‘I don’t even think we’ve blown up yet, but I hope to soon,’ laughs Rena from Hey Violet. ‘When you finally get recognition, though – it’s really rewarding. We’re so grateful for all of the fans we’ve gained. It’s been incredible.’
While the frontwoman’s modesty is admirable, you can’t help but want to provide credit when and where it’s due. After almost a decade of making music (three of the four members of the band have been playing together for the past nine years), Hey Violet have grown into one of the world’s most exciting young acts. The band are a synth-driven pop punk quartet, with more of an emphasis on the former of the two Ps. Their new EP, Brand New Moves, dropped in August to widespread acclaim, a few months after they were announced as the first signing at Hi Or Hey Records, a label created by 5 Seconds Of Summer. Much like their new partners, Hey Violet are a band that embrace their newness. They unapologetically encompass pop-culture, growing up and tribulations of a post-digital world in their musical documentation of youthfulness – it’s fresh, care-free and completely of the moment.
‘It’s really important to be in touch with what’s going right now, whether it’s something really serious, or something that’s more trivial,’ she explains.
‘We have a song called ODD that we played at a show recently – which is about how people are different and weird and how important that is. Teenagers feel really out of place sometimes and there’s nothing wrong with what. But then there’s the silly side of that, too. We have a song called fuqboy, which is about… well, it’s exactly what it’s called.’
Again, in a manner similar to their Australian label-mates, Hey Violet can be seen as a living embodiment of a youth culture growing in voice, stature and credibility. There isn’t even a hint of pretentiousness in what they do; it’s just straight-up, unfiltered experience, coming from the perspective of a group of people at an earlier stage of their life. It doesn’t pretend to be anything other than that, and it sounds great. ‘I do think pop music’s more credible than it has been before,’ Rena says – and she certainly has a point. However, I think it’s a little more than that. Rather, it seems that youthfulness is becoming more credible. Owing to an age of accessibility, there’s a confidence in juvenescence – older people, now, don’t necessarily know best. Bands such as Hey Violet are living proof.
‘It’s important to stay in tune with what’s going on,’ she declares. ‘You’re so surrounded by everything that people say and think – so you have to use that.’ For Rena and the band, that could mean taking a sentiment derived from social media and turning it into a piece of music, or, just taking advice from online comments posted by their fans. ‘Take it for what it is and use it to your advantage. We can reach out to our fans and reply to them, and I think that’s a really nice thing. It’s cool that we have that in our day and age.’
Hey Violet are switched-on, intelligent and aware, with a musical talent that equals it. They understand what they want to do and do it well – a Teen Choice Award for Next Big Thing being evidential proof. The only notion they conform to is that of lived, relatable experience, making for a sound that is wildly eclectic in terms of theme and sonic makeup. But, most importantly: it’s fun.
‘Heavy synths and big fat 80s drums!’ replies Rena, when questioned how she’d describe what the band does well. ‘We take emotions and turn them into a song by writing about them, but it’s important to do that from a bunch of different perspectives. We want people to relate.’ Lo and behold, people do. Like a number of musicians that Hey Violet can consider contemporaries, the band are providing a platform for dealing with the ins and outs of life as a young person. There’s an album coming up (‘we don’t have a name or a release date – but it’s there’), as well as a string of scheduled shows, as they look to build on their ever-expanding success.
‘Those are just a couple of things, though. There’s lot’s happening,’ Rena adds.
‘We’re not gonna stop.’
Words by Niall Flynn