Heinali and Matt Finney: Our music is catharsis

Heinali: My name is Oleg and I write under Heinali moniker. I started my first experiments with music in 2003 and it slowly turned into a hobby and then became a profession. Since 2003 I went through a lot of different genres and styles, so my early work is extremely eclectic. But in the recent […]

Heinali: My name is Oleg and I write under Heinali moniker. I started my first experiments with music in 2003 and it slowly turned into a hobby and then became a profession. Since 2003 I went through a lot of different genres and styles, so my early work is extremely eclectic. But in the recent years I have been mostly working with electroacoustic music employing various sound processing methods and techniques. I composed for art installations, exhibitions, films and currently I am working on music for a videogame and choreography. I also do live shows which feature electroacoustic improvisation.

Matt: I started writing when I was a teenager. Terrible angsty stuff, as you can imagine, and then I started working on music with a friend of mine in high school. That opened the door to me working with some incredible musicians and I haven’t looked back.

How did you decide to break up and come back with a side-project and reunion with a new album?

Heinali: Well basically Matt just told me he does not want to do it anymore for personal reasons. So we put the project on halt for a couple of years. I guess Matt could explain the situation much better than me because it was his initiative.

Matt: That was on me. I was having a really rough time. A bad break up, a miscarriage, my biological dad dying and the fallout from that. The plans for the album that we were working on after Ain’t No Night fell through and it was just a really rough time for me. A laundry list of problems and drama I could not handle it. I missed doing this though. Working on music with Heinali was my therapy for so many years and I didn’t have that anymore. I had to get it back and Oleg welcomed me with open arms.

Tell us more about the side project called ‘Secret Admirer’. 

Matt: Secret Admirer is a black metal project we have with our mutual friend Andrew Helinski from Canada. He is the vocalist for Gilded Lily and everyone should go and check them out. They’re some seriously talented guys. Anyway, Secret Admirer was born with the idea of telling a full story with every release. The one that we have lined up is about a supermodel who jumps to her death and all of the tiny moments leading up to that. We are still trying to get everything coordinated for that since Andrew is doing Gilded Lily stuff and we’re recording the new HAMF album but it is going to happen sooner or later.

“Dark ambient”, “Darkwave”, “Blackgaze” blended with beautiful spoken-word. Two albums and two EP. Haunting sounds! “Ain’t No Night” and “Conjoined” are my favorite songs. Curious about what is/are yours?

Matt: Matt: If you put a gun to my head I’d have to say Under God’s Heaven. We were known as this post-rock, industrial kinda band up until that point. We made the decision to make heavier music and when Oleg sent that to me I remember listening to it and just going “fuck” once it kicked in. I think that song changed everything for us but I am really proud of all we have done.

You have worked with Frederick Lloyd during the early releases. Very talented director and composer as well. Any new video by Lloyd?

Matt: I emailed Freddie just the other day and we are going to try and work out him doing a video for us. There’s a song on the new album that I think he’d be perfect for so fingers crossed! I can’t imagine another director working with us at this point. Freddie’s amazing and he’s had quite the year. So proud of him.

Heinali and Matt Finney 2

Most of the time I am highly concentrated while listening to my favorite bands’ music. As I have been listening to HAMF music, it’s something else, I just find myself staring at one direction and think a lot. How do you feel when writing/composing those songs?

Heinali: When I write for HAMF I’m after a kind of very basic, fundamental, cathartic experience (although no one really knows what exactly Aristotle meant when he wrote about katharsis, this word somehow acquired a vague meaning everyone seems to agree with through popularization and everyday use). When I record something that sounds nice but I have not felt it when I played it, I dismiss it. I am ok if it is raw, edgy or even a little bit cheesy, as long as it doesn’t fail to produce the kind of experience I’m after. I just hope that I manage to capture a glimpse of it and at least one person who will listen might re-live it. This being said, I try not to take it too seriously. A lot of music in this field tends to take itself too seriously, in my opinion.

Matt: Catharsis seems to be a word that comes up a lot when we describe our music but if I’m not exhausted and wanting to sleep for two days straight then I’m probably not going to send those lyrics to Oleg.

Seems to me many songs of your could really suit a high drama tv series or movie. Have you ever been offered to write music for that kind of thing?

Heinali: Unfortunately, no luck with HAMF material. They usually need strictly instrumental music, though. We’d love to, though.

Matt: I think we would be perfect doing the theme music/score for a season of True Detective. Get that guy on the phone. Let’s make that happen!

You’ve had some bad experiences with a record label. And mostly you prefer bandcamp to reach out your listeners. Will you work with a record label or keep on with bandcamp? As independent musicians, how do you feel about Bandcamp, Souncloud, Itunes etc. and the songs’ quality?

Heinali: I don’t think we know yet. But I know for sure that if we don’t find a label we will release it ourselves. I like Bandcamp and Soundcloud, they’re good services and a lot have been said and written about their contribution to the development (some even call it revolution) of music industry. As for Bandcamp/Soundcloud etc. sound quality it depends on what you are listening your music on. Compressed lossy streaming should do just fine with earbuds or laptop speakers, but, of course, it’s pretty bad for critical listening, if you have a pair of nice speakers or headphones. It probably also depends on the type of music. For example, it’s not a good idea to listen to Stephan Mathieu or Taylor Deupree or Richard Chartier via streaming because they main focus is spectral/timbral. Thus everything that’s happening in the spectre is very important and digital compression removes important information from the music. While, in my opinion, it is not so critical for pop/rock/hip hop, for example, where the focus is mostly on the melodic and harmonic movement. However, I am pretty sure that it’s only a matter of time when music streaming services would adopt lossless streaming. We just need to wait for a faster internet everywhere in the world.

I loved that drawing of HAMF, whose work is it? 

Heinali: It is a work by Daria Hlazatova http://www.dariahlazatova.com She is very good indeed.

Any “Best albums of 2015” list by HAMF?

Heinali: Unfortunately, I did not listen much music in 2015. I enjoyed Gruidés by Stephen O’Malley though.

Matt: It was the opposite for me. I was listening to so many wonderful albums and I still have so much to work through. It was a great year. These are the ones that I’m still obsessing over though: ✪

  • Drake- If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late
  • Prurient- Frozen Niagara Falls
  • Travis Scott- Rodeo
  • Young Thug- Slime Season
  • Ghost Bath- Moonlover
  • Deafheaven- New Bermuda
  • Jamie xx- In Colour
  • Bryson Tiller- TRAPSOUL



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