Feature Opinion

Looking To Endless Daze: Dangerfields

This weekend will see Dangerfields perform as one of the few returning acts at the second instalment of Psych Night’s premiere festival, Endless Daze. I met with Lucas Swart (vocals/guitar) and Joshua van Zyl (guitar) during an overcast morning to consider the festival’s significance alongside Dangerfields’ similarly hazy brand of rock.

“We’re a night-time band,” Swart happily states as he and Van Zyl envision their upcoming showcase in the given evening slot they’ve deemed fitting to the reception of their sound. They admit how it’s an occasion they’ve been looking forward to the entire year, expressing near-disbelief and gratitude in being asked to return. The environment of a festival, as opposed to a smaller club gig, is what both members agree their particular sound is designed for. A natural expansion occurs on a larger stage with larger sound, which facilitates a suitable platform for the already-expansive sonic movements Dangerfields renders.

Pic by Mark Reitz.

They believe the intimacy of Endless Daze as a small-scale festival permitting only 2000 attendees ensures a shared sentiment among festivalgoers to actually listen to the music. “We don’t want to be background noise for people partying,” Swart comments, “We want to be something people actually pay attention to.” The Psych Night collective appear to have adopted this same ethos in booking artists throughout their history of events that Van Zyl reasons as interesting and unique, although not necessarily from the radio.

The collective’s central objective is to present local musicians alike Dangerfields with the opportunity to participate in a professional experience curated to celebrate the psych rock genre. To be involved in such a respectful practice is an honour the group don’t take lightly. After Swart’s battle with kidney failure earlier in March of this year, several rehearsals and gigs the four-piece had scheduled were forcibly placed on hold or cancelled. Yet with the aid of medical assistance, and the inevitable support of his peers, Swart is confident that there will be no disruption inhibiting their forthcoming performance.

In addressing their gradual return to the stage, Van Zyl and Swart deliberate the direction of the unreleased material they’ve managed to craft amid the uncertainty of Swart’s health. “We’re experimenting with synth – none of us really know how to play it yet,” says Van Zyl as the pair laughs at their absent skill, “but we’re still an extremely guitar-heavy band.” The group write as collaboratively as possible, in terms of instrumentation, in order to sustain a mutual give-and-take between each member. Swart divulges how their approach to songwriting essentially follows a workshop structure where individual ideas are patiently and continuously revisited and reworked until everyone is entirely satisfied with the end result.

Pic by Mark Reitz.

This process may seem tedious at first, but it is often outweighed by the challenging task of determining what lyrics will seamlessly accompany each processed melody. “The lyrics come last and that’s usually the hardest part,” notes Swart. As primary lyricist, he is entrusted with this task and subsequently utilises it as a personal release. “I’ll sing in an improvised stream of consciousness way during rehearsals and pour out whatever I’m feeling,” he continues, “If it doesn’t trigger an emotional response for myself then it looks fake. You have to give a shit about it, and sometimes you’ll dig into parts of yourself that aren’t necessarily pleasant to achieve that.” Van Zyl nods his head in understanding as he conveys that a stream of consciousness is the most honest and necessary method of saying exactly what needs to be said. “And if someone else relates to it then it will become theirs,” adds Swart, “It will no longer be mine, so it has a life cycle in that sense.”

When asked what the audience can expect from their set that may be a little different this time around, both guitarists naturally remark that they’ll be playing different guitars. We exchange a quick bout of laughter before Swart and Van Zyl unravel the hope from which they’d like to attain a certain depth throughout their set. “We’re very aware of the fact that we played there last year,” says Swart as he and Van Zyl discuss the newfound use of their synthesizer as an instrument that works nicely if added only intermittently. They’ve chosen to debut at least three unheard songs, whilst also reducing their previous inclusion of numerous guest artists to safeguard what Van Zyl calls “keeping it in the family.” Their intention as musicians is to remain as honest as they can within a genre where honesty may breed the most poignant sonic delivery.

Dangerfields’ attentive nature to the growth of their artistry will undoubtedly colour the spells of combined intensity and calm revered in their performances to date.

Watch Dangerfields perform ‘Melting Candle’ at last year’s Endless Daze below.

Buy tickets for Endless Daze 2017 here.

Follow Marike on Twitter.