Experimental electro artist Reba Hasko was lured to Albuquerque from afar.
Hasko's brothers, Josh and Jesse (who form the ambient electronic Burque band North America) eventually enticed Hasko to leave Berlin and join them in New Mexico.
"I was talking to them all the time about the adventures they've had here," Hasko recalls. "It sounds to me like there's something a little spooky about the desert."
An almost ominous sense of suspense and mystery has always been a part of Hasko's shtick. From her early acoustic days with only a piano and her voice, Hasko has branched out to include synthesizer and a bevy of computer-generated bells, horns, strings and hollow overtones. Her classically trained voice slithers and climbs, sometimes panting, often cooing and usually brushed with vibrato. More often than not, Hasko slathers her songs in static. "I'm really into distortion," she admits. "And I got addicted to strings."
After growing up in upstate New York, Hasko got her chops in San Francisco playing open mic nights. With the war in Iraq raging, Hasko left her homeland and traveled to Berlin where she stayed for three years. The city's hunger for innovation helped her learn to trust her sense of adventure. "They're really into electronica, of course, but they treat experimental music with the same respect as you might a rock, pop or classical concert," Hasko explains. "I spent a lot of time collecting inspiration from this incredible new place."
But Hasko was miffed by Germans' astonishment that she was a solo female musician. "People would say, You're a girl and you're doing this by yourself?" Hasko says. "That got a little irritating."
Hasko’s new home in the Southwest is the perfect place to begin the next chapter of her artistic evolution. "I was instantly thrilled when I first got here," Hasko says. "There's a difference in the way people dance here. They're so wild and so out of control and I'm always like, Yes! Yes! Be wild, be crazy, be everything."
The new backdrop has helped Hasko do even more tinkering. "I'm letting go more," she says. "The city is not super competitive and it's not where you come to blow up. You come here to be a real human."
But there are some things about Albuquerque that have rubbed her the wrong way—namely, she says, the city’s crime and corruption. "I get frustrated that we don't have the kind of care that we deserve," she says. "People just accept it, like, This is how it is in the 505."
Her qualms with the city have inspired Hasko to write a song asking Our Lady of Guadalupe to save the day. “I was just in my studio space singing, 'Where’s she at?’ ” Hasko says. “Things are tough around here.”
Hasko describes herself as shy, but on record and on stage, she's anything but. Her two LPs (2001's Live at Studio 43 and 2006's Seeds from the Twisted Pear) are blissfully avant-garde. In a live setting, Hasko is a musician in her element, although she has a staunch no-choreography policy. "I've become very comfortable on stage," Hasko says. "But I'm not gonna bust out any moves. I'm not against moves, but I don't prepare them in advance."
When she packs up her gear and steps out of the spotlight, Hasko is thankful for the kudos offered up by her supporters, even if she doesn’t always know how to show it. “I really appreciate the support I receive from fans, listeners and friends, but I don't say it enough,” she says. “I'm more thankful than maybe I seem.”
She’s played a few shows since relocating to New Mexico, but Hasko’s upcoming gig at the Launchpad is one of her biggest. North America will open for a 21-plus show on Wednesday, Sept. 17, at 9 p.m. Admission is $3.