Mustard had the pleasure of speaking with Ontario’s Hexadecibel. Together we discussed hexadecimal numbers, their creative process, their cover on “Songs For Dads”, and their upcoming single “Skanking With The Devil.”
1.Mustard is grateful to have you join Music Shelf. How are you doing?
I’m doing great! I’m honoured to be a part of Music Shelf and am super pumped for this interview! I feel like I’ve been in a good spot creatively with my music lately and am happy to have the chance to talk about it.
2.You have to choose a binary number to convert to a hexadecimal. Which number do you choose and why?
This may be cheating, but I’m gonna choose the set of numbers 01010011, 01001011, 01000001, which in hexadecimal would be 53, 4B, 41. I like these numbers, because when converted to ASCII spells SKA, which I think we can all appreciate.
3. Who (or what) influences you?
I find influence in all forms of art. I follow so many different painters, 3D artists, designers and of course musicians, that my socials are just filled with art. I find surrounding myself with such creativity keeps me inspired, as I’m always seeing people push the boundaries of their art forms.
Speaking on the music side of things, I come from the world of electronic music, which is such a rapidly changing soundscape, filled with people trying to push boundaries. Although their styles are completely different from mine, I find myself always inspired by musicians like MUST DIE!, Porter Robinson and Iglooghost. The ska scene is also filled with people pushing boundaries. I take a lot of influence from musicians like Eichlers and Common Sense Kid, who are doing a lot right now to push the sound forward.
4. What is your creative process?
A lot of people have the ability to take an idea that’s in their head and actually create it. I’ve never been able to do this. Whenever I try to turn an idea into an actual song, it either doesn’t turn out at all, or at the very least, morphs into something completely different by the end of the process. For example, I just finished writing my most aggressive song yet, that I initially intended to be something calm and relaxing.
Typically when I start a song, it’ll start with me playing around with different synths or instruments until something clicks in my head, whether it be a melody, rhythm, or just an interesting sound. Once I get that initial spark, I immediately start chasing it, trying to add to it and write as much as I can before losing the initial burst of creativity. Typically this results in me writing most of a song in a day or two, with the rest of it taking weeks or months to actually finish.
5. Mustard loved your cover of “La Grange” on Songs for Dads. How did that come together? What was it like to be a part of this project?
I’m so glad you liked it! I’ve always loved that song, it’s my personal favourite ZZ Top song. The electric blues/blues rock sound that La Grange has is also my favourite style to jam in when I pick up a guitar, which made me think it’d be a fun song to cover. It also gave me a chance to experiment with singing. Before that cover, I don’t think I’ve ever had my voice on a song. It was a great experience that taught me a lot about the process that goes into singing, which I’ll definitely be using on future songs!
It was a great experience being a part of Songs for Dads! I’m a huge fan of what Beautiful Rat Records is doing with these charity compilation albums, as well as what Ska Punk International has been doing with Songs for Moms. I was honoured to be among such great musicians who all came together for a good cause. I’d definitely love to be a part of something similar again in the future!
6. You released your first first single “Pickin’ Up The Blues” earlier this year that blended blues and ska. Could you share more about your debut single?
Before my Hexadecibel project, I stayed almost completely electronic, using mostly synths and samples. If you hear any proper instruments in my old work, there’s a very high chance that it’s MIDI. Getting into the ska scene and expanding my sight outside of the world of electronic music gave me more of an appreciation for actual instruments, which led me to create this project. With this new appreciation, I wanted to push myself not just to incorporate more live instruments into my music, but to mix more styles and genres together and really experiment with my sound.
From the beginning of this project I had a few ideas for styles I wanted to play with, blues being one of them. I experimented a lot with both the blues and ska styles I used in this song and am pretty happy with how it turned out! I really pushed myself to record as much of this as possible, instead of relying on MIDI as I have in the past. All of the guitar, bass guitar and harmonica was recorded, which is a big difference from any of my previous work! Although Pickin’ Up The Blues is a lot different than the music you’re going to hear from me going forward, the experimentation and drive to push myself are aspects that you’ll see in everything else I do with this project!
7. If Satan approached you with an offer, what do you think the offer would be? Would you take it?
I think Satan would offer me the skill of being a great bass guitar player, as I’ve been struggling with some riffs I’ve been wanting to record for some upcoming songs.
I’d absolutely not take the offer. I think the best part of any skill is the process of learning it. Having that process taken away from you would take away all of the fun as well, for me at least.
8. What can fans expect from your upcoming single “Skankin’ With The Devil?”
I had a lot of fun with Skanking With the Devil! It has a mix of ska, funk and dubstep, which I think makes for an interesting song. It goes from being upbeat and funky, to aggressive dubstep, with a comical back and forth between me and Satan.
Although this song has a comical nature to it, it means a lot to me and is to some degree a milestone to me as a musician. I first started writing music about a decade ago with the intent to make dubstep, as I’d just discovered bass music and thought it was the coolest thing! Although dubstep is the reason I started making music, I never really properly released a dubstep song until now. Besides one song that I only put on a few sites, as I wasn’t all that happy with it, Skanking With the Devil is my first proper release incorporating dubstep!
Another box I’ve checked with Skanking With the Devil, is that it’s my first original song to feature my voice! Although I don’t sing on it, hearing me talk on a song that I wrote was a big challenge for me, as I’ve never been a big fan of my voice. Working on this song has done a lot for the confidence I have in my voice and has helped push me to continue to use it in my music going forward, which I promise you’ll hear!
9. The Devil was defeated by Tenacious D. Did you study their technique to prepare for your new song?
Honestly, I have to admit that I’m unfamiliar with their quarrel with the devil. I’ve unfortunately had to go up against Satan without the wisdom I could’ve gained from studying their technique. I have however read up on a trip that the devil took to Georgia many moons ago!
10. What’s next for Hexadecibel?
I’ve got a lot of music in the works right now, in a bunch of different styles. I don’t want to spoil the surprise too much, but the project I’m currently working on is my most ambitious yet!
Aside from this bigger project, there are also a couple covers I’m planning as well! One is a classic that’s close to my heart and the other a much newer and goofier song.
11. Where can readers listen to your music? Do you have a preferred platform?
My music is up on every major music platform! The best way to support me is to buy my music on Bandcamp, but it’s also available on all streaming platforms, as well as free sites like YouTube, Newgrounds and SoundCloud.