This month Winnipeg electro dance-pop trio Hana Lulu releases its debut EP Keepsake and embarks on its first tour which includes stops in Toronto, Montreal and Ottawa.
The band – comprised of vocalist/synth player Kevin Desjarlais, lead synth player Atom Dzaman and drummer Chris Aquin – formed back in 2011 and early the next year played its first show at 5 Fifty-Five, the basement of the Sawatdee Thai on Osborne St. South.
Close followers of the ‘Peg City music scene might recognize the member’s previous bands, most notably Alverstone, a rock group featuring Desjarlais and Aquin that never officially released material, but still spent a week touring with Marianas Trench before the Vancouver pop act started headlining arenas.
“I had some friends who were really into electronic music and I remember wanting to try writing it when I was still in Alverstone,” says Desjarlais, 32. “Then Alverstone ended [five years ago] and I took a bit of a break before getting onto the computer by myself with no pressure. I wasn’t trying to start a band, I was just trying to learn how to write those types of songs and get my feet under me that way, which I think was helpful.”
“I think the decision was mostly Kevin’s to go electronic and we kind of went with it,” adds Dzaman, 28. “But I’ve always liked electronic music too, so it all made sense to go in that direction.”
The band says it started working on Keepsake at its first practice, though not every song it’s written so far has made the final cut.
“It’s modest. It’s only four songs, but they’re good songs and it’s a good representation of what we’re doing and a good starting point for our next release,” Desjarlais says. “We didn’t want to do too much too soon so we thought this was good enough for now.”
The band started off recording on its own and shifted around a bit before settling on Precursor Productions, where it got mastered by Andrew Yankiwski and mixed by Brad Donahue, who’s also the guitar player for the Mad Young Darlings, another band Aquin has played in.
“I don’t know if anything was extremely hard or easy, it was just a lot of work and it ended up taking more time than we ever dreamed it was going to take,” says Aquin, 30. “We ended up switching studios because it wasn’t the direction we wanted to go in, there were some artistic differences, and the whole process of trying to get it right was time consuming.”
“The hardest part was when it’s all complete and you still find things you’d change,” Desjarlais adds. “You learn a lot through the process, I know I did, and while we ended up with a good set of four songs, it’s not a perfect set of four songs.”