Sometimes people find each other, a spark is lit, and they make beautiful music together. In the case of Los Angeles synth-pop duo NÉONHÈART, thanks to a meeting via a mutual friend, what originally started as a producer-for-hire arrangement quickly turned into a full-fledged band. The duo comprised of songwriter/composer HAOO and singer-songwriter Christina O’Connor have just self-released their rich, debut EP Awakening which features four irresistible and bittersweet tracks, ripe for listening. You can download the EP from iTunes.
“Comatose” evokes a heightened sense of sadness with its breathy, pleading vocals (“Won’t you stay one more night“) and textured synths. The tone of the song is haunting, yet beautiful with a slow-rising build of energy and by the time we reach the song’s final moments, it exhales with a deep sense of relief and freedom. It is a satisfying resolution, no doubt, to an otherwise melancholic track – a great reminder that joy can be found and explored in sadness.
“Nothing Left” is an intimate number, lush with resonant piano and driven by sparse, clean drumbeats – a sound that feels polished, but never falling prey to over-produced cheese.
“Road” is a rollicking electro-pop jam that will have you choreographing dance moves in your bedroom and it may very well find its way onto your playlist, nestled between Kylie Minogue and Ellie Goulding.
“You” is a musically playful, fist-pumping dance anthem that gets you moving but steers clear of feeling like the button pushing fanfare we are often inundated with in electronic music.
NÉONHÈART kindly took the time to chat with us about finding themselves as a band, their favorite tearjerker jams, and what it was like piecing together the Awakening EP. Read on!
GG: What was the writing/recording process like on the Awakening EP?
HAOO: Talking about the process of making the EP I have to talk about the title “Awakening.” We were constantly experimenting and the whole process was kind of us realizing who we are as a band.
Christina: Yeah, it was pretty organic. I mean we wrote and recorded everything out of HAOO’s bedroom studio and we were just kind of having fun writing a ton of songs until we found we had four strong ones that we felt represented us as a band.
GG: Some of your songs have a ballad feel to them, “Comatose,” and “When We’re Not Young,” in particular. What’s a ballad or tearjerker song that you love?
HAOO: Our music is overall more on the melancholy side, we try to write happy songs but they always come out cheesy to us so we gave up, haha. Actually “When We’re Not Young” isn’t on the EP but it’ll be available for free download. So stay tuned! But I guess my favorite tearjerker song would be “Fix You” by Coldplay, it gets me every time, I think it’s one of the best written songs ever!
Christina: Ah there are so many! But I’d have to say “The Ballad of Love and Hate” by The Avett Brothers and “The Blower’s Daughter” by Damien Rice. I’ve always said “The Blower’s Daughter” is going to be my wedding song.
GG: There’s mention that you guys draw influences from a folk background (Christina) and a heavy alternative background (HAOO). Who are your favorite artists from those genres and how did you discover them?
Christina: Well, I guess I first got into folk music when I was in high school, more on the singer-songwriter side. I listen to a lot of Damien Rice and Jeff Buckley which are huge influences of mine and throughout college I started joining a lot of singer-songwriter circles and started paying a lot more attention to lyrics and got into Dylan, Bright Eyes, Avett Brothers, to name a few. I guess, a good lyric just makes or breaks a song for me; when an artist can poetically express a feeling being vulnerable and honest, just kills me.
HAOO: I actually listen to all kinds of music and I believe that genre shouldn’t be a boundary of limiting yourself when you listen to music. Ever since high school I got myself into a lot of British bands like Coldplay, Radiohead, Muse, Keane and later I got into Passion Pit, MGMT, M83. I actually had a band when I was studying at Berklee in Boston, and we were doing some rock stuff. I can just connect to this kind of music instantly. Yeah.
Watch the video for “Comatose” below.
Awakening Track Listing:
When We’re Not Young (Bonus Free Download, Release Date TBD)
NÉONHÈART’s have an EP release show date at Los Globos on Thursday, July 9th. It’s FREE before 9:30pm, and they also hit the stage at 9:30pm.