Was it hard to come up with a name? What does the name mean to you? How important is it to have the right name?
-No, as far as band name goes I didn’t find it hard to come up with Mekigah. It was a word I had known for a while beforehand, maybe a few years & as soon as the idea for this band came about, I knew it was the one I’d use. I like to do a bit of research before naming a band to ensure that it’s not been used before or too close to something else, but in the case of this word it is from a ‘dead’ language no longer spoken or really in use, so I knew it was going to be unique. The name represents many things, where I live, the influence of myths of indigenous spiritual culture of this country & my feeling towards the relationship of nature and various forces it puts off & creates. It contains the word ‘meki’ which means ‘to see’, as in I guess you could say close to the concept of ‘seeing from the third eye’ in other cultures. So Mekigah sort of means ‘a seer of things’, in that sense of ‘seeing’. I think it’s pretty important to have the right name in the overall aesthetic you are trying to create. I guess also at the end of the day, if you like the music of a band enough, you might not care at all what they are named.
Who would say have laid the foundation for the kind of sound you have? Who are your heroes musically and what have they meant to you personally and to the sound of your band?
-I guess in many ways what I have done on the last 2 Mekigah albums is really try to get to what I feel is my own sound much more so than ever before. Other albums I have made previously I think have much more obvious influences & less originality overall. So sometimes I think my heroes musically & what I am doing now are pretty different things altogether for the most part. Some of my favourite artists mean so much to me personally that I am inspired and driven by what they do and have done, but our sounds are nothing alike. Some examples of this would be, Alice Coltrane, Plastic People Of the Universe, Sun Ra, Don Campau, Boredoms, Alice Donut…..there’s many. As far as things that I would say have directly influenced what Mekigah is doing now, I think bands such as Elend, Ulver, Esoteric,Godflesh, Dodheimsgard, Murkrat, Raison D’etre, Nenia are a few that come to mind.
I always find it hard to pin down what has influenced the sound Mekigah makes as it is a combination I guess of things that do have elements sonically like us, many that do not, but inspire it in other ways & also many other non musical things, non musical heroes etc that play a part in what forms and inspires the ideas and vision behind Mekigah. One example of this would be Ralph Steadman, british painter, cartoonish & all around massive inspiration to me & what I do creatively.
When you play slow do you have to think differently arranging the music than if you play faster and vice versa?
-For sure, it’s a hell of a lot more relaxing on the brain in one way, but a challenge in others. Sometimes when things get too slow it can be tricky to keep nice consistent timing, so generally, I don’t! But I like that slow looseness as much as I don’t mind it in fast music either. Super fast and super tight is amazing and works for some music but in others, I do love it to have a bit of raw borderline sloppiness, depends on the band and music. Same with slow, some slow stuff that is super tight is amazing but Mekigah I think there is definitely a little bit of looseness to the slow playing, playing slow relaxes me and maybe too much that it can be not slick tight but I like that natural feel, that’s how I play slow, I don’t try & fight it. So it’s different to playing fast in various ways, but the same in others.
Will your music work in a live environment? What kind of stage environment would best suit your music; a big stage or a small club?
-I’ve not really thought about this very much. Mekigah has never been a live band thus far. If I had to guess I’d say a smaller club would suit it more, as long as it had a bit of stage room as I think it would take a fair sized band to perform a lot of it live if it happened. 6-7 piece at least I think. Can I say, big stage, small club?
It is very hard to be 100% satisfied. Everybody seems to be disappointed with something they have released. Is there something that you in hindsight would have done differently on this your latest recording?
-On many older albums for sure. The latest one I guess at the moment is still too fresh for me to say. As of finishing it, no , it’s pretty much exactly what I wanted to do. I’m sure some time down the track upon multiple listens I may feel there are things I don’t like as much or things that may stand out in a negative way that don’t right now but I would not say disappointed. I accept not being perfect & enjoy the recording/what happens in the now & being satisfied with that. If it doesn’t stand the test of time, I’m ok with that. You always try and go into the next album thinking ok I’ll make it better, I’ll not do that again etc but I think it always happens moment to moment, you make a decision you like, then won’t later. We change & nothing can ever be perfect & I’m not disappointed by that.
Promotion can be a bitch. Even today with all different platforms it can be hard to reach out to all those that might be interested in your music? What alleys have you used to get people familiarized with your band?
-Well I have always just gone for making full albums first and foremost, with this band, previous ones & other bands I’m currently in……..and handing them out any way possible.
For many years it was trading, prior to c.d’s etc, tape trading, fanzines & live shows were the main avenues.
