We caught up with Raphaelle “Ra” Standell-Preston and Alex “Agor” Kerby (better known as BlueHawaii) ahead of their forthcoming album Open Reduction Internal Fixation out 11 October via Arbutus. The duo has been recording and releasing music for almost a decade now. Their fourth record, Open Reduction Internal Fixation, touches many genres. It’s skillfully crafted infusing everything from trance, acoustic, UK garage, trip-hop and house, but playful and groovy at its core.
Blue Hawaii was scheduled to tour Asia in Autumn ’18 but a nasty heel injury, endured by Agor, forced them to stop in their tracks. The band consequently recorded an album instead. Agor was forced to return to Montreal to undergo a surgery called “Open Reduction Internal Fixation,” which is where the album name stems from. Instead of touring we ended up with more music from Blue Hawaii. Learn more about the pair below.
Hi Agor and Ra, thank you for your time. How are you and what are you up to today?
Doing well today! Had a friendly neighbourhood festival in Berlin over the weekend and DJ’d along with some favourites from the scene back home, Cadence Weapon, Sean Nicholas Savage, Molly Neilson etc.
What inspires you on a daily basis? How do you stay motivated?
Going to the gym for both of us is an important life motivator. There’s a connection between mind/soul/body that getting physical balances in such an important way. Whether it be dancing, going for a walk or pumping that iron, gotta have it one way or another!
Your forthcoming release Open Reduction Internal Fixation emerged out of deeply painful circumstances, is it more difficult to release material of this nature? How much energy do you invest in how your music is received?
Ag: The record emerged following a serious injury to my foot, smashed my heel into countless little pieces and had to fly back to Montreal instead of going on tour in Asia. It was certainly a bummer at the time, but we had no plans to make another record. Given all this extra time all of a sudden it seemed like the most natural thing to do. And when it came to the title, it was Ra’s idea to call it the name of the surgery, it just fit so well. She wrote many of the lyrics about pining for a relationship even after you know in your heart that it’s truly gone. This kind of emotion brings you down to your most vulnerable, and yet that kind of fixation on another ends up being more of a focus on yourself. So you see, it somehow suited both our situations. And no, it wasn’t hard to release, that part is cathartic.
Tell us about your relationship with Arbutus Records. How was this established?
Ra: We go back as far as the label itself, which was born out of a community space, Lab Synthèse, Ag used to run with his brother, who now runs Arbutus amongst others here in Montreal. This is the space that I met Ag for the first time and it was so important in the formation of our project, and our relationship with each other. Having a common space is so inspiring and important for connections to form, and I’m glad we had one to be a part of.
With regards to your abilities as musicians, is there anything you are actively trying to improve on at the moment?
There was a time when Ag was trying super hard to sing, and Ra was working on the software. But, as time goes on, it seems that we are focusing and specializing more on our strongest gifts, developing those so as to be the best versions of ourselves as possible. If that means mostly singing or mostly producing, so be it. We help each other out a lot though!
Are you happy with the progress being made in the music scene with regards to diversity or is there still a lot more work to be done?
In general? I think when you look at numbers, there’s still a huge dominance by white men, but within underground music communities, there has been more space made and more voices amplified than in times past. It’s a goal that should always be worked on though, the work does not end here.
Tell us about the music scene in Montreal, what is your favourite aspect of it?
The best part for us now is how it’s connected. Ag lives in Berlin but still sees so many people from the Montreal scene who either live there or pass through. In Montreal itself, things have developed and taken on many new sides, like the wonderful n10.as radio platform, which has truly connected more people in the city’s underground music community than just about anything else we can think of.
You’ve got several upcoming events around the world. What are the pros and cons of being an internationally in-demand act?
Haha! As much as we are internationally in-demand, it’s definitely such a privilege to see the world and to meet with so many inspiring people. It definitely helps you see things from different perspectives and informs both the music and our lives in general. A major con, is for sure, the flights and the carbon footprint. It feels so unsustainable to be sending all these musicians and DJs all over the world in fossil fuel guzzling planes. We are doing our best to take trains and small cars and change things in our lives individually. But to really address the problem, we’re going to need to have an internationally agreed upon tax to deter that kind of travel, which will mean we might need to find different jobs! Or to have some other kind of miracle technology come along.
Where would you love to perform where your music has not taken you yet?
Ha! After that speech, well Peru would be really amazing to see.
Famous last words?
“I think it pisses God off if you walk by the color purple in a field somewhere and don’t notice it.” – Alice Walker
OPEN REDUCTION INTERNAL FIXATION OUT 11 OCTOBER VIA ARBUTUS