Feature

Evert Snyman chats music production and everything in between 

“If you don’t make music you enjoy, it won’t translate into anything good,” says Evert Snyman halfway through our conversation. His warm aura and keen interest in music makes it clear to me that he’s a well-seasoned musician slash producer. With over twenty years in the industry, undeniable talent and a fresh perspective on almost everything, Evert has much to offer the local music scene.

I ask about his favourite local acts, and he mentions Ruff Majik, Drum Fish, Double Sun, The Tazers, and Crash and the Void. These bands embody his affinity for strangeness, a notion he embraces. “Strange is good,” he says.

Evert is a musician first. His solo albums, including Hot Mess, Pruning in the Dark, and last year’s cover album All-Killer-Filler, showcase the multi-instrumental talents. “Production is a byproduct of being a musician,” he says. His varied catalogue reflects his interaction with music, particularly his views on genre.

“What is genre? I don’t like boxing anything into a genre because it’s restrictive. Think about Gorillaz, what genre are they?” His recent project includes covers of Tom Waits’ “Jesus Gonna Be Here” and Paul McCartney’s “Temporary Secretary”, songs that can easily be defined as genre-bending. 

He jokingly states his ambition to “Prince this shit,” referring to Prince’s massive, mostly unreleased catalogue. Evert’s love for experimentation is evident in his 2013 project Surviving 2013, created under the moniker Battle Cock. The Death Grips-esque album exemplifies his sentiment: “I like working with things I’m unfamiliar with because it allows me to continuously learn and grow.” Though different from much of his other work, it remains authentically Evert Snyman.  Whether intentional or not, Surviving 2013 is one of the most interesting projects made in this country over the last 15 years. 

With a firm belief in high-quality recordings and the mantra you should never blame the equipment, he has produced for some of South Africa’s biggest names, including Caution Boy’s Alligator Boy, Double Sun’s Springloader and Ruff Majik’s The Devil’s Cattle. His production credits also include The Tazers, Stereo Club, The Devil’s Cabana Boiz and Arno Carstens.

Describing his “old school approach” to production, Evert sometimes records on tape with an 8-track. He values the importance of three takes: “I don’t like fixing things, I think it strips the conviction away. I prefer that music gets played right and is mixed properly.” His studio methods bring to mind Brian Eno, sharing “unconventional” approaches that bring fresh sparks to music. “I’m not precious about things,” Evert says. “I think this, coupled with the freedom I give musicians in the studio, helps to create an environment where the best things happen organically.”

For Evert, continuous learning sets Pariah Studios apart. His passion for understanding how things work drives him. “I’m constantly sharing ideas with other sound engineers. We discuss new ways to do things and experiment,” he says.

When asked about his legacy, he jokingly replies, “It won’t matter, I’ll be dead,” before adding, “I’d like people to know that it doesn’t take 500 years to record. If it works, that’s fantastic.” Looking ahead, he has new music on the horizon, including an upcoming solo album and a collaboration with Arno Carstens, which he describes as “some of the heaviest music we’ve both made.”

Those who’ve worked with Evert speak highly of him. Double Sun’s Wessel Möller says, “Evert is undoubtedly one of the most underrated gems in our music scene. The history he has etched with his blood, sweat and tears is world-class. Think of him like a mix between an evil Jack White having a mutant baby with Frank Black and Josh Homme.” Crash and The Void’s Marius Schutte adds, “If South Africa had Kurt Cobain, Paul McCartney, Steve Albini, and Frank Black all rolled into one.” 

Evert’s impact on the local music scene is profound, and any further contributions he makes are sure to hold the same weight. If you haven’t heard of his work, I implore you to rectify that immediately.