Today we interview one of Gauteng’s best known Darkwave bands, Hexotericka.
What’s the origin of your band name?
We are called Hexotericka. The name is a combination of Esoterica and Hexes, so I suppose you can say it means that hexes are very esoteric. It was just a fitting name that went hand in hand with some of our songs’ subject matter.
What genre of music do you consider your work to be?
We originally envisioned Hexotericka as an electronic Darkwave band back in 2007, but since about 2010 we have moved more towards a Gothic-Rock sound. However, I believe it is up to the listener to decide for themselves, as we usually just play what feels right to us at the moment of song creation.
What’s the history of Hexotericka?
My band-mate Allen Simpson and I used to be in a Gothic band called ‘Disciples of Sorrow’ from 1998 to 2004, and after the band broke up, we still felt that we had a lot more music left in us. Over the period between 2004 and 2007 I continued composing songs, and Allen provided lyrics to several of them. We wanted to break away from the slow, sometimes rather depressing sound of ‘Disciples’, and create something a bit more friendly and dance-able. In 2007 we decided to officially start Hexotericka, at that stage just a two man show. In 2009 we were joined by Douw Duvenage on guitar.
What can you tell me about your instruments? (i.e., Are you subject to brand loyalty or will you play with whatever’s available? What made you choose the instruments you have now? Was it cost or was it a style/model/brand/colour preference?
I personally am not loyal to any specific brand, as I use whatever resources are available to me when needed. During the formative stages of Hexotericka, I was not earning a lot of money per month, so I had to make do with cheap synths and sampling my own sounds. Eventually as circumstances improved, we were able to get some more sophisticated gear.
What’s your inspiration?
Inspiration doesn’t always come so easy. Sometimes my muse decides to take an extended holiday without letting me know in advance. At other times I draw inspiration from the most unexpected sources. Many times I have woken up in the dead of night with a tune running around in my head, and I have had to jump out of bed and get the tune down before it fades from my mind.
At other times I can be busy with something totally unrelated, and an entire song would pop into my head. Indeed, I have a very fickle muse.
How would you define your work?
An easy way to sum up Hexotericka’s subject matter would be: Love, loss, sex, death and horror. We combine elements of Gothic Rock, Darkwave and even Synthpop in some cases. For Allen and myself, I believe our biggest musical influences are bands such as The Cruxshadows, Depeche Mode, Sister of Mercy and The Mission, whereas Douw brings in his love of Horror Punk and Metal. I believe the combination of these various music styles has given Hexotericka a rather unique sound, but then again, that’s just my opinion.
What are the biggest obstacles for bands?
I can’t speak for most bands of other genres, but Gothic bands find it hard to get local exposure due to there being so few venues that would actually be willing to host a Gothic gig. Venues would rather host metal or rock parties, leaving the fledgling Gothic bands to try to get creative in the promotion of their music, be it giving away demo disks to strangers or aggressive music promotion on social media platforms.
We were lucky in the fact that we found a club early on in the band’s career that hosted regular goth parties, and were eager to get us onstage, so we overcame one of the biggest hurdles that we had foreseen for the band at the time.
Over the years the options have become even more limited, and it is not easy finding gig spots if you are a Gothic, Darkwave or EBM band these days.
Could you briefly describe the music-making process?
I usually start with a tune that pops into my head, then try and refine it by adding a few more layers to it. Once I am happy with the end result, I start working on lyrics that fit the overall feel of the song. If I am stuck with the lyrical part of the song, I usually pass it on to Allen (who is a published poet), and he works his magic. Once the lyrics are in place, we get the entire band together, and everyone adds his own flavour to the song. Hexotericka’s music is always a big collaborative effort from all band members involved.
What are your rehearsals generally like? Do you have a set time each week in which you practice or are rehearsals more spontaneous?
Rehearsals are usually set up for a Saturday or Sunday each week. We get together and practice for about 6 hours, constantly going through the playlist for any planned upcoming gigs. We usually add in any new material at the beginning of our rehearsals, then rinse and repeat until we are all comfortable with the songs.
Hexotericka rehearsals are mostly a fun-filled informal affair, since we believe that a relaxed atmosphere helps the rehearsal process along much better.
How has your music evolved since you first began playing music together?
I would say that the best thing to happen to the band is the inclusion of Douw Duvenage on guitar. The man is a musical genius. He has taken our earlier works and just made it so much better. He has definitely helped us define the Hexotericka ‘sound’, and thanks in a big way to him we have definitely matured as a band.
Who shot first Han Solo or Greedo?
Han shot first. No further comment.
What’s your ultimate direction for your band? Are you seeking fame and fortune?
Personally, I would love to see many people worldwide get to hear our music. We want to do international tours. One of our biggest dreams is to play the M’era Luna festival in Germany.
However, we will still remain a South African band through it all, and hopefully be able to help new local bands out a bit as well.
Which songs do you perform most frequently? Do you ever play any covers? Do you have a set play list?
We have a rather varied playlist, but overall, all our songs get mostly equal play time. We usually throw in one cover during every gig, but it’s always something different for every gig. We like to mix it up a bit. Usually during band get-togethers we choose a song to cover for the next gig, and go with it.
Where have you performed? What are your favourite venues? Do you have any upcoming shows?
We have performed at Full Moon, Rafters and The Factory. The Factory was by far our favourite venue, as we started to have monthly gigs there. Sadly, it no longer exists.
2014 will see us having many new gigs, as well as our album launch. Our first gig for this year will be in March at Zeplins Rock Shack in Centurion.
How can fans-to-be gain access to your music? Do you have a website with sample songs or a demo CD?
We are in the last stages recording our first full CD, ‘Nyctophile’, but we also have some songs available to stream on the internet. These songs can be accessed from our Facebook page or on our official Reverbnation page.
Advice for those interested in joining the music world?
Perseverance pays off. Just keep at it and don’t give up. You might be surprised by the end result.
Any last words?
Hmmmm…had an awesome last statement worked out, but now it’s gone. Oh well.
I’d like to thank Keith for taking the time to speak with us. \M/