Up until now, Blue Hawaii has consisted of two members: Alex “Agor” Cowan and Raphael “Ra/Raph” Standell-Preston. The pair first met at Agor and his brother’s now shut-down Montreal loft and venue, Lab Synthèse, a locale that provided space for emerging musicians such as Grimes, Majical Cloudz and Tops. Raph and Agor immediately started dating, which led to a multi-year relationship of living together, world traveling, cheating on each other and eventually romantically breaking up simultaneously with the release of their 2013 album “Untogether.” The album art was originally going to just have a picture of New Zealand swimmers, but ended up consisting of faded versions of the two hugging each other. The ending of their personal relationship surrounding the release became the focus.
And then they went on a multi-year tour together.
Agor’s just released “Agor Edits” comes out of this tour, where the two ended up improvising their pre-existing songs to fit the various cultures they would encounter around the globe. This will be the last release from Blue Hawaii for a while, as Raph will focus on her other project, BRAIDS, for that band’s album in 2015. By the end of the year, Blue Hawaii may be more of an amorphous project with solo DJ songs from Agor and female vocalists other than Raph. The pair was once described as “the two islands of Blue Hawaii” by Interview Magazine, but despite all that has happened and is happening, these two islands are actually closer than they seem.
In an interview with HuffPost Entertainment, Agor described the specialness of Arbutus — the label that rose out Lab Synthèse — which hinged partly on how it was “very much based on a close, tight-nit geographical situation.” At the end of our discussion, it was brought up that in a previous back-and-forth interview Blue Hawaii had with another musician, Doldrums, Agor seemed to go off script. “Do you think that it’s important for people to stick together or does it make most sense to chase after things in your best interest as a person?” he asked. Agor was willing to answer this question himself and said:
I think if you’re trying to be successful at the same time as balance a kind of community, it’s just important to know your goals before you set out on your path. Just lay out clearly what it is that you’re prepared to do and not prepared to do. I think if you want to be successful at all costs, then that’s fine, and you should just kind of make that clear with the people that you’re working with … Personally I live more of a life really intertwined with the people around me. I think both are totally valid ways of living and if you plan on doing one or the other, it’s just important to let everyone know, so no ones surprised.
Agor and Raph have gone around the world entering other people’s spheres, where they’ve shaped their own music to fit the various ears. They’ve played for people and more people and more people, all of whom have had…