AND THE GENERAL BURDEN OF MAN
YOUR MONEY IS NO GOOD HERE .
Photograph: Linda Brownlee
Hello, Iâ€™m Gareth Skewis from POINTER foot
wear. And I did not have time to do my interview for this bloody magazine. I did however send loads of ads which you will see in between all the fabulous articles in this magazine showing some of the tip top artists work that we use for our advertising campaigns, which is what the interview was basically about. I hope you all enjoy this first edition of PANGRAM.
f fuck art lets ight
. ’ We are fuckin pissed off with how we have been manipulated, how our families have been enslaved and how we all forget that there was no god to start with . How the hell are you doing? On the one hand I am doing well; I eat regular meals, live with the one I love, have a famous dog, and work with people of my choice. On the other hand I am doing very badly; as I grow older I learn more about the systems behind the systems behind the systems that control us all and some days I feel powerless and chain-smoke. First off please tell us what you are busy with at the moment? Being an artist, living the life I choose, spending my time as I see fit and chain-smoking. Explain your work to us and what you do? With all of my projects I try to get people to think and those few who are already thinking I entice them to think twice. I create scenarios, interactive events and situations that break the natural rhythm allowing for time out, a time for reflecting. Legend has it that you used to be an ad man? Yes. Although it has been over a decade since I sold cigarettes to children it still gives me the heebie jeebies. On a slightly different note I found a definition you may relate to. Peter Saville describes how times changed and thus produced individuals like him who were not driven by an external brief but more, like an artist, by themselves. He calls himself an independent designer. Dangerous stuff.
university and the second was to start a church. Subsequently I have been invited to lecture at institutions even though I have no qualifications and the church thing is not for me; I am happily living in a godless world. It looks like you have a few projects always running alongside one another that appear to form one bigger project. Never ending, similar to the universe? I am a multitasker, always working on different projects and often within different collectives. Some of my investigations take years and others happen within a day so it only natural that they overlap. And yes the process is ongoing, I do not intend retiring and my days are not split. By this I mean I do not need weekends or vacations. Studio 2666 in CT seems to have come to some kind of an end now, why is that? Studio 2666 is still an influential hub in Cape Town. There are some hardcore individuals working out of that space and I suspect that we have not seen the last of them.
Do you consider yourself as one of the most well known underrated artists in SA? No. That description should be given to Ed Young’s mentor Sebastian Charilaou who you should interview in your next issuu.
You have worked with some really talented artists, who has impressed you the most? They all have for different reasons. I have also worked with nonartists like Tom, a homeless man, who impressed me greatly. My longest collaboration with a living artist has been with Barend de Wet, I think we first worked together in 2001. My current work with Douglas Gimberg is most refreshing; our projects have taken me to some unexpected places like a residency in Gugulethu as well as our intense dismantling of religion, something I managed to avoid touching on for 37 years.
You seem to be like some sort of a cult figure? Hahahahah. You fit that bill better than I do. When I was in matric my mother took me to an industrial psychologist for a career assessment. He said I had two paths, the first was to lecture at a
Art has definitely taken you places, for instance how does one end up on a beach called “Freddie Mercury” with a man called Ed Young on the coast of Africa? Ed and I worked together on a project called No Problem in Africa
Douglas Gimberg & Christian Nerf. Planting an apple tree in Paradise. 2008
Photograph: Daron Chatz
Douglas Gimberg & Christian Nerf. Christening. 2008
Photograph: Dan Halter
and kicked off a year’s worth of performances on the 6th of the 6th of the 6th at an event called The Last Braai. We went looking for thinkers in Africa, starting in Cape Town and heading up the east coast to Zanzibar where Farrokh Bulsara dreamt of the Seven Seas of Rhye. Subsequently we headed off to Manhattan and Berlin. Do you ever follow politics in this country and do you vote? I do follow politics. Hahahah, vs politicians, anyways that still sounds bad. Let me rephrase: I do try to keep abreast with politics on the international scene as our system is directly linked with the neocon capitalist pseudo-democratic system. And no, I do not vote. Ryan van Huyssteen and Francis Burger described your “One more day to regret” project as representing a dismal failure and accusing you of having to lie in order for it not to become a complete fraud… where as the Art Throb review by Katherine Jacobs points it into the direction of Bayesian myth-making ending up in a cul de sack. Are you used to these types of accusations? Douglas and I have worked very hard at cultivating these suspicions. We started a year earlier by orchestrating a hyped up show called Hell Yeah through the Museum of Contemporary Art where we went to great lengths planting conflicting and devious messages. Also we facilitated sessions where people could dismantle crosses and numerous other gatherings where dubious shit went down. All of these things assisted us in our mission to discredit ourselves and portray ourselves as untrustworthy. I will add that we have always told the whole truth and nothing but the truth. Note - Jacobs said Beuysian (as in Joseph Beuys) mythmaking vs Bayesian (as in Thomas Bayes) myth-making. I love your Freudian slip as it draws in another way of analysing the project; Tomas Bayes was a mathematician (and minister) and as Wiki says “Bayesian probability is the name given to several related interpretations of probability, which have in common the notion of probability as something like a partial belief, rather than a frequency. This allows the application of probability to all sorts of propositions rather than just ones that come with a reference class”. Nice one Mr Naude. There is a strong anti religion backbone to the work you do with Gimberg like planting an apple tree in Paradise in Knysna alongside rumours of translating the Satanic Bible into Afrikaans. Though I feel the last mentioned deed is a necessity there seems to be an undertone of satirical anger and comedy? We are fuckin’ pissed off with how we have been manipulated, how our families have been enslaved and how we all forget that there was no god to start with. On the humour side of things I will note that it’s a great way to disarm people and open them up to something far more serious. After reading a number of reviews by Francis Burger about the projects you’re involved in I have come to the conclusion that maybe a fist fight should be in order or some sort of challenge involving drugs, booze, street savvy and oiled midget wrestling. Would you back down to such a challenge? A showdown is not necessary. I agree with everything she has said, actually she could have been more sceptical and even dismissed the work outright. Then again I am always up for an event involving drugs, booze, street savvy and oiled midget wrestling.
