by Abby Paquet
Arxx is an alternative rock duo - composed of Hanni and Clara - from Brighton (UK). They recently toured with Yungblud as a support act. They are now about to go for their first ever headlining tour in the UK and Europe, and also have their first album Ride or Die coming out on March 31st. Find out their worst moments on stage, their unusual choices of careers had they not been musicians, and the awkward moment when they met Avril Lavigne.
MSM: Could you tell us a little bit about yourselves, where did the name come from and how did you decide to become a band ?
Hanni: Uhm, we played in other bands before we met. And I was playing with a different drummer, but then he moved to Australia. I was looking for a drummer for like, 2 years nearly. I kind of knew of Clara, because we’ve played on the same bill … And I’m very anxious and very shy, so I was like: “ohh, maybe I will” and my friend was like: “just message her and see if she knows anyone !” So I messaged Clara and I was like: “do you know anyone who would want to be in my band ?’ And she was like: “me !” [laughs] then I was like: “ohh, cool, okey !”. Because you [Clara] were in a band, I didn’t want to swipe you from another band.
MSM: And did you stay with them or did you just leave them then ?
Clara: I stayed with them for a bit but the other band was kinda folding, everyone was getting too busy. I was kinda the one who really wanted to do everything and everyone else was just like: “meh”. I still get along with them all great but it just wasn’t working. We bought Hanni’s CD the first time I saw her the first time so … [laughs]. Hanni said do I want to come for an audition, and then I went and I found out I was the only one “auditioning” [laughs].
MSM: Easy job so ! [laughs]
Hanni: If we get on then you’re in the band !
MSM: Well that’s a good thing though. And so, why Arxx ?
Hanni: Erm, it doesn’t mean anything. It’s just a made up word. But it’s nice, I kinda like that it doesn’t mean anything.
Hanni: It doesn’t have any connotations to it or anything. It was originally Arx (A - R - X) but then we realised that it’s a kind of assault riffle … And I thought: “that’s not really my vibe !” So … slap another X on, and then I’ve changed how to say it.
MSM: Oh yeah, we say Arxx … I told a friend I was going to interview “Arxx” and she said: “oh bless you” as if I had sneezed … So I was like no no, it’s the name of the band !
Clara: That’s pretty good !
Hanni: That’s amazing !
MSM: So, what can people expect from your shows ?
Clara: Ehm, we are like this awkward but on stage [laughs]. We realised really early on that we couldn’t be cool. We’re not those people that go on and look cool in front of them like, can have an attitude about it so we just kinda go on about it and just are completely ourselves.
MSM: Yeah just be you !
Clara: Yeah ! But yeah, we love playing live, it’s like our favourite thing to do so … I think there’s quite a lot of energy, we get very excited …
Clara: [laughs] I’m really selling this to you.
Hanni: It sounds like a 2 year old’s birthday party [laughs].
Clara: It is ! So …
MSM: I know what you mean though, as I said I sent to see you in Paris and it really felt like that … Yeah you were a little bit shy but you were really enjoying yourselves and you know, you pick on that when you’re in the crowd.
Hanni: Yeah, we just hope that our shows really come across as a joyful experience.
Clara: Yeah, that’s a better way of putting it ! [laughs]
MSM: Now, you’re releasing a new album soon. How excited are you about fans discovering it and how do you feel about it all ?
Hanni: I think we’re kind of a bit in disbelief. I’m so excited and just like … For so long it’s been “6 months away” or “a year away” and now …
MSM: Now it’s coming !
Hanni: Yeah !
Clara: 5 days away !
MSM: So close !
Hanni: Yeah it’s soon ! I’m excited. I mean, I guess once it’s out you don’t have any control anymore. You know … you have to go and connect with it.
Clara: Yeah, it’s our first album and it’s taken this long … We made EPs before but we were quite like: “let’s do it and get it out !”. And we’ve sat on this for so long so … we’re a little bit like “oooh!”.
MSM: A bit anxious about it all ?
Both: Yeah !
Clara: But excited. I think we’re at the point where we can’t do anything to change it, it’s coming out regardless so we just have to enjoy the process of it.
