As the sun set over New York City this past Saturday, Western Australian producer and DJ HAAi took the stage at Brooklyn venue Elsewhere for one of its first rooftop shows of the season—just a day after dropping her first full length debut album.
In front of her, a bouncing crowd of New York club kids—and a few Aussies—drinking frozen spicy mango margaritas.
Behind her, One World Trade Center aglow on the lower-Manhattan skyline, set alight by the sunset of a day that began with storms threatening HAAi’s flight in from Miami.
The show was the artist’s New York debut, her first time ever in the Big Apple. “That’s why I kept on looking behind me and I was like, what the hell?!,” she told Rolling Stone Australia.
“I’ve cried like three times, it just feels really emotional, everyone seems so nice. My flight got delayed because of the storm, and then it was perfect weather in the end.”
In New York, Elsewhere is one a handful of venues that electronic music lovers can rely on to book the up-and-comers whose second NYC gig is likely to be difficult to get a ticket to, as well as established heavy-hitters like Madlib, Disclosure and Kaytranada.
HAAi—real name Teneil Throssell—is certainly one of those kinds of up-and-comers.
Her New York City debut comes on the back of a series of high-profile collaborations with London-based electronic music favourites including Jon Hopkins, and Hot Chip’s Alexis Taylor.
The past five years has seen HAAi’s profile grow astronomically. She was the winner of BBC 1’s Essential Mix of the Year 2018—following in the footsteps of Caribou, Nicolas Jaar and Flying Lotus—and was granted a monthly Radio 1 slot.
The day prior to the New York show, the producer—who was born in the remote mining town Karratha—woke alone on a thunderous Miami morning to the release of her first full length debut album, ‘Baby, We’re Ascending.’
Somehow the solitude made sense. “It was kind of weird actually, but maybe it was how it was meant to be. I wrote it by myself, and I was alone when it came out.
“But I had so many nice messages, so my heart is just bursting.”
Her new track with Alexis Taylor, Biggest Mood Ever, was going to be released as a single, she said—but Throssell felt like she needed to hold back some of the “really, really special ones” for the album. “But I have an edit of it coming.”
As the sky turned pink and orange Saturday, HAAi (pronounced ‘hi’) took the stage in a silky two-piece pantsuit and red-lensed sunnies for a bass-heavy, thumping techno DJ set that took the crowd on a two hour repeat-ride of build-up to drop, while slicing in extended mixes from her new album.
“What a way to do it, what an entry,” HAAi said afterwards, of the show.
“When I started my friend brought me up a frozen mango cocktail thing, and the wind blew it over so I was just dancing in a slushy puddle for the start, and I was, like, ‘I guess this is me,’ and then I looked up and everyone was like so buzzed.”
The show was only Elsewhere’s second on the rooftop since it opened last week.
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Replete with beach balls and strobe lights, it was an opportunity for fans to show some skin, get out the old Hawaiian shirts, bucket hats and dance-appropriate sneakers. HAAi was preceded by NYC DJS Honey Bun and Ron Like Hell.
At one point, a small mosh pit formed at the front, ravers jumping up and down, chanting, “HAAi, HAAi, HAAi, HAAi!” The DJ responded with a grin and a piercing whistle, cupping her hands to the sky in a heart-shape.
Meanwhile, overheard in the crowd: “She’s like the queer of the year,” as well as, “Are you in a K-Hole?”
Luke Pensier, a Brooklyn resident who didn’t leave his post in front of the stage for the entire set, said checking out the new HAAi album was the “first thing [he] did” when he woke up Friday. “It’s a beautiful, beautiful album.”
He discovered HAAi late last year through her Lights Out release with London producer Fred Again, and has been a fan ever since.
“She kept it hard techno, with a lot of her own character and was heavy in the bass, exactly what the crowd wants,” he said.
Next HAAi is preparing for a jam-packed summer festival tour, which will take her across Europe, with multiple shows in London and Ibiza. She’ll be back down under December 28 for the Lost Paradise 2022 festival in Sydney.