It’s always refreshing when there’s an injection of fresh/talented [electronic] musical quality introduced into the local music space…organically. Harmonix, comprising of Neil Gain and Lance Kieswetter is/are an example of this
Give us a better understanding of who you are [as individuals] and how you came about to be Harmonix?
- Neil: I’ve been in the industry for over 20 years, and I’m still enjoying what I do, in the last 8 years my main attention was drawn more towards the music production side of things, and so I decided to compose. I often DJ at private and club gigs in and around the city for pure passion and my little bit of freedom. Lance and I met at We House Sundays on the 1st April 2018, where I gave him some insight into what I’m doing and we started hitting it off like old friends, we spoke about music and the possibility of doing a live set for DJAM episode 1. Since then we have been hanging out and writing music, we have played 3 shows together, and each experience has been different. Lance has a background in Psychology, Education and Music Therapy and has training as a classical musician. We have been friends for 5 months and we have a great synergy and plan to do quite many music projects under the Harmonix name.
- Lance: I would definitely say that our connection has formed organically and Neil and I have become close friends since we first met. I was initially approached by our manager to perform as an artist at the DJAM episode 1 event which led me to eventually being paired up with Neil. Our creative process is authentically organic because we are always aiming to produce music that will be performed live with featured artists. We write our music with this intention in mind and also write our music jointly with the artists that we choose to collaborate with. So from inception to performance it’s a completely organic process where we then sit in studio and refine on the aspects of our music that will be released.
What were the initial goals set for this project and has anything changed since you’ve seen the extremely positive responses from the crowds you’ve played for? Possibly an EP or Album release? Countrywide tour?
- Neil: The vision I have had for myself was always to partner with someone of Lance’s musical experience, and join me as a live act while I deejay. I’m grateful that we have connected as we are now writing and releasing some music together. Our live sets are forever changing as we feature other artists and perform live over tracks. We keep it fresh and exciting and the listeners enjoy this interaction.
- Lance: We try to create sets that will get the audience stimulated on a physical, emotional, mental and ultimately spiritual level. My experience as a music therapist helps me in this regard because I am constantly scanning the audience to pick up and read the behavioural cues that the audience gives me. The audience often contributes to some of the motifs and themes that I play when I am improvising. So the entire performance becomes an organic interaction between the performers on stage and the people on the dancefloor. As a music therapist my objective is always to create a healing experience for people and one of the core skills I use in this regard is my ability to improvise spontaneously in the moment. We are going to release two new tracks soon. One is a remix for Deep Society Music and then one of our favourite tracks which we have eventually decided to call ‘Amsterdam Soul Jam’ will be released as an EP with Nomadiq Music Records with remixes by Dix and Da Brownie. I would love to do a country wide tour next year some time and we will be discussing this with our manager in the next few months.
The music world has lost a few extremely iconic individuals this year like Aretha Franklin, ProKid, Ben Sharpa…all three having left an indelible mark on many-a listener. As Harmonix [or individuals], what would you like to be remembered for?
- Neil: Wow, I just want to be remembered for being humble and kind, and always willing to help my peers move forward in whatever they trying to achieve. “Supporting another’s success won’t ever dampen yours”.
- Lance: Neil and I are very similar in this respect as we both appreciate that when we are sharing our music with the world we do this with a great sense of humility but also pride. We want to create art which will leave people feeling uplifted and inspired to express themselves musically and personally. I would like to be remembered for giving my absolute best on stage and for creating music that comes from the heart. Music is a universal language and my wish is for our music to transcend all barriers created by language, race, gender and ethnicity.
How do you feel about the way music is going now with so many now trying their hand at either DJing or Production or both…and what do you think is required to set yourself apart from the chasing pack?
- Neil: I feel that it is necessary for the industry to turn out new talent in order for it to flourish and keep it exciting. Today we have all the resources and technology to make mixed tapes, write music, as well as platforms to share your music, etc. standing out takes high levels of dedication, determination and hard work.
- Lance: I share this sentiment about hard work. I come from a family that believes in a hard work ethic and in order to stand out and have that X-factor it is necessary to dedicate yourself wholeheartedly to your art. I believe that setting high standards is crucial to differentiating yourself. This is something that has been reinforced to me over the last few months working with guys like my brother, Matheu Kieswetter, Floyd Lavine, DWSON, Dix, Dodge, Clint October, Brandon Cupido and of course Neil himself.
The 2nd edition of DJAM series is your next performance, you of course are residents for this event. What will be the focus for this performance and will there be a different approach in preparation than there was for the 1st edition?
- Neil: This time Lance will be on Keys and myself on Maschine and Traktor. We are taking a different approach this time as the last 3 gigs we had other musicians performing alongside us, this time we will only have Lance’s brother, Matheu, performing with us as a vocalist, violinst and trumpetist.
- Lance: What Neil said haha!
The local scene seems saturated with events/festivals and this affects attendance and also waters-down the Artform of DJing and Live Acts. How do you think this can be changed?
- Neil: This is great for us hopefully we can get a few bookings. I’ve been to CTEMF last, I don’t attend that much music festivals so I can’t comment.
- Lance: I attend as many festivals as possible, as I continue learning and studying the work from different musical idioms. I have attended local festivals including arts festivals, electronic music festivals and psytrance festivals. It can be changed with a more direct focus on particular genres and people should master one particular musical idiom before they explore the possibilities within another format. I believe it is a matter of producing quality over quantity so we can raise the bar of the music scene in South Africa and continue to be respected by the international community.
Thank you gentleman for taking the time to engage.
Catch Harmonix and an array of other talented artists at the 2nd episode of DJAM on 08 September 2018 at Inner City in Cape Town, CBD.