Interview: Catching Up With Hoeksema + Stream “Palais”

How does the individual deal with loss? How do they restore cohesion to an identity that has been stripped of a vital component? How do they pick up the pieces of a fractured life and attempt to put things back together?

Life After, the debut EP from Hoeksema deals with all of these questions and more spread across sprawling, rippling, dark and mysterious soundscapes. Recently, the artist revealed the short player’s first single, “Palais.”

To go along with a stream of the track we sent Hoeksema some interview questions. Check it all out below and look for Life After out November 10th via Good Eye Records.

Hi, Hoeksema! Congrats on your new single. Can you tell us a little more on who you are and how you first got into making music?

Hi! Thank you! Thank you for your time and giving it a spin. It means a lot. Sure, so I grew up in Calgary, Alberta, which is a pretty good city to grow up in, in that it has a small city feel, while still having a pretty amazing access to the arts, as well as being a super short drive to the mountains and some incredible nature.

Music has always been a big part of my life. When I was a kid my parents both had very strong connections to music, and different types and styles of it, which from the start anchored me in an early interest for the stuff. My sister and I were always in the choirs at school or after school music programs to some extent over the years, so getting interested in making my own music starting in high school when I was learning Saxophone and Guitar just felt like the next step in my relationship with music. I grew more and more connected to it and just felt the desire to see what I could come up with. Everything just sort of blossomed from there.

What’s your songwriting process like? Who are some of your biggest influences?

My songwriting process is pretty straightforward. Really it just comes down to a moment. Usually it just starts with some impetus to pick up the guitar, sit at the piano, or a little tune that pops into my head that I’ll start humming… it’s hard to describe beyond some little feeling or idea I’ve been processing knowingly or not that wants to get out. I just try and listen to what that impulse is and see where it takes me, whether it’s a melody, or a chord progression, etc. and things just always seem to organically build from there. One idea leads to another idea, which leads to another idea, and somehow something that looks like a song starts to form. Sometimes after that first burst more ideas don’t come however, and when that happens I try not to push or force it, and trust that whatever was trying to get out, did it’s thing in that moment and doesn’t need to go any further which is nice in itself, too.

At the time that I first started exploring songwriting I was listening to a lot of bands like Brand New, Thrice, and mewithoutYou, so that definitely influenced the way I look at a song and the impact lyrics can have on a song. Since then I’ve become really interested in contemporary composers like Jessica Curry, Austin Wintory, and Takeshi Furukawa, that so beautifully capture a landscape or emotion that you can sit and grow with and explore. That’s the kind of stuff I am really jazzed by and interested in sonically exploring myself right now.

What is “Palais” about? How did it come to be?

Palais came out of a little Yamaha synthesizer (the model type I’m sad to say I don’t remember), that my friend and I found in the unkept basement of the house he was renting with some people in Brooklyn at the time. The basement was just full of random things that previous tenants had left behind and we found this precious little one hiding in the corner, so we took it out and did our best to bring it back to life. I took it home that night and played with it and came up with the note progression that starts Palais, which is played on that synth for the recording.
I loved the thing so much and was sad that it had just been mistreated and left for dead in this basement, so I hope I was able to give it a second wind… In a roundabout way, that’s sort of what the song itself is about for me. Second chances.

How do themes of duality and loss factor into the Life After EP?

This is hard to pinpoint in specifics… When I was originally working on these pieces (which after looking at an old email just now I’m shocked to discover was somehow already over three years ago), I was going through some growing pains in my life. I think during that time I became very interested in the way we shift and grow as we get older… It’s easy to initially get scared or nervous when we consciously seem to lose things in our life that we considered to be important factors in how we understand ourselves in relation to the world. The duality to this though, is that often these losses are important steps in a larger chain of commands that are necessary to our growth within the world. They may help us open up, and allow room for the next piece of our life to enter.

Any new artists/venues/purveyors of the arts you could turn our readers onto?

I’m currently working on new tunes myself right now which always tends to make me fall behind a bit in the new music department as I sort of hibernate a bit in my work. This means that these people/albums could likely not be considered “new” to anyone but me, however Kitty’s new album, Miami Garden Club just recently came out and it’s so awesome. There’s also Angelo De Augustine’s new album with Asthmatic Kitty, Swim Inside the Moon, that demands to be heard… Something else I keep coming back to that may be new for some people is the album Cinderland, which is by High Plains, a Vancouver based duo that met at the Banff Centre, which is one of my favorite places ever. Shout out to Banff!

Where can we follow you and where can our readers catch you live next?

You can follow me on Instagram and Twitter at @hoekse_ma, or check my website for updates, http://hoekse.ma. Be sure also to follow @goodeyerecords!

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