Hyenah – Just what SA House Music needs right now
When one can get all the information about basically anything in a few clicks, not providing information becomes a strong statement…”
For many years the synthetic basslines and infectious vocals of house music were confined to the underground discos and heard-through-the-grapevine parties of a previously niche genre.
Overtime though the movement grew. Popularity increased and with it came the often unavoidable proliferation of a once sacred faction. For those born on the other side of the millenium, house music regularly denotes massive, drug-fuelled raves in the wilderness, dominance of Top 40 charts and larger than life DJs who do little to no work behind the decks besides fist pumping and those gastly ‘I love you’ hand gestures. As the saying goes, things just aren’t like they used to be.
But perhaps all hope might not be lost and there’s a semblence of it to be found in the world of house. For me that hope lies in an unkown entity with a refreshing knack for creating hauntingly beautiful productions. We know not his face let alone where he (or she) comes from. All we know is the name: Hyenah.
Most people may not know this name as yet, not that it bothers Hyenah, but one of the producer’s first rises to prominence came when Black Coffee dropped the painfully simple yet spirit-shaking ‘The Wish (Dub)’. The unashmedlly gritty bassline, runaway percussion and orgasmic crescendo left house lovers pondering, what f*cking track is that?
Well, us at IDM Mag have gone in search of this mysterious being, found it and got the answers to some burning questions.
IDM: First things first, why the decision to hide your identity?
Hyenah: There are several reasons: One is that I think it does not really matter who I am. I want my music to matter, not my story. Also it gives me creative freedom since I keep my clean slate. I can always do what I want without people judging or being preoccupied by me. They do not compare but take the Hyenah for the Hyenah and nothing else.
Another reason is that I think 95% of all DJ/producer bios are very similar and not always inspiring. So I decided that no story or leaving things unrevealed is probably the better story, especially in times when everything is available, all of the time from anywhere in the world. When one can get all the information about basically anything in a few clicks, not providing information becomes a strong statement and is probably telling more about me than my bio would.
Lastly, I enjoy the Hyenah in its purest and most raw, anonymous form:
Wild and full of imagination. It can go anywhere.
Will we ever know your true identity like when Kane revealed his face in 2003 on WWE?
Hyenah: I have not made up my mind about that yet. Actually I didn’t even think about it. I guess sooner or later people might find out – since I am not as famous as say Daft Punk. For now there is no date scheduled to reveal who I am though. Besides that, I think some of the magic around the creature and music I created will be gone forever after I reveal my identity, which would be very sad. You know, the unknown in general is always more exciting than the known. Four out of your six questions circle around the unknown, did you realize that?
I try to give each and every single sound enough space to breath. One could call that minimalistic. So I try to not bury my arrangements with unnecessary things.”
Haha! True! Now, a large number of us in South Africa first heard “The Wish” when Black Coffee started dropping it in his sets. What’s the relationship between yourself and the South African DJ?
Hyenah: To be honest there was not much of a relationship before we met. I actually didn’t even know when and where Nathi picked up “The Wish”. I found out that he was playing “The Wish” a lot from friends, the recordings on the net, videos and playlists people sent me. Then by him mentioning “The Wish” as ‘the most unfairly slept-on track’ this year in his feature in English newspaper, The Guardian.
I personally met him the first time in Berlin at the artist dinner before our gig at Watergate. He played an amazing set later on that night then I played afterwards. Seriously, I am very impressed by him. What an amazingly nice guy! I mean, he is as big as Michael Jackson and still finds time to chat to people like me on Twitter and exchange secret weapons with me. I mean there are about 750k followers and he still responds to every message. I guess his musical talent does not need to be disputed here.
Also, did you actually know that it was not Black Coffee but Culoe De Song who got a pre-version of “The Wish” first? It was actually quite a while before it got signed and released on Freerange. I heard he played “The Wish” later on too. I am quite curious though, if he actually did listen to the demo. Culoe, please let me know if you ever checked the USB stick I gave you.[Laughs]
We’ll pass on your question to Culoe. With your identity being a secret, how does the production process work when it comes to you collaborating with other artists?
Hyenah: Obviously there are a few people involved that know about my identity. My closest circle in the industry knows and some old friends too. I just try to keep that circle as close as possible. Besides that there is still email and Facebook. I don’t really need to show my face much thanks to the computer and internet.
I enjoy my anonymity and the rumors too. So if you ever find out about my identity, please do me a favour and don’t spread it and harm my endangered species.
There’s a minimalist approach to your production that’s not common these days. Why did you decide to take your music in that direction?
Hyenah: Hmmm. To me it still feels almost too maximalist and I still try to leave out more – which is a constant battle against the Hyenah´s very own impulses. I guess it is a question of what you compare my music with. I decided on that direction because it includes exactly what I feel and what I love about dance music. It is the missing piece that is bridging the gap between the South African groove, deepness and soul, the European or American minimalism, amazing sound engineering and affectivity on a steady pulse. I try to innovate on the lesser walked paths right in between though. Both sides of that path tend to lose my attention when they are executed in their purest form, when they are too streamlined for me. So I try to merge the best of both sides for my Hyenah style.
You are right though. I try to give each and every single sound enough space to breath. One could call that minimalistic. So I try to not bury my arrangements with unnecessary things.
Lastly, when we get to a gig with Hyenah on the line-up and look to the booth during your set, what will we see behind the decks?
Hyenah: Do you really think I will tell you? Would that fit with the Hyenah as you know and imagine it?