George van Dyk
After watching Haezer stylistically switch to a bass house-driven set with banging, rolling basslines that teared Wilgenhof’s quad apart, we sat down to chat with him.
Haezer, otherwise known as Ebenhaezer Smal is arguably one of South Africa’s most successful dance/electronic music exports to date.
He grew up in Durbanville and attended DF Malan High Scool “with the Fokof(polisiekar) dudes” in what he described as a rock-driven environment, an environment which undoubtedly influenced his creative processes and resultant music.
“When I’m doing something really boring like admin, I get ideas in my head and I go and try it out,” he explained when asked about his creative process.He also mentioned that the effects and melodies in movies prime him into gear, as well as Nigerian funk and jazz from the 70’s.
“Something will just catch my attention and then I’ll maybe sample it, it’s always very random moments when I get my inspiration,” he added.
Haezer attributes his breakthrough as an artist to “the right people with the right vibe at the right time”.
“I literally Facebook messaged Steve Aoki asking if I could release on Dim Mak Records, and he said yes,” he told. The distinct sound tied to his music also played a significant role in his success as both producer and DJ.
“Not a lot of people were doing what I was doing, so it caught the attention of labels and promoters,” he added. On the topic of labels and promoters, Haezer went on to explain how these two entities impacted his creative process.
“The longer I went on the more I got sculpted by labels, fans and promoters to move in certain directions and it loses its flavour,” he continued.
This, in conjunction with the nature of afterparties in Germany, is arguably what led to the creation of Embassy, which could be described as the techno side of Haezer.
“With Haezer I always went to afterparties, and with afterparties in Germany the nature is just techno, they have a fondness for it,” he explained.
“I just decided to do it as Embassy and the feedback I got was pretty dope, so I just ran with it.”
Haezer postulated an interesting 180 degree turn in the current state of the South African electronic and dance music scene where people prefer going to festivals as opposed to clubs.
“Everything works in cycles, and I believe it always gets oversaturated, like the club life was very oversaturated in 2013, and now people are enjoying festivals and then eventually they’ll go back to clubs,” he explained.
“In my opinion, it’s an odd time for dance music,” he said.