Synth-Pop Duo Blue Hawaii Raves On

4_BlueHawaiiPhoto: Courtesy of Blue Hawaii; Designed by Ammiel Mendoza.
Blue Hawaii may be unassuming in person, but Raphaelle Standell-Preston and Alex "Agor" Cowan are indispensable fixtures of the Montreal DIY scene. (Arbutus, the label Cowan cofounded with his brother, has released music by the likes of Grimes, Majical Cloudz, as well as Braids — Standell-Preston's other band.) Though Cowan has now left Montreal to travel the world, the two still collaborate remotely and join forces to tour. Since the release of Untogether earlier this year, the project has evolved from a meditative headphone experience to a live show filled with the cathartic peaks of a massive communal dance event. We met the pair at a coffee shop in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, to talk its latest album, the Montreal scene, and Purity Ring's unlikely fashion proclivity.
Raving About It
Cowan: "When we did the album, we were growing further apart. We constructed from a lot of little pieces. When it was done, it had a name, and it was complete in that respect, but we never felt further away from each other and our music at that point. It was kind of desolate — it felt like the end of the band. But when we started playing live, it brought us back together."
Standell-Preston: "We've injected a lot of energy into the songs and are feeding off of that. I feel a lot better now about the songs compared to when we were writing the record. When we have large audiences, it's so amazing — everyone's so into it! It's like a rave."
Montreal Goes Global
Standell-Preston: "The scene has become very international, and everyone is moving about. It's not as centralized. It's not like you see someone at a party, and Sean [Nicholas Savage] whips out a guitar and plays a crazy song. It was like that a couple of years ago, but everybody's career is taking off."
Cowan: "[Montreal] was just a staging ground or meeting place. It's different than Brooklyn, or something like that, because everything is so cheap that people are able to do what they want and not have to work another job. But also because of that, it's easy to get lost — you could potentially stay there your whole life and only work a couple days a week and probably have a family, too."
First Musical Experience
Cowan: "Ace of Base was definitely my first experience with pop music. Before then, there was other stuff, like weird stuff my dad listened to. He was really into Earl Klugh and Enya — I loved Enya so much — but after hearing Ace of Base, I went out and bought two copies of that CD and gave one to someone. I really loved Ace of Base."
Standell-Preston: "The first song I can remember is 'Peter Pumpkinhead.' Do you know that song? It's like [sighs], 'Peter Pumpkinhead went to town, dun dun dun dun.' My mom told me I would ask for that song to be put on over and over and over again — like 10 times in a row."
Fashion Connection
Cowan: "I bought this shirt today, because I've been wearing the same clothes for four months. My mom and aunt both own clothing stores in Vancouver. It's really high-end, like Dries Van Noten, Jean Paul Gaultier, and all these designers like that, so every now and then, they'll give me something that's really, really nice. But mostly I just wear the same things over and over again, like crusty socks three days in a row."
Standell-Preston: "I like wearing really loose-fitting clothing on stage, so I can move around a lot. I also like being really clean on tour. I wash my clothing all the time, and then it gets ruined really quickly because I need that freshness. Corin Roddick from Purity Ring's least favorite part of touring is that there isn't an iron around. He loves irons."

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