They’re one of the most exciting pop acts in South Africa at the moment and their new single ‘Wild Heart’ is fast-becoming the song of the summer. Now, after the success of the single, the December Streets have released an exciting new five-track EP of the same name. So, we chat to the band’s Tristan Coetzee about the new material, being authentic and they share some advice for up-and-coming musos.
Congrats on the new EP. How is this collection of tracks different to what you’ve released in the past?
I believe the main themes you will hear on the ‘Wild Heart’ EP were drawn from different times, new memories and emotions – shaping it into something quite different from our past music. Love has progressed from a reckless emotion to a lived and experienced time (for better or worse), adventures have grown as we have in our own characters, suggesting a nostalgic approach. The music has also moved into an interesting space combining electronic production with our classic guitar, melody driven sound. This collection is special to me as it captures our evolution from a band messing around to finding ourselves on a more solid musical grounding.
‘Wild Heart’ has been a massive hit for you guys. What inspired the track?
We are overwhelmed with the response the track is getting! Most of us have felt a little less loved by another in a relationship at one point or another which makes the song relatable. This track talks about and is inspired by this nature of relationship that tears you apart. Because, as much as you love your significant other, you just can’t seem to land on the same page.
What was it like working with Thieve on the track?
Working with Thieve was a young dream actualized. They were massive influences on us growing up and continue to be, so when I hit Andrew up and he was keen, I was over the moon! It flew out of us like golden thread in studio, weaving musical magic instantly.
You named your new EP after this track. What makes it the perfect title for this project?
I really like the illusive nature of the term ‘Wild Heart’. It embodies a hunger for adventure and excitement with a certain curiosity and unpredictability that I believe has been the nature of December Streets over the past five years.
What do you think are the fundamental aspects needed for a successful pop track?
Crucial to me is the energy and vibe the track gives off when listening to it – before you even hear the lyrics. Then supplemented further once you catch onto the lyrics.
Every time you hear a great pop track, 9 out of 10 times you’ll be shouting the chorus in your mind for the next week, meaning the melody hook is fundamental. If you deconstruct a pop song you will hear they all have similar characteristics and are often variations of each other. The skill presents itself in the art of fine-tuning and arranging these variations in a unique enough manner to make the song its own piece, but similar enough to stir a familiar emotion in the listener.
Your live show is impressive. How do you prepare for a live show?
It’s quite a process, I won’t lie! When recording music, we work in a digital space as we produce the sounds and arrangements. So, the challenge lies in deconstructing the digitally created sounds and re-creating them live on analogue instruments (An adventure and mountain of its own). We spend months in rehearsal after recording a collection of tracks, practicing until we’re happy to take it to the stage.
If you could give readers one piece of advice when it comes to the music industry, what would it be?
My honest advice is to overcome barriers of approaching people of any callable or status. 80% of the time the person is eager to have a chat, share knowledge and sometimes connect you with the right people to grow. So, network and mingle your face off at every opportunity. I would also recommend working on your track until you feel you can do no more without it becoming destructive. At that point, research and get in touch with a proper producer (not to be confused with a mixing engineer) or another songwriter and bring them on board to help refine your work. Don’t be precious with your ideas and material. Collective creativity often adds the magic spark your project needs. Essentially, get good at collaborating, supplementing your weakness with another strengths, and visa versa.
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