Most of the work you do or are involved in could be seen as pointing the finger at the obvious, are you more of a realist than an artist? I am not into making pretty pictures. Not sure if this answers your question as I am a bit confused by the word ‘obvious’. Can anything be taken on face value? By the way I grew up surrounded by Pangrams. My father was, amongst others things, a classically trained typographer. In our TV room we had ‘pictures’ on the walls that were in fact typographical exercises. Each different typeface spelling out The Quick Brown Fox Jumps Over The Lazy Dog and thus exposing the good, the bad and the ugly in the negative spaces. Do some artists take things a bit too seriously or literally? Yes. Artists are people too. What gets you up in the morning? The boredom of lying there is what usually gets me up and if I fall back to sleep I am plagued by terrible nightmares. With the “Mental Pictures” project at the Blank gallery, the objects that you pasted upside down to roof were all other items that were left over from other projects. Off cuts so to speak, do you hold on to a lot of stuff as if they will actually never really be finished and will there always be connections between projects? Specifically the projects with Gimberg have these reoccurring elements, especially where de Wet is involved. Over the past decade most of my projects have been temporal and I keep the leftovers as evidence. Also I give elements to Ronan Coyle, a collector based in Johannesburg, who specialises in off cuts. Will the truth behind “One more day to regret” ever be revealed? On the 12th of May 2018 we will exhibit concrete evidence that we did in fact Escape to Robben Island. With the current “Acting on Orders” project underway, how do you decide what you will do and what you wont? Where do you draw the line in order not to contradict yourselves? Damn. That is such a complex project I don’t know where to start. Basically we let Americans tell us what to do, or at least we tell them that we will do what we are told. Not sure how important it is to analyse this project, as it is as absurd as its premise. How is that going so far? The monster grows every day. Would you ever return to the basics like drawing a picture and hanging it up in a gallery for money? Never say never. There may come a day that doing that could be a good way to comment on something or to simply do the wrong thing. How much of your time do you spend analyzing and thinking per day? I only take time out from thinking and researching to make the stuff that actualises those realisations. I am happy to produce one work a year. Why are so many people scared of the afterlife? Damn, imagine believing all that stuff, I too would be shit scared of going to hell. What do you hope to achieve by translating the Satanic bible into Afrikaans?
Douglas Gimberg & Christian Nerf. Truth. 2008
Douglas Gimberg & Christian Nerf. Escape to Robben Island. 2008
Composite photograph: Crispian Plunkett
Ed Young & Christian Nerf. No Problem in Africa. 2006
Christian Nerf. Bunny. 2005
Photograph: Sebastian Charilaou
Christian Nerf. Golden Calf. 2002- ongoing Sketch for sculpture made with divorcees wedding rings. Image: Nicole Houze
Everything is constructed. Belief and meaning are constructed. Perhaps by translating we hope to find that hidden code that will free us all? Seriously though, we are dealing with colonialism. Interestingly Avon Books, known for their romance novels, publish the Satanic bible.
Have you come across any similarities between you and Mr LaVey? There is a little criminal in me and a little artist in the criminal. Anyhow we all share traits, you [Stefan] and I go for dodgy bars. The 2.6 biker bar in Simons Town, behind the military base, is my latest hangout.
Could Anton Szandor LaVey be seen as a pioneer in mind control or just a guy who could throw you one heck of a party? I see him as a performance artist. ‘LaVey’ lived the lie; he thought, said and did the same thing. From a peculiar point of view one could say that he had integrity.
What sort of exercises would you recommend before attempting to cross the sea towards a distant island? I was utterly unprepared physically so I couldn’t say.
Anton has a fancy middle name, if push comes to shove what would you slot in between the front and the back of your name and surname? My middle name is Alexander, which is fine. If push came to shove I would go with MacGuffin. Are you aware of the fact that Mr LaVey brought out an album called “Fantasy pipe organ and percussion.” Do you think maybe that you should lay into playing the pipes yourself at your next exhibition? No, hadn’t heard of it. Gimberg and I have had a theme track for each of our projects; for Carpentry 101 we played Nick Cave’s Little Empty Boat. I may look into learning how to play some musical instrument, perhaps the white pipes? Hahahaha, only joking. Have you heard of Satanic Techno? Check out Peter Paracelsus’ (aka Peter Mlakar, NSK’s Satanic Technocrat) collaboration with the Laibach subgroup 300,000 V.K.
Was there any time that you thought you were going to turn back? Never, neither Barend nor Douglas would have entertained the thought. Although before the mist cleared I was leaning towards aborting the mission and heading home for an espresso and Judge Judy. Why do you think so many people do not believe that you actually took the trip? We orchestrated a realm of distrust and did not provide any proof. We rely on people’s faith. What would you achieve if it comes out that you actually did not do the trip? Ok, hypothetically if we didn’t escape to Robben Island then we would have simply emulated the masters and temporarily occupied your headspace. For example on February 5th 2003 Colin Powell convinced the United Nations Security Council that weapons of mass destruction existed in Iraq. On April 3rd 2004 CNN reported Powell saying “now it appears not to be the case that it
Christian Nerf. United States. 2005
Christian Nerf. Eat Shit. 1999
A blow-up g_ds Project.
Image: Lisa Mackay
was that solid,”. This is part of a long stream of issues presented for our consideration and yet we are not expected to make a decision but to merely keep it in mind if not top-of-mind. You have been called the “Bad Boy” of art, does that make you feel like some kind of pornographic figure, or PLAYA in hip hop terms? No comment. Why do you think artists have used religion as one of their topics through the ages? Artists primarily serviced the church and the aristocracy up until a few generations ago. As Dr Sacramento points out artists “had to re-invent painting, which was by now a clientless art form. One of the people in charge of that, painted with light (like photography), isolated himself in France, chopped his ear off (no Belle and Sebastian for Vincent) and drank himself to death (No Jagermeister, Absinth it was!). He was responsible for the clientless art of the 20th Century.” Essentially it was commercial art.
What would you change if you could? I would change your mind. When is the last time you cried? I cried a few hours ago. What are you going to do after you have done this interview? Try and forget the silly stuff and then try to recall what I have forgotten. Is there life after death…? You will be lucky to live a life before death comes knocking let alone some mumbo-jumbo about life after death.
What is next on the Nerf agenda? Gimberg and I are building a Rat Rod that we will then crash, de Wet and I are making bronze sculptures and I am back-translating Die Satanies Bybel. What is the last placed you travelled to? Robben Island by boat. What are you listening to right now? Strange Overtones by David Byrne and Brian Eno from Everything That Happens Will Happen Today. Describe yourself in one word Sorry, can’t bring myself to answer that but I am going to replace this question with a conversation I had with Kathryn Smith yesterday… Kathryn Smith : Do you think, as Wittgenstein put it, that ethics and aesthetics are one and the same? Christian Nerf : Yes, they are Siamese twins that cannot and should not be separated. We all carry prejudice, of which we should be acutely aware, that colour our perceptions. KS : What do you want? CN : Uncalled-for newness. KS : Is white the new black? CN : We are always being offered something new, a thing that replaces another thing. Unfortunately this is often part of a predicted trend. True newness is a quantum leap; it is revolutionary versus evolutionary. And even if white is the new black who really gives a fuck other than the trendsetters and their customers. I refer here not only to fashionistas but to politicians, drug dealers, diet drinks et cetera. KS : Can I ask one more question? CN : OK KS : Paraphrasing Adorno, is every work of art an uncommitted crime? CN : I recall a joint lecture you gave with Colin Richards where he said that, in art therapy, patients were encourage to make marks on paper versus marks on their bodies. I felt suddenly very sick sitting there covered with marks. Funny thing is he and Penny (Siopis) subsequently gave me a portable painting kit “to make marks with”.
Christian Nerf. Sans Copyright. 1996- ongoing Direct action sticker bombing campaign, Edition 3000.
Photograph: Paul Grose
Naked in the rain
. Horses don’t do english they respond more to body language I m not kidding, read Monty Roberts. He’s the real guy that piece of shit tear jerker Robert Redford film was based on. ‘The horse whisperrer’ didn’t do anything for natural horsemanship .
