Throughout the course of this site’s decade-plus history, I’ve spilled copious amounts of virtual ink covering JOVM mainstays HAERTS. Tracing their origins back to a budding high school romance in Munich, the acclaimed indie pop act have evolved as its founding (and core) duo — Nini Fabi (vocals) and Benny Gebert (keys, guitar) — have evolved: HAERTS was formed when the duo met their now-former bandmates while studying at Berklee College of Music. Upon graduation, the quintet relocated to Brooklyn, where they quickly built up a profile and released their major label, self-titled, Jean-Philip Grobler-produced. full-length debut.
After a series of lineup changes in which the band’s founding duo has remained, Fabi and Gebert relocated to the woods of Upstate New York, where they worked on and released their sophomore album, 2018’s New Compassion. Since the release of New Compassion, Fabi and Gebert have embraced their early international roots by splitting their time between Berlin and New York — and during that same period, they have been fueled by a renewed spirit of collaboration with musicians and visual artists they’ve long admired including Grizzly Bear’s Ed Droste and Julian Klincewicz, who they worked with on POWER/LAND.
As you may recall, the duo’s third album Dream Nation is slated for a March 12, 2021 release, and the album’s material is reportedly marked by a sense of urgent intensity: Fabi and Gebert wrote the album over the course of about a month — and as soon as they finished, they recorded most of the album with their touring band during a week-long, live recording session in New York. Then they went to Los Angeles, where they put the finishing touches on the album and collaborated with Ed Droste on the album’s first single “For the Sky.” (I’ll be getting to that one in a little bit.)
Sonically, Dream Nation will continue to draw their long-held comparisons to Fleetwood Mac and First Aid Kit, but with subtle nods at Portishead and Lamb. “We went into the studio without setting limits or parameters other than that we wanted to make a record that moves you emotionally and physically,” Fabi and Gebert explain. “We wanted it to feel like an invitation into the strange and fantastical night time world, like the songs they play just before the lights come on, when the party is almost over, and the polish is gone.”
Recently Fabi and Gebert were on Late Show with Stephen Colbert, where they performed a gorgeous, acoustic version of Dream Nation‘s first single “For the Sky,” a song that as Nini Fabi explained in press notes “came from a dream I had when I first found out that I was pregnant, which was the catalyst and beginning of writing new music.” Naturally, the acoustic version finds HAERTS stripping the layers of the studio version to leave the studs and beams — Fabi’s soaring vocals and the song’s heartfelt, lived-in lyricism.
The live footage was shot in a paradisal backyard features HAERTS’ core duo with their gurgling, new baby. And admittedly while the live version of the song is just gorgeous, there are few things that I find myself drawn to:
- This family is so adorable. They radiate love and happiness.
- The kid is absolutely in love with mom’s voice.
- Imagine this child being told that they inspired an album and its first single before they were even here; that mom shot a video for that same song, pregnant with you; and when you were finally here, they performed the song on Colbert with you in her lap.
“For the Sky,” the duo’s first bit of new material. this year, is centered around Fabi’s ethereal vocals, shimmering guitars, persistent drumming and a soaring hook. And while featuring a guest spot from Grizzly Bear’s Ed Droste, “For the Sky” continues an incredible run of carefully crafted pop tunes that reference Fleetwood Mac paired with earnest, lived-in songwriting. “‘For the Sky’ came from a dream I had when I first found out that I was pregnant, which was the catalyst and beginning of writing the new music,” HAERTS explain in press notes. “When we finished the demo for the song I kept hearing Ed’s voice and just thought he would sound amazing on it. We didn’t know him at the time, but were such fans. When we reached out we honestly thought we’d never hear from him. But we did and we went into the studio in LA, and ended up recording it just singing together in a room. Now that feels like such a nostalgic notion. But even then it was special. It was that feeling you get when you sing with somebody and something just clicks. And it’s especially crazy when you sing with a vocal force as Ed. I wish everybody could sing together more and feel that.”
Directed by their longtime visual collaborator Julian Klincewicz, the recently released video for “For the Sky” features a very pregnant and stunningly beautiful Nini Fabi dancing and singing along to the song. Indirectly, the visual points to the delicate balance between life and death; the resilience, strength, love and joy of motherhood; and the blessed miracle of healthy new life — especially in light of a global pandemic. “A few months later, we decided that we wanted to do a music video a week before i ended up giving birth,’” HAERTS says. “So it all came full circle when Julian came to NY and filmed me dancing at 9 months pregnant.”
“I think my process on this video was kind of about pushing through to the next chapter in our collaborative visual language,” Julian Klincewicz says of the video’s creative process. “I think If you look back at POWER/LAND, there’s a sort of directness or rawness in the humanity of it. And then if we look at YOUR LOVE– that rawness sort of transitions into a spiritual softness. I think right now is such a confrontational time – that to deal with some of those same themes it needs to have a bit more of a confrontational visual language… with the harsher more vibrant colors… its shifting from a kind of spiritual language, almost more into just a more energetic language. I think for me that’s the best word to describe it – the video is very much about an energy, a visual translation of the energy of the song. I was also thinking a lot about this idea of a coloring book – creating images that almost felt drawn, or like tracings of drawings. I think we started touching on that with the last album, but i wanted to push that a little further along. The raw footage we started off with was so clean and beautiful untouched, but i also had this urge to see how that footage could be pushed until it becomes something else entirely – until it could almost become its opposite kind of beauty – indirect, abstract, less literal. taking the spirit of it, but translating it into just the energy version of it.“