LA Music Review | Art, stories and advice
Chill, inspiring and truly relatable!
Hi Sweet Hayah, welcome to LA Music Review! Tell us a little bit about you and your music.
I started playing piano when I was 6 years old, and though I was terrible at digesting the theory, I’ve always connected with the idea of creating my own sounds (which for many years, came to me in dreams)…My mom had enrolled me in choir for a few months back in France, but I was so bad at being discreet and “blending in”…I’m pretty sure I got kicked out of that.
With some perspective, I do now see the value and power of finding your vocal space in the context of a group…and it can be quite the spiritual experience when we set our egos aside and focus on the collective sound. I definitely have a thing for harmonies. It wasn’t until my mid-twenties that I really fell in love with singing, which I learned in an unconventional way while training Capoeira (a martial art that is heavily rooted in Afro-Brazilian culture and music).Nehal – the vocalist
The beauty of Sweet HayaH is that these guys have given me…
an opportunity to figure out my own voice my own style, and have allowed me to become the musician and vocalist I am today. They’ve embraced me unconditionally with all my quirks, gaps in musical education, my intense ways of writing, of leading the band, and ultimately of being. They’ve made so much room for me vocally, creatively, and as a human, that I don’t think I’d fully know who I am without the history we share.
The band is decentralized, vocalist Nehal Abuelata quick to defer, “I don’t think I ever really consciously envisioned becoming a ‘front woman’.” All bandmates are equally important: Devin Moreno (Guitar), Kosuke Okamura (Drums), Austin Geiger (Bass), and Ryosuke Sakurai (Trombone) all have esteemed positions in the band alongside vocalist Nehal.
Congrats on the release! What was your inspiration when you were writing this project?
The inspiration behind “Can’t Get Comfortable” was more aspirational at first.
Released on July 27, 2022. The band is very pandemic-minded and used to the discomfort that accompanies that. But while there’s a component of putting words to melancholy, the impetus was really to get back to doing what they loved. The band wanted something to both acknowledge the trials of the pandemic, but also to look ahead. They’re ready to conscientiously get back to playing live, and it’s very possible they needed to work some uncomfortable feelings out when writing the track, giving it such a touch of realness and relatability.
San Jose, CA-based band, Sweet HayaH, goes back over a decade in the young members’ shared lives. The local heavyweights are getting ready for a post-pandemic push following the release of their single, “Can’t Get Comfortable” on July 27, 2022. The group has steadily become the apex of professionalism, beget from experience and alive and vibrant in the members individually and as a unit. They all had their own projects going on before their band formed, and each brought some of themselves to Sweet HayaH’s sound.
What is your vision for this song? What lessons would you like to impart with your audience?
The band is also ready for a revamp and a recommitment…
to taking on a less covid-restricted world, but Nehal wants a conscientious approach, ”yes we want to get back to being as active as we used to be pre-covid, but we’re also conscious of the way the world has changed, and continue to strive to connect with our audience in ways adapted to this new normal.” Sweet HayaH is taking on all aspects of running a band like they’re experts. They’ve designed a new logo to accompany their new chapter, have revamped their website, and are currently rebranding as they plan their near-future releases.
Committed as they are to running the business side of music, they are also more than ready to focus on performing their music: “Like so many other bands, our touring plans were paused due to the pandemic. We plan on getting back to playing more festivals & College shows, and performing more within and outside of the Bay Area in general.”
Can’t Get Comfortable’s meaning is summed up in the title–it’s a feeling where things just aren’t right.
To an outside observer it seems to be about knowing something needs to change, but living in that uncomfortable space before you know what that is — and how to change it. The message is about going through, not around, and the simple fact that when you feel uncomfortable, something’s trying to tell you to change your circumstances.
Start streaming “Can’t Get Comfortable” right here:
What is your favorite part of this body of work?
Sweet HayaH makes indie that doesn’t rest in just one genre, instead creating a retro-soul-rock feel and blending them seamlessly. “Can’t Get Comfortable” promises to be an indie darling, with just the right amount of a hint of reggae tamped down with traditional alternative elements to truly stand out.
Anything else we should know about it?
The Story of the band:
Sweet HayaH released their first EP in 2012.
They’ve completed several self-funded tours, played across the Bay & beyond, released multiple albums, and then they took all that and carved out a comfortable niche for themselves in the South Bay music scene. Nehal notes they won’t be playing as many shows in the coming months, “since we want to focus on releasing more music and start writing new songs.”
Sweet HayaH met on a date famous enough that
Nehal remembers their exact anniversary.
The vocalist recalls, “On 4/20/2011, I met a wonderful 3-piece alternative/metal band that I immediately connected with on a musical and personal level.” The original band members (Devin Moreno, Josh Gardner, Aaron Marquez, Nehal Abuelata) clicked instantly, “These 3 friends immediately connected with Nehal and they ended up sharing a really special moment on and off stage, where they improvised, then ended up chatting it up all night.”
Within just a few weeks, Devin and Nehal began to work on independent tracks together, then Nehal took the plunge and asked if the three-piece would like to learn some of her songs and accompany her, “at their very first San Jose Pride Festival performance that Summer of 2011. Then ensued a series of shows, and the band kept growing its following and sound exponentially.”
The more things change, the more they stay the same for Sweet HayaH:
That Open Mic no longer exists, but we still meet up there for an occasional drink and laugh, and a few years back, we even performed there. It felt good to go back to our “ band roots” and also revel in our friendship and in how far we’ve come since that Open Mic.” Those roots run deep, and that friendship has taken them far, with a long way to go. But they’ll go together, and go much farther.
Connect with Sweet Hayah