Formed by avant-garde producer Bruno Pronsato and techno maven Sammy Dee, Half Hawaii is one Berlin’s most refined production outfits. With records on Perlon and Hello? Repeat, and countless international gigs each year, the duo is a staple of Europe’s underground party circuit, and one of the scene’s few champions of live performance over DJing. On record and in concert, their inky rhythms ripple and bounce, gradually building momentum as murky vocals drift in and out of the mix. Their sound is sleek, modern and understated, driven by hypnotic beats and a deeply surrealistic feel. It’s the kind of techno that’s so carefully assembled, a simple hi-hat pattern creates an infectious hook, and each new loop gets a whistle from the crowd. Half Hawaii’s unique sound stems from a unique set of influences. Bruno grew up in Seattle, listening to bands like Japan, Roxy Music and Spacemen 3, and his post-punk background still seeps through his tracks, coloring them with subtle romance and art house flair. After meeting Sammy at a festival in the Netherlands, he moved to Berlin in 2006, and quickly made a name for himself with his moody productions and dynamic live performances. He churned out a slew of records for labels like Philpot, Orac and Musique Risquee, then signed to Hello? Repeat and released his breakthrough full-length, Why Can’t We Be Like Us?, a dramatic and visionary record that landed him a spot on Resident Advisor’s top 100 albums of the decade. In 2009, he founded thesongsays, a boutique label that’s already put out acclaimed 12-inches by himself, Ninca Leece and Benoit and Sergio. But Half Hawaii predates nearly all of these endeavors, and remains one of Bruno’s dearest projects. Meanwhile, Sammy is a seasoned DJ with credentials beyond dispute. If you spend enough time partying in Berlin, you’re bound to catch him behind the decks, closing the night at Panorama Bar, DJing some obscure loft party, or trading off with Zip and Villalobos at Club der Visionaere. A direct product of the city’s techno history, he honed his craft at clubs like E-Werk and Tresor , and now hosts two of Berlin’s best known parties: Get Perlonized at Panorama Bar and Ultrastretch at Weekend. Years of spinning have perfected his sense of groove, and given him a deep understanding of what makes a track work. Pushing a sound the New York Times described as “clipped, rubbery rhythms,” he’s released more than a dozen records over the years, on his own and in collaborations, including with Zip as Pantytec. But Half Hawaii has long been his main creative channel; “It started out just as friends making music,” he says, “but it ended up being truly inspiring for me.” It’s easy to hear the chemistry in Half Hawaii’s music: Bruno conjures up his weird, abstract landscapes, and Sammy anchors them with his expertly sculpted beats. It’s a balance that’s made the duo a constant live hit, earning them gigs at clubs around Europe and international festivals like Movement in Detroit and Mutek in Montreal. With more releases in the pipeline on Perlon, Half Hawaii are bound to maintain their niche in the underground; always just below the surface, thumping away with their serpentine grooves.
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