MSM: And how will it compare to your previous songs ?
Hanni: I’d say we have been a bit bolder with this record.
Hanni: We decided to make a record when we kind of realised we‘ve been to a place where we really loved the songs we were making and they felt like us, because we went through different genres. And yeah, with this record we kind of pushed that more into different areas. We did one that was way quieter than what we usually do … Then we just released God Knows which was way more pop than we’ve ever done before, but we really pushed ourselves to explore those channels of what we are.
Clara: Yeah, just like, lean into it I think. Before we did the “punk thing” a bit and we were quite heavy but then we were like: we like pop ! But I think it’s quite varied, like Hanni said: there’s some stuff that are super pop and some stuff are really not.
MSM: So a mix of stuff. And where do you draw your inspiration from for your songs ?
Hanni: Lots of places. For writing I guess … Writing for me has always been a very organic, personal experience. I’m not really the type to write a song about someone I’d met, or write stuff that happened in my life, my experiences … So, I guess a little bit of everything. But in terms of stylistically, we have such a broad range of inspiration. This record, we listened to like, HAIM is always a big one for us. There was Beyonce, there was Timbaland, uhh Dua Lipa … So yeah, our influences are everywhere !
MSM: It’s a whole span.
Both: [laughs] yeah !
Hanni: I like influences that are really not what you’re doing because no one is going to listen to us and go: “oh it sounds like Dua Lipa !” Like, it won’t. But we can take ourselves really far towards something we never would have explored.
MSM: Which of your songs is the most meaningful to you ? And why ? Released or not.
Both: Ooooh …
MSM: Or your favourite … ?
Clara: My favourite on the album is Ride or Die, because it’s just so fun. It was one of the first things we made that was just like, this is exactly what we want to be making and exactly what we want to sound like. I think when it was finished I couldn’t quite believe it was our band, that’s the song I’m most proud of. It’s fun.
Hanni: Yeah. I actually think that where I’m at now, it probably is the most important. Emotionally and the lyrical side of it. I mean,I love that it sounds like that, like kinda that big song that we don’t really know what I’m singing about. I mean, it’s all about celebrating queer love and I like that it’s really in your face - like, it’s such an aggressive song - but also really disguised. Like we had such a laugh about it when we were recording it because there was this choir of really lovely people singing the middle part in the church … That part really sounds like it’s like a hymn, but it’s really sexual [laughs]. And it’s just that moment of: “you don’t know what you’re singing about” and I love it [laughs]. But yeah, it really feels like a celebration that song.
MSM: Yeah, I must say it’s very catchy as well, I have it on repeat … So, would that be your favourite song to play live as well or do you have others ?
Both: Yeah that one and Iron Lung.
Hanni: Iron Lung still have a special place in our hearts. It’s like our first song that did quite well and ehm … it’s just so fun. Like, there’s not that many songs for me where I’m off the mic …
Hanni: So, most of the time I’m like, constantly think about what the next verse is [laughs]. So, it’s the one where I can actually step back and enjoy myself. But I am enjoying myself most of the time too [laughs] !
MSM: It’s that something you worry about: forgetting the lyrics ?
Hanni: Oh yeah ! It actually happens all the time !
Clara: Quite often I’m like: “that’s definitely not what’s said there, but okey !” [laughs]
Hanni: I forget more when I get comfortable. But when I’m really anxious about a gig, it’s way better !
Hanni: By the end of that tour, with Yungblud - the last show where I was pretty relaxed - I forgot like 3 lines.
MSM: Talking about Yungblud, how did you actually get to tour with him ?
Clara: Err, it was through our agency. It was super last minute: we were told on the Wednesday and it started on the Monday, so it was really … It was like a shock to us all I think. It’s one of those things you can’t say no to ! So we obviously said yes and then we were like: “we’ll figure it out when we get there!’ and we were all a bit like: “shit ! Shit ! Shit !” for like, 3 days [laughs]. Stressing each other out all the time. But yeah, it was just amazing, you can’t say no. Like, we’re a tiny band and that was just the biggest opportunity so you couldn’t say no,
MSM: Yeah I went to one of your shows and I loved it. So when I got back [to Ireland from France], I went on Bandsintown to see if you were coming soon and I saw you were touring and bought tickets straight away.
