Interview: The Download Tapes – Hawxx

Hawxx stand for what they believe in and they aren’t afraid to talk about issues that too many ignore. With a shared love for heavy music, all four sing in harmony about the big issues, without forgetting to have fun along the way. Four Women from across the globe met and combined their talents to create a quartet that is set on speaking up. Aggy Gillon spoke to Hannah and Julia about the background and vision of the band, sexism within the industry and what a joy it is to be a part of the monumental event that is Download Festival. 

Is this the first time you have played Download?

Hannah “We played the courtyard stage last year in RIP but this year we are allowed inside the arena it’s very exciting” *laughs*

What does it mean to you guys to now be in the arena and on the 20th anniversary?

Hannah “I can’t tell you what it means. I was trying to count how many Downloads that I have been to and I think it’s nine”

So you’re a big Download fan?

Hannah “I am a massive Download fan. I have made the pilgrimage every year!”

Same! Each member of Hawxx is from all over, how did you all manage to meet and combine talents?

Julia “It’s been an adventure”

Hannah “We are from all over. Italy, Wales. Greece and England. I met Anna in Waterloo while we were at a rehearsal studio and I heard her through the wall and thought she was amazing. She came back a couple of times and saw me playing session stuff. She was starting a band and I was like yeah I need to attach myself to whatever this person is doing”

Julia “Then Jess met Anna at some random gig. I think Jess offered Anna a cheese string or something that sealed the deal. Then they found me on the dark web in I think January 2022. We played together for a few months and we played a gig as well just to make sure that it was right. It was a little bit like dating. I was absolutely terrified as I thought I want to be in this band so much and how hard do I have to work!”

Hannah “You were playing it cool”

Julia “I was not cool, I was dying inside *laughs*. And yeah that’s the lineup that has been playing since”

Your first Album is coming out this year?

Julia “Sometime later this year”

Hannah “It’s going to cover a lot of topics, our message is so important to us as a band. Our lyrics kind of tend to pull focus and deal with quite a heavy subject issue. So on the album, there is going to be our new single (Soulbreaking machines) and that deals with the climate emergency at the moment. There are going to be songs on there that tackle violence against Women, some quite deep subject matter but the tunes are amazing”

That sounds awesome. I was going to ask you about that as I know you are a feminist band that is quite passionate about various issues that include of course the planet that we live on. Collectively, is that something you are all interested in and want to share with people?

Hannah “Yeah absolutely”

Julia “It’s important to talk about and it’s something that can’t be ignored. I think it can be easy to ignore and a lot of bands are afraid to become too political on social issues and tackle the issues in the scene. We are not afraid of that. I think it’s important to have a position because you do have an influence on fans as individuals and as a collective. I think you need to take responsibility and deliver a message. That’s what we chose to do”

I think that’s very admirable. When I found out I got to interview you guys I was so excited as I am a feminist as well and I feel you talk about important issues that do need to be shared. I have spoken to other bands and they have touched on the sexism in the scene, with many saying things have gotten better. What is your opinion on that?

Hannah “I think it’s a lot better than it used to be. There is more diversity within rock and metal now but we still have a long way to go. Even just setting up at gigs sometimes we experience quite a lot of sexism and the assumption that we don’t know how to set up our equipment. It’s like well we own it of course we do.

Julia “It’s all over the place. I feel like people don’t talk about this enough. With Haxx we come as four strong-looking people and I feel like a lot of times people know they should not fuck with us. When I was in my old band, sometimes when I got up on stage people would come up and say ‘You should smile more’. Or I would come to a venue and someone would ask who’s girlfriend are you. Women in music have experienced these things and it’s as if people try to ignore these issues because it’s an old problem that never gets solved. We are sick and tired of it” 

Hannah “Also people don’t know they are being sexist a lot of the time. They will think they are paying you a compliment or something and it’s like no, that was massively sexist what you just said and it hasn’t registered at all”

It’s like it is deeply ingrained in some people

Hannah “Yeah, completely”

Are you guys here all weekend as you aren’t on until Sunday?

Hannah “Yeah”

That’s awesome, so you get to enjoy the festival other than playing it of course

Hannah “Kind of yeah, with the background anxiety of Sunday” *laughs*

You guys will be amazing, can’t wait to see you play. How do you guys prepare beforehand, do you have a kind of ritual?

Hannah “Just before pre-gig we warm up our vocals because we all do four-part harmonies”

Julia: *Sings and all laugh*

Hannah “All these vocal exercises. That’s the main thing that absolutely needs to be done”

What has inspired Hawxx and you as individuals even?

Julia “We are all so different”

Hannah “Yeah the whole band has different influences. It makes it work as there is a whole fusion of everyone’s different backgrounds. Jess is Jazz and has come into metal. I come from a classical background and then got into metal”

Julia “I’m a goth”

Hannah “You are a goth” *all laugh*

Julia “Which means I’m not a real goth as no one who calls themselves a goth. *Laughs*. But yeah Bauhaus, New Wave Punk. We all love heavy music so that brings us together”

Hawxx has played a few UK festivals so far including Bloodstock and Download of course. Have you got a favourite to play?

Hannah “This will be massively different to last year. This is like the highlight of my life”

Julia “We haven’t even played it yet” 

Hannah “Yeah we haven’t even played it yet and I’m still like I’m going to dine out on this forever” *laughs*

I read that two of you were listed in an award as guitarists that are going to change the world. 

Hannah “Yeah that was me and Anna. It was very humbling and also made me think oh god I need to practise the guitar more *laughs*. This is going to be the standard. Yeah, Anna and I work well together. We hardly ever play the same thing, we’re always adding different textures to whatever the music needs. I’ll do quite atmospheric stuff or if a song is about pain and rage I’ll try and reflect that in the guitar playing”

Any more shows coming up this year?

Hannah “We have Amplified coming up. We are playing the Metal2theMasses gig as well. That’s quite nice as we won the Matal2themasses in…it was around lockdown”

It’s very hard to keep track over those years, isn’t it?

Hannah “Yeah around” *all laugh*

Any last words?

Hannah “Just that our single (Soulbreaking Machines) is out and that has got a really moving video that goes with it and it’s like nothing we have ever done. It’s like a docu-music video. It has some extinction rebellion protest footage and interviews with people who went there and their views. 

Julia “It shows a more serious side of us as the previous video was quite playful” 

Hawxx – Facebook

Interview and photo by Aggy Gillon