Interview: HANDSOME On Self-Expression

Monday, October 1, 2018

During BIGSOUND, I had the pleasure of speaking with up-and-coming electronica Sydney-artist HANDSOME. We chatted about past projects, the now released EP No Hat No Play and what audiences can expect from the live shows.

What was the origin of the HANDSOME project? 

The catalyst for creating HANDSOME was me and my friends and my girlfriend were all at a queer party in Sydney. And then, after a very big night out, at 6 am, we were all huddling around a heater reading our phones and it was the first time we found out about the Orlando shooting. It was so intensely impactful at that moment because all of us were at a gay party that night. So the idea that could happen to our community and that could have been us was very visceral and raw and really scary. And so I think at that moment, I just thought I want to make sure that I make music that makes the people in my community feel safe and feel like they have people that will protect them, vouch for them and care about them.

You have an upcoming EP No Hat No Play what can audiences expect from it?  

An EP about celebrating who you are and fiercely loving that. One of the most powerful things in the entire world is to love who you are and have that fierce self-expression. I think it's really underrated as a power.

How will the live show differ from the EP experience?

I feel like the live show is pretty true to the EP but a lot more performative. We've created patches and technology to make it happen in front of people and we make sure that they can see it unfolding. Me and the HANDSOME band try really hard to make sure that people are having an amazing time, because even when you're so sad and you're listening to 'Save Some Love', for example, and it's breaking your heart, we still want you to walk away feeling incredible about yourself.

Speaking of 'Save Some Love', I adore it’s electronically manipulated vocals. What made you go for that choice over organic vocals?

It started off as a lack of knowledge as a producer. I can play a lot of instruments, but not well. So not being able to pick up a keyboard and smash out these really amazing chords, I eventually found creating musicality or arrangements with my voice easier — I'm drawn to it. You can create a whole journey and an entire mood change just with textural or tonal changes.

It’s been a huge journey for you beginning Caitlyn Park at 19. If you could go back, what piece of advice would you give her? 

There is such a difference in the way that you handle yourself as an artist and somebody who creates art when you feel one-hundred percent comfortable with who you are. And I think there's a huge element to C.P. stuff previously where I wasn't that comfortable with who I was. Caitlyn Park was always something that I couldn't really live up to and I wanted to do something else — I wanted to make the music that I'm making now. So the advice would be to keep doing what you're doing, because eventually, I did get to this point and I wouldn't have done it without the Caitlyn Park stuff in the first place.

How much would you say that the project still lives within HANDSOME?

Quite a bit — it's the bones that were laid before the rest of the body was built.
There's so much that I learned production wise making Caitlyn Park records that I wouldn't be able to do with HANDSOME stuff. So I feel like it's probably forty-percent, with a new sixty-percent HANDSOME on top.

Thank you for having a conversation with me today, that was really good chat!

Thank you!

Written by Roy Gordon (@yorgordon)

You can stream No Hat No Play by HANDSOME below:

Tour dates:
12th October - The Red Rattler Theatre, Sydney
18th October - The Old Bar, Melbourne
Click here for more infomation

(Photo by Anna Hay)