Say my name, Say my name

Photography by Nancy Thornber

Photography by Nancy Thornber


“The Hot Baps. The Inquisition of the C*nt. Wild Bees… or maybe it was just The Baps.” Hari, Noam and Scott of the recently named Prizes are three friends demonstrating that a talent for music doesn’t necessarily extend to a way with words. “We had a short list, well a long list and we started out with the most ridiculous ones thinking good stuff will come out of it,” explains Hari, the savvy soul of Prizes, a sharp, erudite and charming man, despite his band name choices.

“None of them are serious suggestions,” continues Noam, Prizes Israeli keyboardist, programmer and Belushi-esque bad boy. “We thought we’d have trouble in ensuing publications.”

“They’re truly terrible names” adds Scott, the level headed Leeds lad on bass summing up in standard fashion. Maybe Prizes diction isn’t quite as brusque as first predicted.

A name change wouldn’t be pertinent if not for Prizes unique, glorious glow of sound. Under the name Treasure their glittering, sample-heavy haze-pop caused a ripple through the blogosphere. Heads turned and trouble followed.

“I really wanted to be called Treasure,” says Hari “and when I looked it up on Google and Myspace I saw there were so many of them, so I thought surely this is a safe bet. I didn’t want it to blow up but we got this e-mail saying we’ve seen you on Stereogum and Pitchfork and we’ve been Treasure longer. I listened to about ten seconds then realised it doesn’t matter if they’re any good, we can’t carry on.” So Treasure UK reluctantly bowed down to Treasure Brooklyn (it’s a wonder anything gets done in that corner of New York) and somewhat reluctantly became Prizes. “We just got fed up of going back and forth in the end,” they say.

The band is maturing under their new moniker, though. This time last year Hari was building layers and lyrics from his home, pushing his wares through the web and producing sample-led, languid beauties that borrowed heavily from Fleetwood Mac and Bowies ‘Hunky Dory’. Waaga and Lefse records soon showed interest in his project. “Yeah I didn’t think that one through,” he says. “Not sure how they were going to get clearance!”

Hari soon met Noam at a Carnaby Street store (working not browsing) and then Scott through the Internet and Prizes sparked into life on stage. It must be hard to leave the comfort and controlled environment that the blog blanket provides though, and, as with any modern musical project, projection through the Internet is essential to finding a voice.

“Well, obviously it’s a lot more instant than back in the day where you’d make twenty demos then send them off,” notes Hari. “With it being right there I find I have to restrict myself.”

And it’s good for the odd Google ego trip, I presume?

“Every week,” he chuckles,

“Every hour,” chips in Noam.

Self-deprecation is a common theme to our chat, and all three characters are astute to the realms of absurdity that interviews provide. “At the start I read everything and it was exciting,” says Hari “and then you read odd things. For instance there was a picture of me in an Anthrax t-shirt and someone wrote on Twitter that I looked pretentious in it. I thought let’s just stop reading this.” Hari shrugs it off with a smile, his acceptance born out of familiarity.

Prizes Internet presence can only be helped by the bands striking videos for the tracks ‘Canada’ and ‘Rumours’. Jamie Harley’s nostalgic visuals have added romantic poise to works from Memory Tapes and His Clancyness but it’s with Prizes the marriage seems destined for ruby anniversary pressies. His distorted, distant take on Pamela’s sex tape (‘Canada’) and Diana’s nuptials (‘Rumours’) ache with poignancy, especially in tandem with Hari’s longing lyrics. Could there be a theme going on with ill-fated couples? Maybe another sex tape will feature again?

Hari laughs: “Jamie told me he was editing the ‘Canada’ video on the train and getting loads of weird looks for it.”

Less ‘pervert!’ looks came Jamie’s way at a recent Prizes show, the bill also featuring Memoryhouse, How to Dress Well and Visions of Trees and three hours of visuals from the filmmaker. “He catered for each band individually and gave the entire night a special feeling,” Noam states, clearly impressed.

There’s the imminent addition of a drummer into Prizes’ world too. “He’s called James and yep we met him on the Internet as well,” says Hari.

“He likes Guided by Voices so he’s in,” adds the deadpan Scott.

So it seems the one-man bedroom band is not just branching out but well and truly over, and a sound that seemed ready to slide into the diminishing deck-chair-chill-wave scene now sits apart in its own stylish beat. And with their own name and everything.

By Ian Roebuck


Originally published in issue 21 (vol 3) of Loud And Quiet. September 2010

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