HEIRZ: The beat goes on
article by Keenan Ketzner
photo by Colby Mesick
In the realms of electronic music that have “wub” heavy bass – call it dubstep, hardbass, D&B, or what have you – many perceive as it having stagnated in the last few years, being relegated to the likes of bar night specials and avid fans of the genre. But HEIRZ makes music so organic, melodic and vivid that fans of any genre of electronic music could find themselves listening to it.
HEIRZ is comprised of Alex Sutherland (who’s been producing under the alias SouthLvnder for several years) and Haakon Taylor (A.K.A. HAAKEYE); two hatted men whose difference in distinct visual styles reflected their particular roles in the duo. Alex, with his Baja Blast colored tie-dye shirt, is in charge of the rhythmic and mixing aspect of the music, while Haakon explains that he contributes the sound design, “trying to make those unique kind of synths that you wouldn’t normally hear in electronic stuff.”
Alex said “the fact that both of us can focus on our own things, it contributes to a really heavy work flow,” while Haakon finishes with “because then we’ll both critique each other, and then agree on certain aspects of each other’s work; but it’s basically leaving in what we like and taking out what we don’t.” This back and forth is part of the magic of their music which gives it such a multifaceted feel.
This can be heard in their early, big single “No Lies” in where echoic vocals reverberate amidst a cloud of what they call “grungy” synthesizers (lead synths that cut and change formant like a vocal modulation) while wild trap hi-hats skitter all over the sonic dimension, rapidly changing in pitch and density. You can hear the mingling of their appreciations for every genre in one track.
They’ve only been performing under the lais for nine months, but they have been producing for several years, separately. They met over a remix competition, in which they won, and started grinding and playing venues all over the Seattle and Bellingham area, but Alex explained, “We’d rather be out in the woods with people at festivals, playing fat bass and whatnot.” They say the name stems from how they both lost parents at very crucial parts of their lives, and that they wanted to honor them with their music career, hence the play on the word heir.
You can also hear this aspect of worldliness in their music, stemming from the serious moments of their life and their appreciation for the little things with how they incorporate sound and simplicity. “Foley samples in general, our sound come from, sounds that are layered with digital sounds. Opening a book, shaking keys, dropping something on the floor. Something to just trick the listener’s hearing,” Alex explained.
Haakon added, “I try to go back to the organic basics of sine waves, saw waves, and not try to over complicate the waveforms while making what I can do with them, make them what really flashes.”
With heavy bass synths careening through the airwaves and exciting music in tow, the duo will be having an EP release party over at the Shakedown on June 22 with their EP, Rogue, which will be released by underground bass music label MalLabel Music and available for purchase online.