Interview: Haezer #MieliepopFestival

Mieliepop Festival is just around the corner! We chatted to Ebenhaezer Smal, aka Haezer, about new releases, his festival involvement and his nightclub. 

Buy your Mieliepop tickets here.

Mieliepop! What’s your experience of the festival been in past years?

I love Mieliepop because of the relaxed atmosphere around the festival and beautiful location. I played the Rave Cave last year and it was dope. It draws a very diverse crowd and what I noticed last year was that the audience was very open to any kind of music.

You’re at Mieliepop both as promoter and DJ. How does it change your whole experience?

The Mieliepop organisers are so easy to work with and awesome people, so hosting a stage there was a very smooth pre-production process. Both me and Dominique Gawlowski, partner in Fiction, will be there and she is there more in a promoter capacity. I will obviously help out where needed, but I will focus on my DJ performances.

As Haezer, what’s good about playing at a festival versus a club night?

Because the production tends to be bigger and better at a festival, I have more freedom with big build ups and also have the space to perform and interact with the crowd more.

How does your experience as a club owner translate to the festival space?

Spending many hours watching people on the dance floor in your own club, you start observing and learning what helps get the crowd ‘in the zone’ and how to facilitate that unique connection between the crowd and the music. Good sound is always number one, but effective lighting and decor definitely makes a huge contribution. and of course the DJ.

What’s the Fiction Nights/Embassy concept?

Fiction Nights is our Saturday night party at Fiction run by myself, Dominique Gawlowski and George Daniel (night manager and booker at Fiction). Fiction Nights focuses on booking new and established acts of high caliber over all genres. The only motto we have is ‘Real, good music’.

Embassy is my new alias under which I produce electronic dance music that didn’t fit the HAEZER brand. My Embassy sets are mostly Techno, but I don’t want to pigeonhole myself. Embassy is an outlet for any creative ideas I have that’s not as full on as HAEZER. I draw a lot of influence from French, German and Brazilian Techno, so it’s quite a diverse project. I’ve released an two track EP on Mahtrasher in Germany with remixes by Ackermann, Haze and Metacentric. I have also remixed German artist Edgework and did a free release named ‘Pina’. All my songs are named after woman. Coming up is a single named ‘Dominique’ and a collaboration with Metacentric named ‘Desiree’ that’s also getting remix treatment from local producer Mogey.

How has Fiction changed as a club/platform since you took the helm?

We’ve renovated the entire downstairs with a new inside bar, outside bar, new dance floor lights installation, re-calibrated sound system, new equipment and opened another bar upstairs named ‘One Up’. We’ve changed the event model completely being 100% involved with the booking process and marketing. We have a whole new management and social media team. We’ve also started booking DJs from 5pm upstairs with more downbeat, electronica vibes till 9pm.

What’s your vision for the venue?

We just want to keep adding to both downstairs and upstairs and keep it diverse and always book relevant acts. For now we’re focused on getting upstairs going as a day bar from 5pm-9pm.

Biggest difficulty as a promoter?

Giving your patrons what they want without booking the same line up as everyone else. Also marketing your event without spamming is quite the challenge.

What’s Nelspruit like as a party destination?

Honestly, I only know from when i played the last Mieliepop.

What’s Haezer got going for us over the next few months?

I just released a new single with another producer named ‘Holly’. Next up is a new party I’ve started with Hyphen and George Daniel named ‘Heads Will Roll’. Our first one is Friday the 24th of February. I’m also working on a remix for Counterstrike and have a collab in the works with Chee.

Image by Andre Roux.

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