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  • David Bentley

Non-Nordic Sunday: Introducing Hazel Iris (USA)

I thought I’d do something a little different this week. As we must have mentioned numerous times the last year has been as difficult for musicians as it has been for many other people and especially those that have earned a particular reputation for their live performances.

One of them is Hazel Iris, an American (California) latterly based In London and now in Berlin. I came across her while attending a launch event for the debut album from Mally Harpaz, the multi-instrumentalist who works with Anna Calvi *, in London just over two years ago, when there were something called ‘live shows’. Some of you might be old enough to remember them.

Hazel Iris was, if I remember correctly, at the time a member of the neat little North London ‘Blind Dog’ collective managed by Mally Harpaz which periodically puts on shows in obscure small venues across the capital, or at least they did. Hopefully they should be able to start up again before too long now because they were uniformly entertaining.

I didn’t made the ‘difficult for musicians’ comment lightly. Only today I’ve read another socials post, this time from a Swedish artist we’ve featured several times (a country still being hammered by Covid, the chief of a big indie label there whose artists are often found in these pages is slowly recovering from it as I write) and who questioned whether it is worth carrying on and saying she finds it hard to drum up enthusiasm any longer. She isn’t the first and won’t be the last either.

Hazel Iris is a deep thinker on these issues and in recent posts she has said, “Some days are good, some days are really difficult. It is not always easy to stay positive and it is not always appropriate to be positive. I know what is behind me. Today I will focus on looking forward.” Then, “To play live again, to share the same experience and energy with others in an intimate venue is indescribable. The question of how the arts and performances spaces will survive the current situation is a serious one.”

The second quote accompanied a video of a performance by Hazel at Arcanoa, a “friendly and eccentric” independent venue in Berlin. In support of creating awareness for the struggling live performance world, Thomas Künzel, founder of Night Live Sessions and Fem Concerts, has been working with various female artists and live music venues in Berlin to highlight the situation.

In the video she performs an intimate and stripped-back solo version of her 2016 song ‘No Name Western’in Arcanoa. She adds, “Please like, follow, watch the videos (and anything else that comes to mind, really) - only by showing solidarity and supporting each other as a community can we get through these difficult times!”

Well we’re more than happy to do that, Hazel and we don’t need any other incentive. This is quite beautiful.

Song and Performance by Hazel Iris

Video by Thomas Künzel

Audio Recording by Thomas Künzel

Mixed & Mastered by Simon Uter-Kirschey

Stage and venue generously provided by Arcanoa.

*Incidentally, I’ll mention in passing that Anna Calvi has been keeping herself busy and has dropped hints of a new album. Britain’s finest writer and performer if you ask my opinion.


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