Hiraeth (pronounced HI-RAY-TH) are one of Joburg’s rising alternative bands on the scene. Set to share the stage with The Narrow, Knave, I Believe In Giants and New Skyline Fire at Rumours Rock City on Friday 21 September 2018 for the next instalment of the Brochella music series. We caught up with the band to chat about what we can expect as well as get to know the band a little more.
The beginning of the band seemed like quite a turbulent one with many member and name changes since 2015. What kept the band going to get things off the ground and bursting into the scene as Hiraeth in June 2017?
To some extent, the band pushed through the many changes because of Gareth’s and Luke’s previous experience in bands; being that it’s super hard to find the right people, but it’s worth the search. Members came and went but we always believed in our minds that these changes were amounting to eventually giving us the right members. And that it did, perseverance pays off. There are many other aspects that helped, but not giving up and believing in the music/ vision is probably the biggest.
Hiraeth has accomplished quite a bit in the short time. Tell us about your first gig with the current member line up?
Thanks for the compliment, the first gig was amazing! We made mistakes, had technical issues, stood around like statues, sweaty palms, may have improvised a lyric or two (Gareth is originally a guitar player and didn’t know what to do with his hands, think of Will Farrell in Talladega Nights). But, when it was all over the surge of adrenaline and feeling of accomplishment was overwhelming. We were addicted by the first hit, and we knew right then and there that this is where we are meant to be. All the challenges faced up until this point had meaning. We have since dedicated ourselves to improving that aspect about us, and we can honestly say the rate of improvement has been phenomenal. We love what we do, and we have fun doing it.
When watching the band live, the dynamic between Gareth and Marty both doing vocals is quite contagious. Was this a natural occurrence or did it take a while for the two to get in sync?
It was always what Luke and Gareth envisioned for the band when we decided to move away from only being an instrumental act. We wanted to do something that’s not really done in metal (although there are some bands that have male and female main vocals it’s very few, and in South Africa it’s even less). It wasn’t like we were trying to be different for the sake of it, we’re trying to capture the beauty and power of female vocals, and the rawness and brutality of screaming and try to unify their strengths. When do you ever see a male and female vocalist working together that don’t make love songs? At least one in their set? We want to show that there’s so much more we can do if women and men stand together and empower one another.
What is the best thing about performing live as Hiraeth?
The freedom of expression. There’s a saying that goes “we all wear three masks: one we show in public, one we show to loved ones, and the third we never show to anyone. That’s the face we see when we look in the mirror and there’s no one around”. I think most musos can relate when we say that when playing on stage, a different personality comes out. To us it’s our third mask; being on stage allows us to be who we really are, the part of our character we hide at our day jobs or family braais. There’s no better feeling in the world than getting to be completely honest and open about yourself, and then be accepted and loved by your peers for doing so.
Your music mixes many sub-genres of metal and alternative music to create a unique sound. Is this a case of every member coming to the table in the writing process or is there one/ two sole members responsible for the writing of the music?
The majority of our songs are conceived by Luke initially. But he brings them to the table where we get to pick apart, mix and add our own flavours to the song. I think that’s where each members’ individuality gets to filter into the music. It works perfectly for us because we’ve found that I may have an idea which I think is amazing, for example; I’ll throw it to the gang to do with what they will, and every time will get back something truly incredible that I could have never conceived its full potential on my own. We believe it’s important to hear each other out when it comes to song writing, no matter who had the initial idea. That way we can encompass the strengths of each member’s song writing skills, making it better, and it also makes every song personal to each member.
The band is one of the many rising stars in the metal and alternative South African scene. Which bands do you consider your peers in this regard?
The list is huge! There are so many upcoming great artists that you’d never hear about unless you happen to stumble into a venue one random night. To name a few, and in no particular order: Till Terminus, Deamhorth, The Tainted, Militant Martyr, Hyper Giant AE, Psordid, Alter Of Bones, and Fenris Wulf would definitely be some to look out for.
What has been the highlight of Hiraeth’s short yet illustrious career so far?
We suppose being nominated for Best Newcomer at the South African Metal Music Awards was really awesome because we didn’t even think we’d get on the polls being so new. But our biggest highlight by miles is getting to share the stage with The Narrow and Knave! Can. Not. Wait!
We understand some of the members were taught by a member of The Narrow in college. How does it feel to be sharing the same stage with one of your mentors?
It’s honestly a dream come true, a privilege and an honour. Some of our members teach, and we know it can be a thankless job some times. So to be able to get up there and show our mentor that if it weren’t for him we wouldn’t be here; we think for him hopefully he will feel proud, and for us a sense of accomplishment getting to stand shoulder to shoulder with someone’s who’s accomplishments have been unreal and seemed so far out of reach as a student.
Brochella is all about bringing established big bands together with the country’s rising stars. What are you most looking forward to on 21 September at Rumours Rock City?
What’s not to look forward to?! There’s going to be great music, awesome people, tasty food and drinks, insane excitement, new people to meet, groovetastic vibes. When the alternative community gets together, only good can come out of it. Can’t we move the date closer? The anticipation is killing us!
We always hear about what is wrong with the scene, but we want to know from you what is going right for local music scene?
On mediums like Facebook it is easy to see and say there’s something wrong about everything. But when you get off your butt and actually go see some local bands the vibe is so refreshingly the opposite. No one’s arguing, or bad mouthing, everyone is simply happy to be there. The community is very loyal and the heart of it can be experienced at live shows, which is testament to the core principles of any proud South African. There’s literally an alt show every weekend in South Africa, if it was doing badly, then how is this possible? Ignore the nay sayers and drag them to a show, I bet it’s been a while for them. Something our community should be praised for, is the people who physically come together to make our scene strong, are leading us into a better future of music because they support. Music is a physical and emotional experience, so you have to physically and emotionally get out there to a live act to experience the true euphoria of like-minded people banding together through the love for something. It may change your mind?
Any shout outs/ last words?
Shout out to our awesome endorsers over at Vitamin Ink Tattoos. Thank you for picking us up so early when we didn’t have anything to our name. Thank you to our friends and families that have supported this outrageous goal of ours, and made it possible for us to keep doing what we love. Thank you to Fred and Mike and the entire Brochella crew for making the upcoming gig with so many legends possible for us, we are very grateful for this opportunity. If you see them at the show, give them the biggest high five you’ve ever given ever! Lastly to every single one of our fans, you’ve been monumental in our careers, and we are blessed to have so many people believe in what we do. Come say high at the show!
Tickets for Brochella presents The Narrow, Knave & more are now available via Plankton.mobi for only R80. Tickets can be purchased here. Tickets will also be available on the night for R120 at the door.
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Photos by Nathan Ferreira | Snapback Photography.