HOWQUA
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HOWQUA

Melbourne, Victoria, Australia | Established. Jan 01, 2014 | SELF

Melbourne, Victoria, Australia | SELF
Established on Jan, 2014
Band Alternative Folk

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"Lovers of live music would have been rapt with the sensory delight they got served on Saturday night at Richmond’s Corner Hotel. The venue alone, with its low ceilings, pylons and sticky carpet, stimulates memories of gigs past, stirring a kind of expectancy that comes with being in a space that has hosted so many local and international favourites. Crammed onto that familiar corner stage, U.S. six-piece Midlake kept the legacy intact delivering a predictably high quality show.

Midlake was well supported by two impressive local acts The Orbweavers, playing a quirky, folk sound with a Tarantino edge, and, HOWQUA.

Of particular note, it was HOWQUA who, in his first gig, bought the venue to a complete still with an intensely, soulful, and far too brief 30 mins set. The flooring vocals and unbridled, emotive, atmosphere of HOWQUA lingered well after he had left the stage, setting Midlake enthusiasts up for a great night." - Beat Magazine


"I’ve mentioned it before; I've been writing for this blog for a few years and I've discovered in that time that writing about music has challenged and inspired my love of music and forced me to put into words things taken for granted that just happen, the things I feel when certain sounds and notes meld and warp and gather together in beautiful and sometimes confronting ways. I write for many reasons, but sometimes, like now, I write because I have to, because if one other person reads this and hears what I hear then passes the feeling on to someone else, the effort of blogging is all worthwhile.


Wasting precious time, well I’ve tried to chase my tail
Fearing failure, all in all, failing to prevail


The first lyrics I’ve ever heard of Melbourne artist HOWQUA and I’m convinced, immediately drawn into a story I wasn’t prepared for and a song that I know years from now will still define a certain point in time for me. While the original version was released a little while ago, it's full layered sounds intense and much more pop oriented, the honesty conveyed in this version; his simple foot taps, his exceedingly solid and oh so sincere vocal, recorded in a completely empty Forum theatre, have become instantly addictive, one guitar and one keyboard all that is needed to make a tremendously moving piece of music. After all, we all know someone or something that has made us feel less than we deserve and then there are those of us who are lucky enough to have found a song like this one, whose sounds make us feel much more than less could ever be. The simplicity in everything about this version of 'Fishing For Gold' is more than enough...


I won’t be your victim anymore
And you can’t break my spirit like before


I can’t always find the words that describe how powerful music is, but hearing artists like HOWQUA with the ability to be so honest and raw makes all the struggle of words and the time of blogging worthwhile. So looking forward to struggling with my words again later in the year when he releases his debut album (made with the help of one of our other faves Hayden Calnin). If this track is any indicator, it will be nothing short of amazing." - It's My Kind of Scene


"HOWQUA is the missing piece of the puzzle.

It’s not often you cancel your plans on a Saturday night and buy a ticket to The Corner Hotel to see the opening support.

When HOWQUA was added to the bill to support Midlake (US), there was a driving force to go see him live for the first time. Perhaps the intrigue was sparked by his first release ‘My Mindset‘, a video documenting deep insecurities and filmed over three months, whereby HOWQUA undergoes a dramatic transformation from beginning to end. This is a musician willing to bare his soul to the world for the sake of connecting to his audience.

The way HOWQUA’s music relates to his fans suggests a cult following awaits – it will become music that people use to cope. HOWQUA is the type of live performer who humbly silences an audience; conversations stop mid-sentence and people become transfixed. There’s an air of mystery around this that raises curiosity and the urge to hear more.

We had the pleasure of filming HOWQUA perform his recent single ‘Fishing For Gold’ at Melbourne’s most iconic venue, The Forum Theatre.

It’s moments like these that words can’t do justice, how one man can bring so much life to an empty theatre can only be conveyed through this video.

This is the beginning. And we’re pretty glad we filmed it for you." - Large Noises


"If you had walked into The Toff halfway through HOWQUA’s debut show on the weekend, you would have been turned away. The talented Melbourne musician sold out his very first headlining show and it was a lovely set that demonstrated why he has gained a big following so quickly.

Only having been to The Toff once before, I had forgotten how early the bands start taking to the stage. I walked in at 8:30 intending to catch the beginning of the first support act, however sadly I had missed out on seeing Bears. I caught the whole set of Melbourne locals Whitaker, who impressed me with their thoughtful, raw yet playful indie rock tunes. Lead singer Ryan Meeking in particular stood out with his youthful Jeff Buckley-esque vocals.

HOWQUA is the alter ego of singer/song-writer Ben Campain. Despite being his debut show, he performed as if he had been performing amongst Melbourne’s music scene for many years. From the first song, I was impressed by his stage presence as he sang with such confidence and conviction. If I was being completely honest, knowing it was a debut performance I was expecting a shaky start, however, from the first moment he walked on stage, he owned it and every single pair of eyes in that room was fixed on him.

In addition to singing with such conviction, he sang from a place of emotion exposing the intimate nature of his songwriting. With a blokey sensibility about him, his expansive and powerful vocals smacked me in the face with a sense of being a fool for being quick to judge a book by its cover. Instead, he pleasantly impressed me with his vocals that channeled the deep, haunting tones of the much admired Eddie Vedder. His latest single “Fishing For Gold” was a favourite with the crowd providing backup vocals support without Campain’s instruction.

