly on Logic it feels like the most versatile DAW to me. However all the songs were run through so many different DAWs depending on who was doing what. Mike is on Ableton, John Ableton and PT and Wells on PT.
How did you approach the recording process?
Really no rhyme or reason we just worked with what we had around at any given time and did our best to give it a nice vibe. We used starters from fireplaces at times for HiHats that we recorded on our iPhones. At the very end we had our friend Gus Oberg come in who produced a few of The Strokes records to record some live drums, but we only ended up using them for a few tracks.
What did you find most challenging and rewarding during the creation of Heathen?
The most challenging part of creating Heathen was that we wanted to try and create something that sounded unique to HOKO – because this was our first project finding that sound took some time. You start a project with endless possibilities so finding lines and similarities that can run through a collection of songs took us a little bit of time to find. The most rewarding part by far has been releasing the music and hearing from fans who are listening and connecting with the music. We haven’t been able to tour or play a show yet due to Covid but we have been speaking with fans over social media from all over the world. Its an amazing feeling to know that something you put so much of yourself into is connect with someone else. It really brings the whole creative process full circle.
What do you like to do away from music?
Good question. I really work on music nearly everyday in some way and if I don’t I feel a little lost. The last year has been alot of time conceptualizing artwork and music videos for HOKO. Other than that I love to swim, surf, eat, hang with my dog.
Who are you listening to at the moment?
At the moment I’ve been listening to alot of The Strokes, Hot Chip, and Grimes.
What’s planned for 2021?
We have some festivals coming up in US and are planning to be touring the end of the year in the states. We also will be releasing more music!
Favourite food and place to hangout?
NYC – love to hang at Niagara and eat next door at Miss Lillies.