Staunchly feminist, Kirsten Van Newtown, Liz Matthews and Greta Van Newtown don’t seem to be fazed about how Hex is perceived. Instead the band align their music with how the trio perceive the natural world.
The pagan beliefs they share are a strong force for Hex. Released mid-May, their latest EP, ‘Witches of the Hex’, acknowledges the fierce sisterhood of the band, “…calling to the sisters, calling to the mother, calling to you”.
Rock opera is embedded in Hex’s sound.
“Our shared passion for the dramatic and epic, and three very different musical tastes, sort of makes our sound,” Liz exclaims.
“We like to start with a rock opera so that everyone who hates rock operas leaves,” jokes Kirsten.
She describes Hex’s sound as lo-fi metal, layered and layered with choral vocal arrangements and heavy drums. The project has been brewing on the shelf for the past four years. Between a busy time of raising children and ill health, Kirsten and Greta had to pull back, while Liz continued to play in a slew of other bands.
Now Hex is known for juggling performances in the company of children. Kirsten sometimes performs with her earmuff-wearing toddler, sleeping in a sling on her back.
“The EP was recorded live. We wanted the EP to sound powerful and not perfect, like our live performances,” explains Liz.
“Simon Cummings recorded the EP, on four-track and it was digitised later. I added a few guitar diddlies here and there, at the end,” Greta adds.
The vocals have a Flying Nun sound, the harmonies reminding of Look Blue Go Purple. Hex’s creative process is collaborative – the songwriting intense according to Kirsten.
“When the song comes to me it’s immediate, I have to sit down and let it explode out of me. Greta has a much more calculated way of doing it – she’s got a riff library!”
“I’ve got a library of recorded riffs,” Greta elaborates. “I could stew over a song for years, then one day I might make up a new riff and that riff is the key to unlocking old riffs that sync.”
Hex have an organic approach to making music and art with Liz’s art on the EP’s cover. The design is a pagan calendar in favour of NZ seasons, including Matariki and new ideas for celebrations.
“We need something to break up our harsh winter. There is literally no public holidays after Queen’s Birthday, just cold shitty winter. So I thought I would make a calendar with something to look forward to because at the moment there’s nothing at all… Nothing!”, Liz emphasises.
Kirsten and Greta run Sloth Records – literally, they say, a slow moving project. It’s an online platform for fans to discover Hex’s music, blog and merchandise. Hex are hoping to release an album later in the year, this time inspired by gardening, positivism and looking to the future.