Interview: Riddlebreak pre-Arts Expo

Riddlebreak 2015

Johannesburg, South Africa: the much anticipated ninth edition of Emalyth‘s Arts Expo – this year tag-titled Nine Lives – looms near. Emalyth coordinated with M4A to highlight a number of the bands selected to appear at this year’s weekend festivities where underground art and music are encouraged to throb to the same primal beat at Wolmer Bush Lounge between 27-29 January. In today’s spotlight we find the dynamic metallers from Riddlebreak discussing the band’s current state of affairs in 2017. Interview conducted by Kimberleigh Fae Chaye on behalf of Emalyth and M4A. ~ from the editor


Riddlebreak, as it is well-known in established circles, have enjoyed a monstrous year of shows in 2016 following a meteoric rise to prominence on the Gauteng live circuit throughout 2015. Following the release of the band’s Collapsar debut EP in January 2016 the band went on to perform key slots at a number of prestigious events of national significance, including Krank’d Up festival (feat. USA’s Norma Jean & USA’s Periphery), supporting Germany’s Eskimo Callboy in Johannesburg, and a first trip across country to Cape Town, appearing at metal4africa‘s own WinterFest’16.

“Our stage presence is something we feel makes us stand out. We focus a lot on putting in as much energy as we can at each and every show. We want the audience to feed off our energy so we can get everyone moving/headbanging along with us.” ~ Jade Osner (vocals, Riddlebreak)

Although the band is far from being ‘new kids on the block’, their rise to prominence has appeared to spike since the more recent occurrences of releasing recorded music. However, in spite of dynamically written material drawn from a huge diversity of influence, on stage seems to be where the band truly shines and now that they’ve attracted notice from the sharing of their songs, the momentum onstage has been building exponentially. Of course, being an edgy band to watch live is never without a few casualties:

“We’ve had a few crazy things happen. Usually involving blood loss and wardrobe malfunctions. We once had a moshpit at Wolmer Bush Lounge where Christiaan ‘Lord Boo’ smacked his skull against the stage and had to go get stitches. We’ve had members tear their jeans at the crotch area during performances. I have kneed myself in the face while headbanging. Roushan has spilled the blood of other members with her bass guitar’s headstock. Julian dislocated his collar bone while performing. We generally seem to hurt ourselves!” ~ Jade Osner

On the topic of writing, Jade also tells us about the mish-mash of musical influences which have guided Riddlebreak to it’s current sound.

“As a band we have many influences and inspirations both foreign and locally. It’s a difficult question because every member has different influences. For example, I’m more influenced by deathcore bands like Job For A Cowboy and The Acacia Strain, while Julian is more on the proggy/djent side of things with bands like Meshuggah, Tesseract and Periphery. In general, we all listen to music ranging from electronic sub-genres to alternative, from classical to metal of all sorts. Each member brings their own flavour to the band which is why people often tell us that they can’t really place what genre we are, and we really dig that! In terms of local bands, we have a few local heroes like Raptorbaby, Red Helen, Octainium and Poverty of Ideals to name but a few.” ~ Jade Osner

And Riddlebreak members are themselves great supporters of local music, citing Boargazm, Raptorbaby, Zombies Ate My Girlfriend, Deadline and After Robot as some of their personal ‘must-see’ bands at the coming Arts Expo, though Jade is sure that each member will try to see as many bands as possible.

“For us, the SA metal scene is a family. It’s a haven for the outcast and the black sheep. It’s a place where you can find friendship and support. It’s our own little world of angry music for happy people; metalheads are usually the friendliest and most welcoming of people in our experiences. There is a lot of support in our metal scene, a whole bunch of friendly faces, and a fuck-ton of love!” ~ Jade Osner

He also describes the Arts Expo as being a particular highlight overall, being one of those rare event series which has shown some staying-power in the South African metalscape; and more so, that it keeps getting better!

“As a band, it is definitely a highlight for us because there is a mystique about it. There is such a great festival atmosphere, excellent bands, fantastic and beautiful art on show and best of all, all our friends will be there! Emalyth has done many great things and is a big name is our local scene. We feel honoured to be able to play at the Arts Expo again and also for Roushan to exhibit her art there as well.” ~ Jade Osner

Of course, trying our luck, we asked if the band had any tid-bits of info regarding further plans for releases this year. Jade was not willing to let out any further info suffice to say – with a wink and a nudge:

“We have very big, very heavy plans for 2017. Stay tuned!” ~ Jade Osner

Naturally, bands tend to keep their cards close to the chest here in South Africa owing to the unpredictable ebbs and flows of the scene and our economy. When asked what the biggest challenges were for Riddlebreak, it came back naturally as lack of solid infrastructure and the occasional industry sharks. Nonetheless, the band maintains a positive outlook and credit some great scene allies.

“Probably the biggest struggle in South Africa for the metal/underground scene is getting the music out there. Not only in an international capacity, but locally as well. We have a small scene when compared to other genres that are popular in the country. So what we all want is growth, and by working together as one big metal family we can achieve it.”

“Another big problem we’ve experienced is there are some ‘event organizers’ and ‘agents’ who take advantage of up-coming bands by taking the biggest slice of pie after an event and leaving these upcoming bands underpaid for their hard work and discouraged to continue their musical journeys. Luckily, we have amazing people in our scene who really take care of the bands and want the scene to grow. Sash Northey, Lee Steele, Duncan Bell and Wayne Boucher are legends in the scene for the tireless work they put in to making it grow. Much love!” ~ Jade Osner

Check out Riddlebreak at Arts Expo: Nine Lives live at 22h00 on Saturday night. For full event details, follow the official facebook event page. The band’s 2016 debut Collapsar is also available via the Riddlebreak bandcamp page.

Interview by Kimberleigh Fae Chaye; authored by Patrick Davidson

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