April is a pretty crazy month for Rock and Roll’s latest it-boy, Hanni El Khatib. After jetting back to California from SXSW, he participated in an art show at HVW8 Gallery, made a zine, will perform at Coachella (both weekends) and then release a brand new album. That’s all in a month’s work for the former creative director of HUF Skateboards. After working as a designer for years, the Filipino/Palestinean Los Angeles native decided to drop everything and pursue his first passion, music.
His rough, but well-tempered voice gives a bluesy drawl to the heavy riffs and garage rock his first album, Will The Guns Come Out, was characteristic of. A kick of edge on every song offsets his classic Americana look–slicked back hair, jeans, and a leather jacket. But the soft and approachable demeanor Hanni maintains is what really gives him the star quality so many lose when they start to hit it big. We caught up with Hanni amidst his crazy month to ask him about where he’s been, what’s he’s up to, and what happens after his album drops.
Pepsi Pulse: We’re so excited to hear your new album, congratulations. How does it feel to have two studio albums under your belt?
Hanni El Khatib: It feels pretty good, I’m ready to get on the road and start playing the new stuff.
PP: Your new song “Penny,” seems to have a different vibe than some of your older music. How has your sound on Head In The Dirt changed since making Will The Guns Come Out?
HEK: I don’t really feel its changed all that much. I still approach making music exactly the same. I guess i’ve just evolved a bit as a musician since the last record. I mean, i’ve been on the road non stop for almost 3 years and have worked with many other musicians since those recordings. It was just a natural progression.
PP: Tell us about working with Dan Auerbach?
HEK: It was super fun. No pressure, just focused on making cool songs. Ate Pho everyday and lurked Ebay in between takes.
PP: Who would you die to work with in the future?
HEK: Andre 3000 would be cool.
PP: You were the Creative Director at HUF before you started making music full time, how do you incorporate art and design into your music career?
HEK: I pretty much approach those two things the same way, they go hand in hand for me. It's important for me to establish a visual aesthetic attached to my music in order to give it some context to fully understand where I’m coming from.
PP: What’s the most fun thing about your job?
HEK: Traveling around the world and playing music with my friends.
PP: What are you the most excited for at Coachella this year? Acts, activities, parties?
HEK: This will officially be the start of tour for me this year, so thats pretty exciting. I also know that Nick Cave, Make Up and WU-Tang are playing, so that should be good.
PP: Favorite breakfast food?
HEK: Biscuits and gravy with two eggs over easy and melted cheese on top.
PP: Craziest thing that’s happened to you on tour so far?
HEK: Got carbon monoxide poisoning.
PP: We’ve seen your Twitter–you quote rappers all the time, from Rick Ross and Mase to Snoop and even Lil B. If you were going to make a Hip Hop album, what would you call it?
HEK: Rap Songs For the Rich or Depressed.
Catch Hanni El Khatib at Coachella this weekend and pick up a copy of his new album, Head In The Dirt out April 30 on Innovative Leisure.