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Get To Know a GRAMMY Nominee: Hiatus Kaiyote

Last week we kicked off a series called “Get To Know A GRAMMY Nominee” and introduced you to Gary Clark Jr., the first artist to garner nominations for Best Rock Song and Best Traditional R&B Performance in the same year. This week, we’ve got another milestone first: meet Hiatus Kaiyote (say it with me: hi-AY-tus ky-O-tee), the first Australian band to be nominated for a GRAMMY in an R&B category!

Independent Melbourne "future soul" band Hiatus Kaiyote

Independent Melbourne “future soul” band Hiatus Kaiyote

If that previous sentence and subsequent photo left you scratching your head, then you’re just as surprised as they were when they got the news.  How does a virtually unknown indie “future soul” band from Melbourne wind up as the dark horse in a category alongside Tamar Braxton, Anthony Hamilton, Miguel and the late Donny Hathaway’s daughter, Lalah?

Firstly, it helps to have an amazing sound that isn’t quite soul, jazz or rock but fluidly overlaps all three with precision. Having a fearlessly stylish lead vocalist who goes by “Nai Palm” and sings like a love child of Billie Holliday and a pixie also works to your benefit. That will surely get people’s attention when you open for hip hop-jazz artist Taylor McFerrin and gain frequent spins on influential public radio stations like KCRW. Then the video for your song “Nakamarra” will add evocative visuals to your lush sound, and capture the fancy of the likes of Erykah Badu and Questlove. Next thing you know, they’re tweeting about you to their massive followings and things really start to catch on. Finally, your album “Tawk Tomahawk” – originally released in 2011 on Bandcamp – will get picked up by the Sony Music label Flying Buddha, run by the renowned hip-hop producer Salaam Remi. There isn’t really any other way to put it, he’s kind of a big deal. Before you can fully grasp what’s going on, Q-Tip is on a remix of “Nakamarra,” you spend the bulk of 2013 touring the U.S. and Europe and WHOA, suddenly you’re nominated for a GRAMMY in a category in which no one from your country has ever been recognized! Not too shabby of an outcome on your first try.

Listen to their GRAMMY nominated tune “Nakamarra” featuring Q-Tip below:

“Nakamarra” ft. Q-Tip (Best R&B Performance)

Also, check out the original video below, filmed throughout the desert and various ghost townships of Australia over the course of a 9 day road trip from Melbourne to Alice Springs that took them 5,000 km (3,107 mi):

If you’re digging their sound, consider supporting their full-length album “Tawk Tomahawk” which features their GRAMMY-nominated tune. If you already have the album and still need more Hiatus Kaiyote in your life, you can visit their website or you can get a little more involved and connect with them on pretty much every major social network.

Congratulations to Hiatus Kaiyote on their landmark GRAMMY nomination and best of luck to them on Jan. 26th. We’re looking forward to seeing (and of course hearing) what’s next for these gifted musicians once the post-GRAMMYS dust settles! Come back next Friday to get familiar with another GRAMMY-nominated artist, and be sure to catch up if you missed the first installment last week.