EMQ’s with RIDDLEBREAK
Hi everyone! Welcome to our new EMQ’s interview with Johannesburg, South Africa based Progressive Metalcore band, Riddlebreak. Huge thanks to lead guitarist Julian Vosloo for taking part.
“Riddlebreak calls the dark void somewhere between Pretoria and Johannesburg (South Africa) their home. Since its original inception ten years ago, it has taken four member changes as well as two shifts in musical orbit to bring this current collective of weirdos together – and they have been inseparable since. Over the last 7 years they have snowballed to break minds, sub-genres and necks. It is difficult to put Riddlebreak in a box because the sound of an injured bear hurtling through space is not considered a genre in most circles.
Since its birth, the music has forged a trajectory within metal, remaining close to its progressive and metalcore neighbours. They draw inspiration from many curiosities, from hedgehogs to collapsing stars – always searching and exploring. Riddlebreak tests constructs, whether it be society, gender stereotypes, gravity or what constitutes the perfect potato salad. Their ever-contrasting ideas and sounds make Riddlebreak difficult to compartmentalise but impossible to ignore”.
What is your name, what do you play, and can you tell us a little bit about the history of the band?
Hi, I’m Legless-Lego-Legolas, but everyone calls me Julian. No for reals, my name is Julian and I play 6-and-8-string guitar in the band Riddlebreak.
Riddlebreak was formed by a group of people who through their time together have become the best of friends. I joined about 7 years ago and at that time the band had already been around for quite a while, so our current line-up is well-versed within the metal community.
How did you come up with your band name?
So, me Julian, this person, is not really the best to answer this question. Believe it or not as I am told, once upon a time Riddlebreak was some sort of weird Indie Rock band. Weird right? A LOT has changed since those days of the Indie band and only one original member remains. Since that time, the band has collected an assortment of rather strange humans and thus made way for the Riddlebreak you know today. The origin of the band name has since been lost to time and space, to forever be a mystery. It is what it is because it is.
What Country/Region are you from and what is the Metal/Rock scene like there?
We are from a country called South Africa, this does not mean the south of Africa, though we can be found in the southern most point of Africa (you’ll be surprised to find how many don’t know that South Africa is a country within Africa.) Anyway, Riddlebreak can be found in Johannesburg within one of the nine provinces, called Gauteng, which in one of our official African languages translates to “place of gold”.
If you ever find yourself in South Africa, you will come across a community of close-knit weirdo’s all enjoying the music, the company and a nice cold beer. Most of us here are super friendly, welcoming and honestly just looking for a good time and some new friends.
What is your latest release? (Album, EP, Single, Video)
Earlier this year we released ‘The Hog’, a song written about an adorable pet hedgehog with a bad temper, told as a story of a mythological beast bringing ultimate destruction! Apart from that we are very excited to release new music soon that we have all been working hard on.
‘The Hog’ (Audio)
‘The Hog’ (Bass Playthrough Video)
Who have been your greatest influences?
For me it all started with Dimebag Darrell of Pantera and his masterful guitar playing. From there I veered off into more progressive and djent styles, inspired by the likes of Meshuggah, Animals as Leaders, Tesseract, Periphery and many, many more! Through this I tried to focus on my individual sound, and I would say that comes through within the music of Riddlebreak.
What first got you into music?
My father occasionally played an acoustic guitar while I was young, and I guess that’s where my interest started. One day after school a friend of mine introduced me to the bands Devildriver and Cradle of Filth and from that point I knew I needed more. Soon after I walked into a CD store with a handful of cash and asked the only alternative-looking person if they could recommend me some metal. I walked out with Iron Maiden – Brave New World, Children of Bodom – Are You Dead Yet? Soil – Scars and the newest Slipknot album at the time The Subliminal Verses. Since then I have been an avid music consumer.
Even though my father started the interest, the credit goes to my mother who motivated me to pick up the guitar and from there I started taking lessons and eventually studied music. Overall, I chose to play guitar so that I could make the same crazy noises that I heard on those CD’s!
If you could collaborate with a current band or musician who would it be?
Personally, working together with artists like Annisokay, Erra, and Anup Sastry would be absolutely mind-blowing if the metal Gods ever did allow it. It would be a true honour and I know I would learn so much from them all.
If you could play any festival in the world, which would you choose and why?
I suppose the typical answer would be to play on the biggest stages in the world and even though that would be great, I’m more invested in playing festivals like ArcTanGent, UK Tech Fest and 70,000 Tons of Metal. These festivals often host bands I’m more interested in seeing and it is for that reason that sharing the stage with them would be life changing.
What’s the weirdest gift you have ever received from a fan?
Honestly, I don’t think I’ve ever received a weird gift from a fan. I’m not sure if I’m just lucky or if I’m missing out on something. Hopefully someday a fan will give me something weird like a rock or a cool stick they found in the woods. I feel so fortunate just to be able to perform music – that in of itself is a gift.
