blue hawaii #BERLIN
Canadian duo Raphaelle ‘Ra’ Standell and Alexander ‘Agor’ Kerby, have been making music under the name of Blue Hawaii for almost a decade. To know Blue Hawaii’s music, you must know their personal journey — both were part of the original DIY scene in Montreal, where illegal warehouse parties were the norm and musician friends who have gone on to make a name for themselves were all hanging around the same loft just making music.
Their debut EP, Blooming Summer (2010) captivated audiences with Raphaelle’s sharp vocals and Agor’s unique production sound. They went on to make two studio albums – Untogether (2013) and Tenderness (2017), all on Arbutus Records. Both albums were nominated for the Juno Award for Electronic Album of the Year.
Their story is of love, breakup, estrangement and then a rekindled friendship, all of which have had a significant influence on their music. Agor now have moved onto Berlin while Raphaelle stayed in Montreal with her other band Braids.
For our last episode, we speak to Agor at one of his favorite train stations in Berlin about the music community in his new home, making music while apart and how a life changing event impacted his music.
Can you tell us what it was like when you first came to Berlin?
When I first came here, I definitely became more interested in electronic music and also clubbing and the environment in which that music can take place. Because,when you think about certain electronic music genres, they were developed for certain clubs in this city..and that’s really interesting. It definitely changed my approach to making music in some ways. But I think in terms of a music community, I’m not sure if Berlin for me is the strongest music community that I know of. I have lots of friends here of course, and there’s a network, but there’s not like this cross city polynation of all different kinds of music genres. I think there’s little pockets of things happening, there’s also lots of tourists and clubbing as an industry more than a community scene sometimes…
You’ve always had electronic elements in your music, how has that changed, or how have that sound grown over time?
I’ve always been making electronic music, and I think it’s been more about how to fit that into the live and song writing aspect of things, and so we’ve always straddle that boundary I guess. I don’t think we’re anymore on one side, it’s always more of an experiment of how to make it work as our own thing, in what we do and how to make music our own thing.
You live in Berlin now, while Raphaelle is still in Montreal. What was the experience like making this album apart?
Yeah, we’ve had a lot of experience making music in separate places, the last two records were done like that as well. We just spend the time we have together, working on it and then giving it a bit of time to marinate and then we come back to it. Mixing and things like that I can do when we’re apart, and every once in a while we need to change a song or something or do a new vocal, then I go back to Montreal. So there are always little concentrated bits of time that we are together, we don’t need to spend every day together. Right now we’re in the last little bit, so it’ll be done in a few weeks.
Has moving to a different city changed your perspective on things in anyway?
I really like it here in Berlin, there’s lots of things to do. I love the big spaces and parks. I recently broke my foot, about six months ago, shattered my heel bone and had to get an operation, which is why I went back to Montreal. We had to cancel all these tours and we ended up making this record as a result of all of that. It was really interesting learning to walk again, I was on crutches for three or four months and it made me appreciate some very basic elements of life, like being able to walk is a blessing. You quickly realize the perspective you have on your own life, the simple ability to walk is so much more important than how much money you make, or how many people listen to your music and stuff like that. I was just happy to be able to go to the grocery store again, it’s just one of those things that you learn from, and it’s definitely informed the record for sure.
What are five key words that make you of your music?
Fun, Dreamy, Spontaneous, Lush and Sunny.