We had the honour of chatting with Daniel Stacey Herber, of Damned If I Don’t. The topics danced around his time in Hong Kong and how he adapted to the lifestyle, his hobby his time spent with Daniel Tompkins of Tesseract fame, including what inspired the new project for Damned If I Don’t.
Tell us about life in Hong Kong and how difficult was it to adjust to the new lifestyle?
Being from Johannesburg, I was used to the hustle and bustle of city life and things being fairly fast-paced. I wasn’t prepared for the sheer volume of people though: you definitely never feel alone in Hong Kong. Having lived in Mainland China for three years prior to living in Hong Kong, which has the influence of both Eastern and Western culture I found adjusting to day-to-day life to be a little easier in Hong Kong.
Take a Listen While You Read!
Can you tell us more about your new project and what inspired it?
It had been a full five years since I had recorded any original music or was in a band, I just decided it was time, as I have a musical impulse that sometimes takes over. I was encouraged a lot by a Scottish friend who heard a demo version of Octane then immediately asked me when he could expect to hear the next song.
How do you foresee your future as a South African musician living abroad?
It certainly adds an interesting dynamic to playing abroad. Most people still aren’t accustomed to what exactly a South African is exactly - compared to what might be expected from American or British expats for example. I think, personally, it gives me a unique context within which to appreciate and navigate the circumstances I find myself in. It would be great to return to SA in future on a tour when we can warrant enough interest in such a thing happening.
We see you spent some time with Daniel Tompkins, of Tesseract fame. Tell us about your vocal training with Daniel!
It makes me realise why Dan is in one of the biggest rock bands around today - part of the key to his success, besides his insane talent at singing is his humility. He is the most chilled, down-to-earth and relatable guy, and that really resonated with me. You just can’t fake being that nice a person. He was so casual with his anecdotes while delivering lessons: “When I was on stage at Download this weekend I could feel at one part of the song I was reaching for a note…” but he is not bragging at all, but rather demonstrating through experience. Nothing but respect for that man and his band - I wish them every success in the world.
You performed with several local acts before moving to Hong Kong. Who were these bands?
Firstly there was HeadLost, which morphed into Pointing to Pieces - these were punk bands made with high school friends. I was singing in these bands (but, admittedly, couldn’t really sing back then…) when Eve stepped in as a vocalist, she would later found The Frown. The sound took a darker turn when this line up morphed into the popular emo/post-punk of the time, namely Cellar Door Diaries with the addition of vocalist Nic. The bassist of (most of) these bands then joined CrashCarBurn and still plays with them to this day. The other guys would go on to form Danceyou’reonfire. I then switched over to bass, from guitar, and joined post-hardcore/screamo band Your Name In Neon after their bassist and founding member emigrated. After that, I briefly played in a rock band with friends, called A Rival Departure, back in 2012.
Can you name your favourite S.A venue and your new hang out in Hong Kong and how do they compare?
My nostalgic favourite was definitely Tempos. More recently, I like Rumours Rock City as I have seen it expand and it is one of the only few spaces that actively support live music in Joburg. In Hong Kong, I’d have to say my favourite live venue is a place called This Town Needs. I’d say the venues are comparable in terms of quality and size - there are more venues in HK though as there, is a sizeable market and audience for Rock Music in Hong Kong.
Which is your favourite venue to perform in and tell us why? - Local and international?
I like live festival stages in the summertime, playing under the stars to thousands of people - once you’ve experienced that there’s no looking back.
Share with us your favourite pastime.
Aside from music, likely painting. I find it to be incredibly relaxing and allows my mind to think of solutions to any challenges I might be facing at that particular moment in time.
Do you have a preferred social network? If so, name it and tell us why?
As much as I love words, their preferred place for me is within the covers of a novel. As such I would likely say Instagram, as aesthetically it can be enriching to view great cinematic and photographic content, depending on who one follows. Without words, images seem to convey meaningful purposefully and meaningfully.
We see you spent four years teaching guitar and bass. How fulfilling was this role and are you still teaching?
Sharing the gift of being able to write and perform music with over one hundred people over a couple of years was incredibly meaningful to me and made me realise I have a passion for teaching too. I am still teaching, I teach English literature courses at a local high school in Hong Kong and am currently completing a Masters Degree in Education, as part of my plan to be a lifelong educator.
Any last words of wisdom that you would like to pass on to aspiring new artists?
Thank you for taking the time out in answering our questions.
Thank you to Underground Press for taking the time to interview me, sincerely appreciated. Your website is great and we wish you nothing but success for the future.
Stay tuned to our social media channels for more exciting Damned If I Don’t developments to be announced soon.