If you had one message for your fans, what would it be?
I think we, as Riddlebreak, would simply like to thank everyone who has supported us over the years, whether that’s attending our shows, buying our merch, sharing our music, etc. It all means so much to us that there are people who connect with what we create, and we would like them to know that they are appreciated. So ‘thank you’ from the bowels of our hearts! <3
If you could bring one rock star back from the dead, who would it be?
Because I still consider Dimebag to be such a huge influence in my life that I would be hard pressed to think of anyone else. I can only imagine the kind of music he would be creating today and to think how amazing it would be to listen to that makes me both a little sad yet nostalgic. So here I am putting on some Pantera in honour of what he was able to create in his time.
What do you enjoy the most about being a musician? And what do you hate?
While trying to come up with a good answer to this decent question I found myself laughing because my answer is both honest and silly. I love being able to create music that I really enjoying playing, and to share that with others is phenomenal. On the downside I really loathe driving to shows, unfortunately venues are usually a little way out, so it takes time to get there and back – but it is always worth it.
If you could change one thing about the music industry, what would it be?
I think that my answer focuses a lot within our local scene but that it can be applied universally. I believe that all those within the metal community see themselves as open-minded people because we enjoy such an ‘extreme’ form of music – and that is great, it helps unite us in a way that we have not felt before, since many of us are outcasts. But in that I find that many of us can become complacent and this leads to elitism, where people dictate what they deem as metal, as well as a divide within a community that was built on accepting what is different.
Name one of your all-time favourite albums?
One? How could anyone ever only give one? Music is incredibly diverse and becomes so personal that I would create a list that would truly never end.
Here’s the short version: (in no particular order).
Periphery – “P2”
Erra – “Augment”
Meshuggah – “Obzen”
If These Trees Could Talk – “The Bones of a Dying World”
Ovid’s Withering – “Scryers of the Ibis”
Monuments – “The Amanuensis”
The Contortionist – “Clairvoyant”
Tesseract – All of them, lol.
What’s best? Vinyl, Cassettes, CD’s or Downloads?
As a teenager I collected a mountain worth of CD’s and I was truly proud of my collection, but I cannot deny the convenience of online platforms. However, we do make an effort to buy physical copies from our local artists. We are then supporting both our friends and the metal community.
What’s the best gig that you have played to date?
At first, I assume we might individually recall different events, but I have no doubt that each of us fondly remembers the show with Monuments, played at Krank’d Up 2015 (A locally produced show that hosts some of the best international acts alongside local artists.) It was one of the first times we ever got to meet musicians that we are huge fans of and look up to, and to know that they are genuinely cool dudes to hang out with was such a great experience.
If you weren’t a musician, what else would you be doing?
Honestly, I have no idea – and I don’t think any of us do, lol. We all have ‘normal jobs’ which we’re pretty good at but music is such a huge part of all our lives that we would not be the people we are today without it and without each other.
Which five people would you invite to a dinner party?
So, sticking with music I would invite an interesting bunch of folks, starting with Randy Blythe from Lamb of God. I am a big fan of his music, his photography and Dark Days his autobiography about his time in a Prague prison.
Corey Taylor would no doubt be on the guest list. He is such a boss! Need I say more?
Third would be Anup Sastry because I am so impressed by his music and his jolly presence, it would be such a pleasure to hang out with him. Plus, he always wishes me a happy birthday which is nice.
Next would be Hanz Zimmer because have you ever watched a great film and been overwhelmed by the incredible score so much so that every time you listen to the music it hits you in the feels? Now imagine seeing that in human form!
Finally, a man who needs no introduction, Neil deGrasse Tyson – because science bitch!
What’s next for the band?
We have recently mixed and mastered two new tracks for an upcoming four-track EP that we hope to release very soon – keep your eyes peeled. Besides that, we are looking forward to being able to perform live again now that restrictions have slightly lifted in our country.
What Social Media/Website links do you use to get your music out to people?
If you’re interested in following us you can find us on Facebook and Instagram, and all of Riddlebreak’s music can be found on any major streaming platforms like Spotify, iTunes and more. Fans are able to buy digital copies of our 2016 EP, “Collapsar”, on Bandcamp. We also have some music videos and drum and guitar play-throughs on our YouTube Channel.
Jaffa Cakes! Are they a cake or a biscuit?
Well, I am not that familiar with said treat as I don’t think they are as popular here. But upon a Google search I learnt that, for tax reasons, they are classed as cakes. Does that help? I hope that this information will end the war between cakes and biscuits for good!
Thank you for your time. Is there anything else that you would like to add?
Right back at ya [finger-guns] thank you for taking the time to get to know us a little better.
A quick joke before we go: A Buddhist walked up to a hotdog vendor and asked him to “Make me one with everything.”
Represented by David Devo Oosthuizen
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