Singer Ian Ruhala performing during the Biker Gang showcase at the Spiderhouse outdoor stage during SXSW.

Chatting with Hala and Baywaves at SXSW

By Caroline Janes
Music Journalist

I had the chance to interview Hala and Baywaves after they played at SXSW to inquire about their experience at the festival and gain some insight about some of their music. All of the guys I talked to were super nice and gave some interesting answers.

First up is Ian Ruhala of Hala after his show at Spiderhouse during the Biker Gang Booking showcase.

Caroline Janes: You said you’re from Detroit?

Ian Ruhala: Yeah, Music Park, kind of a suburb of Detroit. I go to school in Detroit.

CJ: So you’re in college, what year are you?

IR: Technically a senior, I think. But I’ve been taking it very slow.

CJ: Are you a music major?

IR: No, Communication Studies. It’s somewhat applicable. My guitarist Austin, has the same degree and he minored in Spanish.

CJ: Do you have a minor?

IR: No, I’m doing very bare bones, but I still value my education like everyone should.

CJ: Is this your first SXSW?

IR: It is.

CJ: What’s been your favorite thing so far?

IR: We played a house show on Wednesday, that was really cool. It was on Laguna Street or Laguna Drive. My girlfriend hooked us up with that and it was really cool. I played a solo set at the Embassy Suites and Cee Lo Green was there!

CJ: No way, did he see you?

IR: He came during the first song, stayed the whole set and had drinks with his friends, his entourage. It was amazing.

CJ: What’s been your favorite thing in Austin so far, is this your first time here?

IR: It is, yeah. I’ve been to Houston. I got the guitar that I’m playing in Houston because they have a big left-handed guitar store there. Yeah, I play backwards. Yeah, first time in Austin. It’s pretty much what I expected in a way. Just like, a lot of people like me, a lot of people that cuff their jeans and skateboard and stuff like that. But, it’s still cool. It’s quaint.

CJ: What’s the most Texan thing you’ve witnessed in Austin thus far?

IR: A plethora of boots.

CJ: What have you been listening to lately?

IR: This Minnie Riperton song, Loving You, it’s really beautiful. Lot of McCartney, Beatles stuff. Like, the anthology stuff that’s a little more of the rarities I guess. I’ve been interested in that. 60s music, 70s music, soft rock and Twin Peaks—they’re my favorite new band. I always try to sprinkle some influence from them into songs.

CJ: Who are your biggest influences?

IR: Probably Paul McCartney and I like Tennis, I like Alaina Moore a lot. I love her voice. And I like their production and they record everything on their own. And then I don’t know, Mark Fidrych. He was a pitcher for the Detroit Tigers in the late 70s and he’s the only athlete to ever be on the cover of Rolling Stone, so he’s actually a rock star.

CJ: Do you do that as well?

IR: Yeah, I’m not like sold into it because of like the bedroom pop aura. I want to pigeonhole myself to that situation. But yeah, I record at home.

CJ: Is it just you?

IR: Yeah, it’s just me.

CJ: Describe your sound using a non-musical word. Like an inanimate object or a feeling.

IR: That’s tough. I try to do songs that I think are soft. I try to do songs I think are punky, songs that are—a mixed bag. Chex Mix.

CJ: So you sing about forties. Do you have a favorite forty?

IR: Uh, Budweiser. Definitely Budweiser.

CJ: Oh, Mickey’s all the way.

IR: I don’t really like Mickey’s! That’s a lot of art students in Detroit that drink Mickey’s, that like swear by it.

CJ: You’ve sung about voting for Bernie, are you gonna vote for him in 2020?

IR: I’m really into O’Rourke a lot because he has liberal views but he’s moderate in the fact that there’s two sides to the point. I don’t know, I like, I love, Bernie. I think his message is very pure and one that we should all take a page from his book, but I just don’t know if the country is ready for it. That’s a sad thing to say but in these polarized times it’s like we need someone who can bring us back to the center and mend some things that are struggling right now.

Baywaves bassist Fran rocking out on during their performance at Hole in the Wall on Guadalupe Street in Austin, TX during SXSW.
Baywaves performing at Hole in the Wall on Guadalupe Street, Austin, TX. Photo by Caroline Janes.

After their performance at Hole in the Wall on Guadalupe Street during the Howdy Gals showcase, Baywaves bassist, Fran, and drummer, Marco, took a moment to talk with me.

Caroline Janes: You said you’re from Madrid, Spain?

Fran: Yes!

CJ: And this is your first SX?

Fran: Second one actually, we played last year.

CJ: Have you toured in the States at all?

Fran: No, we were here last year and we played SX and then this year we just flew [to] New York. So we played two shows in New York and then we’re here.

CJ: What’s been your favorite thing about SX or Austin so far?

Fran: We’re standing like two blocks away from our favorite thing which is In-N-Out Burger!

Marco: Fast food, that’s a whole different thing.

Fran: It’s really good!

Shortly after wrapping up the interview I spotted the guys of Baywaves in line at In-N-Out.

CJ: Not so much fast food in Spain?

Marco: Yeah–

Fran: We don’t really eat that in Spain so when we get here we have it all.

Marco: We don’t have diversity in Spain.

Fran: Then yesterday, the thing is last year when we were here we played so many shows that we didn’t get the chance to see any bands. Yesterday we played just one show in the morning. We saw like five bands.

CJ: Who was your favorite?

Fran: First we saw Oscar Jerome, then Jerry Paper…

Marco: Crumb

Fran: Ah yeah they were so good, we saw them again today because they were so good yesterday. And then we saw a guy called Paul Cherry.

Marco: So shout out Paul Cherry!

Fran: He was the best show yesterday!

CJ: What’s the most Texan thing y’all have seen so far?

Fran: The first time I came here [was] with another band three years ago. I had breakfast tacos for the first time with like potato and something. [That was] the biggest culture shock I’ve had in my life like having this burrito for breakfast when we usually have like fruit in Spain.

CJ: What have y’all been listening to?

Marco: The bands that we saw yesterday. We were really into them like before.

Fran: There’s this band called Squid, they’re from the UK. They’re really good. What have we been listening to? A bunch of stuff! It’s hard to pick. When we were in New York, we bought some CDs and we bought the second Connan Mockasin CD so we’ve been listening to that in the car lately.

CJ: Describe your sound using a non-musical word like an inanimate object or a feeling.

Marco: I would say like, chill but rhythmic but that’s about music.

Fran: I remember we answered this kind of question once, it was like the feeling you get when you’re about to fall on a couch, but you know there’s a couch behind you but you’re still in the air, but you’re about to [sit].

Thank you Ian, Fran, and Marco for chatting with me! Follow Hala and Baywaves on twitter. Hala is currently on tour with Hellogoodbye and will be back in Austin on April 27.

Featured image courtesy of Veronica Briones.

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