Front man Husky Gawenda and keyboard player/ singer Gideon Press are cousins who grew up together with a tight bond over their love for music. Continuing to grow stronger as they began touring and writing songs together, the two formed Husky. In 2011 their debut album Forever So grew legs; a correlation of songs that had been written over many years, which captured their music loving fans from far and wide through warm acoustic timbres.
Over the years, Husky have opened for bands such as Gotye, The Shins, City & Colour and Neil Young, as well as seeing worldwide success. Their rich harmonies and artful songwriting have been recognised within the industry after winning Triple J's Unearthed contest to play the Push Over Festival in 2011, and receiving an APRA award in 2013.
Husky have spent the last 7 months travelling through Europe and the US, showcasing their lyrical masterpiece aka. their second album Ruckers Hill. After experiencing many learning curves throughout their career to date, they found their new album had a different approach to writing music reflecting an edgy but bold show, whilst still being intimate and heartfelt.
We had a chat to Husky Gawenda about Husky's most recent trip overseas, upcoming WOMADelaide performance and their goals for 2016!
With your second album Ruckers Hill, how did you approach the music style and lyrics in comparison to what you learnt from Forever So?
When we decided to make the album Forever So, I guess I already had a lot of the songs written in the years before that. Where as with Ruckers Hill, we spent a few years on the road then came back before writing it, so there was more of a dedicated time period that I had to write the album in, so that was something to get used to - a different approach to writing.
We also had the experience of touring internationally through different countries, stages and shows. Through touring we found that different songs translated differently in a live setting (especially on bigger stages), which influenced the way we wrote [Ruckers Hill], especially in comparison musically. In the back of our minds we wanted some [tracks] that were more immediate and lent themselves more to a live setting.
Tell us a bit about Ruckers Hill, what was the inspiration?
The travelling and the coming home was an experience in itself, being away from home and the people you care about. Being away from your normal life is an experience in itself and then coming home to see how things have changed or how they have stayed the same, or perhaps how you relate differently to a sort of experience. Ruckers Hill definitely dealt with some of those feelings.
Is there a story that the album, Ruckers Hill tells?
It wasn't an intentional album, I didn't sit down and say this is the story I want to tell, but I think they all came from a world that I was living in at the time. An external but internal world, so I think that there is perhaps some threads throughout the album and I think the sentiments, stories, emotions and ideas come from a particular place when I wrote those songs.
What are you most looking forward to about playing at WOMADelaide this year?
With festivals like WOMAD the two things I look forward to the most are that the show is normally great. You have the excitement, enthusiasm and energy that really makes it easy as a band to get excited and play with energy. What an audience brings to a show really contributes to the success of the show. It's always a great experience for the band.
On top of that, to check out a lot of the bands. Often at WOMAD I come across lots of people I haven't necessarily heard of. WOMAD is very famous for their line up and the diversity.
Since 2008 when you first started out to now, you’ve obviously grown to become a bigger and better Husky. What has been the biggest learning curve?
I mean, there have been a lot of learning curves it's hard to pick one, but if I had to, I guess what it takes to be a good touring band. I think we've really learnt about the kind of standard you have to be at.
How do you create a show that’s edgy and bold, yet still keeping it intimate and heartfelt?
I don't know how you do it exactly, but I think part of it is really believing in what you're doing. I think one of the most important things about playing a show is that you really have to believe in what your singing about. I think people really know when you don't so thats one thing.
Playing a lot of shows and working out what songs work where in a set and working out the rhythm of the set [too]. It's all about trial and error, you have to refine the show. The show should have bold and exciting moments and it should have intimate and quiet moments to really draw the audience in and it's learning about how to put those two things together.
Coming from the land of Aus, how was the change to a German lifestyle in Berlin for your tour?
It was a big adjustment. The truth is we didn't really spend all that much time in Berlin, we were on the road a lot so it was very much in and out, but it was our base for 7 months. I wouldn't even call Berlin, German! It's its own world, with its own rules, and its own craziness. It was different but an incredibly vibrant city and you can really find anything you want. It was a pretty exciting place to be for a while!
What’s the best memory you have from your tour through Europe and the US?
For me there are so many great experiences on the road, but it always comes down to the actual playing. Playing the shows is always at the heart of your trip and what your doing. Obviously you try and enjoy the place, people, and experience that your on, but it always centres on the playing.
The best memory though would probably be after sold out shows in Europe; selling out a show on the other side of the world. Wow. I mean, I remember doing that in Australia for the first time but then doing it on another continent was quite a milestone.
What does the rest of 2016 have in store for Husky?
We're pretty fresh off the boat from Europe so we're getting stuck into writing. We're actually working towards a new album so thats the next couple of months. Writing, recording and a fair bit of touring - but no confirmed dates yet.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
Our goal is to be able to record albums and tour hopefully throughout Australia and other places too. Obviously we've spent a lot of time in Europe and the U.S. so thats a part of our plan. I guess ideally it will be making records and touring through these places at some kind of sustainable level.
Thanks for chatting with us! We can't wait to see you at WOMADelaide next month!
You can see Husky live at WOMADelaide from 11-14 March 2016.