“It’s just going to be a lot tougher for bands” – Interview with Sashquita Northey of Emalyth

sahsquita-northey-emalythOne can’t stop a tide. No matter how much you want to. That was the feeling we had on last week’s announcement that Emalyth will no longer be as active in the industry and scene. The news came as a shock to many. Emalyth has been a major driving force in Johannesburg’s metal scene for the last few years.

Built on one woman’s vision for metal, arts and culture, Emalyth has become a force to be reckoned with. Solely responsible for events that have become annual highlights up North, booking and arranging gigs & tours, mini-festivals and managing some of the fittest models and talented artists, Emalyth is one of a kind. Sashquita Northey is one of a kind.
We’ve built an amazing relationship with Sash over the years. Her hard work and dedication, shining through in every project, event and artist her hands have touched.
Not only are we devastated at the news, we are saddened to see our sister in metal take a back seat. Thankfully for us, Sash wanted to open up about the decision leading up to the “resignation” and we are privileged to share some of her insight, optimism and enthusiasm with you, one more time.

M4A: So, after nearly 6 years of toiling away, not only for the alternative art scene, models and music, you’ve decided to call it quits. In your release to the public earlier this week, you’ve mentioned that you’ve felt a bit spread thin, that you need time to focus on your family and on yourself. Was that the major factor for the decision, or are there other reasons you’ve not gone into?

Sash: The biggest factor is time. I’ve been totally ignoring Emalyth this year, and I only really did one noteworthy event under the brand, the Arts Expo. That being said, I’ve worked on 3 nationwide tours comprising of over twenty gigs, so I’ve been working off my ass off. My post-grad studies have just started up, my time table at work increased and I realised not only was I neglecting Emalyth, but I was getting really shitty at trying to do a billion things at once. Also, with all the big things happening in the scene at the moment, it’s the perfect opportunity for me to take a break. I want to branch out into totally different areas with my life, but I will so be very active within the scene.

M4A: What has the response been to the announcement?

Sash: The response has been good. A lot of people sent me positive messages, and most people that would have been upset know that I am still here and doing things, I’m just being a little more exclusive with who I do them with.

M4A: You’ve been responsible for the largest heavy metal music events up in Jo’burg,. Do you think that your stepping down will lead to a void in these kinds of events or do you feel that there is still a need for weekend festivals, and will there be a driving force for them from the community?

Sash: No, not really. It’s just going to be a lot tougher for bands who have been spoon-fed to play nice shows. Bands that are dedicated and determined will book and promote their own events and they will do well. If they’re clever, they’ll think of the things I incorporated into gigs to make their own more successful. Also, Witchdoctor Records and Ram Touring are doing some amazing things (freaking Sepultura!), and people are pretty amped on that. I think local gigs for metal bands will have to tone down a bit. Which is not a bad thing. A lot of bands are going to watch these international acts, and work harder to be better so that they can play at a well-publicised and organised event.
Is there a need for weekend festivals? Probably not budgets are tight. We’re still going do the Arts Expo, because that show not only encompasses everything Emalyth stands for (the arts, the metal, the clothing, the models) but also, it’s cool to see so many bands from around Africa performing in the same place.

Emalyth Arts Expo VI shirtM4A: You have mentioned that you are going to be focusing on two bands. Namely Boargazm and Raptorbaby. Are we only to expect your hand in planning shows for them, or will you still be slightly more active behind the scenes? I guess, what I’m asking here is, will you still be somewhat active? If so, will it be in your private capacity as Emalyth, or will you be working with someone?

Sash: Yup, I’ll still be doing the shows and tours for them which means organising and promoting events just like normal – So, yes. People can expect invites to events from me. Don’t say I didn’t warn you, folks. I will still do a lot of dealings under the Emalyth brand, because the brand and I are one.
I feel that I can’t hand over work to someone else because 1. I wouldn’t be able to explain everything I do, and 2. Bringing someone new in will take more time than actually doing the work myself. I’ve built up a lot of trust with venues and bands and so they know that /I/ am reliable.

M4A: To get a little nosey, why choose to still represent these two bands in particular?

Sash: Because they’re AMAZING! Also because I feel I could do so much more for them than I currently am. Both bands are in exciting phases at the moment and I feel that now I have cut down on helping everyone who’s stumbled across my email or phone number, I can push them into ventures that I haven’t fully explored. Like really nailing down the international attention towards local acts through great Public Relations.

M4A: Do you think you’ll miss doing this?

Sash: Of course I will. It’s was quite a big insecurity in my life for a while – What would I do with my time, would people still talk to me? Would I still have friends? But through my workings with Boargazm and Raptorbaby I will still be chatting to bands when I book support acts, I’ll still be harassing venue owners for dates, and when I am really interested, I’ll throw out a review or interview.

M4A: Is there anything you haven’t said in your farewell that you would like to say to all the folks and bands you’ve been working with over the last few years?

Sash: Please be professional. Please be nice. Please don’t break up after two years. Please record media. I have seen the rise and fall of too many good bands, and that’s sad. I’d like to say thank you to all the bands and venues for the most amazing experiences and opportunities you have presented me with. I have had the most EPIC of adventures and wonderfully treasured memories. You’ve made my early life feel like that of an early 90s “rockstar”.
Emalythians are the best! I need to give a special mention to Patrick Davidson, Ebony Aberdein, Kelly Williams, Minette de Beer, Tegan Davies, Riaan de Kock and Lauren Melnick. Honestly without your support Emalyth would never ever have been what is was. Thank you all!

M4A: What are your thoughts on the Joburg scene as it stands now, and do you have any concerns that it will head the same way that Durban did?

Sash: Never! There are far too many bands and good venues and metal heads to let that happen. Kataklysm was proof of how many people are willing to come out to watch good metal. Even the Durban folks rocked up for this one. I just wish people within the metal scene would stop being such dicks to each other. The genre bashing and bashing organisations like the Wacken Battle is stupid. Joburg has a big scene with tons of different metal bands, and great music venues.
Emalyth has worked with every clique out there and hey look – it worked. Just because you don’t like a genre of music doesn’t mean your taste is better than someone else’s, and thus more “right”, unless you’re judging a competition… apparently.
I think if the Johannesburg venues maintain their high standards – have decent sound rigs that are cheap, or, better yet free and good sound engineers and the dedicated people who put their time, heart and soul into events, the scene can only blossom. Durban’s scene has died because there are two venue that alternative bands can play at and like 6 bands, with musicians that all play in each other’s bands and bam, that’s the scene there. The other 5 people complain. That being said, I do believe Durban is slowly seeing resurgence through bands like Carnage Carnival and Black Math. They just need to figure out how to get people away from their keyboards and do a gig.

Sash, we can only say a humble “thank you”. Thank you for all you have done. Thank you for your passion. Thank you for your dedication and hard work. We love you. We will miss you and we can’t wait for the day you return and take the world by storm.