How the hell are you doing? UNDER PRESSURE! First of please tell us what you are busy with at the moment? I’m just about to go to print with our two new titles for Day One Publishing (myself,Tamsen de Beer and Stephan le Roux). We’re in the final stages of preparation before sending everything for color proofing. That’s well over 500 pages of panic! But it’s looking great! Explain your work to us and what you do? I make books. Photographer and publisher. Your first book “caution horses” was quite a success, how long did it take you to finish off that first one and how did the whole project come about? Jesus, that’s so long ago... I was teaching photography in Cape Town when I realized that becoming a lecturer straight out of art school would turn me into one of those sad bookish types that have never really experienced the field that they’re trying to prepare their students for. So I quit and left Cape Town in my Land Rover with my dog Julip and just drove. We ended up in a small town called Aus in southern Namibia where I heard about these wild desert horses. Four months later I left Aus with enough material for an exhibition. I came back to Cape Town and the rest is history. I went back many times and that project lasted about four years. But the Caution Horses book came out after I had been working on it for only seven months or so. I finally abandoned the project when too many copycat interpretations started to surface.
How much time did you spend with the animals? With the horses in Namibia - on and off for four years. But somehow I always find myself surrounded by all manner of beasts. You were really secluded, did you feel like that lady Dian Fossey from “Gorillas in the mist” or was it more like “Stan in the horse manure”? Unlike Ms. Fossey I didn’t get to have intercourse with my subjects. Are you a horse whisperer in a way? Horses don’t do English - they respond more to body language. I’m not kidding - read Monty Roberts. He’s the real guy that piece of shit tear-jerker Robert Redford film was based on. ‘The Horse Whisperer’ didn’t do anything for natural horsemanship. If you’re at all interested in this stuff, I really recommend you read Monty Robert’s ‘The Man Who Listens To Horses’. Would the book ever be re printed? Maybe not. I think that chapter of my life is over - excuse the pun. There were rumors that you might go and shoot the wild Mustangs in America, how come that never materialized? I moved on I guess. Do you ever follow politics in this country and do you vote? Are you sure you wanna discuss politics?
stan and julip, woodstock, cape town, south Africa
Photograph: brian hill
Dry Eye. monumental
Still life - food
When did you say “OK fuck all that advertising shit I’m going to do my own thing…”? When I was four. I’ve never been involved in advertising. Except for that Cell C campaign when I was three. What brings a man who respects nature like your self to tattoo “KILL THE WORLD” A3 poster size on your back? What!? On my back? Fuckin’ thanks for telling me! Beside “African Salad” what other projects have you done with Day One up until now? We’re working on numerous projects. The two projects we’re about to go to print with are being launched in February 2009, so they are the focus at the moment. The first is called DAS IS(S)T DEUTSCHLAND - it’s a German version of African Salad that I spent 5 months shooting last year in Germany, and Miss Beautiful - a two-and-half year photographic exploration of beauty pageants in South Africa. It’s gonna be amazing. What is Day One all about and how long has it been going for now? Day One Publishing is about making beautiful photographic books that explore contemporary South African culture through concise text and balanced images. Did you think that the “African Salad” book would be such a success ? It’s always a gamble when you publish something yourself. Handling all our own distribution and marketing made a big difference. Was it your idea or how did the project see the light of day? Stephan le Roux (one of my partners in Day One) and myself gave birth to the idea one drunken night at Lynton Hall - a sugar baron’s house turned into a fancy hotel - somewhere south of Durban.The evening started off very civilized with a seven course meal, but ended with me bathing in the fountain out in the court-
yard... hey, the shower in my room fucked out. How does one bring up the courage in your self to actually just walk up to a house, any house for that matter and ask them their favorite recipes and then taking pictures of their personal space? It wasn’t easy at first, but people are actually so open and inviting that it became second nature. Did anybody ever give shit or tell you to pis off? Not at all. How did you end up doing the follow up or a similar version in Germany? We were approached by a German investor that loved African Salad and felt a similar project could work really well in Germany. We didn’t think it could work there, South Africa just has so many different cultures and walks of life but on further investigation it seemed it could work. And it did! Germany is made up of some fiercely individual regions. Do you consider yourself an artist? No. Most ‘artists’ out there who spend their time thinking about whether they really are ‘artists’ or not and ‘Oh God! How will everyone KNOW I’m an artist?’, ‘Would and ARTIST do this?’ ‘Respect me because I take myself So fucking seriously!’ Can go and fuck themselves. You’re a joke! You seem to spend a lot of time on the road by yourself, where does a man’s mind drift of to on those lonely days? Dirty sex acts. Yours? Are you angry at a lot of injustice in this world? FUCK YEAH! Don’t get me started...
When is your next publication coming out? We’re launching Miss Beautiful at Design Indaba 2009, that’s in February. We’ll be launching DAS IS(S)T DEUTSCHLAND ‘round about the same time, locally and in Germany. Where did you meet the photographer Brian Hill and how long has your Dry Eye web page been going for now ? Brian Hill! Jesus! Um... some dirty hole somewhere. About ten years ago. DRY EYE has been going since the beginning of the year. Our current project is running for one year solid. Next year we’ll do something different. Is it just another project to keep you busy or will it eventually lead to an exhibition or another book? We’re just having fun with it and enjoying doing something together again. We did an exhibition together ten years ago, and since he now lives in Amsterdam it’s a great way for us to collaborate again. Where are you from originally and how did you end up in Cape Town? I was born in Vredendal and moved around with my parents every two years (I’ve lived all over) until I was 18, when I moved to Cape Town to become a painter. That didn’t work out quite as planned. In recent years you have been known to randomly attack police officers in Long st. , hurling abuse at random bystanders, drinking heavily and causing general chaos amongst fear full humans. Has that side of Stan Engelbrecht disappeared into the ether…? Ether? Can you drink it? Does the SPCA know that you over feed your dog and basically let her live a life of utmost luxury, spread eagle by the fire during winter? We’re slowly fattening her up and slow roasting her by the fire...
Would you pick a fight or an argument with yourself? No ways! Have you seen me angry? I’ll fuck myself up! If you could be the heavy metal front man of any band, who would you be? I would front Slayer, but as you know - there can be only one Tom Araya. At one stage I think you used to wear Rob Zombie’s leather arm bands, how on earth did you get those and what happened to the other one? I got them form Saskia Kroner of Misfit. Those things were fucking ugly. I am missing one... did you take it? What gets you up in the morning? A blou-tjoppie. What are you listening to right now? My girlfriend Michelle telling me not to answer the questions I don’t wanna answer. What would you change if you could? I’d make this interview shorter. When is the last time you cried? When I opened this fucking long interview I had to fill out! Jesus! What are you going to do after you have done this interview? Go back to work - see the answer to question one. Is there life after death…? Phone me next week. I’ll know by then.
Photograph: warren van rensburg
e In Th Land of the blind the one eyed man is king .
