Caturday with Blue Hawaii

India Hendrikse

Ask for Blue Hawaii at any bad club and you’ll be presented with a fluorescent aqua cocktail, inspired by the 1961 Elvis Presley musical of the same name. But ask at any good club, and the DJ should immediately know you’re not asking for the sickly Curaçao and tinned pineapple concoction, but rather, the electronic pop bangers of Raphaelle “Ra” Standell-Preston and Alex “Agor” Kerby. The duo’s musical collab began back in 2010 with an EP, and has since burgeoned into three studio albums, the latest of which was released this month. Open Reduction Internal Fixation is an epitaph of the turbulent experiences both musicians have recently had. But there’s nothing melancholy about its sound – Ra and Agor love a boogie, and the music is a reflection of the high frequency cities they both reside in. Ra in Montreal, and Agor in Berlin. Here, the duo reflect on the remedial creation of a club-ready album on the back of life hurdles – Agor with surgery and Ra with a heart-wrenching breakup.

IH: You both live in different cities. Agor, what would you get up to on a typical Saturday in Berlin? And Ra, what would a Saturday in Montreal entail?
AK: A typical Saturday might not be so different that any other day of the week – one of the reasons doing this job keeps things interesting! Will probably be some combination of coffee, mixing music, gym, eating food, playing with synths, sometimes hitting the club. Though I guess here that might be more of a Sunday endeavour!
RA: I walk down the street to the corner to Café Olimpico or Social. I order a coffee and croissant. I run into friends and I pet the dogs but I always put out my hand and ask for permission in a gentle way – both to friends and dogs. I will often head into my studio for an extra day, especially if Agor is in town and we are banging out some hot new tracks.
IH: You share a lot of personal experiences in your music. Can you share those recent heartaches and trials with us?
RS: Gone through too many breakups and by the sounds of it i’m not the only one experiencing the trials and tribulations of love in 2019. I’m talking about Tinder and other dating apps at the moment. Having a sea of photos and options to choose from on your phone is just a strange thing, if you decide to occasionally dive into that bizarre side of the internet.
IH: And how do you balance being cathartic with maintaining a club banger, upbeat vibe?
RS: You get really sad then make sure you can keep moving to the sad, and then the song and rhythm kind of picks you up a bit. The thing that I love about dance music and incorporating more heartfelt lyrics to it is that instantly the lyrics are given a different lens form which the listener can look through; it ends up allowing those lyrics to take on a sassier, confidant and more playful personality.
IH: How would each of your describe your personal style? What are some of your go-to labels and fashion habits?
RS: I really like combining different styles. The other day I borrowed my friend’s JJJJound skate shirt and paired it with a glittery Eve Gravel disco skirt. Both are local [Montreal] designers. AK: I wear a lot of used clothing – baggy silky suits. I acid washed some boot cut jeans recently. I bought some sun jellies in my size this summer. My friend Pascale gave me a huge bright red hoodie. I wear a lot of white undershirts.
IH: After a hectic day, how would you both wind down?
RS: I usually listen to a political podcast, such as The Rachel Maddow Show and Anderson Cooper 360. I take a bath.
AK: Usually I work at night so my daytime is often the unwinding part. I will go to the gym and take a relaxing sauna and steam after. I watch a lot of gear demos and late night TV shows like Trevor Noah and John Oliver.
IH: If you could change three things about the world and the way we live, right now, what would they be? BOTH: Reduce reliance on fossil fuels, Protect current ecosystems and fund renewable energy. Address systematic equality. Big issues, hey?
IH: Your musical beginnings were born out of a romantic relationship. Now, as co-creators and friends, how do you upkeep the musical chemistry?
BOTH: We have taken long breaks making music together, and I think this helps keep things fresh when we do get in the studio together and start working. Lately it’s been a real quick process. Empathy, communication and compassion have been really key for us in order to stay best friends and work partners in the shadow of a four year romantic relationship. We don’t think that all people could continue working together, but it’s the best thing that has ever happened to us!
IH: And lastly, what would you put on your weekend soundtrack?
AGOR: Check the Spotify playlist – I adapted a series of songs I play at my birthday party on a boat this summer!

Click to listen to
Blue Hawaii’s playlist