Following up their 2013 debut EP Tangle, Alternative indie/ R&B duo The Hic's latest EP HARMINE is the group's first release since taking an extended hiatus. Their musical comeback was ignited by the most unlikely of sources, with Dreamville’s Bas hearing tracks from Tangle on the Grand Theft Auto V soundtrack and instantly falling in love with the duo. He promptly flew to London and asked them to collaborate, and the sessions between them birthed two tracks that made it onto Bas’ critically-acclaimed album Too High To Riot.
These records laid the groundwork for The Hics to enter a new creative space as a duo as they toured the world with the Dreamville family as a supporting act on the Too High To Riot Tour. After exploring and developing their musical passion, the duo developed a close bond with NYC-based The FIENDS.
Also celebrating the release of a music video for "Tell Me", the latest music vide was shot in their London flat. the video is self-directed with the footage captured on a mini DV camera that the pair purchased over lockdown. They pieced the video together with the additional help from director and projectionist Spike Silverton to enhance the moody atmosphere of the visual, which in turn emphasises the reflective nature of the track.
Sharing on each track in detail, check out the EARMILK exclusive Track-By-Track for HARMINE.
"Caught In A Lie"
"Caught In A Lie" started as a 16 bar loop. Just Keys and Bass, that would stay on our desktop for years, occasionally going back to replay it every once in a while when in different places. We’d always imagined it being the perfect intro to a new project, the perfect segway to a new sound.
It was one of those ideas that felt impossible to write to until one day Roxane found its opening line
“Caught In A Lie”. (Rox has this amazing way of free-styling lyrics and melody at the same time).
That line immediately stuck in our heads, we were then able to write the rest of the song, drawing from the experiences and feelings we had during that time. We knew that we wanted this song to lift off at the end. We went for the usual go to’s, upper octave top lines and heavy textures then tried adding an usual groove to drive it through to the end. We had spent a lot of time listening to Hip hop/Triplet Hi hats in the US; I think it definitely rubbed off on us when choosing that final beat.
S: My background is in drumming/perc. It’s usually the first place I go when writing a new idea. I made this little 8 bar shaker loop to find a pocket then picked up a Guitar to start messing around with ideas. Ever since I heard Steve Reich’s ‘Electric Counterpoint 3’ I’ve been obsessed with palm muted guitars and counterpoint. In particular how percussive and melodic they can be at the same time. I continued to layer different parts, ending up with a choir of palm muted guitars and percussive textures before finding grounding in the Bass line that comes in for the Chorus. It’s quite a cheesy Bassline in a way, we were listening to a lot of Alexander O'Neal at the time. When It came to vocals I would freestyle melodies, random noises I felt for hooks. Then try to extract phrases I could hear from recordings, then build lyrics around them. I would find lyrics that reflected the idea or mood I was trying to express, which happened to be the story of a bad relationship I had been in.
I then took the idea to Roxane who helped me make sense of it all, helping me structure and arrange it. She wrote the bridge for me to sing with the line “It’s a long way to fall down’’, getting me to sing in an octave I'd never attempted before. Rox really pushed me to find my own voice on this record as I'm usually just supporting a hook or taking a short verse. Originally "Tell Me" sounded very Indie with live drums. We revisited the idea, stripped it back to its bare bones with producer Jacob Oak Welsh and replaced all the live drums with Korg Volca 808’s and random percussive noises that we loved to make. We also experimented heavily with backing vocals and vocal textures in this song. Probably the most we’d ever tried before. Learning how to do that on this record solidified our ability to execute that when working on other records, becoming an integral part of our vocal style and sound.
R: Sam and I played with the vocals a lot in this track, layering 3 parts in different octaves and harmonies throughout. I also added to the end a three part harmony that bridges the last chorus to the ourto. This is the first time we collectively went IN on backing vocals and it was a very extensive process.
