LISTEN HERE! ARTIST PROFILE HEX
Illustration by Erin McPhee
In the lead-up to our spring music issue, we reached out to a few young emerging musicians to learn about how they got into their craft and what tips they have for artists just starting out.
Inspired by influential bands like The Velvet Underground, The Runaways, Sleater-Kinney and The Clash, HEX - Halina, Simryn and Kyria - formed in January of 2015. They wrote and performed their first song together at Girls Rock Camp and loved it so much that they kept playing together. Halina’s on vocals and guitar, Simryn also sings and plays guitar, and Kyria plays drums. Halina and Simryn are fifteen and Kyria is seventeen.
Photo credit: Jeff Baker
An extraordinarily promising start, right? When I spoke to the three by phone, they were a little nervous - it was their first interview, after all - and I was a little in awe. HEX have accomplished a lot in the fourteen months they’ve been together. They’ve performed at the Art Gallery of Ontario, played a Shameless Magazine event, and done a variety of other gigs.
Simryn and Kyria had known each other prior to Girls Rock Camp and had some experience playing together before. In early 2015 Kyria tried out drums after previously giving guitar a try, and Simryn moved from past experience with drums to try guitar. Halina hadn’t played before, but now plays guitar and does most of the song writing for the band. She says, “I always liked writing, I used to write poetry. Writing song structures came easily to me.”
It turned out to be a winning combination. They tell me that bands form and dissolve all the time at Girls Rock Camp, but HEX felt right from the start and they worked hard to keep playing together.
Because Simryn, Halina and Kyria spend so much time together, it’s important that they like and support each other as a band. In fact, when we talk about advice they have for people wanting to start a band, they tell me that it works best with “…people that you have good chemistry with and feel comfortable with. Songs are personal! And shows are stressful and scary, so supporting and respecting each other is really important.”
Photo credit: Kritty Uranowski
They also credit their experience with Girls Rock Camp and the mentorship they received there: “Seriously, just go to Girls Rock Camp. Just do it. It’s the best.” They’re working on an album this year and tell me that one of their mentors from camp is producing it, so the support they’ve gotten through the program is super valuable.
So how has HEX and Girls Rock Camp changed their lives? “When you’re on stage you feel like you have no worries, it’s the ultimate freedom. We’ve become more sure of ourselves, more comfortable. It’s totally different from watching a band. It’s emotional. It’s such an amazing feeling.”
When I told HEX that we were compiling a top five list of their favourite songs to accompany this piece, I was expecting gold. After all, one of the first songs they played was Bikini Kill’s “Rebel Girl”. These three know their shit.
Their level of insight into what makes a successful song - that delicate balance between melody, chaos, lyrics and charm - is incredibly tuned in. Here is what they had to say about their top 5 songs.
“Sunday Morning” by The Velvet Underground: “The Velvet Underground are definitely in the top five bands that inspire us. This song is beautiful, it’s one of the first that we loved, and it’s just so easy to connect with.”
“Avant Gardener” by Courtney Barnett” “We like Courtney because she’s different than a lot of artists now. When she popped up in the music world, we were like ‘WHOA’. She has that rambling, poetic, Bob Dylan-y feel to her lyrics. There’s a great feeling to this song.”
“The Void” by The Raincoats: “The Raincoats are very magical! They’re so different from other girl bands. They’re a huge part of why we got into playing music. ‘The Void’ makes it easier to be transported to a different place and think about things.”
“Birdland” by Patti Smith: “Patti is one of the great female punk rockers, how can you not like her? She’s had such a big impact on music. She’s powerful, she has an amazing voice, she’s not afraid to yell and spit. Patti just seems really intelligent - she’s a great writer. She had no fear, she just put herself out there.”
“Bambi” by Tokyo Police Club: “This is such a great, catchy guitar line. All of their songs are good but ‘Bambi’ is REALLY good.”
HEX’s top 5 songs:
Follow Laura Friesen on Twitter: @thelorze