I don’t really like people I m not the tree hugging type of guy but I fucking hate what people do to each other, all day every day. Just driving along a highway is enough to make us homicidal . How the hell are you doing? Good – summer’s round the corner and the pool is looking damn fine. Only hassle is I’ve had my morning coffee and need to go drop the kids off before Mr. Junior Designer arrives… Did I mention the Mrs. and I are having a braai this weekend? Pull in. How does an Art Fag in a Jocks body get caught up in illustration or art for that matter? Ha, yeah, you coined that phrase, bastard. Went something like this: I was always drawing, as kids do, but I was big into being the class clown and all the rough and tumble sports. I was also trying to be suave guy round the meisies. Drawing helped grease the wheels of pre-pube romance- “sure, of course, I’ll do that locust drawing in your science book, Doris.” Then everything changed when I hit high school. All the teen angst and self-conscious shit mixed up with weird new school vibes – I retreated into books and art and drew more and more. Did Art School make a man out of you? It opened my eyes, that’s for damned sure. I was a oke from the sticks used to moering and getting moered. Suddenly I was at a school getting homo-erotic Xmas cards slipped under my door at hostel (thanks, Brett) and back rubs from wistful lesbians in history of art class. Not to mention sneaking into the auditorium to check out the ballet girls. There was none of that oppressive atmosphere of the regular government school, where you got jacked for stovies, sideburns pulled out by the root, fucking marching on the field for hours aimlessly, playing soldier for the
alcoholic techie teacher. The art school was a weird time, because I was feeling weird about life and wasn’t sure I fit in. It was the most defining time of my life, I would say. Also gave all my old mates something to take the piss out of since. Apparently you started the first rugby team at the JHB art school? Yar, can’t say it was a rugby ‘team’ as we know it. Was a bunch of okes who were just trying to be okes. At that time you had to wear mascara and dye your hair and be anaemic and listen to British punk no-one understood. You know, the whole affected Goth chic pretend-nihilist vibe. We were some tough guys who reacted against it and wanted scabs and bruises and violence. Mostly played on tar! Ha ha. We did have a soccer team going that got annihilated by Wits 3rd team in practise. Soon after that whole episode I broke my ankle pretty badly which ended my aspirations of being a rugby jock for a living. For a jolly man as yourself your work seems to lean more to the darker side of life, is that your general observation of the human race? I don’t really like people. I’m not the tree hugger type of guy but I fuckin hate what people do to each other, all day every day. Just driving along a highway is enough to make us homicidal. Then you get home and watch the news and see the greed, arrogance, apathy, ignorance. A skewed sense of entitlement has gripped us all. Every one of our leaders is licking their lips feverishly and rubbing their hands together as the world is sucked into the
Photograph: warren van rensburg
black hole. The best thing about this is being part of the virus, the stench clings to you no matter what. How did you lose your eye? A shotgun blast... after a dirty brawl about some girl… No? I was 2 and it was a sinus infection…. Does seeing the world in 20/0 vision help to ease the pain? Clarity is like a punch in the face – all along you wonder how it really feels. Then some boet in a fucking khaki shirt shows you ‘prezactly’ how! Give us a breakdown of your career? Wow, would you call it a career? I was a freelance (baked beans on toast) ‘cartoonist’ for a while back in the beginning. Then a cousin of a friend heard I could draw and hired me as a scan skiv. I learnt the basics of design and Mac from the guy and I was on my way. Was around this time I was drowning various sorrows and pseudo angst-wank deep thoughts, boozing was more a contact sport than a social exercise. I wasted a good few years of creative development by just cruising along, living for the party and not focussing on developing abilities. Now that I work for myself focus is part of the deal. Also part of a team that you can’t let down when you’re having a bad day. Damn, I’m a grown up! How much alcohol can the human body consume? I say it depends on the human. And the body. I know some short guy’s who take more than they are biologically able and some tall guy’s who kotch down the side of white Corollas. What steps does a man take when he finds half his Steer burger special from the previous night under the accelerator pedal of his car the next morning…? Firstly, make sure that the last bite you took the night before is still in your mouth, then continue chewing as you make your way
to the bathroom. After you’ve cleaned up a bit and are on the way to that meeting you’re late for, reach down and test the freshness of the bun. It could be hard and crusty or still surprisingly moist. Depends on the make and model of your car, humidity of the cabin etc. Either way, peel it off the hardware and satisfy the breakfast pangs. You’ll thank me later. Who or what has been your biggest Influence in your life up and un till now? My parents. They worked hard to pay my way though art school. That shit wasn’t cheap and they sacrificed a lot. I owe them everything I am today, and now it’s up to me to make good on their investment. Is the illustrator’s community just as up their own bums as the art world in this country? People like to wear the uniform without doing the opfok, you know? There’s a bunch of young’uns (and old’uns, who are that much more tragic) out there who like the idea of being an “artist”, or they have the hairstyle and the jean pant but not that much else. Let the work speak for itself – there’s a lot more integrity in busting your balls on an amazing body of work than there is in vacuously motivating why you’re on a sabbatical at 22. If you could drop your 2c in the bag so to speak, what would you say is missing from the booming younger generation that has popped up here, regarding the illustrative movement in the recent years? I’d say it’s derivative and up it’s own gat. We have the skill and talent in this country to start a ‘movement’, we should stop jumping on the tail end of international trends and develop something truly our own. I think the client has something to do with that too – I’m getting pretty tired of having crumbling pages of FACE magazine shoved at me as reference for a shoot or an illustration style.
Do you think certain pioneers over here were as original as we thought they were? Sadly no, just recently I’ve come to the startling realization that everything has been maimed and labelled several times over. We were all thinking they were revolutionary because we simply weren’t exposed to the source material they pilfered. It’s all changed with the net – old school commix, poster art, album covers are now a mouse click away, right there next to disillusionment. How do you approach, “the pad” and what are your favourite tools to etch out your visions? I’d say a healthy dose of coffee, a burning, focussed emotion and some black ink and good old dip pen. It finds you when you’re feeling it on the inside. Does your computer make you lazy? Definitely, but it also pushes you to try out more approaches. Apple Z is far easier than repainting the damned lettering in gouache. I fucking hate gouache. Amazingly it’s very similar to the word ‘gauche’ – which means “crude”. I do admire designers and illustrators who marry the analogue approach with digital. And you simply can’t beat the smell of acrylic and fresh canvas in the morning. Does illustrating pay your bills? No – unless you’re a famous liberal cartoonist who is 68% business man. It’s pretty saturated out there, and to make it big I reckon going international is the only way. It’s far easier approaching overseas markets nowadays, what with the inter webs and online culture. That said, it also helps to be better than the next guy. Maybe that’s why I’m a designer more than an illustrator! Explain the idea behind Infiltrate media and the type of clients your working with now? I wanted to start a company because I couldn’t stomach working for another boss. I wanted to design and draw for a living and not crank out any more licensed magazines and have titles like “art director” and “creative director” thrown around, when all you do is DTP monkey work. As a company we do things from the ground up, and we have some really accommodating clients who let us explore a little. Luckily we have a healthy mix of corporate and editorial work which pays the bills while we stretch our creative legs. How do you keep a balance on what you want to do and the client? Shit - I’m sounding like a text book here: I reckon it’s a case of hard work and doing what you can within the confines of the brief and client expectations. You can motivate a new approach but be sensitive to the project above all else. You’re paid to deliver the goods and that’s what you do. That doesn’t mean you can’t explore radical new approaches in your personal work. I think it’s very important for any creative to have their own side projects on the go – be it blogging or painting or making a zine. Otherwise you’re just a dtp operator working the 9 to 5, killing time between the smoke breaks. Is illustration classified as “art” straight away, where do you draw the line ... What makes it art and when can you hang it in a gallery, demand big money for it and walk around like a twat? There are some amazing illustrators out there that I’d chase down a dark alley demanding a signature. The bullshit kicks in when you have art critics waxing bilious about the ‘intellectual’ wank that is high art. Some of the artists hanging in galleries can hardly
draw. Illustrators, by virtue of having to communicate an idea, are far better draughts men that many artists can hope to be. The question being do they really want to draw well? Look at the shit on the walls at any gallery today – show me the craftsmanship or the thrill in the materials or the mastering of the skill. Illustrators HAVE to do it. Artists sell their half-baked attempts with a 5000 word “statement”. Fuck it.
