Interview with Vox Portent


We interview Vox Portent (Steve Hogg) ahead of his debut performance at Grietfest. He shares his influences; which span from metal to Stimming, the key characteristics of the Vox Portent sound, his favourite local release of the year, and what to expect from him for the remainder of 2015.

vox portent

Vox portent entered the scene round about 2012. What were you doing before then? What were you listening to? Were there any other musical projects before this one?

So at first I was into a lot of progressive rock and heavy metal. I remember I wanted to start a metal band with my brother, but then that idea eventually faded, I then I got into producing on fruity loops when I was first exposed to house music; thanks to my other brother forcing me to go clubbing with him. Going through this phase, I was heavily influenced by deadmau5 but created a lot of crappy dance music during that time. I eventually got introduced to artists like Stimming and Nicolas Jaar, which opened more doors to experimentation for me.

What is a Vox Portent and why Vox Portent?

Well during that heavy metal phase, my brother and I were thinking of a name for the band. I liked the word ‘Vox’ meaning voice, so I wanted something dark to go with it. I then came across the word portent flipping through random pages in the dictionary which means omen. Although the band never came together, I decided to keep the name for when I started producing electronic music because the meaning behind the name still resonates with me. It was also my first step into doing music, so it keeps me motivated.

You been likened to Felix Laband and Markus Wormstorm. Are these artists that inspire the music that you create?

Definitely, but not all the time. I’m inspired by a lot of music that isn’t always genre specific. I listened to both of them for while in order to learn production techniques, but I wouldn’t play them out as much as an artist like Nicolas Jaar or Gold Panda for instance. While I still look up to and admire their music style, I really want to bring more of a youthful and spiritual approach to my music that is universal, but also has an element of South Africa in it, that’s why Felix is still a huge influence for me.

What would you say defines the Vox Portent sound? What is the main element that is present in all of the music that you create?

Ambience! Oh and my baselines- I think my sense of space and structure is really how people recognize a song of mine, but I’m also unpredictable so maybe that’s also a key element.

It’s been two years since the release of “Day Like These” which was your first public release. How have you developed as a producer since then?

I was only just starting to get gigs when I made that song; that was also my transition phase into more club friendly music, I loved hearing down tempo house in the club and from then on I started writing more down tempo music, but I eventually got tired and bored of limiting myself to writing just club music which I only played at gigs and never really released. I delved into more ambient and uplifting tracks because they had more of an emotional impact on me and listeners.

What kind of emotions do you hope to stimulate with the music that your create?

I want to bring nostalgia and also just get people to tap into a different mode of thinking spiritually; it’s also nice to get a beautiful sound out instead of an aggressive one.

Your live performances include a live element triggering MIDI using electronic hardware. Have you reached the point where you want to be in terms of expressing your music in a live setting and would you consider collaborating with instrumentalists for live performances?

There’s always room for improvement, I’m not entirely happy with a few of my live sets or at least just playing everything alone. Playing with other musicians definitely brings more energy and excitement to a performance and I’d like to get to the point where a can use a full band for a performance.

You’re a graphic design student and it seems like the artworks for all your releases play an integral part of who Vox Portent is. Who creates the art and tell us about the concept behind the Measures EP artwork.

I’ve been into abstract art for a while now and I only started experimenting with water colours when I was writing my first release lucid, because the album was very ambient and based on being in a lucid state, I wanted to express that through different realms of colours and random shapes that the water colour had created. I loved the result of this experimentation and from then on I’ve decided to keep using this technique to create more pieces. For the measures artwork, I wanted to bring back this lucid state but now introduce more personality. The figure in the artwork represents me in the process of self discovery.

2015 has been a great year for the local electronic scene. What has been your favourite local electronic release this year and are there any artists you hope to collaborate with?

My favourite local release this year has to be Ports by Amy Ayanda produced by Thor Rixon. It’s totally my vibe; I listen to the EP most of my time- especially early mornings. Having said that, I’d love to collaborate with Thor, he’s so diverse and I think if we made something together it would be really unique and weird.

What is on the cards for the rest of the year? Any chance of releasing a music video?

More performances and collaborations with projects outside of Vox portent, I’ve been playing with other electronic musicians and I really want to expand on that. I’ve got a few ideas for music videos, it’s just a matter of putting the right team together to do it, so I’m not too sure when I’ll release one. I am in the process of writing an album, which is almost complete and I’m really excited about it! No final release dates yet, although I might get a music video out before I release the album.

Listen to the title-track off Vox Portent’s Measures album above and book your tickets for Grietfest below.





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