There's something exciting about witnessing the birth of a band. Perhaps you're seeing the beginning of something great — something you'll tell your grandchildren years from now, when you're old and gray and trying to figure out how to work that damn iPod97.
The Hours Strange is a new duo formed in April right here in Miami. They'll play songs from their debut EP, Ain't Love Grand, live for the first time at Libertine this Thursday. So this just might be your chance to witness the next big thing — or, at the very least, show some love to a band that could sure use the support.
Made up of former Brooklyn residents Jette Kelly and Charlie T, the group has a sound that's both fresh and nostalgic. Kelly croons like an old-school lounge singer, while Charlie's instrumentation lifts the compositions into the 21st Century. The two even roped in Tweety González, an Argentine producer who's worked with artists such as Shakira and Gustavo Cerati, to help on the new EP. The band's debut maintains a unique blend of past and future — different from pretty much anything else you'll find in the Magic City right now.
New Times caught up with the members to get to know them better before their inaugural gig.
New Times: You guys are working on your debut EP now. When will it be out? And can you describe your sound?
Jette Kelly: I don't know precisely when we'll release the EP, but I think it will be late autumn/early winter — Art Basel time. With regard to our sound, that's a subtly tricky question! Hmm, we sound like every conversation we've ever had about love-sex-obsession-absence-art. Jokes aside, and in less abstract terms, we're pop/pop-noir/electronica. We very much respect the music of Tom Waits, Massive Attack, Beach House, Lana del Rey, Garbage, Nick Cave, Leonard Cohen (the list could go on and on), so surely that influences us, too.
Charlie T: I think our list of inspirators — if you allow me the word — has to include Wong Kar-wai, Jim Jarmusch, David Lynch, Peter Greenaway. I think we want to sound the way their movies feel.
What inspires you to write songs? Is there any one topic or emotion — love, heartbreak, anger — that seems most present in your music?
Charlie T: Wow. As innocent as you would imagine this question to be, it really hits the Hours Strange at its core. Jette is, as I perceive her to be, ethereal, passionate, encouraging, full of excitement, almost like a child. Me, on the other hand, I have battled depression all of my life, so I write from a much darker, oppressive, and revengeful point of view. So in quite a literal sense, she is the redeemer of our overall narrative. At the core I think we are always exploring what constitutes — and what triggers — human attraction. I do it from a dark place, and she re-interprets it in a — if I may — more sexual nature. But don't make any mistakes; both our approaches are very raw in essence.
Kelly: 'In a more sexual nature'…Don’t make me blush, Charlie T.
Your lyrics seem to be very poetic, oozing with subtext and often abstract. But at times they become very specific — for example: "The shells on the ledge/My dress on the bed/The wine we brought from France." Are your songs inspired by true events, vague outlines of emotions, or perhaps a little of both?
Kelly: Definitely a bit of both. "Medianoche," for instance: Charlie was somewhere overseas when he emailed me and basically said, 'Hey, I think I want to write a song about destroying an apartment with sex.' I almost immediately volleyed back, "There goes the tablecloth/There goes my skirt/Goodbye to the wine/And every button on your shirt." And thus it started. Wait—you want to know if there’s any truth to that song? Well, I trust we’ve all caused a bit of collateral damage.
Charlie T: There's a great phrase in Lynch's Mulholland Dr. where the protagonist says, 'I want to remember things the way I remember them, not necessarily the way they happened.' I think you can say that about our songs—they are all things we remember, whether they happened to us or not.
As we have already stated elsewhere, this song is "one part beginners' tango, two parts tease, and a dash of Angostura bitters". The video, with a performance by French actress/model Audrey Mazens, may have increased the tease tenfold - this cocktail may need a chaser! May we suggest Basil Hayden's?Posted by the hours strange on Sunday, September 6, 2015
So where are you both from and how did you two meet, and how long have you been making music together?
Charlie T: As far as I know, we're both from Brooklyn. I happen to have been born in Argentina, and she grew up in some part of the American South that only exists in romances and novels by Margaret Mitchell. Many years ago I produced an event in New York with the New World Symphony, and we invited an amazing singer. People who I have every reason to trust have told me over and over that the singer was Jette — but I have no recollection. However, acting upon that trust, when she moved to Miami we connected on the chances that it was, indeed, her.
Miami can be an intimidating place for a band to start out. What's been your musical experience with the city so far? Positive? Negative?
Kelly: Miami’s been lovely. It’s such a gorgeous, exotic place! People from all over the world come here to live or visit — and they do so with no small amount of joy, I might add — so, of course, there are many, many artists in Miami—creating interesting things of all kinds and in all mediums. It’s very inspiring.
So you worked with Tweety Gonzalez on this new EP. Why did you choose him as a producer?
Charlie T: I grew up in Argentina, so I was exposed to his sound from early on: Fito Páez, Soda Stereo, theirs were the albums that marked my formative years. I was lucky enough to befriend Tweety — if that's not too strong a term — when he moved to LA to form ACIDA. When we had the first tracks for the Hours Strange I sent them to him to get his opinion, and then one thing led to another.
Will this be your first show playing songs from the new EP?
Kelly: Yes! And we couldn't possibly be more excited!
Charlie T: Funny how that happened. I truly wanted to play at The Corner, for an intimate group, but then our friend called about Libertine, which at the time was yet to open. And with that name, you know, we thought there couldn't be a more appropriate place to kick off.
Any specific plans for the Libertine show or are you just going to sit down and play the music?
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Charlie T: With our fondness for the arts in the vast sense, there is just no way that we would pass on the opportunity to make this a truly multi-sensory experience. I think it's safe to say that this approach will hold true for all of our shows. In this particular case, we have reached out to a handful of artists and given them creative freedom to work on a video background for our songs. So from film director Maximiliano Gerscovich to French model and actress Audrey Mazens, to arts curator Daniela Luna and avant-garde Brooklyn photographer Amy Davis, each song will have its own video art piece that will play on the background.
Kelly: It’s been so interesting to see how other artists interpret our music! We are really, really looking forward to this show.
The Hours Strange 10 p.m. Thursday, September 10, at Libertine, 40 NE 11th St., Miami; 305-363-2120; libertinemiami.com. Admission is free. Ages 21 and up.