Australian jazz-soul quartet Hiatus Kaiyote isn’t a band that spends a lot of time chasing — or even thinking about — awards. So it came as a bit of a surprise when their single “Breathing Underwater” received a 2016 Grammy nomination for Best R&B Performance — a category that also gave nods to more mainstream-leaning artists The Weekend, Tamar Braxton, Andra Day and Jeremih.
“It wasn’t something that we’d really prepared for,” Hiatus Kaiyote’s lead singer and guitarist tells Billboard of the band’s Grammy nomination. “There is a percentage of artists where that’s their goal — to have these industry accolades and get famous and stuff. For us, [we’re] just kind of consumed by creating. So when things like this happen, it’s pretty amazing.”
The band, which was also nominated for a Grammy in the same category in 2014, has spent the past year touring incessantly on the heels of their acclaimed sophomore album Choose Your Weapon. Palm — along with bassist Paul Bender, drummer Perrin Moss and keyboardist Simon Mavin — were expecting a bit of down time after their global jaunt, but the Grammy nod brought them back to the States sooner than anticipated. The band, which resided in the Hollywood Hills at the Patch (developed by SOUR PATCH KIDS) during Grammy weekend, made the most of the trip by performing a sold-out show at L.A.’s El Rey Theater, where their experimental R&B tunes dazzled a packed house of eclectic fans who ran the gamut from jazz aficionados to metal heads.
The lights, cameras and action of a glitzy awards show may seem out of synch with the band’s ethos of sincerity, but Nai Palm says there is something deeper to Grammy day then what you may see on the surface.
“It’s kind of a culture shock, but at the same time, you find genuine human experiences throughout it,” she says. “You have this perspective that it’s this fake Hollywood world – and there is certainly an element of superficiality to it — but it’s something that involves artists, so you’re going to find people that have worked really hard and … still have their soul inside of them.”
The soul of Hiatus Kaiyote is certainly still intact. For the group (who ultimately lost the award to Weeeknd), the nomination itself was an honor – primarily because their inclusion in the category proves that artists who go against the commercial grain play a vital role in the world of popular music.
“I think we have a lot to offer,” says “Nai Palm. “I think there’s a lot of music out there that isn’t really sincere … and that’s what the majority people are listening to. I think it’s our role as artists to even out the balance a little bit. The more people we can show that sincerity to, the better.”
Watch the video above to see how Hiatus Kaiyote spent the morning of the Grammys, and to hear their perspective on their place in the music world.