Hyenah secretly sneaked on to the scene in 2014 and quickly acquired an worldwide fan base, spreading its calling across several continents.
Its first track ever “the wish” was already claimed to be the “most unfairly slept over track of the year” by a certain Black Coffee and a sure shot in all his sets. (http://www.theguardian.com/music/2015/jan/31/black-coffee-favourite-tracks) Preferring to keep its his identity hidden and let the music do the talking, Hyenah has thus far delivered two cutting edge, raw and African inspired Ep’s for Freerange Records. Like both original releases Hyenah’s remix for Frankey & Sandrino on Drumpoet Community frequently made it into the sets of many big DJs like Ame, Dixon, Mano le Tough, Culoe de Song or Jimpster – to just mention a few. Hyenahs third EP, forthcoming on Dennis Ferrer’s Objektivity label, has just been featured in Black Coffee’s BBC 1 Essential mix and is proving his continuing support for this strange creature. In 2016 Hyenah is starting a bimonthly residency at Wategate’s Rise night in Berlin. It already djed in several high profile clubs in Europe, Africa and Asia (e.g. House 22 in Pretoria, Watergate in Berlin, Djoon in Paris, Pacha in Barcelona at the Sonar Festival, Faust in Seoul or Musicbox in Lisbon).
What inspires you?
Africa is the root of everything that defines my music. But, as the most influential aspect, it is the groove which has always made house music interesting — which kept things moving, which pushed the vibe simply by being a pure and naked rhythm. Working to that momentum and then pushing it forward and beyond on every level is the goal. If the groove is mighty enough and grabs me, the music can go anywhere. So, I guess it is the groove that inspires me the most. It can be anything else, too though: art, street life, fashion, history, even TV or literature. Inspiration is anywhere.
What does “deep” mean to you?
It´s that space beyond the music, the other sector behind where it´s happening — where the non-audible can still be felt in your most inner organs, but can´t be ” produced” by using certain gear. “Deep” means purity without effects or extra drum rolls. It does not need loud noise to disguise where maybe something is missing. It catalyzes the groove until it turns into a feeling of inner warmth and until some mystical change happens to your physics and grabs you without any prior notice. Deep is about the soul of music, not the packaging.
Where is dance music going?
Dance music has become very versatile these days, living through a multitude of scenes and being channeled into a multitude of places, where everyone finds its niche and following even in places you would have never guessed. It´s exciting to see that, while in earlier days dance music was something just a few chosen ones could participate in, it now has become a common good and the following turned into a worldwide movement that has separated itself from one global status quo or Zeitgeist and keeps reinventing itself on a much higher rate. It almost seems as if different scenes more and more blend into each other, and that the most defining new influences often come from protagonists who didn’t really play a big role in dance music before, but therefore had the strength to establish their own ideas of it. When things are joining forces and overlap, this is when dance music shows it real strength and what defines it the most nowadays. I guess these ingredients aren’t new, just the combinations are innovative — that is where the magic happens.
Most underrated piece of equipment / software?
It’s that one particular piece of gear or that certain plugin that you don´t have to use anymore, because you are already there with your composition. Besides that, it’s like most things in life: The good things cost money, but the free stuff many times sounds like it too. The UAD Satellite is a real nice piece of equipment, though.
What do you want the world to know about Hyenah?
The Hyenah is a wild creature. It is unpredictable. It is living in the same biological niche as the lion but it is a bit more underdog, dirtier and not as appreciated. It is the disrespected step-child which can easily keep up with its rival but is perceived as more raw and unpredictable, sometimes even evil. Some admire it, and some fear it. Some laugh about it, and some respect it. The hyenah is a team player — quite fast in adjusting itself. The hyenah is not the pretty face, but the raw energy. You gotta feel the hyenah to understand it. You gotta allow yourself a deeper look to see and feel the beauty of it. The hyenah is beautiful.
You always DJ with a mask in order to not reveal your identity. What is the purpose behind it?
Thank you for asking. I don’t think my identity matters nor is it really important. And I don’t care if my audience is black, white, yellow or purple, gay or straight. I just want them to come together and lose themselves, express themselves. So I don’t want the crowd to judge me by those standards either. I actually don’t think that I am important or relevant. My current mask actually represents a mirror and an X behind it. So on one hand I want to cross out my visible identity and I want to reflect the audience back to themselves. Because in the end it is them not me that make a gig special. It is the audience creating the magic, I am just playing with it, reflecting moods and the momentum.
What alongside music do you spend your time with?
I prefer to not reveal too much about me personally. I do consider myself as a very interested and open minded person, always being curious about the world in its full entity, trying to understand things from different perspectives.
In all fields: music, arts, politics, science, culture, people – in things that are happening around me. And I like stupid jokes.
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.
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.