SHH are Diana Huarte and Daniel Gorostegui. Hailing originally from the party city of Buenos Aires, SHH create stylish, intelligent electronic pop that’s crammed with big tunes and rampages through everything from Italo to indie, house to punk.
They have already released two albums ‘SHH’ and ‘Gaucho Boy’ via the in Argentine indie label Oui Oui Records.
With an exciting year in the offing, SHH are about to unleash their first UK product with Wonderful Night and Tiger coupled together as a lushly packaged seven inch vinyl single.
Vocalist Diana could be described as frisky blonde bombshell collision of GRACE JONES, LADY GAGA and IGGY POP. She talked to The Electricity Club recently about SHH’s plans for the coming year, the fun of writing songs in two languages and her love of DEPECHE MODE.
You trained in opera but have ended up doing electronic pop ‘Buenos Aires Style’, how did this happen?
At the end of the nineties I found myself in a small discotheque in Buenos Aires. I had a project with a group of friends to promote an afternoon opera club! The place we had found was perfect so I went and spoke to the resident DJ, to see how we could get the club. That DJ was one Daniel Gorostegui.
Well, the ‘Afternoons of Opera’ never happened but Dany and I became friends, talking about music, listening to bands like PORTISHEAD, MASSIVE ATTACK and ADD N TO X who of course had Alison Goldfrapp singing on some of their records. The idea of having a band together almost appeared as a joke. But when I first wrote and sang my own songs, the sensation of that was so much better than the interpretation of opera’s arias that I simply couldn’t stop.
SHH released two albums in Argentina which were quite successful but you have ambitions in the English language electro market which could be said to include Scandinavia and Germany as well as the UK and US. What has motivated this and was it a difficult decision to make?
When we started the band, the first lyrics were in English because that was the language of the music, the good pop music we always have heard. Also, words in English are shorter and have more consonants than Spanish words, so, rhythmically, English sounded better.
I started to sing in Spanish because we had to make a song for a compilation for Sony Music and when I finished the song (about the sensations I had when my mother died), I liked it. I also found that people were better able to understand my lyrics – the same is now happening here in the UK now that I’m singing in English once again. Nowadays I can honestly say that I feel comfortable singing either in Spanish or English.
Singing for me is about the transference of feelings. So, if more people understand English than Spanish and are able to like my music (and perhaps even buy it!), well, let’s do it in English!
So will you be re-recording some of your songs in English for a ‘new’ release? How have you found translating the lyrics while still trying to maintain the emotional impact of the originals?
Definitely yes, we are recording our songs in English for that. The process of composing, or perhaps recomposing the lyrics which originally were in Spanish, well, unfortunately, it is not a translation from Spanish to English. That would be easier, perhaps!
I look for words which match the rhythm of the music more than trying to translate. I go with the words that sound the best. I try to respect the story but sometimes, when the words are changing other stories happen in my mind… it is double work but the result is better.
Even without understanding Spanish, I can tell your songs are passionate and sometimes very angry. What do you like to write about and are there any interesting stories behind some of the songs you would like to tell us about?
Sometimes, even though the phrases are different, the story is the same.
Take ‘Elena Hernandez’ – both English and Spanish songs are about the femicide in Ciudad Juarez in the north of Mexico and the indifference of their government to the questions of the families of those poor women.
‘Caceria!’ has become ‘Hunt’ in English, a lovely little serial killer song about a foreign waitress on the prowl for rich banker victims!
‘Sin Dormir’ and ‘Sleepless’ though, are different stories. The Spanish version is about a girl who takes many drugs, finds a cute boy in a discotheque and takes him to her house, only to discover that the boy just wants to talk and is completely stupid. It is also about breaking the preconception of a woman always looking for real love when sometimes they just want to have sex! The English version is completely different – another story just happened. We are recording the English song now so hopefully you’ll be able to hear the new story for yourself very soon.
With you based in London now and Dany still in Buenos Aires, how will you make the band work in a practical sense?
At the moment we are doing that with a lot of sacrifice and bad airline food. Dany has played quite a few gigs in London now and we’re currently planning some more gigs for the summer. Luckily Dany loves London, the food, the gigs, the record shops. Especially the record shops. I just came back from Buenos Aires where we were playing with SHH and recording some voices… in English.
I’m very happy living in London and fortunately I travel to Buenos Aires for playing and visiting friends. Buenos Aires and London have lot in common, people are very friendly here. I’ve made lots of new friends since I moved here in 2008.
And I can get plenty of good Argentinian wines, which I love, here too. But, the London winter and the sun setting at 4pm, it’s horrible. It’s better than summer in Buenos Aires – 35 to 40 degrees heat all the time, I can’t stand that!
You covered DEPECHE MODE’s ‘Never Let Me Down Again’. Why did you choose that particular song and what do you find so inspiring about DM? I understand they are phenomenally popular in South America?
Yes, especially in Argentina, everybody loves DM! Well, perhaps almost everybody. We wanted to make a cover of a song we really liked, and that song simply flowed. It was part of my adolescence, my first nights in clubs. We liked the result of what we did: downtempo and with an end very similar to some old drunken jazz song sung in a dive.
Have you heard the Argentinian fronted Italo-disco act HEARTBREAK? Could SHH become like a female fronted companion to them?
Dany made me listen to HEARTBREAK (he makes everyone he meets listen to loads and loads and loads of good music). I saw them live when they were the supporting LA ROUX, great live band. I’ll definitely borrow some of Sebastian Muravchix’s moves. I think we’re a little more synth-pop though.
Who are your favourite electropop acts past and present?
I like really good pure pop that’s made with synths. I’ve seen LADY GAGA, MARSHEAUX, MIKRO, LA ROUX, PET SHOP BOYS and GOLDFRAPP since I’ve been in London. Then there’s also excellent underground London bands like VILE ELECTRODES and ELECTRO FALCO. From Buenos Aires I like NATU BELLA (although she’s now based in Sweden) and COSAQUITOS EN GLOBO. Now if only NEW ORDER would reform and play again…
And what are SHH’s immediate plans for the remainder of 2010?
We’re busy planning to release our first record in the UK. It will be a single, two songs in English and we are making sure that it is going to be something very special. I’ll let you know as soon as it’s ready – which is going to be really soon! Of course, it would be very rude to release a record and not have some gigs to celebrate – watch the MySpace for news about when we will be playing next! Then we have lots more songs to record, some old ones with their new English lyrics and some completely new ones. 2010 is going to be very exciting!
The ‘Wonderful Night’ b/w ‘Tiger’ seven inch vinyl single which will also include a CD single of both tracks will be available in early September 2010. Their albums ‘SHH’ and ‘Gaucho Boy’ are still available
Text and Interview by Chi Ming Lai
4th August 2010