I had the opportunity to speak with Arthur Delaney, of HÆLOS. Through our conversation, I discovered that HÆLOS embodies a stark contrast to the typical machinations of the music industry. Their lyrics are raw and honest, challenging the status quo. They’ve complemented this potent lyricism with shimmering vocals, trip-hop melodies and an impressive display of musicality from each of the members: Dom Goldsmith, Lotti Bernardout, and Arthur Delaney.

HÆLOS has been frequently described as a band, “shrouded in mystery.” I find that silly considering you’ve performed at some of the biggest music festivals including Coachella and Glastonbury! Tell me something about the band that most people don’t know?

A: I think we are pretty open in the press. In the absence of information, the online press likes to use the phrase, “shrouded in mystery.” When we put our music up, we didn’t have press shots at the time. Instead, we used our symbol.

The image of the eclipse?

A: Yea, and then suddenly people think we are mysterious.

I don’t really get a mysterious vibe from your band.

A: And it’s funny because our music is really honest and emotionally raw. It’s not avoidant at all. Instead, I find Taylor Swift mysterious.

“And it’s funny because our music is really honest and emotionally raw. It’s not avoidant at all. Instead, I find Taylor Swift mysterious.”

She’s got a machine of writers behind her.

A: Who’s Taylor Swift? No one f’king knows that! She’s not baring her soul in her music.

Your music is so appropriate for the times we live in. I don’t want to sound emo or anything, but there seems to be a lot of uncertainty and darkness in this day and age. Were you influenced by particular current events for your lyrics? Or, were you all writing introspectively about your life experiences?

A:   We’ve started writing our second record and that is really focused on the outside world. In contrast, the first record is about living for so long in a bubble and then, it suddenly bursts. You end up questioning, “who am I?” It’s more of an introspective effort to sift through the past. It’s quite a personal perspective.

The gloominess and melancholic nature of the record is definitely influenced by the darkness and uncertainty of our times. But at the same time, the process of writing helped us to learn more about ourselves.

Pop music culture is so avoidant. It’s so shut down. It has the ‘Ostrich Syndrome,’ perpetuating the sentiment of, “everything’s going to be fine, we’re all going to have fun!” It’s not really. I think musicians have a responsibility to comment on the times they live in. I think that you can’t just shut down and pretend everything’s alright. If you’re sensitive, awake, and in touch then you might recognize this.

“I think musicians have a responsibility to comment on the times they live in. I think that you can’t just shut down and pretend everything’s alright.”

You talked about your lyrics being introspective and writing them was a process of sifting through the past. To that effect, I thought your use of sampling on the record was very powerful. I had to do some research, but I discovered that you used a sample of a speech by Alan Watts titled, “The Spectrum of Love.” What was your intention of using this and other samples throughout the album?

A:   We (especially Dom) wanted to fit in a sample of Alan Watts into our music for quite some time. We were fortunate that we were able to access a huge library of Alan Watt’s speeches.  He’s got this nice perspective on the world. It’s not necessarily religious.

It is, but it isn’t.

A: It isn’t restricted by dogma. But it understands what all these religions are trying to seek, which is connection and oneness of everything. Our debut record was a spiritual record, it was about connection to yourself and others around you, sifting through the past, searching for healing and closure.

When we were mixing our record, particularly for the song “Pray,” we were creating this string score at the end, and decided we’ve got to redo the synths in the track. As a result, Dom laid down loads of synths. Then, we decided we could turn the string part into an intro. We disappeared into this sample library where we discovered these samples which ultimately tied together loose ends of the record.

The end result is that the record sounds cinematic.

A:   For me, I love vocal samples that take the song to a whole new dimension that wasn’t there before. A sample that’s on the record, but people never comment on, is  T.S. Eliot’s “Hollow Man.”

I did not hear that! And I’ve been reading T.S. Eliot lately, so that’s weird! I’ll check it out! Where’d you put it?

A: [Chuckles]

I’ll keep searching for it!

