Jimpster talks to Hyenah

With the release of Hyenah latest EP Tale From The Dirt out now on Traxsource via respected deep house label Freerange, Jimpster caught up with him to chat about his influences, DJing, the scene and more in this interview.

“Tale From The Dirt” available now on Traxsource.

The Interview

1) Hello Hyenah, lets start by clearing up the one thing everyone is curious to know. Who the hell are you?

Hello Jimpster, it is such a pleasure to talk to you again! 
I know that you know who I am. But for good reason I don’t tell anyone. Why? Because it just does not matter. DJ and producer press kits these days are all more or less all the same. So why repeat them again and again? Just so people can copy them into their blogs? I prefer people to listen to and write about MY MUSIC instead of my background and my namedropping. That is what’s important to me. And that is why I rather blank out my personal details. For me it opens up a huge creative space and freedom to do whatever I want without having to worry too much. Plus, it adds an extra opportunity to create something with even more magic.

2) How would you describe your sound?

I don’t think this is going the right way old friend! You are a way better producer than a journalist! I really don’t want to describe my sound, but you know there is a definite attraction to Techno, African influences and of course Deep House. It is way quicker and even more fun to check it out and listen to it – especially on a proper sound system.  Let’s see what gem you come up with next…..

3) Who or what are your biggest influences?

An evergreen. I like it! Looking back at a long, long time of listening and producing music of different kinds, I must say there are so many of them. The major one is more of a challenge than an influence. Obviously, I love the rougher more energetic and instrumental side of the South African house scene and that is clearly a major influence. Sometimes it can turn into a stereotype though. So for me, the major influence is the challenge to give it a new twist, a new angle and a new edge. Right now a few people in Europe are digging up Africa’s musical raw diamonds and cutting them their own way. For example, the KeineMusik guys (in Germany) do that in a great and unique way. I see myself somewhere in between. Soundwise, I always loved and always will love the American godfathers of house and techno at the same time, artists; Carl Craig, Dennis Ferrer, Cajmere, Theo Parrish, Moodymann, Masters At Work etc. – there are also some magic Frenchies that were and are still, deep in the groove. I know you love them too. There is just so much good original music.

4) Where now for deep house since it got hijacked?

Do you mean, what’s the next step for deep house after being turned into cheesy hit ripoffs with phat engineerings?
 Well I would say some smaller, catchier and cheesier parts of deep house got hijacked for the masses and got turned into a proper product for the masses. They are totally free to enjoy it until the next big thing comes along. You can not hijack real deep house though. It will always be there and it will always find new ways to reinvent itself. It can’t be destroyed by the music some also mistakenly call deep house.  If you listen to either kind of deep house without waiting for the big hook and the hit moment then you will always feel the good stuff. It just takes a bit more time. …and love for the music.

5) Do you have a preference for either holing up in the studio or being out gigging around the world?

It is two totally different things. Both are thrilling and both can also be painful. It is great fun to produce something you know you will play out later on. But when it comes to an either / or decision I would go for traveling, seeing the world and blessing people with what they love. Seriously, is there anything better than making people happy with what you love anyways?

6) What is your approach when starting a new track?  Any particular element you always focus on first?

I always focus on the idea I have about it and try to make it work one way or another. This idea can come from any angle.

7) Do you play any musical instruments or are you coming more from a production or DJing background?

I started out with banjo lessons in hyenah kindergarten. Later on my paws improved their skills on the harp. As a fully grown rapture I started focusing on the cross flute. Why? It made my mouth look super sexy.

8) How would you describe and rate the music scene of the city you are currently living in and how important is it for your own work?

Aaaaw you sneaky little trick! You almost got me here…

9) You have a very distinct African influence in your production. Some would argue that in making house and techno you have to stick to a very rigid structure… do you ever find the 4/4 pattern restrictive?

That is true. There are lots of african influences. To me the 4/4 foundation is not restricting at all. It gives a track a solid backbone. It is more about how to use the space in between. There are way more options than putting a clap or snare on the 2 and the 4 and an off-beat hihat in between. That is what I perceive as restrictive. I am totally enjoying using the open space in between and letting the drum become part of the melody – sometimes even making them actual melody. And suddenly it´s a deep sub bass being the hook. For me these are just musical elements that can and should be used in any way. At a certain point you feel the groove, or you don’t feel it. The German clap and sing along refrains are definitely not my main goals.

10) Music-sharing sites and -blogs, not to mention the weekly flood of releases in general are presenting both listeners and artists with challenging questions. What’s your view on the value of music today?

Producing music these days is easier than ever. But, making your own mark and creating something unique is harder than ever.  Sometimes it seems like being successful is more important to some than to create something interesting and unique. Everything is so quick these days and it is so easy to make a very effective dance floor hit. So when I started making music, my number one rule was: do not try to make a hit. Do something cool. Do something you feel and do something you really want to stand for. I try to stick to this. I would rather fail and never become rich and famous than produce and play stuff I can not stand for. I guess it takes patience. I am very sure that it is the better way for me though. Obviously those channels help me a lot to be heard and help the followers to find me.

11) What are you currently working and focusing on? What’s on your agenda for the near future?

Right now I am working on new Hyenah material. One track is featuring South Africa’s own Lazurusman. I have not spent too many thoughts on where to release it yet. It needs to be finished first. I am also working on a remix for Frankey & Sandrino’s track ‘Starchild’ for their release on the Swiss label Drumpoet Community. A great label, I must say. It´s a bit more on the classic deep house side though. I am happy to see them with such an open mind towards my kind of thing and still staying true to themselves.   Actually, that is what I love about your label too, dear jimpster: you have been doing a really good job lately and for the last 17 years. i am happy to be part of your Freerange crew! Thank you so much for believing in me and supporting my greedy, furry, smelly and ugly project.  And finally, you can catch me playing at House22 in Pretoria on 16th January and Arena in Berlin on 30th January.

Hyenah artist page & releases on Traxsource.