Sunday, March 13, 2011


When you first hear the name Hank and Cucakes, a smile is immediately brought on your face, no way to deny it. Just the idea that it happens to be the name of a band is not only funny but displays how much fun this band is straight away. When you first hear Hank and Cupcakes, you hear a full band that sounds like a poppy version of Gogol Bordello, however, the real surprise is that it is a duo. A duo that packs more punch than a case of Red Bull and more volatile than Four Loko. Hank and Cupcakes are an Brooklyn via Israel husband and wife that we picked to be one of the 15 Artists to Watch in 2011. Just before the dynamic duo headed off to South By Southwest, we caught up with Cupcakes herself, Sagit Shir to discuss the band's origins, working with her husband and to see how poised for success they truly are. Take a look at our exclusive with Hank and Cupcakes:

Did the band exist when you were in Israel?

Hank & Cupcakes started a few months before leaving Israel out of the idea we had of coming to NY. We rehearsed intensively for a few months and even played a few shows in Tel Aviv before arriving in NY, but over all we feel like we are a Brooklyn band!

What made you come to New York from Israel? Was it the music scene?

We had been part of the Israeli music scene for years and felt that in order to keep on growing and evolving as artists we needed to get exposed to new things. We left for Havana, Cuba where we studied music for 6 months and returned to Israel with the idea of trying our luck in NY, which in our fantasies was and still is music heaven.

Your music and live shows are so much fun to listen to and be apart of, where do you get the energy from?

The energy comes from a joy of what we do and a strong urge to do it. When we enjoy what we're doing, the audience reacts to that and enjoys it too, which reflects back on us. It's just a good movement of energy and good vibes.

Since it is just the two of you creating such a big sound, do you ever think you will use a full band?

Probably not a full band but we love collaborating with other musicians and having them as guests at shows. We had an idea of bringing in a crazy brass section! Who knows? You'll just have to wait and see!

In just a year you seemed to have captured the attention of not just Brooklyn but all of New York City. Did you ever expect this to happen?

Expected is not the right word, we hoped for this to happen and worked and are still working very hard to make it happen.

Now since the music you play is so much fun and engaging and not political, do you feel an obligation to showcase how much fun two Israelis can have? Do you feel it makes more of statement to not discuss politics and show off the idea to live your life?

We never make any political statements because we're not interested in politics! We're not trying to prove anything to anyone. We are who we are and do what we do as two individuals, not representing anyone but ourselves.

Husband and wife duo’s seem to be a big rising more and more in indie rock these days. There is Matt and Kim (though they are only dating), Tennis, The Bengsons and others. Do you feel that this basic way of making music is easy and just have to worry about you two rather than a full band?

We don't think it's about it being easy or not. There is an evolution of music happening and we are a part of it. We started Hank & Cupcakes without having any idea that duos were becoming so popular and we were quite shocked when we got here and discovered it everywhere. Maybe people will be writing articles about it in 20 years explaining how and why it happened.

You spent much time going back and forth between Israel and Australia, did the change of atmosphere influence your style and sound? What inspired your from both countries?

The strongest thing that happened to us musically from moving around was not to get attached to any sound, style or genre. Being a stranger, an outsider, drives you to be you, an individual who knows what it's taste is and can choose what to be influenced by.

Being in a band with your husband, is it a difficult thing? Being around each other all the time and now working and touring together, does it take a toll on the relationship?

"Take a toll" is not the right way to put it. We are in a very extreme and intense situation in our lives at the moment. There is no segregation between the band, the relationship and the personal free time. It's all mixed up but it feels like it's working out good. We're a very good team and since we've been together for the last 10 years we have enough history and love to take us over the hard times

It was always like this, we've been making music together for as long as we've known each other so there was never another reality to our relationship. We love what we do and are lucky to be sharing this huge adventure.

One of the most interesting things I read on your bio was “Hearing a woman sing, “She’s Lost Control” makes the song sound more self implied than original.” You have managed to cover the song but making it all your own. How did you go about this and why do you feel this way? Are you big Joy Division fans or just fans of the song?

Whenever we cover a song we didn't write, we always find the way to "make it our own". It was Hank who really wanted to cover this song, he was trying to convince me for the longest time! It wasn't until I saw the movie "Control" that something clicked and we started working on it the very next day. I feel a strong identification with the woman who's losing control and with the story teller part.

Since you recording your EP, is a full length in the works?

Yes! We are in the process of mixing the first song from our next album, the direction is a little more dancy and our sound & style is constantly evolving so we are very excited about new recordings!