dead yet, just resting. You recently took part in the “DRAWING SHOW” exhibition, including Garth Walker and Peet Pienaar. How did that come about? Was a surprise and an honour really, those guys are heavy weights with outstanding credentials. I felt a bit dirty when I got the call out the blue.
Does illustration influence your design work or is it visa versa? I think it’s all part of the package. Your personal work informs your professional projects – skills are developed in one and applied in the other.
Not sure how I got involved, but I’ve had work in a few shows and zines all over the place. I suppose the lesson being that you have to be out there in as many ways as possible.
Does your mom like your drawings…? Ha – not the messy ink purging. I think it’s hard to see the dark stuff from a parent’s point of view. Luckily I do a few wholesome things for mainstream media that I show her. Also, graphic design for corporates is nice and safe for moms. Your style is very loose yet economical… does this question mean anything or is it just complete bollox? It means dick, old chap.
Are you paying enough attention to your personal work? No, don’t think I ever did, but I’m not an artist in that sense either. I am a working designer who happens to draw on the side. All designers have aspirations of being taken seriously by galleries – perhaps that’s why we’re all bitter and pissy and say horrible things about artists? Is there life after death…? Well, there are those little creatures that hatch in your eye socket and feed off your corpse. Does that count?
Everybody has their influences, from who do you steal and is not ashamed to admit it? Everyone steals from anyone - everything is force-fed and puked up and fiddled with, like a little kid playing in it’s own faeces (no kidding, I apparently smeared my own shit on my bedroom wall. Nothing’s changed!). True originals were the cave dwelling plebs depicting hunting trips, girl trouble and the daily drag on a young earth. That was real – all we have now is re-runs. Can I please have me some popcorn? Has one of your drawings ever made you emotional? Yeah – I’ve broken pen nibs and splashed ink a drawing frenzy – if your work doesn’t affect you why bother? I suppose the question is do you do it for yourself or for others? When it’s all pretend and you’re trying too hard it will seem more like “work”. Coming back the nature of your personal work, besides the dark undertone, does your own disability contribute to the theme of the amputee’s and the helpless distorted naked figures brought forward by your pen? It may or may not – it might also be that it’s easier to draw stumps than anatomically correct hands all the time! Ha! But yes, I do think my stuff is influenced by several things – current social/political climate, the planet that we’ve reduced to a chunk of orbital debris screaming around the sun, the fragile human body; I’ve broken bones and teeth and had dislocations and fractures and sprains. A few scars here and there. It’s how we move through the fog that is life and the number of things we bump into that make us who we are. Fuck you, Freud! Do you find yourself drawing your naked body’s reflection in the mirror by candle light sometimes…? Only when I’m feeling romantic… What happened to your zine “Back Issue” and will it ever see the light of day again? Yeah, been thinking about it more lately – it’s been on the back burner (aka the old shelf behind me) for a while and I’ve been trying to decide on the direction it should take. It used to be a collection of sketchbook stuff, but now that I blog often it’s pretty much pointless. I think a deluxe screen printed version with more than a few random doodles might swing it. We’ll see – she’s not
Photograph: warren van rensburg
Beat on the brat
, “ ” Everyone is a designer and when the d word is preceded by freelance people think it s just a nice way of saying unemployed slacker “ ” ’
How the hell are you doing? Hi. Fine thanks. You? First off, please tell us what you are busy with at the moment? Stuff. Just started lecturing in Cape Town. It’s weird being on the receiving end of post-teen angst – I once managed to make a lecturer of mine cry. I felt bad, but hey, what can I say? I don’t do well with bureaucracy unless I’m dishing it out. I’m busy on some hush projects, helping Michelle (Son) out on a job, creating a site for my landlord and some grudge work for my brother. I’ve also been asked to do some boards for Familia, but I think my friend Gavin (Morgan) was drunk, so I’m going to have to remind him – it was something about a feminine aspect – whatever that means. Can you explain how you ended up looking like a racoon? Hmmm, well… it had something to do with pyjama pants and a ball-and-claw bath. I’ve never broken anything, only my baby toe when I was a kid but that doesn’t really count, and a broken nose wasn’t that fun. You don’t even get a cast or anything – you just look like a beaten-wife. I wanted sympathy and all I became was a (bigger) joke. Explain your work to us and what you do? I used to design stuff for clients to make money and pay my rent. Now I work for students to make money and pay my rent and design stuff for free, rent subsidies, berets and dinner. My invoices have started looking pretty strange.
