I’d like to wax lyrical about a group who I wish would come back and make my ears happy once more. After hearing Blind by Hercules and Love Affair pop on my iPod, I was instantly reminded of how fantastic Andy Butler and his rotating disco supergroup are.
Largely, my original joy and soft-spot for HALA probably stems from nostalgia. The video for its anthem, Blind featuring goddess Jamie Winstone first made its appearance in 2008 – around the time when Skins was the Bible, Hot Chip introduced us 15 year olds to a life beyond indie guitars and CSS rocked fabulous sequin catuits long before stores like Topshop sold them. This was when I was discovering music, style and life on my own terms. And Mr Butler and his nu-disco crew was there to provide the soundtrack, every step of the way.
The band’s first self-titled album still sounds as great today as it did almost 10 years ago. Not surprising when you consider the talent behind it. Andy Butler’s skills and powerful vision is something that continues to ring true in 2017, both inspired and fascinated by disco and nightlife culture’s ability to offer a complete sense of freedom. Something which perhaps my youthful self also related to, forming my bond with the band. (while researching this post I’ve seen that the band in fact released another album in 2014 which I look forward to listening to – but for the purpose of this post, lets focus on its stunning debut)
HALA prides itself on its rotating lineup of band members but just as everyone has their favourite Blue Peter cast that just IS Blue Peter in their mind, the team responsible for the first album will define this group for me. The rich, emotive vocals from Anhoni are simply mesmerising and one of the first factors that made me fall in love with the group. They take each HALA track to new, hypnotic places, making the whole album even more magical to my ears, giving it a distinctive edge. Nomi Ruz is every inch the powerful disco diva I wish I could be, owning the live performances alongside Kim Ann Foxman – both incredible, talented ladies who are still rocking it now!
Nine years later, I can also fully appreciate the band and Andy Butler’s vision in its entirety. A quick peek at its Wiki page gives insight into the entire concept, as well as Andy’s deep-rooted passion for tunes.
‘Butler decided to do so under the name of Hercules and Love Affair because it reflected his interest in Greco-Roman mythology; it referenced Hercules and his “love affair” with Hylas. According to Butler, “[Hercules] stayed on the island, looking for his boyfriend. I just thought this was super-beautiful: the strongest man on earth looking for his lost love, at his most vulnerable. Strong men can have strong feelings. And they can experience those feelings and experience pain and express pain — and be gay.” ‘
“‘Blind’ was about growing up a gay kid, my immediate family and social group rejecting me, and asking why I was born into this situation. But knowing that as soon as I could escape, I would, and that I would find freedom and solace. As an adult, however, I found a life full of excess and other wounded people and confusion. Thus, I felt blind.”
(text taken from the Hercules and Love Affair Wikipedia page. View it here.)
Ultimately, Hercules and Love Affair is a band that is a true product of passion, not simply just making tunes to make you dance, but making a freedom statement in bold, colourful, hip-swinging ways.
I’ve only had the pleasure of seeing Hercules and Love Affair once, when I was under 18 at a free festival in Newcastle. How I’d love to see them again, now that I’m older.