Blue Hawaii at Pickle Factory
Canadian duo Blue Hawaii, (Raphaelle Standell-Preston and Alex “Agor” Kerby) return to London, playing the intimate Pickle Factory, tucked away behind a busy corner of Bethnal Green. They both appear on stage after a slight delay, having experienced every musician’s nightmare: a busted electribe emx1 adapter aka the drum machine.
The first song of the evening, Free at Last, taken from their 2017 album Tenderness, takes us into club music genre. The muted samples slowly build up, reflecting the simplicity and calmness of the title, with Preston’s vocals passing effortlessly on its buoyancy. Saxophone samples offer a jazz-like quality to what is essentially a chilled dance jam. Blending into the popular hit Versus Game, it is easy to see why Blue Hawaii have such a passionate fan base. Kerby’s samples are addictive to say the least, and he knows just how to build the anticipation before the eventual drop. There is a clear 90s vibe to their sound, but they manage to produce something that is also very current. The lyrics and music work perfectly well together, bridging the gap between pop and electronic, with shots of house and rave. Versus Game could easily become a classic club hit, with the right DJs playing it, while Belong to Myself brings the tone down a little, creating a low tempo in which Preston’s vocals reach striking crescendos.
In Two, from their last album, Untogether (2011), dedicated to the “original Blue Hawaii fans”, is also an ambient track, with a looped beat, whilst Searching for You transports us into a softened garage genre tune. With the addition of saxophone samples, there is a serene Balearic mood that is Blue Hawaii’s signature sound. The live performance has a different vibe and energy to the recorded version, as it should, proving that the pair translate their tunes well to a live set. Do You Need Me is a good example of this, with the addition of bongo drum samples, which Kerby put together in a very short amount of time. Disco number No One Like You represents what is at the core of what this duo are about: gentle club music that gradually builds to a satisfying beat. Completing the set with Try to Be, Preston and Kerby have captured the audience in creating tracks with an ethereal and light quality, combining haunting sentimental lyrics with cool danceable rhythms. Preston understands her vocals well while he is a maestro on the samples, and together they create sumptuous music. Though no instruments, in the classic term, are played tonight, the performance shows the Canadians really do have a talent in creating blissful ambient pop with gorgeous beats.
A quote from their time creating the Untogether album cover perfectly captures the spirit of Blue Hawaii: “…the idea of holding somebody, but not really getting at what is going on at their core…” It is this elusive quality in their sound that makes the duo well worth seeing live.
For further information and future events visit the Blue Hawaii website here.
Watch the video for No One Like You here: