- Local group December Streets joined us for a quick catch-up, telling us what 10 years in the industry has taught them and what the future holds.
- Group members Dane, Matt and Tristan also open up about creating music during lockdown, and help us get to know the band a little better with a fun quick-fire round of questions.
- December Streets recently filmed the video for their hit, Last Forever, sharing first with Channel24. Watch it below.
It was a Thursday afternoon when I met with December Streets at a restaurant in Melville, Johannesburg. My first in-person interview since the national lockdown in March. Full disclosure - I was nervous. Social etiquette had changed since I last ventured out into the world at the beginning of 2020. So, with the new rules in mind, I set forward.
Side note: I'm pleased to announce that after chatting to celebrities through a computer screen for seven months, I still know how to behave in a 'real life' setting.
December Streets have been in the local music scene for a decade now. Band members Dane, Matt and Tristan, joined me for a quick catch-up, sharing details about their latest track, some of the toughest lessons they've learnt over the years, and what the future holds for the group.
While they did experience the negative impact of lockdown on the entertainment industry, Tristan admits the period of forced isolation was somewhat of a "blessing in disguise" for the group, allowing them more time to sit down and create music without distractions.
"[Before lockdown] we were on the road 24/7, so when we had time to write, it was like, you're trying to squeeze it in between shows, you know? Like if there's a gap on a Friday evening. Whereas now we had all these weekends open and weeks. And you could sit down and actually really dig into writing and exploring sounds and really perfecting the songs," he tells me.
Though physically distant, with the help of technology, the group was able to come together to create their latest hit, Last Forever.
It's near impossible not to bob your head along to the funky melody. But don't be fooled, Tristan explains that the song actually stems from heartbreak.
"I went through a really bad breakup and like the betrayal kind of vibes. So, there I started on the piano or guitar and wrote the lyrics - this idea of losing someone during this period of lockdown.
"It's got a nostalgic element to it, the idea of loss as you wish that relationship with someone or good moments in life could last forever, but then the harsh reality of the fact that most good things do come to an end."
The song also carries a message of hope with it, he goes on to say.
The group filmed the Last Forever video on a recent trip to Cape Town. Watch it here:
Like a chameleon continually adapting to its surroundings, the guys say their sound is flexible, changing as the years, or even months, go by.
"It's changed over the last few months. It's changed since yesterday," Dane Jokes.
Right now, though, they agree it's leaning toward "indie-pop with a bit of funk blend".
For Dane, it's all about creating music with good energy. "We always wanted to make music where the crowd doesn't have to struggle to move a little bit. Music that gives you some good energy so we can see the crowd enjoying themselves."
This ability to effortlessly transform is one the band has mastered over their 10-year career.
About the lessons they have learnt from the industry throughout the years, Matt says understanding the need to "build a brand" was the toughest one.
"I think that's something that's becoming more apparent. It's not something that was lacking in the band, but something that's become more heightened," he explains.
"There's a lot of business behind the band. It's not just fun and playing shows. You actually have to look at the music landscape and try to navigate and learn the business side of things," adds Dane.
Part of learning to navigate the music landscape these days includes establishing a brand on social media as well.
"That's probably one of the most important factors of music [today]," Tristan says. The group shares a bit of a chuckle, though, as they admit they're not very good at updating their social networking accounts.
But that has not stopped them from amassing a loyal following - fans who have been around since the beginning and can't wait to find out what the future holds for December Streets.
So, what does the future hold? A couple more singles, and if we're lucky, perhaps another album.
"I think the whole idea of albums has changed in the past couple of years. it's moved far more into a singles territory, where each single you write has to be approached as an album. Because the amount of effort you have to put into that song to be noticed, and for people to latch onto it, takes an equal amount of effort as what you would put in a collective body of work," Tristan tells me, adding: "So we're doing the singles thing and each one has its own narrative that has a golden thread through it. We might put it on an album."
Getting to know December Streets:
On a road trip, who assumes which roles?
Corneil and Waldo: Driving/"Parents of the group"
Tristan: In charge of music
Dane: In charge of sleeping (he's word, not mine)
Matt: Brings the energy
If you could open for any artist, local or international, who would it be?
Coldplay or Kanye West
Best piece of advice you've been given?
"Take credit where credit is due"
One of your biggest highlights?
Opening for The Kooks and playing the main stage at major festivals.
What do you still hope to achieve?
Sustenance and international success.