Both: Awwwwh [laughs]
Clara: Which show are you coming to ?
MSM: The one in Dublin.
Clara: Awh cool, yeah ! I can’t wait to get back to Ireland !
Clara: I think that’s the thing I’m most excited about for this tour ! [laughs]
Hanni: Absolutely, it’s been our favourite place to play so far. Out of everywhere, including our hometown [laughs]. I didn’t say that.
MSM: Where’s your hometown again ?
MSM: So Brighton and Dublin are the favourite places then ?
Clara: Yeah that’s a better way of putting it [laughs].
MSM: And what was you favourite moment of the tour with Yungblud ?
Clara: Ooooh … I would say that Paris show was probably my favourite, because the crowd went wild. The French crowds were the best, kinda consistently … It was amazing the whole time ! They just were …
Hanni: They were the most rowdy, for sure !
Clara: Yeah ! [laughs] And Paris was such a cool venue ! Like, it looked like a circus almost !
Hanni: Oh yeah, I remember it now.
Clara: It was just so fun. I think we just were not expecting that at all and it completely blew us away.
Hanni: It was amazing and such a nice vibe.
Clara: Yeah !
Hanni: And we met Avril Lavigne there.
Clara: And we met Avril Lavigne !
MSM: I know ! I was not expecting it ! We were all blown away !
Clara: We didn’t even know, we were backstage the whole time and we didn’t know ! [laughs]
MSM: You didn’t know either !?
Hanni: We just saw videos later on and we were like: “oh, for like the whole time we withstood about 2 meters away from Avril Lavigne”, for like a solid 15 minutes waiting for him to go on. And we had no idea that she was just right over there.
MSM: Oh my god ! But you got to say hello to her though, didn’t you ?
Clara: Yeah, when she came off stage, me and Hanni both looked at each other and we went: “we can go there !” You’ve gotta take the chance !
Hanni: I wish I would have said hello to her. I actually said: “I love everything you’ve ever done.”
MSM: I mean, yeah, anxiety will do that to you …
Hanni: Yeah ! [laughs]
Clara: Get to the point, you know ? Just ! *clap hands* Banging !
MSM: So, was it worth quitting your job for that tour ? [to Clara]
Clara: It was absolutely worth quitting my job, yeah ! [laughs] I think after the first day I was like: “yeah, this was worth it”. The stress before was horrible ! But actually then, when you got there you’re like “okey, fine !” I think it was just, like you said, you don’t get the opportunity twice, so you just have to take it and worry about everything else after [laughs].
MSM: Well I’m glad you went for it ! Now, silly question: what is the most useless talent you have ?
Clara: Oooh … I can sleep really still.
Hanni: She can !
Clara: I sleep like a pencil !
Hanni: It’s actually quite useful !
Clara: It is, because Hanni likes to starfish, so …
Hanni: What useless talents do I have … Because I’m so talented in useful ways ! [laughs] … What can I do ? … Ohh this is really sad [laughs].
Clara: I think all your talents are useful.
Hanni: Thanks mate !
Clara: Hanni cuts hair, so that’s very useful for me.
Hanni: I can click like, every bone in my body.
Clara: That is true !
Hanni: Even my nose ! Everything ! Everything clicks.
Clara: In the morning when she wakes up it’s like … *makes cracking noises*
Hanni: I guess that’s quite useless, although it’s fun for me.
MSM: Kind of a way to get rid of stress.
Hanni: Yeah … Stressful for you [Clara]. I’m giving my stress to you [laughs].
MSM: And if you could play in any country of venue, where would it be and why ?
Hanni: That’s a good question. I’d love to play that … erm … Is it called Red Rocks ?
Clara: Mhhm, amphitheatre, yeah.
Hanni: I love the idea of playing outside.
