Local Produce: HŌHĀ

Local Produce: HŌHĀ

HŌHĀ is an Ōtepoti noise duo composed of drummer Madison Kelly (they/them) and guitarist Liam Clune (he/him). The band formed in early 2021, with the two friends coming together for jam sessions before eventually becoming a band playing gigs, most recently at Camp A Low Hum. 

Critic Te Ārohi caught up with the band to talk about their musical approach and upcoming gigs. HŌHĀ and I sit outside on little kid chairs on a Sunday afternoon. After some banter about how the chairs might break, HŌHĀ describe themselves as an improv band, with Madison saying “we like to sync up now and then.” 

The name HŌHĀ is a kupu Māori for fed up, annoying, boring, vexing, as well as an insulting term reserved for politicians (David Seymour) and other pieces of shit. “It’s classic Te Reo Māori [having many meanings],” says Madison. “We personally ascribe all of it, but mainly it's annoying,” Clune adds. HŌHĀ’s name also helps describe the kind of music they make. Madison explains, “We use the term hōhātaka which is like the essence of ‘annoying’. [That] applies to the sound when we do long drone stuff, that’s HŌHĀ. It can be really noisy, like the bus that just drove past, that’s HŌHĀ. You can scream because you’re feeling HŌHĀ.”

Clune and Madison have been friends for a while and have had their own musical projects – Clune being in Night Lunch, Crime Hospital, and Madison in Riot Gull – and while those other projects are more structured, HŌHĀ leans into the messiness of music-making. They practice by jamming, recording it and taking the best bits to use in sets. “We do really odd sets since they’re all different,” says Clune, with Madison mentioning a set in particular where they played one song for the first and last time. “It was called ‘Get ‘Em’ and the lyrics were about the police looking for someone but intentionally giving them vague descriptions like ‘he’s between 5 '1 and 6' 7, he’s over there, get ‘em’.” Often there are barely any lyrics, with the focus more being on the riffs and drum rhythms. “We usually have exclamations though, where we want to hit a certain riff or song at the end,” says Clune. 

HŌHĀ usually plays at The Crown and Yours, but managed to play both weekends at Camp A Low Hum. “We were stoked to be there. So lucky. We played in the small rooms which worked best for us, perfect HŌHĀ conditions,” says Madison. Clune adds, “We would do different sets each time so people would come back which is really fun, and they’d be like, ‘Oh, what the fuck?’” There were a lot of Ōtepoti noise bands represented at Camp A Low Hum, so HŌHĀ made sure to hype it up. “Ōtepoti is pretty cool, and I’m not just talking about the weather.”

An important thing about HŌHĀ is that they’re a Māori and queer band. “It’s cool to be in a band that’s a Māori band, just because we are Māori. We can deliberately use Māori and it can be chill,” says Madison. Asking what matters most they both reply: “Please give us money, being a noise band doesn't give you a lot of cash.” Most importantly, though, “Toitū Te Tiriti.”

You can follow HŌHĀ @hoha__hoha__ on Instagram and catch them at The Crown on May 3rd with Splinter and Pesk.

This article first appeared in Issue 7, 2024.
Posted 2:09pm Sunday 14th April 2024 by Jordan Irvine.