R: After working with Bas and the Fiends in Spring 2016, Dreamville had invited us out to a writing camp for 3 weeks. We had no instruments with us so they kindly bought a guitar for me to use. We were surrounded by woodland which was surreal in itself as we’d only ever written music in an urban environment. I spent most of my time writing demos on that guitar, one of those being ‘On You’. At that time it was only the first line “Got To Know It" and the guitar chords. I’d been listening to a lot of Tame Impala and was falling for that romantic and reflective sound they have where the story telling is in the chord choices. A few months later we were in New York when I received some bad news. I found comfort in writing countermelodies on that guitar to the demo of "On You" that night. What was written that night can be heard at the end of the song. Once back in England I found a bounce of this idea and instantly fell in love with it again. Sam and I had set up a temporary recording studio in the upstairs of my grandparents house in the countryside, using two old mattresses as a vocal booth and finding whatever we could to prop them up. We decided on a final structure of the song, then tracked Sam on drums, then added the bass and keys parts. We spent the next few days piecing lyrics and melodies together like a jigsaw puzzle, collaboratively throwing out ideas, looking for answers, getting frustrated then having those eureka moments and rushing upstairs to track it hoping that the booth wouldn't collapse. The song at its root is about change and grappling with the fear and uncertainty that surrounds it.
S: We’d be recording at Roxane’s Grandparents house. I had my dad’s right handed guitar with me. (I’m left handed but only know how to play right handed guitar upside down).
I was always fascinated by what chords I could conjure up. I was tinkering around when I came across this chord shape I hadn’t played before. I thought to myself that that shit sounded wavey so I played it again but up a fret and then decided to record it in. I looped it, picked up the bass and found the line instantly. The idea for Float was pretty much done at that point. When back in London I set up my drums at my parents flat and wanted to get a cheeky recording in before pissing off the neighbors. I called my mate Toby to come over and help me record, I dropped a few takes over the Float loop then dropped this switch up beat that I thought could be cool to introduce at the end. Something that could break up the monotony and give us freedom to have fun with it.
The idea for "Float" was almost completely forgotten about until Roxane stumbled across it.
R: I was using Sams laptop, whilst he was away. I'd often go through any instrumentals on there, top lining as much as I could. I listened to it and it just flowed out of me. I grew up in a household that loved R&B, it lives in my soul. I feel like on this song in particular that is displayed. As for the lyrical content I was thinking about friendships and how the dynamic shifts when one person gets a new partner. I’d always loved the song "Secretly" by Skunk Anansie and the way in which she’s so direct and raw about something people usually wouldn't admit to. So I kinda played out the persona of lusting after someone who's in love with another. I guess the dreaminess of the guitar line influenced me to use my over active imagination.
S: The initial idea for "Reprise" came from a drunken jam session in our old studio share in Manor House 2014. We came up with some wavey chord ideas on a 5 string Bass. I think that chords on the Bass just sound better, there’s a more unusual and richer tone to them. I chopped them up and created a sequence that felt good. Me and Jacob then recorded in two separate beats that would link up to form one groove. We made a quick bounce, went home then completely forgot about it. The idea was quickly lost into the abyss of harddrives.
R: Fast forward to 2016, we’re in LA having a listening session. We got hungry,
Sam and Jacob decided to go to get In and Out. I stayed, sifted through the harddrives to find something to vibe to and found this jumbled up project. I opened the session, did a quick arrangement, wrote the two verses before they got back with my burger. Upon their return, I played it to them, they loved it and found it hilarious that I’d dug up this old idea from the vaults. That arrangement I did is what you hear now as the final version of "Reprise".
When writing "Reprise" I revisited feelings that still lived in me. It kind of felt like I was writing a letter more than a song. The repetitive loop of the reversed percussion makes it feel like a journey, I feel it really lends itself well to the pacing of the story, like a train ride. As a teenager I was heavily influenced by folk, rock and a lil bit of country music and it's interesting to hear those influences come out in this song.