06 March

An encounter with Hanni El Khatib, the wild beast of Californian rock


After three albums and a series of prestigious collaborations (from Dan Auerbach of the Blacks Keys to legendary rapper Freddie Gibbs), American artist Hanni El Khatib and his explosive rock are back with “Savage Times”, a brand new, most ferocious opus.

Par Chloë Fage, Photos Jules Faure

  • Portrait : Jules Faure for Numero.com
  • Since 2011 Hanni El Khatib, with his rocker/crooner air straight out of a Nicholas Ray movie, has been pushing the limits of Californian garage rock. Between a melodious hip-hop and cutting punk-rock with funk tonalities, the singer and composer portrays a dark daily grind touched by a broken American dream, where fearful citizens wander through a hostile Los Angeles. His sensational third album Moonlight clearly drew its inspiration from the film noir aesthetic, bursting with Lynchian and Hitchcockian references.


    With his latest opus Savage Times, Hanni El Khatib dares to look into his past and at his own identity. It’s not just about revealing the pains of an America at half-mast, but more drawing from his own experience as a child immigrant to exorcise all tensions. Born BrownMangos & Rice and even Gonna die alone are both tracks with frenzied riffs that mirror his Palestinian and Filipino origins with his American nationality. The artist confirms, “For the first time I wanted to put my own history, my past and my demons into this work. I needed this visceral side to move forward and offer something more honest and raw. But I certainly don’t see myself as a political spokesperson.”



    “For the first time I wanted to put my own history, my past ans my demons into this work. I needed this visceral side to move forward.”

Portrait : Jules Faure for Numero.com

Carried by his powerful and saturated voice, the tracks follow each other in an explosion of musical references between ”Haunted George” morbid punk and the old school rhythmic of The Modern Lovers. Moments to breathe, necessary in an album of such density, broaden the field on more aerial titles such as the groovy Paralyse, which is like an electro funk anthem pumping with crazy energy. “I recorded all these tracks in a pretty anarchic and instinctive manner. As soon as a song was ready, I would make it public straight away hence the ‘mixtape’ vibe to the album. Musically it goes in every direction with a million musical references, but the overriding theme of identity gives it a sort of cohesion,” he explains.


“An explosion of musical references from Haunted George morbid punk to the old school rhythmic of The Modern Lovers and radiant electro.”



A mastered opus for sure, but whose creation was born from instinct. The texts are like short impactful punchlines sometimes resonating like veritable screams. “The texts came about very spontaneously, almost in spite of myself. Normally I take the time to write but here I went into studio with an idea or a feeling, and I wrote the words down in an almost unconscious way.” he tells us. Between a call for freedom and the portrait of a man as a wild beast, there is no appeal for Hani’s sentence, man is clearly a wolf to man. But when it comes to the music, the artist with his gravelly intoxicating voice has never bared his fangs as much.


Hanni El Khatib’s new album "Savage Times" (Innovative Leisure/Because). 


With the release of the album, Hanni El Khatib also launches an HEK x HUF capsule collection available from April 6th in HUF outlets.


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Un opus maîtrisé certes, mais dont la création s’est faite à l'instinct. Les textes sont autant de punchlines courtes et impactantes qui résonnent parfois comme de véritables hurlements. “Les textes sont venus de manière très spontanée, comme malgré moi. Normalement je prends le temps de les écrire, mais là, j’entrais directement en studio avec une idée ou un sentiment, et je posais les mots qui m’apparaissaient de manière quasi inconsciente, comme en état de transe” , souligne l'artiste. Entre appel à la liberté et portrait de l’homme comme bête sauvage, la sentence d’Hanni est sans appel, l’homme est clairement un loup pour l’homme. Mais pour ce qui est de la musique, l’artiste à la voix rocailleuse et enivrante n’a jamais aussi bien montré les crocs.


Hanni El Khatib, nouvel album "Savage Times" (Innovative Leisure/Because). 


À l'occasion de la sortie de l’album, Hanni El Khatib dévoile une collection capsule HEK x HUF disponible à partir du 6 avril dans les points de vente HUF.


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