Not Not Fun's newest recruits are Sydney-based Holy Balm, a trio as serious about their party-ready No Wave jams as they are their DIY ethic. On their freshly-released debut LP 'It's You', they combine the clattery post-disco of bands like Y Pants with Chicago house beats and Emma's luxe, sensual vocals. It would sound brilliant in a warehouse at 2am. The 'Holy Balm Theme' video is their mission statement in neon, where they float among Fresh Prince graphics like 'Groove Is In The Heart' directed by MC Escher.
Today the band exclusively premiere the one of their album highlights 'Phone Song' on Dazed Digital. In the grand scheme of Songs About Phones it's less 'Call Me Maybe' than Yazz's 'Bad Connection', but don't let that put you off. They also answer our quickfire questions below.
…The story behind your band name?
Jonathan: I was jamming solo on my keyboards in my room in ’06, and Emma and Anna came in and said "hey Yoni, will you join our band? It’s called Holy Balm." I didn’t question the name, but it had a ring to it. I think of it as a snake oil merchant, but Emma says it’s a soothing balm.
…What movie would you love to soundtrack?
Emma: A comprehensive Leigh Bowery biopic.
…the Sydney music scene like? Any local bands to recommend?
Jonathan: The scene here is pretty scattered at the moment. Lots of venues are struggling, and the warehouses are getting heat from the council. There's some really great music though, and I think people’s art and music gets more idiosyncratic and interesting in response to that difficulty.
Emma: I'm loving Love Chants, Warm Feelings, Whores, Half High (a new project from Naked On The Vague folk). Model Citizen are doing an album that will one of those 'soundtrack to your life' LPs.
…The most important song in the world to you?
Jonathan: 'Kiss Me Again' by Dinosaur.
Emma: 'Like A Prayer' by Madonna for nostalgic reasons, and 'Pretty Woman' by Roy Orbison because my brother sings it to me all of the time. Not in a gross way.
Anna: Something by Talking Heads I guess. They were my favourite band when I was little and they got me thinking all around what music can be.
…Your fashion icon?
Emma: All those birds from the Advanced Style blog.
…Your favourite type of candy?
Emma: No candy… just Whittaker's Coconut Slab for me please. Anna: Ritter Sport.
Emma: Yeah, Hazelnut is the best.
Anna: I rate Olympia and Cornflake varieties.
…The movie you wish everyone knew about?
Emma: The Forbidden Zone (1982) and Pina Bausch's Die Klage Der Kaiserin (1990).
Anna: I saw this amazing Russian film this year called Come and See (1985), and I would certainly recommend that. The kid in it is other-worldly.
…The place you'd take me for a night out if I visited Sydney?
Jonathan: I think we’d go for a late night swim at Redleaf Pool. It’s a harbour beach with pontoons and a view of the city. Is that a little too sleazy?
How would you describe your music?
Jonathan: Holy Balm is a dance band, When we perform it’s a sweaty time with lots of dancefloor moves. We like to mess around with the structures of our music, let it ride itself and the audience. It’s loose and lively, which is where we get all the NY downtown and No Wave references from, but we are pushing into a really house zone at the moment. I'm really feeling the Chicago sound. Emma’s vocals are pretty intimate at times and there is some obscurity and haze, but it’s party music and we always respect the beat.
Photo by Yanni Kronenberg
Holy Balm - Phone Song