I guess when the net and other avenues it opened up came along, I just kept doing things the way I always had but added the various online sites to it all. I don’t go crazy on promotion, I do try and promote it and want people to hear it, but I’m also a bit ‘take it or leave it’ kinda person with art. I am driven to do my best and make my best art and music but I am not super phased by having tons of followers or not. So I put my stuff online in the form of music sites they can hear and download from. I make a lot of videos and put them all up as well, so people can hear the songs again but also I enjoy making moving visuals to compliment the music. But mostly, I make albums. I make physical copies & I will trade & give away as many as I can to share the music & I don’t mind what happens after that. I’m usually already busy making another one or working on something else other than Mekigah.The biggest difference between Mekigah now & anything else I’ve ever done is that I have the support of Aesthetic Death who also use all those same channels as myself to promote music & to help share & promote my music but have way more contacts in far more places. So being associated with such a great label such as them is really something as far as people being more familiar with Mekigah. Even if it’s one extra person who is enjoying it then it’s a pretty good thing.
To me art work can be the difference between bust or success. What to you is a great front cover? What should a cover have to make it great?
-It can be many things. A piece that perfectly suits the sound in some way. It can just be a stand alone piece of art that is magnificent to your tastes. Something striking to the eye can be great but also something understated can work, depending on the music, artist etc. It is hard to say what makes a great album cover, we all have different ideas on this I guess.
For me many great albums do not have great covers & I do not think it takes away from it but when you see & hear that perfect combo it really does make it special. The unexplainable ‘it’ factor where all the elements seem perfectly suited , in tune & all great as stand alone pieces also. Something that speaks to the individual and says in picture form ‘you need to hear this’. I have lost out big time buying albums with great covers before listening and hated the music. The same in reverse, I’ve seen a cover and thought ‘that looks like rubbish’ and then been shocked to discover the music is incredibly good. Great cover art can be great for many reasons & there are so many great ones out there. Known and ignored.
Do you feel that you are part of a national scene? Is a local/national scene important for the development of new bands?
-Not so much no as not playing live I think makes it a bit harder to be or feel part of a particular scene. I probably feel a little bit a part of our smaller local scene in Tasmania, Hobart but not strictly Mekigah or music like it. Playing live in other bands & also sharing recordings with people from local bands and punters who are heaps supportive locally there is some sense of connection and community. Although I am fairly new here it’s a pretty small scene so not too hard to get to know a range of people involved.
Yes I think it can be important. I think for many bands playing live helps them develop into better bands & having good places to play, decent crowds , other bands to influence and inspire you can’t be a bad thing for many bands. On the other hand I also do not think it is necessary to have such scenes to develop new bands. In an age of better home recording and online distribution I think bands can happen reagrdless of playing live or scenes & be just as good. Both are potentially good things.
I could just be me but I got the feeling that the live scene is not what it used to be. Could be that more and more people use the net to discover bands instead of going out and supporting new bands live. What is you experience with the live scene?
-Well as a player Ive been doing gigs since 1991 or thereabouts. Starting with small local, youth centre, peoples loungeroom kinda punk shows where I grew up. Later I moved to Sydney, one of the most populated areas of Australia & did gigs there for many years in the 90s and beyond & I’m not sure it was massively different. There are a lot of differences playing gigs then to now it seems in terms of what you got paid, free drinks etc but it can also be down to what band you are in. I was never in any popular bands so the sized crowds I got then are abut the same as I get now. I have also seen for sure people who were thriving from the live scene in years gone by now struggling in many ways to do it financially etc from lack of support. For sure it is not what it used to be if you compare it to generations before even when I started, then it becomes more obvious. Far more people used to go out to see bands in those years prior (eg: the 1970s) & one thing I think it is , is not only the net & ability to access music & portably and at home easier but I think there are many more things now that people view as entertainment competing for that time, attention and money that were not around in the past. So sometimes people say the live scene isn’t as good, bands aren’t as good etc and base it on numbers. I kinda disagree. I think it’s as good & bands are for sure as good, I just think people are busy enjoying other forms of entertianment because they have those choices now.It’s hard for me to say solidly one way or another though. I live on a dirt road with no lights and there isn’t much live action of any kind going on out here so these days, I’d mostly be guessing! I don’t know how many people go out to gigs or go out at all. Kinda detached from it all of late. I go into town for gigs in Hobart which is closer to the smallest, least populated city in Australia & the gigs seems to vary, some nights we might be lucky to have 5 people in the room , other nights, same band could be close to 50. I guess I’ve been into it a while as a player and a fan so my experiences with lives scenes have incorporated a lot yet I still have no conclusive answer about it being better or worse than the past.
What does the future hold?
-For Mekigah, with this album just finished right now the immediate future is distributing & sharing this album as best as possible & also on top of one finished video I am currently working on another for a track from Autexousious. Beyond that I have vague plans of the next record & also some other projects in the pipeline, hopefully one as a collaboration with another Aesthetic Death artist, who’s work I am a big fan of, Section 37. Outside of that I am in various other bands & musical projects who all have recordings or gigs that I have to work on and play & also a number of video and art projects, some music related, some not.