In a world saturated with indie-rock Hava are daring to step out and make something truly unique in the Brighton music scene. Their sound is hauntingly beautiful sending the listener into a darkened trance with the vocals swooping over the experimental mixture of influences.Wrought with intention and emotion, Hava are making something that sounds like a trip into the unknown. In an unexpected sense the band make a hugely compelling sound, and to behold their performance is equally as intriguing. Fearlessly creating art out of the inner notions and discomforts that scare us all, Hava are a band who aren’t afraid to tackle the things that lurk in the dark.
I spoke to lead vocalist of Hava Nazan Kaplankiran about her history with music, and why creating it is so important for her.
What inspired your decision to pursue music, or was it something you had always dreamed of?
Being a musician wasn’t something I had always dreamed of doing. I always wanted to pursue a career in something that was related to art though; whether that was being a dance teacher, being an artist or being a photographer. I always found it hard to speak to people about how I felt, and that’s when I turned to music. Writing poems and lyrics has been a natural daily thing for me to do since I was eight years old. I was bullied when I was younger, and had no one speak to, so I turned to pen and paper and constantly wrote.
When Amy Winehouse passed away, I listened to all her albums every day for months and months. I’d do the classic singing and dancing in my room every night for hours in front of a mirror pretending that I was actually performing in front of hundreds of people, and at that point I realised that I wanted to be a singer. I took singing lessons but I stopped singing for a year as people would make nasty comments about my voice. But then I applied for the BIMM Vocals Diploma course, I didn’t tell many people until I actually got a place and I picked myself up from there! Now I’m on year two of the Songwriting Degree, and I couldn’t be anywhere better right now, I’ve gone from performing in my room to performing in front of hundreds of people, and that’s all down to hard work and motivation.
Did being at BIMM University help Hava meet and start making music together?
We met in class and got into a band within the first few weeks of our degree, BIMM is a great platform to collaborate and get into bands with like-minded people. The connections that BIMM offer are amazing. The tutors are experienced in the industry and really want the best for you, giving you advice on how to better yourself as a musician.
The band name ‘Hava’ is the Turkish word for air, why did you choose that for your name?
Hava can also be a Turkish girl’s name. I really connected with that name and thought it would be great for a band name, because it’s simple, memorable, and universal.
Hava’s sound is very different to a lot of other bands out there, what are your influences as a band and how would you describe your sound?
We recently performed in front of a class and one person’s comment was: “I feel like I just had an exorcism and now I need to go to a priest!” and we’ve also been described as a “Doomed Portishead!”. I like anything that sounds out of this world. By this, I mean any music that makes you feel like you’re in space or in a trance. Call it psychedelic, atmospheric, spooky, experimental, dark, messed up ambient, almost spiritual.
Dan also has the same kind of approach and we both like bands such as: The Wytches, Mr Bungle and Portishead. Rhys’s influences are Bear Tooth, and Tool and Kieran’s influences are Arctic Monkeys, Led Zeppelin, and Black Sabbath. Putting all our influences together creates what we have. In a band it’s not necessarily about finding the same influences, it’s more about finding people that respect each other’s influences and aren’t afraid to experiment with them!
On Hava’s Facebook page it states that one of the aims of the band is to ‘raise awareness of invisible illnesses, what makes this so important to the band?
I’m registered severely sight impaired/blind, my condition is called Rod Cone Dystrophy. This condition has led to other illnesses such as mental illness, and most of the songs I write relate to this. I think it’s important to raise awareness because a lot of people aren’t aware of how serious it all is, and a lot of people who are suffering from invisible illnesses are scared to speak up because of stigmas surrounding them.
Music is one of the most powerful tools, and I think that writing and performing about mental illness and invisible illness’s makes a great impact. Our song ‘Talking To Myself’ is purely about anxiety and being alone with it, and we had a huge response to this track. Every inch of ‘Talking To Myself’ is compelling, and we almost create a 4 minute atmosphere of what it feels like to have anxiety. Throughout the whole song you can really feel the tension. This technique is our subtle and subconscious way of defining anxiety and raising awareness.
What makes Hava different to other bands?
I think our band would set a good example to people who are scared to get out of their comfort zone. We’re all about experimenting and trying new and unique sounds. Don’t get me wrong, commercial music is great and I grew up listening to chart music, but there’s so much more you can do with your instruments than sticking to a structure and doing what everyone else is doing. I always say, imperfection is beauty and break the rules. There are no rules, and there shouldn’t be rules. Yes commercial music sells, but creativity is more powerful than anything else.
What is the most important thing you’ve learned so far from being in a band?
Team work and reliability are key. Whenever I have lyrics ready, I bring them into rehearsal for everyone and explain my ideas then we all listen to each other’s ideas and go from there! The members of Hava are great because not only are we all reliable and talented, we’re passionate about the music we make, and don’t get bored of it. We put all of our effort into every song we write. This is important, because the last thing you’d want to see at a gig is a band that looks bored out of their minds on stage, why should the audience be interested if the band aren’t?
Catch Hava at the following dates:
EASTBOURNE –Maxims, 10th March. (full band)
BRIGHTON -The Gladstone, 14th March. (Stripped back headline)
BRIGHTON – Patterns 16th March, (Full band headline).
TUNBRIDGE WELLS -The Forum 23rd of March,(full band).