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Reminiscing Selects #3: Himera

Surprise act setting off “a bittersweet firework display of melodies”

Just when we thought the night couldn’t get any better, Himera descended from the gates of hyperpop heaven straight to Glamcult Selects #3 with a surprise set. Navigating the realms of imaginative extreme pop sounds, Himera brings on their playful approach and turns the dancefloor into a sacred space between reality and fantasy. Still mentally stuck in that space, we caught up with the rising star to learn more about their journey in music, Latvian rave scene and the significance of cartoons and video games in their practice. Naturally, this has led us to the eternal existential question — if you could be any cartoon character, who would you be? Luckily, at Himera’s sets there are no limitations.

Great to be in touch! Getting right to it, how did your journey in music begin?

I’ve been surrounded by music from childhood, my parents raised me going to concerts and collecting vinyl of all different kinds. I’ve really never listened to the same music that kids my age would listen to… I’d burn CD mixtapes of Gorillaz and vocaloid and some obscure vinyl-only b-sides that I’d find in my stepdad’s collection. At some point I started making ambient tunes on Audacity, and my mom figured to get me a little MIDI keyboard that came with Ableton Lite for my 13th birthday, which is when I started discovering a whole new side of Soundcloud – sped up trance, chipmunk vocals over abrasive but poppy beats, and the “deconstructed club” scene, which all in some way inspired my music throughout the next seven years.

From all of those influences, how would you describe your DJing style?

I’d say it’s a bit all over the place, though I guess my “formula” now is to have an obnoxiously long build-up in the beginning, and then suddenly go ham with loud beats and funny synths. I really just want to recreate the feeling of a rollercoaster ride that ends with a bittersweet firework display of melodies.

Oh, and congrats on your debut album Sharing Secrets— super fun! It’s been described as ‘a digital form of extreme pop’. What draws you to these sounds?

I’ve developed a suspiciously strong liking to pop music over the last three or four years. I used to hate on radio pop (probably as a “fitting in” technique) while growing up, but I’ve grown to accept that some of the melodies/structures just WORK. I guess the “digital” part comes from growing up on the internet and being surrounded by people who use the same “pop” techniques in new and different ways, which I take endless inspiration from.

Apart from that, what are your sources of inspiration?

Most noticeably video games and weird internet-core visuals and urban legends I’d say. I’ve been using sounds from games that I grew up playing and found the sound design super satisfying – Kirby and Rhythm Heaven have quite a prominent feature on Sharing Secrets. I’m just a huge Nintendo fangirl.

You come from an Eastern European rave scene. How would you say it’s different from the scene here in Amsterdam? Is it something that is reflected in your style f DJing as well?

I’m quite young, so I haven’t really gotten to experience the “true” Latvian rave scene, but I have seen the rise of underground parties and musicians there. There’s not much to do in Latvia, so young people are really down to experiment in their music, their DJ sets, their style… but it is subdued quite a lot because of the cultural expectations. You really have to be in the right bubble to witness all of the creativity that comes out of these places since there is a lot of prejudice against the queer community and just standing out in any way from the public. The circle I surround myself with though inspires me every time I come back to visit; they’re just the coolest-looking, most fearless and talented bunch who are doing amazing things and will definitely get all the spotlights some day soon.

How would you say your work interacts with the communities that you’re in?

I hope my music/DJ sets/maybe even my online presence brings some sort of childish “whatever” vibe to the people around me. Music doesn’t have to be serious, and neither do musicians online. Of course I take my work seriously and I cherish what I do, but I like to have fun with how I approach it. Hopefully I can bring that across when I play a two minute long riser as an opener in the club for example. No complaints yet, so must be working, haha.

I also love your visuals and fashion style! How would you say these elements interact in your creative process when it comes to music?

Thank you! I guess I always have had this sort of childlike obsession with toys, trinkets and funky combinations which kind of shows in the things I wear. Mostly recently I’ve learned to mess around with the way people see me — playing with proportions, wearing oversized and undersized all at once just to look like some sort of cartoon/video game character. I also used to hide my face quite a lot online, putting emojis over it, adding snot bubbles, facetuning to have different coloured eyes… I want people to perceive me as a new person depending on how I feel. It is all online, after all. Maybe I just want to be a character in some obscure MMO virtual world for everyone.

What makes someone stand out in the crowd for you?

All the people in a crowd in front of me are superstars, but if you know the words to the songs I’m playing it’s so much fun to sing along together! I also do love when an unexpected friend runs up to the front and reaches out to me, it feels so special.

If you could change anything in the music industry, what would it be?

Probably the DJ gatekeeping!!! Use that sync button! Do a pre-recorded set! Play those low quality MP3s! Who cares! If you play good music and the crowd is doing what you want them to do, be it dance, sing along or be utterly disgusted, then you’re doing everything right in my opinion.

What’s your biggest achievement so far? In music or generally.

Most recent (and quite big) achievement was probably my mom coming to my set for the first time. There was something special about seeing those shaky photos and videos from her the next day and hearing the music I love playing in the background. She seemed to have a good time, and I think she liked/approved of my friends. Big win if I do say so myself.

Dream line up for a club night?

Would have to be TDJ, DJG2G, Goth Jafar & estoc. These people do something unexplainable to my body on the dancefloor. 

Top 3 songs to listen to get in the mood for your set?

Sfire – Sfire 7, Namasenda – Banana Clip, Cashmere Cat – Without You.

What are you manifesting for 2023?

I want to travel more! I wasn’t ready to go on tour or travel much further than Europe but I think I’m getting there… Maybe I can finally meet all my lovely friends overseas. ❤️

Images courtesy of Himera

Words by Evita Shrestha