INTERVIEW: The Hilo Hi-Flyers

Last week, Southern California exotic jazz band, The Hilo Hi-Flyers, released their debut album, Adventure! on Hi-Tide Recordings. Featuring the singles “The Island of My Dreams,” “Let’s Go Flyin’” and “That Old Hawaiian Moon,” Adventure! is the equivalent of a sonic vacation and a perfect soundtrack for summer. 

Hi guys, welcome to VENTS! How have you been?

Hey Kale “Kully” here, we’ve been well. Had a lot of time to practice during quarantine.

Can you talk to us more about your single “The Island Of My Dreams”?

“The Island of my Dreams” Is all about imagination. Tiki and Exotica stuff always drew me in as a kid. I grew up off the grid in the jungle near Hilo, Hawaii. My dad still lives out there with that half of my family, in a house on stilts that he built himself. We’ve always been into building treehouses and anything Swiss Family Robinson.

The single comes off your new album Adventure! – what’s the story behind the title?

Adventure! is the name of the record. It seemed appropriate since a lot of the record feels like it could be the soundtrack to an old adventure cartoon. In the 1994 movie “The Pagemaster”, Patrick Stewart plays a talking adventure novel. I hear his voice whenever I read the album title.

How was the recording and writing process?

It was a very indie recording project. All the guys in the band are tech savvy and horde instruments. We tracked it ourselves, which is a double edged sword. Normally when you’re paying a studio to record, every minute counts and you end up rushing to get things done. When you do it at home and there is no limit on how many sounds you can layer, it’s easy to get carried away. A song with a simple solo clarinet part ends up being a 6 piece clarinet choir. There’s a lot of that on this record. It’s crazy to think how many hours we spent on things like maracas, guiras, shells, chimes, gongs, rainsticks, congas, bongos, temple blocks, you name it. They’re not loops, we track all that stuff by hand.

What role does SoCal play in your music?

Long Beach is a great place to live. We all grew up going to Disneyland, and playing in the ocean. The extreme diversity here probably helps too. Having exposure to many cultures is a driving force behind using some of the world’s unsung “folk instruments” in our brand of Exotica/Tropical Jazz.

What else is happening next in The Hilo Hi-Flyers’ world?

Gigs are coming back finally. We’ve got some shows in the works. Our drummer/SteelPan guy Tyler has been in NorCal since quarantine started, but he’s back now, so I’m looking forward to shooting some video with him. There’s been some spitballing for the next record, but it’s early stages. 

Adventure! is out now on Hi-Tide Recordings. Stream it on Spotify here.

About RJ Frometa

Head Honcho, Editor in Chief and writer here on VENTS. I don't like walking on the beach, but I love playing the guitar and geeking out about music. I am also a movie maniac and 6 hours sleeper.

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