HEX Interview: “We’re like a creepy little high-school clique.”

hex

HEX’s Calling to the Universe EP is out now.

Describing themselves as “brutally feminist”, HEX combine heavy riffing proto-metal with dark folk melodies in songs that summon the power of feminine energy.

I managed to catch up with Kiki from the Wellington trio before their The Others Way Festival appearance.

Overblown: At Overblown, we love our underground feminist punk bands, but who are the feminist punk bands making a noise in your eyes today?

Kiki: Some of my current favs include: Trash Kit, Divide and Dissolve, Unsanitary Napkin, Ayn Randy, Fantails, and Two Steps On The Water who are my current obsession.

Overblown: You have previously mentioned that being in a three-piece band is somewhat ‘magical’. Can you tell us what you mean by that and was it always the intention to be a trio? Was there a catalyst behind the band and how did the band line-up fall into place?

Kiki: I think it’s communication between three people that can be really magical. For us now as three, we seem more impervious to unhealthy dynamics, like most of the time at least one of us can make things out relatively objectively maybe! We’re all total suckers for honesty, and we all really love and care for each other, and we’re all obsessed with playing music together, we’re like a creepy little high-school clique.

Overblown: Having first appeared in 2013 with the single release ‘Witches of the Hex’, then re-emerging after a hiatus, have you noticed a change in the New Zealand music scene? Or was it like you were never away?

Kiki: There were lots of great new bands when we started back, and a way bigger effort to foster diverse gender representation in the scene. Since then a lot of conversations have been publicly sparked about lack of representation in music communities – particularly about the dominant whiteness and maleness of some scenes. Of course these conversations have always been happening in marginalised communities but now they’ve been picked up a lot more widely.

Overblown: Coming back into the scene after your short procreating break, do you feel that venues/bookers have improved venues to be a safer space for women? In your opinion, what could be done to further improve this?

Kiki: It seems like it’s now more common for bands and bookers and venues to be held accountable for making spaces accessible and safe, and not just for women. People will ask – why are there no women or gender diverse people on your bill, why are there no people of colour on your bill, are your events physically accessible? This change is really being driven from the grassroots, and it’s fucking hard work to sustain! So while it’s all a step in the right directions, we’ve still got reeeaaaaaal far to go and I would love to see more of the cis white men in music communities doing the hard work of pushing forwards on inclusiveness and accessibility for all people!

Overblown: You are just back from the Page of Pentacles Tour Australia tour. How did everything go?

Kiki: It was so great! We got to play with some of our best Aussie bands and just be fangrrls, and we got to eat so much great food, and we even went running around the lake in Reso and even did some celebrity spotting! Basically, it was a goddam delight and we cannot wait to do it again!

Overblown: This year you opened for Dinosaur Jr in Auckland – firstly, how was that and what was it like playing with a band you are clearly heavily influenced by?

Photo by Tom Anderson.

Kiki: Fucking terrifying! Because Dinosaur Jr. are so central to our musical education. SO CENTRAL! Like I can’t even express how much we love them! The gig itself had a very classic rock sort of crowd who stood very still during the show, lots of crossed arms and slightly leaning back stances y’know! But it ended up being so fucking fun! We got to meet Dino Jr. and have a brief chat with them, and then we snuck into their green room when they were playing to do some research about what they had in their rider (cassava chips, fruit) and then GG got snapped trying on J’s hat and glasses and she looked outrageously adorable!

Overblown: Last month you released ‘Runes / Ruins’, can you tell us a little bit about the play on words in the title?

Kiki: The song is about failed love (or is it?!) and about how even if we could predict outcomes of relationships, we’d probably still do them anyway eh? I mean, sometimes you just want to be with someone so you’ll forgo your better judgement just for the chance that it might work out. Runes and ruins are both sort of irrelevant to love and relationships, I mean if you were to obsess over the possible bad outcomes you’d never be with anyone!

Overblown: Is it true you helmed the video as producer and director for the Runes / Ruins video? What were you trying to convey in the video and more importantly, who cleaned up all that cake?

Kiki: Yes it is true because I’m a masochist! I was just trying to capture the general psychic chaos that goes with a relationship unravelling. The five characters represent different types of emotional states you might go through – from trying to hold it together and appear fine, to just being a fucking mess. The ott cakes and makeup were physical manifestations of the emotional turmoil that you’re trying really hard to reign in – just layers and layers of effort to make it seem like everything is all okay – when to anyone watching it’s clearly a shambles. The shoot day was hilarious, and very messy, and we all ended up on our hands and knees scraping cake out of wooden floorboards.

Overblown: I recently saw a photo of you playing a gig with your child on your back (with earmuffs). It’s a fantastic image and received some lovely comments on Facebook. Has having babies altered the way you go about making music and are babies now a common feature to a live Hex set?

Kiki: We did that quite a bit when our kids were younger and it was usually because we couldn’t find a babysitter. They are too big to carry now, and luckily babysitters seem easier to come by! Having kids by default changes how you do things. I think it’s made us more productive and focussed with the time we do have writing or playing music. They are definitely a huge motivation – I really want them to be proud of the work me and GG are doing. Or embarrassed but secretly proud.

Overblown: Being new to NZ, I have arrived in the midst of a seemingly close election. Kiki’s article is an outstanding, real and very poignant piece on growing up in New Zealand. With a change in leadership less than two months before the election, what are your thoughts on where NZ politics currently sits? Is there an individual (like Corbyn in the UK) that many musicians tip their hat to and will there be a similar #Grime4Corbyn hashtag floating about New Zealand soon?

Kiki: A lot of us really love Metiria Turei, and how she was treated by the general public was fucking awful. A lot of the Green Party candidates are so smart, and have such brilliant imaginative ideas for how Aotearoa could look. Basically I’m backing them. Overall politics is a dog’s breakfast based on fear. So much electioneering preys on peoples’ fears of not having enough – money, assets, job security, status etc. It’s like a really abusive relationship! The New Zealand government really needs to be more representative and should reflect the partnership set out between Māori and the crown in Te Tiriti o Waitangi, which it doesn’t at all. There are some rad politicians like Marama Davidson, Kiri Allen, Chlöe Swarbrick and Mojo Mathers who I really admire, and who I wanna see leading the country. Basically a matriarchy!

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