In a short space of time, punk activists Hunting Hearts have exploded onto the local music scene here in Southampton and taken the city by storm. Not just a group of talented artists, Hunting Hearts strive to give a voice to LGBT+ musicians and spread their message of positivity. We caught up with Beck (vocals, rhythm), Kestral (vocals, keys), Lucy (lead guitar) and Devin (bass) in the studio as they were recording their upcoming EP, Pride Not Prejudice, talking about wholesome punk, creating safe spaces and fighting the system.
How is the recording process going? Is it everything that you expected?
Lucy: The only thing that’s different for me, is that when I was last recording, when you do your solo bit, they lock you in a room on your own for about an hour and a half. It’s nice that they’ve got a setup here that we can record all in one room.
Kestral: Yeah, I’ve liked the really collaborative nature of the session this time around. A huge part of what makes Hunting Hearts so amazing to be a part of is that we are like a family and we make all of our decisions jointly. We are a sort of a happy family.
Beck: Being able to walk out of this knowing that at the end of this weekend we have a pre-master EP, is great. At the same time, it’s good to have everyone here, I feel really heard and listened to. And I honestly feel quite safe in this environment, because obviously we’re an all trans band, taking songs about an experience somebody might not necessarily understand.
Kestral: Obviously we couldn’t work with all trans people but we’re working with such keen allies.
Devin: I’ve never been in a band before, I’ve never recorded before, so I don’t know what to expect.
Beck: This is going hella smoothly, just for your information.
Kestral: Yeah, you’re [Beck] smashing it today. You’re yeeting out the guitar.
Beck: I’m yeet-taring.
How would you describe Hunting Hearts to someone who hasn’t heard you play yet?
Kestral: Unapologetically queer synth-pop garage rock. That’s our tagline!
Beck: I’d say like every band you liked in secondary school in the 2000s, but more queer.
Kestral: It’s wholesome. As much as we’ve got a couple of swears in our songs, don’t tell the kids, it’s wholesome stuff we sing about. Even the super raunchy, Beck’s-in-sexy-love-with-someone songs are still wholesome because Beck is very wholesome.
Beck: Family-friendly punk.
What can you tell us about the upcoming record? What is the main focus of the EP?
Beck: It’s all about heart. Whether that’s about love or something that you feel passionately about. Three of the songs are about love. ‘Answering Machine’ having somebody who is in love with you and you don’t like them. ‘Caught’ is about being in love with somebody who isn’t in love with you. And then ‘Collide’ is about having that requited love. And then ’From Underdog Kids To Every Rad Fem’ is a protest song against trans exclusionary radical feminists, about how ‘you’ve wasted time discriminating against us’.
Kestral: The lyrics come from a personal experience – ‘I got punched in the face / I’ve got a broken nose’ which happened when I was in secondary school after I had come out. But again, it’s still that wholesome sort of ‘we have heart about tearing this shit down’. ‘Not a Number’ is kind of similar, but less from a queer perspective.
Your music and live shows always have a strong message of LGBTQ+ positivity – has this always been a fundamental part of the band?
Beck: I’m in a different band, and I can’t really exercise that part of myself through that band. I want to exercise my queerness and the romantic and happier side of me. And I thought ‘wouldn’t it be cool to have a band like The Killers or something, but all queer’. I knew Lucy and Devin separately, but of course they knew each other because the trans community in Southampton is small.
Kestral: But I had just moved to Southampton for uni.
Lucy: I hadn’t played electric guitar at that point for about seven years, I had played folk for a long time.
Beck: Everyone in the band is LGBT so it was always going to be this way, it was always going to be a part of our message.
What has been your experience of the local music scene here in Southampton?
Beck: To be honest it was so unprecedented. I knew that there was a really great music community in Southampton but what I didn’t realise was that a huge percentage of that was a part of the trans community too.
Kestral: I don’t think anyone expected things to happen as quickly.
Beck: Yeah, there’s something about the water in Southampton, it churns out so many good artists. I know so many good MCs that have come from Southampton, I know good metal bands – there are huge metal bands from Southampton.
You’ve played shows all over the city. What has been your favourite moment?
Lucy: For me, it would probably be the most recent one in the Art House. Because, it was during ‘Caught’, and I think it was during the first chorus I just forgot I was playing guitar and I was on stage. And my mind just blanked out and everything was serene.
Beck: I would agree with that, and I really enjoyed the gig we played at the Bridge. But the most recent one we played was my favourite.
Kestral: I was in a really dark place and the few weeks leading up to the gig, actually getting back together with the band and playing that gig really reminded me of the reasons to keep fighting.
Hunting Hearts really are the ones to watch this summer. With a positive message of inclusivity and a fresh sound, their upcoming EP is destined for great things.
Hunting Hearts’ debut EP will be available from August 24th via Ad Fundum records.