Melbourne duo Husky spent a year in Berlin soaking up the sounds, flavor, and energy of the city, all of which shaped their third release, Punchbuzz, out today. Inspired by the late Berlin nights in which the songs were born, the ten-track LP reveals a more dynamic, rock-driven sound for Husky, a divergence from their traditional folk origins.
Singer/guitarist Husky Gawenda and keyboardist/collaborator Gideon Preiss took up residency in a 13th floor Berlin apartment with a large balcony overlooking the city. Gawenda would stay up all night writing under the moonlight. “There’s something about the nighttime, something happens when the sun goes down,” says Gawenda. “Reason and logic depart, magic and mystery arrive.”
You can hear that bewitching magic and mystery on tracks like the driving “Late Night Store,” the quixotic “Cut The Air” and the fluttering “Spaces Between Heartbeats.” These tracks have an air of possibility to them, there’s the wonder and excitement of the unknown and also moments of fear and hesitation that can rest within this space of uncertainty. Ultimately there’s an optimism that rings throughout the record.
After their whirlwind year in Berlin, Husky returned home to Melbourne where they immediately went into the studio to form all their ideas. One late night as Gawenda was lying in bed, the name of the album came to him — Punchbuzz. “It didn’t matter that it wasn’t a real word — the same way dreams don’t have to make sense. It captured something about the record. It just felt right.”
Walking in their ancestor’s footsteps, breathing in the history of the city, making their own memories, and writing songs; read on below about the places that shaped Husky’s stay in Berlin, and ultimately Punchbuzz.
Favorite music shop in Berlin
Husky: Wowsville is a cool record store and bar in Kreuzberg. You can easily spend all your time and money on beers and records there.
Is there anyone you met in Berlin that influenced or inspired you in some way?
Gideon: We met a guy named Oliver who was a lawyer by day and a vintage guitar enthusiast by night. He asked us to come to his place and see his collection of gear. The next day he us gave the keys to his basement where we spent weeks jamming and writing riffs on some of the best guitars, amps, basses and keyboards we've played. Good guy that Oliver.
Best place to sit down and write?
Husky: Our balcony and sitting by the canal in Neukolln, legs dangling over the edge. On a summer’s night it’s a nice spot to think and dream too.
The best neighborhood for getting lost in?
Gideon: It's a cliché, as it’s where all the new Berlin recruits frequent, but Neukolln is an amazing area to wander. It was once a cheap immigrant area that's become very hip. You can find countless bars, venues and interesting characters of all sorts.
Space that transports you to another time?
Husky: The remnants of the Berlin Wall are always amazing to see. Only 30 years ago the city was divided into East and West, with the people of the East trapped inside those walls. People died trying to get free. Today there is such a sense of freedom here. It’s incredible to imagine the transformation that has taken place here in such a short time.
Favorite piece of history in Berlin?
Gideon: There is so much history in Berlin it’s hard to name one place. My grandmother was from Berlin so just walking the pavement where she walked, seeing the parks where she played as a child was pretty amazing.
How did the soul of the city take shape within Husky's music?
Husky: Although we wrote a lot of Punchbuzz when we returned to Melbourne, a lot of our experiences and adventures informed the material, musically and thematically. We were night animals in Berlin. We didn’t sleep much. And we made it our mission to explore and soak in the vibrations, the people, the art, the music, the thrills of the place.
Best after-hours spot in Berlin?
Literary piece that captures the feel of the city for you?
Husky: I was reading Leonard Cohen’s poetry anthology, "Flowers for Hitler," which I loved. This was a poem I read over and over again until I knew it by heart:
Has this new life deepened your perceptions?
I suppose so
Then you are being trained correctly
If you knew we could not train you