Clara: I think I’d be Glastonbury. It’s just a thing I never … Like, it’s always been a dream. I used to watch it on the TV as a teenager and be like: “wow !” [laughs] So, that or the Roundhouse, I’d love to play in the Roundhouse (London).
MSM: Well, I’m sure the day will come ! Now, is there any questions that you wish journalists would ask you but never or rarely do ?
Hanni: I just think more fun questions ! Like, you’re asking us what our useless skills are and I’m like: “Well, I’d like to learn more about myself”, you know ?
Clara: I always think an interesting one is “what would you do if you weren’t in a band” ? Because, a lot of people just put everything else to the side to do this …
MSM: Yeah, because you don’t have a life outside of this [laughs].
Clara: Basically, yeah [laughs]. But like, what would you do if you had another job ? I always think it’s quite funny, a lot of people have so many skills that they’re really good at and just completely leave that to do something that isn’t related at all.
MSM: So Hanni, you would be a hairdresser, yeah ? [laughs]
Hanni: A barber, yeah. But also, I wanted to study … I very nearly did it ! During them two year I couldn’t find a drummer, I was learning environmental conservation and I was going to move to Canada to bring people on tours to see bears in the wild.
MSM: That’s awesome though ! That’s actually really cool !
Hanni: Thank you !
Clara: Imagine if I had said yes when you were in Canada !
Hanni: Yeah, I spoke to the guy, he was like: “I’ll give you a job if you get these qualifications”.
Hanni: That’s fine, I think I would have missed you.
Clara: [laughs] you wouldn’t have known me !
Hanni: That’s a sad life !
Hanni: What about you, Clara ?
Clara: Erm … I can’t surf, but in my dreams I just always wanted to be a surf instructor [laughs]. I can’t surf, I’ve done it once in my life.
Hanni: Yeah but maybe you could have surfed, if it wasn’t music.
Clara: I think I just have this idea of living by a beach, in a little beachy shack, you know and just going down …
Hanni: Wouldn’t the sand annoy you ?
Clara: No, I lived in the desert, I’m very used to the sand.
Hanni: I couldn’t bear the sand ! I’d have to have a very good hoover.
Clara: Well you could have a good hoover ! But you’d have tiles so it’d be fine.
MSM: Or outside showers to rinse off first.
Clara: Yeah ! … But yeah, I can’t surf so that’s a long way off of a dream.
Hanni: You’re going to get eaten by a shark, I’m gonna get eaten by a bear [laughs].
MSM: Another funny question then, what would be your worst moment on stage ?
Hanni: We both had similarly bad moments … We were jumpsuits on stage, and they have zips - which is a deliberate choice because they used to have poppers. And my guitar is an SG, so it has like the horns. Right. And there was one show where I kind of span like this [as if she turned the guitar to her side] and the horns ripped the poppers [laughs]. Fortunately I was like, I span and faced backwards. And, I’m looking at my amps and I’m looking across to Clara, like, “f*ck. !”
Hanni: ‘Cause my jumpsuit was just open and I was like: “okay”. And then I think by the end of the song, I kind of had to manage like, put my guitar up like this [lifting the guitar up to cover herself] so I could be like [playing still and rearrange the buttons]. So,that was pretty bad. Yeah, that was pretty bad.
Clara: I had, I think, I have two. One, once I ate chili fries before I went on stage and then I was on stage and I have, honestly … I've never felt like I was gonna be sick so much in my life [laughs]. And every song I like sweating like, it was really bad [laughs]. Really horrible ! And then the other worst one was ,we were playing like our biggest show to date and we were supporting Dream Wife and we were so excited ! That was like the biggest stage we've ever played and I was on like a drum riser. So, like, at the back. So they had a spotlight on me and my jumpsuit just started, like, the zip just kept going like down [laughs]. And every time I moved, it would go further. And I was in the middle of a song where I knew I didn't stop and I was like: “this is just my luck!” By the end of the song, it was down to here [points at her stomach] !
MSM: You need to wear a tank top underneath !
Clara: Yeah. We've learned now, but yeah. Now we have zippers AND poppers !
MSM: You can never be too careful !