You said you hated the question “what do you do for a living…” Why is that a problem? I’ve been freelancing as a graphic designer and illustrator for 5 years. I go out, meet new people and inevitably that question pops up. It makes me cringe. Everyone is a designer and when the “d” word is preceded by freelance, people think it’s just a nice way of saying “unemployed slacker”. You get the raised eyebrow and they think it’s their cue to buy the drinks. Hey, I have a credit card, insurance and expenses. Just like normal people. Sure my office is in my bedroom and I go to work in my pyjamas… on second thoughts maybe my new “career” as lecturer is much safer. It has its own “so what do you do?” cringe factor. Freelance designer goes lecturer - the anti-establishment working for the establishment kinda thing. What people don’t understand is that we are the establishment. You recently moved to Cape Town, how is that going for you? Good. Thanks for asking. I live in a little house, with a little garden and I’ve been baking little cupcakes. Sounds quaint, but I think my little house may be a little obsessed with me. I’ve been locked in my bedroom, the front door lets me in but not out and it tried to make sweet-love with me in the bath. Oh, I also have Auntie Maria and if I give her money when she comes to the door, she becomes my guardian angel. How do you usually approach the projects that you get involved in? It depends. I try not to get distracted and procrastinate. Rarely the idea is right there in front of you. Mostly it’s hard work trying to find it. In an ideal world: I research, ponder, rest, research, bath, drink tea, scribble some ideas down (x20) and then get
started. Usually, I don’t have the luxury of the process so I just try and start somewhere and let the work be the process. Wine also helps. If you did not need money to survive, what would you be doing every day? Telling stories, not sure which ones yet, or how. The story’s of others; my own story; make-believe stories. But, I think, that you need to “experience” to be able to tell a legit story. I want to be the vagabond, the hero, the anti-hero, the girl next door, the temptress, the mother, the child, the lover, the virgin or whatever other role I could possible play. I correct myself, “play” alludes to “fake”… so I guess I’d like to just live and die. You can’t fake that. A wise person (I once knew) said, “that there are many ways to tell a story… and that maybe what I already do is storytelling…” What gets you up in the morning? My 80’s talking alarm clock. It crows like a sick digital rooster, not a dawn, a little later. It was my brother’s when he was a kid and for some, unknown reason, needs 6 AA batteries to work. If the cock says rock, you rock. Here is a sound recording <link> (I’ll send it with interview and pics) Do you think that our younger society needs to listen to a lot more Death Metal? Not everyone grew up on death metal… Metaphorically, yes. I think they are too serious and well, a little, how do you say? Naff. They need to loosen up a bit. Throwing and breaking stuff, setting things on fire, back chatting are all great ways of “artistic expression”. Then again, they’d probably be too apathetic for even anarchy. You made some “fashion boots” once for your brother’s range in a photo shoot, was it origami inspired and what kind of paper did you use? It was fabric inspired. His clothes are really constructed using darts and folds. We wanted to mimic it with paper. It was late at night ( a little vino) and we used the last pieces of cheap card we had, so we had one chance at it. We weren’t really sure what they were at first but I strung it with white elastic and reinforced the holes with duct tape and voilà - paper booties. Don’t really have the patience for origami, the pieces of paper are too small for my paws. This is the kinda stuff I’m really into http://www.instant-origami.com Do you sport them sometimes when you hit the streets? Not here. Too much rain. They’d get wet. Does it suck getting older? Most definitely, without a doubt… I used to be able to pull three all-nighters, go out and wake up on time for school/work. Now I go to bed at 10 and wake up late to a digital cock-a-doodle-do. The establishment was messing with me when they invented the snooze function – it has no ultimatum. About two years ago, I got asked for ID for cigarettes… I was like (WTF?) you kidding? Last year, the ladies at the breakfast service at George airport (very nice by the way, they make your breakfast on a hot-plate in-front of you, very sweet… and they love chatting) asked me if I was on school holidays and was going home to visit my parents… I said “Yes, Matric is very challenging and I am worried about my midyears.” I felt bad, so played along… as if the stress has plagued be for 8 years. Anyway, I guess what I am trying to say is that, I may look young when I’m 30 but I won’t feel it… and that sucks. Do you ever follow politics in this country and do you vote? Not really… I’m more pseudo-politics. I don’t sound smart when I talk politics. So I don’t. I try to read the news daily - I think that is important. I’ve never voted for anything serious and have a fear of
commitment. I mean, your one vote is like a 5-year marriage that is going to end in divorce. What are you listening to right now? Bright Eyes, Mountain Goats, Lykke Li, Cut Copy, Bat for Lashes, Islands, an unknown compilation and some William Shatner. I’m on iTunes shuffle. Describe yourself in one word, a colour and a magazine? Yellow, People. Haha. No really. Yellow is my favourite colour, I grew up in a yellow room. I like crosswords but really suck at them and People’s are so easy its awesome. Is there actually a scene going on here at the moment or is it just a bunch of sheep with a few herders that read a few of last year’s magazines? Out there are some wolves in sheep’s’ clothing. Some people are doing really amazing, contemporary things that have an existence beyond right “now”. I have to say; I’ve gotten lazy with keeping up with new things, so I guess I am a poster child for last year’s magazines. I haven’t bought a new magazine in years – I can’t afford it. I try not absorb things similar to what I like, I find I store things and, without knowing, start reproducing them. It is that “I’m sure I have seen this before?” feeling and it freaks me out. Why do you think most “creatives” here don’t think for themselves and don’t really try and start something new and relevant? This is not just isolated to “here” and “creatives”. So many things bombard us all the time that it would be easier to curl up and die. That’s what most of us do. I’m just as guilty. Creatives need to stop burning bridges between them and the rest of society. Creative thinking is needed everyday. It is, and has been, or fundamental for survival. We need a spectrum of small, clever ideas. What would you change if you could? Time. They forgot to put the forward and rewind buttons on. It’s just play and stop, and you can only use them once. When is the last time you cried? Yesterday. I’m stressed, tired and grumpy. What are you going to do after you have done this interview? Have a bath and get into pyjamas. I like living on the edge. Is there life after death…? Yes. No. Maybe. I asked the Internet, it said no.
Photograph: warren van rensburg
colaboration: Marcel & luc rossouw
Photograph: Mark Reitz
s Gun for hire
When were in our mid high school days we were looking at all these other school bands around the area and we were like “You can’t be serious!”, “Cheer up man, life ain’t that bad . ” How the hell are you doing? Pretty good man. Soaking up the sun. I’m not really a summer type of guy, but lord knows this winter was a long one! First of please tell us what you are busy with at the moment? It’s exam time for the other 3 pretty soon, so we’re taking it easy with the live shows. But we’re going into the studio next week for one day to record the next single. Then filming the video for it on the 7th and 8th. The winds of change seem to blowing over South African rock once again, do you see yourselves taking it one step further than your predecessors? It’s definitely blowing. For the better I think. We don’t really see it as taking things further than artists before us, we just happen to be into a different kind a thing than them. Maybe we’re taking one step to the side... While the rest are wining with catchy riffs to soft cock punk…, what made you feel its time to bring back the real rock & roll with a blues format? It’s always been the only way I could and wanted to write rock n roll songs. Brandon and I would sit and play along to all these old blues reissues we got hold of for hours. We’d go away for a weekend with a bottle or 2 of really cheap whiskey and try write songs. Then when were in our mid high school days we were looking at all these other school bands around the area and we were like “You can’t be serious!”, “Cheer up man, life ain’t that bad.” So there was this battle of the bands thing at the school and we decided we gotta get up there and play these people me people ‘real music’, as we put it. That’s when Lucas and Greg joined, and with all our influences thrown in the boiler together things started to get really interesting. Lucas had this really raw almost grunge approach to drumming, Greg learnt really fast and fit in perfectly. As we explored ourselves musically and reached out to different influences, we realized that this is definitely the most fun we’ve ever had. Did you grow up with those influences or did you go looking for them? My experience of being ‘reborn’ as the Christians put it, was when I first heard the Stones in 2003. It threw me completely. I read ev-