HOWQUA may be only a freshman on Melbourne’s music scene but there was absolutely no evidence of it during his performance. Even though the room appeared to be filled with a great number of friends and family, accumulating that amount of support on the back of only two singles and no tour is certainly impressive, and he demonstrated with his beautiful songwriting abilities why he has the support that he does. His talent demands it and with an album on the way, HOWQUA is one emerging talent you should keep your eye out for." - What Sound Melbourne


"HOWQUA has no qualms about pouring out his soul in his lyrics, detailing his flaws and failings with the honesty that’s required of any great singer/songwriter. Amongst the slick production of strings and cymbals remains the core component of a man with an acoustic guitar and a story." - The Ripe


Any Australian artists catching your eye at the moment?

“Howqua, a Melbourne songwriter, is one to watch. He’s just returned from performing at Canadian Music Week, and his new single ‘Fishing for Gold’ is great. This was mixed at Studios 301 where I will be as part of the VIVID LIVE forums early in June.” - APRAP


Melbourne artist HOWQUA has just returned to Australia after playing his international debut shows at Canadian Music Week and it has gone better than he ever expected.

During his stay overseas, the songwriter was approached and signed by Adam Kreeft of US agency, The Agency Group immediately after he came off stage from a performance.

Speaking to TheMusic today, HOWQUA admitted the experience felt like straight out of a Hollywood movie.

“It was a bit Entourage or something” he laughed referencing the popular TV show.

“[Kreeft] ended up coming down to the Sound Gallery show and he really connected with it – he basically said after the show 'I’m in'" he recalled.

“We obviously had a bit more of a chat about how he envisioned everything and all that and he’s a really great guy and seems to be on a similar wave length.”

So impressive was HOWQUA's performances at the showcases, that he was eventually asked to play six shows when he was only scheduled to play two.

“It was all intense and pretty rushed and we got over there expecting to do two shows – the organiser said: 'Do you want another show?'"

“That happened quite a few times and ended up turning two shows into six" he said, which also included a last minute impromptu set at The Aussie BBQ showcase.

The news only continues to get better as HOWQUA has just been endorsed by six time Grammy Award winning producer, Steve Lillywhite, who happened to see a live performance of him online.

"HOWQUA, a Melbourne songwriter, is one to watch. He’s just returned from performing at Canadian Music Week, and his new single ‘Fishing for Gold’ is great" Lillywhite said, who has worked with iconic bands in the past such as U2, Morrissey and The Rolling Stones, to name a few.

“It’s a bit surreal to hear somebody like Steve Lillywhite make that call…it’s pretty exciting” HOWQUA said of the endorsement.

"I’ve just got to do what I do, but I’m obviously pretty chuffed with that”.

HOWQUA plans to return to the US later this year, but not before he tours Australia in the coming months, with a full announcement to be made soon. - TheMusic


Melbourne’s HOWQUA has been kicking some serious goals as of late. He’s played support slots for Little May and SOAK, enamouring audiences with his trembling vocals and sensitive lyrics. Not to mention his debut EP Naked has been a runaway success, the man’s vulnerability is engrossing. That’s not an easy thing to fake. Sure music as an art form is in some ways vulnerable, but HOWQUA achieves that higher level of intimacy and is able to draw you into his exclusive inner world.

Melbourne crooner HOWQUA elegantly pines for Her. Removed from his earlier electronic/ folk elements, it’s a bare yet rich track with opulent production.

His latest single Her is just as intimate as his last release. The openness that exudes from the song is intoxicating. Listening to HOWQUA’s music it feels like you’ve been told a secret, one that is to be shared only between you two. It’s a rare ability and it is harnessed with the gentle force of HOWQUA’s voice. The man is a crooner, not in a polished Oscar Key Sung way, but in a more rugged and raw manner. It’s the kind of voice that can make you swoon with joy or shed a tear in awe of its beauty.

While not as sonic as his rousing breakthrough single My Mindset, Her is able to achieve the same level of intensity in a subtle and clever way. Props need to be given to co-producer Hayden Calnin and mix master Tim Carr. Their work on Her is phenomenal. It’s as sparse a track as they come, but there is a breadth to it that is so rich and full you’ll find yourself coming back for repeat listens to discover something new.

Take the bass line for example. It’s incredibly simple and one may even think it’s lame to mention it. Yet, it carries the entire song as it bubbles away beneath the surface. It’s the silent puppeteer that draws the strings on the flashier parts of the song.
The pièce de résistance is the fade out of the vocals at the end. Her builds with its layers of lush guitars and clicking percussion, HOWQUA repeating “And every time she speaks/ she breathes with her good soul. Everyone she meets/ is touched by her good energy“.

And as the track continues to build, the romanticism swelling with power, HOWQUA’s vocals swiftly fade away mid lyric. That fade out man, it just leaves you stranded there aching for more.
HOWQUA is set to kick off his first headline Aussie tour at the end of June. - Hhhhappy


Discography

HOWQUA - 'Naked' EP
Released November 2014

Photos

Bio

It is a rare moment that you find a musician that can captivate you in a single song. Creating a sound that is grounded by honest lyrics but lifted by resonant percussion and melancholic reverb, HOWQUA gives even the most unseasoned of gig-goers that feeling of witnessing an artist on the brink of something huge.

Carrying a certain enigma with his musical style, HOWQUA’s raw and compelling lyrics draw you in, while his performance leaves you yearning to know his story. Not one to shy away from baring his soul through his music, HOWQUA displays all the traits of a phenomenal storyteller and performer.

HOWQUA’s debut EP ‘Naked’ was co-produced with Hayden Calnin. The EP was mixed by Tim Carr (Matt Corby, The Herd) at Studios 301 in Sydney.

The ‘Naked’ EP is available online in AU/NZ.

Band Members