HAEZER is a South African electronic producer whose wild, high-energy beats are, in his words, influenced by the ‘darker side’ of punk and alternative rock he listened to during his youth.
A former commercial film editor based in Cape Town, HAEZER has since made a name for himself in the South African and international EDM scenes through his relentless passion, work ethic and making countless appearances at gigs and festivals. HAEZER has been associated with Steve Aoki’s Dim Mak records, and has collaborated with industry heavyweights like Bob Rifo of The Bloody Beetroots and Black Tiger Sex Machine.
We caught up with HAEZER, who talked us through his transformation from editor to EDM icon, life on tour and his magnificent home base of Cape Town, South Africa.
What’s your story, Eben? How’d you get your start in music?
I’ve always played around with electronic music since I was a kid, but it was only in 2009 that blogs and promoters started showing interest in me. I grew up on punk rock and was later introduced to drum n bass. I loved the intensity of drum n bass and thought to myself, I wonder what it would sound like to combine punk with dance music and that’s how HAEZER started.
I had a day job as a film editor when the gigs started coming in from Australia and Europe, I found myself at a crossroads. Will I take on HAEZER full time or keep my day job… I‘m pretty happy with my decision!
How would you describe your sound?
I’m not big on pigeonholing myself, so when people ask I just say bass music. Bass and rhythm is the foundation of my sound.
From “WTFIH”, to your EP in 2012, to “MIND OFF”, what has the journey been like for you, both personally and creatively?
It’s been a helluva joyride. Before I started HAEZER, I never traveled. I grew up in quite a conservative suburb named Durbanville in Cape Town. I wasn’t really exposed to different cultures and was living in a little bubble. Now I’ve seen most of Europe, Thailand, Australia, a bit of Canada and most recently US. I have made such awesome friends and met inspiring people.
Creatively I’ve grown a lot and getting better and better in production has allowed me to more accurately put my ideas into music. Having the confidence to believe in what you’re making (while you’re making it) is very important and influences your writing process and outcome dramatically. Right now I’m just writing music for the sake of writing it.
I’m putting together an album and it’s been so cathartic just jamming for hours again, not really thinking about what genre it should be.
What was it like collaborating with Bob Rifo (of The Bloody Beetroots)?
Mr Rifo is a gentleman. He was super positive and easy to work with. I think we were in the exact same headspace when we started chatting about a collab together. He was just starting his SBCR project and also wanted to get away from the overplayed brain numbing dance sound and get back to making ‘art’.
Your fanbase and following puts you in high demand across the world. What are some particularly memorable cities and festivals you’ve toured?
I’ve played so many amazing cities and festivals and they all great in their own ways. But consistently I’d say my favorite cities to DJ are Pretoria, Lucerne, Kufstein, Paris, Munich, Vienna and Cape Town. Festivals I’d say Grietfest in South Africa and Southside in Germany.
What are you working on at the moment?
I am working on a crossover genre album. It’s super exciting to finally be doing a body of work that can be listened to as a whole, as a journey. I’m focusing more on writing ‘songs’ as [opposed] to bangers and will do a remix album after it’s complete to make it even more dance floor-friendly.
What has HAEZER got planned for the rest of the year?
Right now I’m just focusing on production. Getting up at 7am to walk the dogs and after heading straight back into studio till about 1am the next morning. In between I’m also running my own club here in Cape Town named Fiction and that also keeps me busy.
Tell us a bit about your home – Cape Town, South Africa.
I’m always happy to be back in my hometown after my tours. Seeing the most beautiful cities in Europe on my travels, I still feel most home in Cape Town.
Wikipedia will tell you there’s 4.5 million people, but in reality there’s no more than a million people living in the CBD. The rest is outside of the city. We never have intense traffic, we don’t have winter like in Europe or the States. We don’t have snow and at Christmas time it’s super hot here, supposed to the snowy Christmas you always see in movies.
The city is vibrant and bursting with entrepreneurs, great food, awesome bars and beautiful beaches. And of course the majestic Table Mountain looking over all this!
What can you personally recommend folks who lucky enough to find themselves in your incredible city?
Definitely go up Table Mountain and if you have more than a week here, try to do at least two different hikes in the nature reserves around Cape Town. We have unbelievably beautiful hikes and the great thing about Cape Town is that everything is close.
For food and drink, I recommend the wine route up to Stellenbosch and Franschoek. We are known for our excellent wine and our wine farms offer 5-star food to accompany your wine without breaking your wallet. Check out Timbuktu for the best Ethiopian food of your life coupled with atmosphere; the owner was raised in a forest and is a real Dr Greenthumb, so the plants are amazing.
For partying, pop into Fiction – I might be there keeping an eye on things! Check out ERA, Honest Chocolate Gin Bar (it’s a gin bar located inside a chocolate making shop). Also, keep your eye out for our abundant boutique music festivals. We have many outdoor festivals during summer and all of them are worth checking out, because they are always thrown in the most beautiful locations. Wolfkop Weekender in particular is a good one.
Follow HAEZER on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and SoundCloud.
More info on HAEZER’s club, Fiction, can be found on its Facebook page.
A special thanks to the incredible Dominique Gawlowski for teeing up this interview.