Los Angeleno musician Hanni El Khatib knows how to keep it real in 2012
Because of the teetering economic nature of the entire music recording industry, affecting everyone from the bigs to the babies, Hanni El Khatib’s wisely got his hands placed in all sorts of chocolate pots. Sure he sang and played virtually all the instruments on his beguiling and rad debut, last fall’s Will the Guns Come Out, but on top of that he’s a skateboard king and a visual artist, as well as a record label owner (Innovative Leisure, a subsidiary of the oh-so-awesome Stones Throw imprint).
"I have my hands dipped in every single thing that I do in regards to my music and my project," he states. "Everything that we’ve done has been solely independent thus far and it hasn’t really stopped us from achieving the things we want to achieve."
Hanni El Khatib’s sound is a pastiched and styled platter of the past and the present and the future, all rolled into one. At its heart the music is sweet pop, but it’s the layers that intrigue, equal doses of soul, blues, folk, doo-wop and garage rock. One of the first contemporaries that popped into my head was sound-shifter Alex Zhang Hungtai, a.k.a. Dirty Beaches, who by chance is an acquaintance of El Khatib’s. "I actually know him. He’s a friend," he mentions. "I think maybe our values are kind of similar. We played with him in Geneva, Switzerland, and we just stayed in contact."
While his first record got heads a-shaking and toes a-tapping, the as-yet-to-be-recorded follow-up will drop some jaws, as Black Keys singer and guitarist Dan Auerbach is set to slip into the producer’s chair. If you’ve heard his work behind the board on Dr. John’s latest disc, you know his touch is gold.
"I’ve started writing it but I haven’t begun to record it yet," says El Khatib. "I met him [Auerback] at a bar after one of my shows… We just kind of hit it off and talked music and stayed in touch pretty much." And the rest, as they say, is history.
Hanni El Khatib
w/ The Sundelles
At Casa del Popolo