ery book I could get my hands on, studied their history, their influences etc. 58 Albums, 71 bootlegs and 2 live shows later, they’re still my favorite band. So thru the Stones I discovered Muddy Waters, Robert Johnson and BB King. From then it was like being a kid in a candy store... All this new music! Lucas on the other hand grew up surrounded by music. His father is a drummer for the Valiant Swart band so he got to experience it all first hand. What makes you think sets the Guns clearly apart from the rest of scene right now? Ha ha, first of all, we’re from Stellenbosch. It might sound strange, but sometimes it’s really hard to keep your head screwed on just right when your stuck in the Cape Town ‘scene’ bull shit. Luckily the one’s who get big-headed normally fade away pretty quick. But there are some cases of blokes thinking they piss holy water cause they can jump around nice on stage. Other than that, I guess our influences are pretty different to most bands around. I’m sure it’s been a long two years for you guys, when did you realise “Fuck it lets do this now and lets do it right?” Probably around the beginning of the year. People would often tell us that they love the band and whatnot. But we’d always be given a shitty slots to play, not get paid etc. And that’s all good and well up to a point- you wanna get yourself out there ya know? But then because we weren’t ‘poppy’ enough I guess, people saw us as ‘a killer opening band’. And that kind a got annoying. So we started being more picky with the shows we played, got together the cash to record and did as much promotion we could ourselves. How long did it take for people to start warming up to your style of slow heavy swing? It varies. Sometimes I see a guy in the audience that just doesn’t get what we’re doing. But some people love it from the first time. Do you believe that in order for a scene to go forward you have to dig up the bones from the past in order to keep things in line? Definitely. You gotta kwon where you been to know where you’re going... you said that again? It’s one of the biggest fuck ups with the music industry these days: Bands see another band doing
really well at the time and then they try to imitate that style to fit in at the time... It never works. Do you ever follow politics in this country and do you vote?. Not really. Just the occasional headline. This will be the first year we can vote and we definitely will. Who filmed the first video for you, not a bad job if consider what you were working with and obviously no budget? Yeah, I was super impressed with the job they did. It was done by Adriaan Louw and Imran Hadulay as a project for city varsity. They had an editor, but he did a shit job, so adrian edited it over the day before the video launch. It’s number 3 on the MK charts now. Who would thought? They’re awesome guys and we became really good friends. Imran introduced me to such great music as well! I’m really glad to say they’re doing the next video as well. It’s gonna be a much more elaborate project, but I’m sure they’ll pull it off just great. I have read some serious comparisons with the Guns and some major hitters like the “The Black Keys”, “Tom Waits” and even Nick Cave’s “Grinder man”. Don’t you think its about time that local journalists rather than comparing bands to other bands, more focus on the style of music that a group is playing rather than just stating, “oh yeah they sound like those dudes…”. I mean at the end of the day you would like to be remembered by the fact that you sounded like
Photograph: Eric Palmer
the Pretty Blue Guns? Journalists are always gonna compare bands to other bands. Its the easiest way to get their readers to understand what they mean. But if we had to be compared to anyone, I’m glad it’s people like Tom Waits, Nick Cave, The Black Keys... ‘cause I can’t think of anyone else in this country that sounds like those guys and we definitely are influenced by them. They’re some of the greatest artists ever. Tom Waits... god damn! Maybe one day another band will be compared to us! Ha ha So the first EP ‘DIRT’ is out of the way now, I see you can download it from Rhythm records. What is the arrangement with you and the label at this stage of the game? We release the EP completely independently. We knew nothing bout barcodes or anything. But since August we’ve been on DPK records. They’ve been great to us. Arranging tours, organizing shows.... They handle artists like New Holland, Zinkplaat, Foto Na Dans and so on, so it’s a nice mix of musicians in there.
I would like to applaud you on a decent album cover, whose room is that on there? That was the brainchild of our friend, and designer, Oliver
Photograph: Mark Reitz
Photograph: Mark Reitz
Photograph: Mark Reitz
Chenells. He’s a graphic student, top of his class and a bit crazy. He had this vision of a really dirty room as the setting for the album art. So we went around stellenbosch to student houses and found that little room. The greatest thing is that it really looks like that! We didn’t really move much around or anything. A human really lives there.
When are you guys aiming to get a full album out? We’re going into the studio in January. Can’t wait! We’ve got a bunch of new tracks we’re aching to put out. Schalk Joubert, a real musical genius in the industry, is producing with us which is real exciting.
How did you find your first experience in the recording studio? It was great. A huge learning experience. Next time we’ll definitely do a lot of things differently.
What gets you up in the morning? The need to make money I guess. I recently started a little shop called ‘Alice’ here in Stellenbosch. Some clothing, music, merchandise etc.
You wrote the songs on the EP, did you also write all the music to the lyrics. What is your musical back ground?. Yeah. I came up with the skeletons of the songs. So all the chord progressions and riffs would be there, then all of us would arrange it. Dress her up...I took some guitar lessons for a couple of months, but nothing serious. Just listening and learning I guess. The next album is going to be more collaboration though because we all have more time on our hands to work on songs.
What are you listening to right now? Right now, a live version of ‘Stagger Lee’ by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds is keeping me company.
So at what stage do you reckon a front man from any band can act like a complete cock, swing bottles of Daniel’s around and yell abuse at any one around him. Is there like a certain universal agreement towards rowdy behavior like that? Never. Hell no. I’ve had so many heated discussions on this topic. It does seem like the obvious ‘rock n roll’ thing to do these days. But maybe the front men I look up to are different than most guys....
What are you going to do after you have done this interview? Watch a DVD probably. Maybe make a sandwich.
What would you change if you could? Tom Waits’ tour dates... When is the last time you cried? When I saw the Stones in Germany last year.
Is there life after death…? This life is pretty cool I think, so asking for another one just seems greedy. Thank you
Photograph: Mark Reitz
Photograph: Stan engelbrecht
Sewin the seeds of love g .
’ It s because I’m hungry all the time I get excited before I go to bed every night to think about what I’m going to eat the next day . How the hell are you doing? I feel like I’ve aged by 10 years in the last 2 weeks- thank god for my good Asian genes. First of please tell us what you are busy with at the moment? I am currently busy working on a J&B campaign that comprises of 6 animated movies and I am also busy designing a photographic book about beauty pageants in South Africa. Explain your work to us and what you do? I am a designer and a motion graphics director. I usually take on jobs that I can design, art direct and animate myself. I work mainly in Photoshop and Illustrator and I animate and composite in After Effects. Have you lived in South Africa all your life? After 24 years in Joburg, I replaced my view of Ponte Tower with a view of Table Mountain. How do you usually approach the projects that you get involved in? I guess I am always up for trying news things and techniques so I approach projects as a challenge to do something I’ve never done before. You recently made some eye balls for NIKE how did that come about? Nike launched the Icon Personality project, centered around the iconic styles Dunk, AF1, Air Max 90, Windrunner and AW77 Jacket. Nike approached astore, a designer boutique in Cape Town to find an artist to create an installation inspired by the Nike Dunk Olympic pack. I started a very small line of plush toys called “Mooncake” for the Astore. The owners Nick and Dario enjoyed the simplicity and
bold colours of my toys and so they approached me to collaborate with them on this project. Inspired by these crazy patent leather dunks in the Olympic colours, we played with the idea of using the rings and colours of the Olympic logo and translated them into hundreds of suspended felt eyeballs. If you look closely at each eyeball, you will see the attention to detail in the red stitching that made up the veins on each eyeball. What I loved most about this project was that each eyeball is different and looking in each direction. Once all 172 eyeballs were done, I began constructing different compositions and clusters of eyes. Through this process, I discovered the many expressions and emotions of each eyeball. 30 meters of felt, 10 days of sewing and 50 cups of coffee, resulted in 172 plush eyeballs! Check out www.astoreisgood.com/blog/ p=77 When did you start making all your plush toys and do you still consider it as a hobby? I got my sewing machine about 2 years ago because my boyfriend wanted me to change all his jeans into chaps, but then I realized I could put my sewing skills to better use and started creating characters that I have designed over the years with my sewing machine. I love working with my hands seeing my characters take shape. It is still a hobby to me but it has lead to commercial opportunities like the Moxyland book cover and ASTORE Nike window installation. The animations you did for the J&B web site are pretty obscure, how did you go about selling the idea to the client? I was given the brief of creating ideas based around the J&B campaign of “Starting a Party”. So I went to town my creating different scenarios where people started parties in different situations.