I greatly appreciate that your band has a love for the ‘90s Bristol music and arts scene. Bands or artists that come to my mind are Massive Attack, Portishead and even the graffiti artist, Banksy. What specifically draws you to this scene?

A:   Bristol receives a high amount of rain per year. So, it’s no surprise that this Bristol scene is known for making really moody music. The scene blends together several different genres of music: dub, turntablism, post-rock, electronica, house, techno, etc.

The music in Bristol is about atmosphere and a sense of space. I think there is a psychedelic, transcendent quality to this music. Although, it’s not phasey, it’s not kitsch. It’s serious and emotional music.

Now that you are currently writing your second album, are you melding your influences, such as trip-hop and ‘90s Bristol music, with your own music sensibilities?

A:   For the first record, it just so happens we were listening to a lot of that music — particularly off of Mo’ Wax, which is James Lavelle’s (from UNKLE) record label. For the new record, we’ve exhausted our influences. We’re just writing quite freely, at the moment. We go through periods of not listening to other music except for a bit a dance music, because what you listen to you tend to absorb. When you’re writing, it’s really cool to stall yourself for a little bit and let what’s inside you naturally come out. We’re primarily set out to write a new HÆLOS record. We’ll see what comes out of it.

That’s exciting! I can’t wait to hear it. Do you have a time frame when you think you’ll be releasing?

A:   I dunno, we’ll see!

You each have a lot of experience as musicians, with upwards of 12 to 15 years of musical experience. Can you elaborate on each of your musical backgrounds and your growth?

A: Both Dom and I started in a similar way, writing songs on guitar. Our former bands used to play quite a bit together. Dom used to play with Get People. I used to be in a band, Born Blonde. Some of the members of Born Blonde formed Jungle. Lotti was doing quite a lot of dance toplines, that’s her background. She comes from a big dance chorus background.

You can kind of hear that on the record. Dom is all about production. For me, it’s about the lyrics. For Lotti, it’s been all about the smashing choruses.

I was curious about roles in the band. It seems like each of you have your own unique strengths. I wonder what it’s like when you all collaborate.

A:   We’ve managed to find this cool equilibrium. We’re all stubborn, we’re all control freaks, and each of us likes to think we’re right. We all really care, we put our heart and soul into it. The truth is, there’s a real crossover of what we’re capable of doing. The ideas are always going into the mix. We all write melodies, we write together. Lotti might come up with a soaring chorus line and Dom writes amazing melodies as well, and so do I. We’re come from the background of real skills. We allow it to shine through on this record.

Do you all co-author lyrics? Or is it mainly you?

A:   We’re all in the room when we write. I typically do a lot of writing on my own time and I’ll bring phrases I’ve been kicking around to the session. But, each of us are great lyricists and all members provide input.

It’s impressive that you all have a background in lyricism and each of you are open to new ideas from other members and fusing it together.

A:   Because we write together in a room, it has to be open enough for people to interpret it themselves. It’s not just about one of us. Since we all sing on the record, we have to relate to the lyrics in some way. I know there’s a deep personal story in the record that was woven in; and these songs also emotionally resonate uniquely for both Lotti and Dom, as well. That for me is a real strength.

I do sense that every member is emotionally invested in the project. Some bands, it’s just not there.

A: It’s been great to work with them because it’s taken the edge off of the obsession of lyric writing. It can be a quite narcissistic exercise. It’s forced the songs into a sort of macrocosmic significance. They have to work outside just my understanding of them. The songs have to work for everyone because we all have to sing them and believe in them. That’s really important.

I was visiting London in November, and I visited Shoreditch to see a concert at the Village Underground. I am curious, any recommendations of music venues to check out in London?

A:  We played this amazing show at this venue called The Laundry. It’s an industrial basement, owned by some of the members of Radiohead. It’s in London Fields. To see a big show, I think Alexandra Palace is great! I saw The Strokes there when I was 13 and it blew my mind. It’s a beautiful venue.

I’ll definitely check it out! Thank you for speaking with me! Best wishes for your international tour. I am looking forward to seeing you perform in Washington DC at U Street Music Hall on September 22.