Hataałiinez Wheeler aka Hataałii is sharing his second single for Dangerbird Records Microdose Single Series, “President’s Got Me All Night Long,” the follow-up to his 2021 self-titled LP. On the new single, he explains “I made President’s Got Me All Night Long in my friend Kai’s dorm room during my first semester at UNM. We’d all go there after class sometimes and just hang out. I think It’s important that I record in an environment where I can let loose and be myself, and typically (if it isn’t by myself) it’s been with other Natives.”
Attending boarding school for high school gave Hataałii the perfect environment in which to develop his craft. In his junior year, he set himself an almost ludicrously ambitious challenge: to write and record a song every day, with the hope that “if I did three hundred songs in the year, one of them had to, like, sound pretty good.” On weekends, he would return home and, in his cramped bedroom, re-record the songs properly. The resulting album, 2019’s Banana Boy, is a gorgeous insight into Hataalii 1.0 — a collection of serene garage ballads, the highlights of which show a unique style in pupal form.
A year later, he followed it up with Painting Portraits, a humid, ingratiating collection recorded in his punishingly hot family shed during COVID lockdowns. Built around mattified drum machine beats and featuring forays into bossa nova, shoegaze-surf, and washed-out ambient music, it’s a compelling vision of Hataałii’s complex, wide-reaching ambitions as an artist. That vision crystalized on Hataalii, a 2021 self-titled record that saw Hataałii focus even more intently on lyricism. Inspired by Bob Dylan’s country period and clearly taking cues from surfy 2010s indie rock, it’s a record that’s melancholic but fiendishly catchy, songs like “Turquoise Man” and “I Don’t Know Why” turning quotidian anxieties into skeletal, unforgettable pop songs.
This year, Hataałii releases two new songs: the wistful, evocative waltz “Land of Poor Chance,” and late-night indie ballad “Presidents Got Me All Night.” Hataałii’s first songs made with a producer — Los Angeles indie-folk singer Joel Jerome — these two tracks reveal an artist looking to make music that’s nothing less than “the most raw form of expression possible.” The pair of songs are among the most cinematic Hataałii has ever made — fitting, for a year that’s seen him star in an episode of AMC’s acclaimed Dark Winds. Inspired by Hataałii’s eye-opening experiences attending the University of New Mexico, both tracks find him coming to terms with the everyday strangeness of young adulthood, the alienation of moving to a larger city, and power dynamics within relationships. Both songs are, of course, generous, funny, and profoundly open-hearted: in other words, quintessentially Hataałii.
Photo Courtesy: Shaun Price