HAAi chats her new album, embracing her shoegaze origins and collaborating with neighbours

August 3rd 2022

Photo Credit: Imogen Barron

  • HAAi :: Interview with Maia Bilyk

HAAi’s debut solo album is a fast-paced sonic journey littered with quick cuts, ethereal vocals and hypnotic beats. She stopped by the FBi Radio studios to chat with Maia Bilyk on Mornings about the release of Baby, We’re Ascending and how she stumbled into the world of electronic music.

The Australian-born, London-based DJ’s music falls into what Maia described as “this euphoric, emotional strain of dance music, hinting at some psychedelic soundplay”. Teneil Throssel AKA HAAi has cut her teeth in the live arena with various Boiler Room sets. She has also released a string of EPs. Baby, We’re Ascending serves as a consolidation of sounds and growth for HAAi as a musician. A journey that had unlikely origins.

“It was always music first for me, since I was a kid really. I played in multiple psych-shoegaze type bands over the years. It was Dark Bells that was the one that really kind of stuck for the longest and we were the ones that made the move over to the UK together.”

Shoegaze and psych fall on the opposite end of the genre spectrum in comparison to the intense techno that HAAi has delved into. Despite this, she has managed to incorporate elements of her old craft. These include echoing vocals and melodic synths that take on a new life in their new context. This is unique to the album, and something that HAAi had to come to terms with.

“After our band split up and I was making music for myself I really sort of turned my back on that sort of music for a bit… but now I think I feel like I have reclaimed something from my past.”
“I hear from people how they can really hear the sort of shoegaze past in the music that I’m making at the minute and in the album”.

HAAi explained to Maia that it was a combination of her band breaking up and a trip to Berghain seven years ago that were the catalysts for her transition to techno music.

“I spent most of my time in Berghain that day and I really heard techno in a space that it was made for. It was so much more psychedelic than I gave it credit for… I just opened my mind a little bit more to music I had thought just sounded like noise before.”

Collaboration is a prominent aspect of Baby, We’re Ascending. It was not something that Teneil was initially open to however.

“It took me a long time to really be open to the idea of collaborating with people. I was always very protective of the music I was making by myself. I think that came from being a non-male producer in a very male-dominated area.”

One feature on Baby, We’re Ascending that helped her push past her distaste of collaboration was Kai-Isaiah Jamal. Kai-Isaiah is a poet, trans activist, model and perhaps most interestingly, Teneil’s neighbour.

“I didn’t really have the courage to say do you want to do something together?… Kai wrote to me one day and was like, ‘How do you feel about us trying to make some music together?’ and I was like ‘well actually, I’ve kind of made this track that I’ve made for you.’”

The results of this neighbourly connection comes in the form of the track ‘Human Sounds’.

Want to hear more? You can catch HAAi playing Lost Paradise at the end of the year, check out Baby, We’re Ascending below, and/or listen back to her full chat with Maia up top.


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