Hiatus Kaiyote, who are performing at the Opera House this month as part of the Vivid Live music program, are enjoying a singular career. Australia was initially slow to catch onto their free-form mix of soul, funk and hip-hop, with its deep grooves and detailed arrangements, but international admirers, such as vocalist Erykah Badu and her management, soon had them performing in America.
The band has twice been nominated for a Grammy Award for Best R&B Performance, and their second album, 2015's Choose Your Weapon, was widely released internationally as they toured the northern hemisphere.
They performed at Russian festivals, storied American theatres, and a sit-down dinner in Vienna where they eventually convinced the audience to clear the floor of tables draped in red velvet so the dancing could start.
In the last year they've played more than 160 shows, and at one point their schedule was so tight that they had to turn down a request to visit Prince at his Los Angeles show because they had a gig that evening followed by a night drive to the next show. All of this from Melbourne's northern suburbs.
"On one side of things we'll be at the Grammys rubbing shoulders with whoever, and we have these superfans, but a lot of people have still never heard of us, and I actually love that duality," Nai says. "More and more I'm getting stopped in the street, but mentally it's good for me to go to a laundromat and do my washing."
Read the full interview on Sydney Morning Herald.