When Darren Hayman (Hefner) and Emma Kupa (Standard Fare/Mammoth Penguins) decided to make a duets record, we knew the results would be great, but we didn’t expect them to be THIS great. Gathering together a rhythm section consisting of Michael Wood (Whoa Melodic/Singing Adams) on bass and Cat Loye (Fever Dream) on drums, The Hayman Kupa band create brash, bold and effortlessly melodic power pop. Sharing writing duties and sometimes singing each others words, lines are blurred and creativity explored in a wonderfully exuberant collection of songs. The album, recorded in three days at Big Jelly Studios in Ramsgate, is an exploration of relationships and, at its heart, it’s the sound of a friendship being made.
Darren explains further:
It’s only happened a few times but just once or twice I have seen someone on stage and thought, “I want to be in a band with them.” But I thought it the first time I saw Emma playing with her magnificent and under-rated band Standard Fare. I met her properly a little later in Sheffield when we played together. Before the gig I said I was suspicious of bands that wore hats. She wore a hat on stage. They say imitation is a form of flattery and I was glad that I noticed when I wrote the song “Boy, Look at What you Can’t Have Now” that it sounded like the sort of thing Emma might write. I covered up my theft by asking her to sing on it. When we were recording the song I suggested that we should write a whole album of duets. Musicians suggest things like this all the time because they are stupid or drunk. A few months later Emma told me she had started writing the album. This is what Emma does; she says something then does it. I race to play catch up.
The songs were written over three weekends at her house and mine. Co-writing is something I’m not used to. It’s very intimate and me and Emma became friends through the process. Emma’s lyrics are sharp and precise whereas mine are more metaphoric. It was lovely seeing how quickly we settled into something in between. We talked about relationships and that’s what the album is about. It’s about our fears and paranoia’s and the search for trust and love. We deliberately swapped lines and genders so the narrative is never truly that of traditional duets. I sing Emma’s lines often and I sing hers. It’s two voices singing the results of our conversations. We became close friends whilst writing these songs.
We wanted a band to make the album and chose Michael Wood and Cat Loye. We never considered anyone else. They brought a brash, bold sound to the songs and we rehearsed twice and then recorded the album in three days at the Big Jelly studios in Ramsgate.I was thinking about the Beatles and very early 1960s pop records. We recorded everything live including the vocals with only a handful of overdubs. We put a microphone high up in the ceiling to get bright, rackety sound and mixed it in mono. We recorded it two and a half years ago and it has remind locked like a time capsule whilst me and Emma released five other albums. I like this album a lot. It’s the sound of a friendship being made.
"Together they make the kind of ramshackle indie-pop which features only the type of notes and chords you have heard before. Therefore the album has a warm familiarity as the two of them share lyrical couplets - sometimes at each other like a more careworn indie version of Prolapse. In other words it's domesticity put to music."
"Darren Hayman and Emma Kupa today unveil the fruits of their wonderful new collaborative effort – and the glowing pop of “A Tent Of Blankets” might well be the sweet shot-in-the-arm you were craving all along"
Gold Flake Paint [A Tent of Blankets premiere]
"It’s the sort of energetic, scratchy indie-pop you’d expect from these two songwriters only structured like a classic pop-duet, the back and forth vocals reminiscent of Sunny & Cher or Jane Birkin & Serge Gainsbourg"
For The Rabbits
"Ah, the many and varied adventures of Darren Hayman... A one-man indie pop cottage industry, the songwriter's lengthy and wildly creative catalogue contains many gems, many moments of splendour. New project The Hayman Kupa Band, however, stands out against the jewels in his crown. A series of duets with Emma Kupa (from Standard Fare/MammothPenguins), the pair's intersect and intertwine to provide real intimacy to the material."
Clash Music [Over's Now Overdue premiere]
"While it might be that burgeoning friendship underpinning the record the songs lean far more toward the thrill, the longing, and the heartbreak of romantic love. Sweet and beautiful, this is a tender album but one which is also emotionally raw in parts, the melody soothes while words cut deep. This is as fine an indiepop record as you would hope for from the pairing, with vintage undertones it is a gorgeous and honest reflection on love in many forms."
"A joyous collection of very direct romantic songs with perfect indie production values, if you like the sadly defunct Allo Darlin’, then you’ll love these guys." Morning Star [4/5]