South African producer HAEZER has been a pillar of the Electro and Trash scene since 2011, and UFO NETWORK had the honour of chatting exclusively to this ‘lectro legend about where he sees the SA music scene heading, his new purely techno persona Embassy and the latest project taking up his time, a Reservoir Dogs style film production agency!
E, thanks so much for taking the time to chat with us, we are super stoked to talk to one of South Africa’s bass house masterminds! Tell us about that first track that put you on the map and the journey since … How did Haezer come about?
Hey guys, it’s my pleasure.
I studied film and pursued a career in film editing. I made music as a hobby in my spare time since Grade 6 and never stopped. The first song I ever put out on the internet was named ‘Katherine’. I was still finding my unique sound and the feedback from blogs was not very positive, but still constructive and motivated me to keep going. My first EP ‘Who the Fuck is Haezer’ put a spotlight on my brand because I released at the right time with great remixers on the EP and the sound was very unusual. The main single was at something like 148bpm and straight 4/4. This was Myspace days (to put it in perspective) and I literally messaged labels and artists via Myspace messenger to ask for remixes and releasing. I was lucky enough to get guys like Cyberpunkers, Trumpdisco, Belzebass and Doc Trashz on remix duty. The Cybperpunkers remix got quite a bit of hype and helped getting my name on the European map. My track ‘Anarchy’ got picked up by a Australian blog, ‘Trashbags’, who were also throwing parties and were in the process of starting their label ‘Tuff’em Up’ . They booked me a sold out tour with Gtronic, whom I was a big fan of at the time. At this stage I was still not playing shows in SA. I did 2 European tours and an Australian tour before I got big bookings in SA.
Tell us about your latest EP with Autodidakt on Mahtrasher Records, and are you currently working on anything new?
While I was on tour in Germany I stayed at his studio and we made lots of sketches together. Tech-Nooo was the best one out of the lot, but I wanted to re-work it to fit better with the direction I’m going musically. So we both kinda remixed the original track we made together to make the EP.
Currently I’m finishing up a 2 track EP for Embassy that I’m releasing on Mahtrasher. On the 17th of July I’m releasing my new HAEZER EP ‘Closet Junglist’ on my new label CNSLR Recordings and I’m also releasing a single I did with Rrotik on Medium Rare Recordings. In August I’m releasing a new Embassy single with remixes by Heerhoorst and Melody’s Enemy.
We are loving the alias – what’s the difference in terms of music between Haezer and Embassy?
Haezer is all things house (bass house, electro house, tech house) and midtempo.
Embassy is purely techno now.
Your fav spot to play in Cape Town? Where do we all need to be going in the Mother City?
To be brutally honest, I find the club scene for bass heavy music is very quiet and I prefer playing festivals as HAEZER. As Embassy I like playing at Modular.
Give us the name of one track that never gets old for you no matter how many times you listen to it?
Four Tet – Pyramid.
We had to 🙂
Tours / residencies / upcoming events?
I’m playing Halloween in Pretoria in October. I’ve recently started my own Production company specialising in Online Video content creation, so I’m putting most of my time into that at the moment. CNSLR Productions functions like a Reservoir Dogs style agency with a pool of freelance filmmakers that I team together according to the project. I’m doing the soundtrack and sound design for an Indie feature film named “Fried Barry” this year. I started doing freelance film editing again and I also launched my new record label last month. Focusing my energy and creativity in another field other than music has actually helped my creative flow in my dance music productions, so I’m very happy with the space I’m in.
You are one of the few SA artists to make it big overseas. What’s been your most special / favourite venue or event that you’ve played at outside of South Africa?
This was ages ago, but still my highlight was Hurricane Festival in Germany. I played with Gesaffelstein, Chase and Status, Modeselektor, Parov Stellar Band, Netsky and Breakbot. I still remember my manager getting tears in her eyes when we heard the crowd chanting my name 20mins before I started. It was magical.
How do you get a track started? Tell us a bit about your production process. How long does it take you to complete a track on average, do you ever get writer’s block and who has been your favourite collab?
I usually start with the main beat. If your drums sound good on its own, it’s easy to build on that. My best tracks I usually make in 2 days, but some tracks I tweak and rework for months. It’s an artist’s biggest flaw in my opinion. You get so attached to a track, but know it just doesn’t work and instead of starting a new one, you torture yourself trying to make it work. It’s actually a waste of time and if I could change one thing about my workflow and nature, it would be to let tracks go after 2 days. If it doesn’t work in two days, chances are it never will.
I had writer’s block for the whole of 2013 and big chunks of 2015. Only solution is to get away from your studio for a week or two and clear your head. Doing a detox also helps and if that doesn’t do the trick, I find focusing your creativity on something other than music also helps.
Most of the collabs I’ve done have been via filesharing and skyping. My favorite collabs is when you can be in the studio together with the person you are collaborating with. I’ve worked with Proxy, Austrian Apparel, Francois van Coke and Hunter Kennedy in my studio and those were my favourite collabs.
You’re quite into your golden sunshine … what’s the best whiskey you’ve ever had?
Oh damn, that’s a hard one. I love peaty whiskeys like Lagavulin and Laphroiag, but I also love Japanese whiskeys. I went to this secret Japanese whiskey bar in Montreal with the Black Tiger Sex Machine guys and I remember the whiskey I had there was awesome, but I can’t remember the name. The Nikka from the barrel is also very tasty.
Fan question – “What’s your opinion on the South African dance music scene at the moment?”
I think it can be musically more diverse. There’s been a huge shift from club raves to boutique festivals. I would love to see the club culture getting some love again and promoters getting more creative with the décor and ambience of events.
There’s an obvious shortage of managers in SA specialising in electronic music. I see so much talent and kids hungry to take on their career in music full time, but they are creatives and have no idea how to manage themselves. You get guys like Kyle Watson, who does everything himself and he’s fucking good at it, but he’s a rare case. All and all I am hopeful!