SEBASSCHIN THE ASS-CHIN
The agency I worked with was happy to give me free reign on the creative process and so I directed the 2 day stop motion shoot, designed the environments and then animated the spots. They even took the campaign to an interactive level and allowed people to put their faces in one of my dancing characters. Check out www.jbscotch.co.za
If you could live any where right now where would it be? I think I would live in my bed.
What gets you up in the morning? Julip, my boyfriend’s dog.
Is it ok to lie sometimes? No, sneaky people lie.
You seem to enjoy cooking a lot or is it just because you have a hungry boyfriend? It’s because I’m hungry all the time. I get excited before I go to bed every night to think about what I’m going to eat the next day.
If you could give anybody advise what would it be? Fusion food is for people who can’t cook Asian food.
You mentioned your father cooks did you pick up any of his tricks? Yes my dad has always been my biggest cooking influence. I have learnt all my techniques and cooking styles from him. He once owned a butchery so he has taught me the right cuts of meat to use, etc. Most of the time whilst preparing a meal, I’ll call him up in Joburg if I’ve forgotten an ingredient or something. I’ve also started keeping a food diary of all the meals I’ve made. What would you say is the golden rule to cooking? My dad always said “Eat with your eyes, as well as with your mouth.” I always put emphasis on putting together well designed plates of food.
What makes you angry? Sneaky people
Describe yourself in one word, a colour and a magazine? Banana; gold; Huisgenoot What would you change if you could? My South African passport When is the last time you cried? In my sleep What are you going to do after you have done this interview? Eat! Is there life after death…? My boyfriend told me he was a cowboy in his past life who drunk himself to death.
What are you listening to right now? The people arguing across the street and a little Santogold. What do you enjoy most about Cape Town? Kubo’s – the best Japanese restaurant in Cape Town and the Gatsby (a massive chips roll with different fillings and a whole lot of heartburn.)
. Bar At t e bay h
Halloween mossel bay south AFRICA
Jesus And Chain .
Once the most dynamic live partnership in British music the lives of William and Jim Reid, of the Jesus and Mary Chain were a world apart. Former band mate John Moore tracks the brothers down to see what brought them back together Article was originally written by John Moore again This for The Guardian, Monday June 18 2007. plus a added .
introduction from Allmusic.com.
Like the Velvet Underground, their most obvious influence, the chart success of the Jesus and Mary Chain was virtually nonexistent, but their artistic impact was incalculable; quite simply, the British group made the world safe for white noise, orchestrating a sound dense in squalling feedback which served as an inspiration to everyone from My Bloody Valentine to Dinosaur Jr. Though the supporting players drifted in and out of focus, the heart of the Mary Chain remained vocalists and guitarists William and Jim Reid, Scottish-born brothers heavily influenced not only by underground legends like the Velvets and the Stooges but also by the sonic grandeur and pop savvy of Phil Spector and Brian Wilson. In the Jesus and Mary Chain, which the Reids formed outside of Glasgow in 1984 with bassist Douglas Hart and drummer Murray Dalglish (quickly replaced by Bobby Gillespie), these two polarized aesthetics converged; equal parts bubblegum and formless guitar distortion, their sound both celebrated pop conventions and thoroughly subverted them.
A second coming. Jim Reid’s barber suspects him of being a fantasist. During the small talk at his last two trims, he has claimed to be off to Palm Springs for the purpose of playing a rock festival, and to be heading to New York to appear on the Late Show with David Letterman. The barber in this south Devon village - who has had the pleasure of knowing his head for several uneventful years now - is taking it with a pinch of salt. “Made any records have you?” he asks, sceptically. “One or two,” Jim replies. Shaldon does not have rock stars. It has sleepy streets that do not cater for leather-clad wild men. But it is in this slumbering seaside community, that Jim Reid - hellraiser, drinker, swearer, beater over the head of people with microphone stands, instigator of riots, causer of strikes at pressing plants, and possessor of one of the greatest voices in pop music, has chosen to hide out. Like a master criminal living incognito, he spends his days changing nappies, tending the garden, walking the cliff paths and pottering about in the shed. His wife Julie has banned him from playing guitar inside the house, because it wakes Candice - their twomonth-old second daughter. They already have a three-year-old,
who has informed her nursery teacher that, “Daddy is a singer and dancer”. Though an incongruous base for a man whose departure from north London led to profit warnings for several off-licence chains, it suits him well. He has not had a drink for two years, or taken any stimulant stronger than caffeine. Geographically, it fits the bill as well, being 5,000 miles away from brother William. Having lain dormant for eight years - following 15 years of incendiary brilliance, madness, violence and enough fraternal conflict to make the Gallagher brothers seem like princes William and Harry, the two Reids are back in business. For how long is anybody’s guess, but initial signs are good. From the final blood-spattered onstage fight at Los Angeles’ House of Blues - Phil Spector’s pick-up joint of choice - to the Royal Festival Hall, where they headline the Meltdown festival this Friday, the Jesus and Mary Chain have had a good long rest, and returned as Elder Statesmen of Rock. Against all odds, their comeback at the Coachella festival in California, was as near perfect as it’s possible to get. Having already stolen the show, they brought out Scarlett Johansson to sing backing vocals on Just Like Honey, and in true Mary Chain style, did not even bother to introduce her. Asking me to interview pop’s answer to the Kray twins was a risky choice by the Guardian. I was once one of their henchmen you see, their drummer between 1985 and 1987, and know where the bodies are buried. The dangers of a Hello!-style love-in between old lags are manifest, but I shall try to retain some objectivity. I visited Jim at his delightful home and strolled his rolling lawns accompanied by Simone - resplendent in a pink diving mask and flippers - then spoke to William over the phone at his rock’n’roll dive off the Sunset Strip. That the band fell apart so acrimoniously is not at all unusual in music. As Jim says: “It’s like being locked in a cupboard with somebody for 15 years. If it wasn’t your brother, you could kick them out.” He also makes the point that were it not for the fact that they sprang from the same womb, the band would have collapsed far sooner. William takes a similar line, talking about how unnatural it is for brothers to work together in a band. “Imagine trying to pick up girls in front of your little brother?” He says that he is only just getting over the trauma of walking into Jim’s hotel room in Copenhagen during the early days of the band, to discover him sprawled out, naked, asleep with a girl. He recounts this story with relish - rather pleased that it will find its way into print. Both Reids have a great sense of humour when not trying to kill each other. William told Jim that the time for a comeback had to be now, as he worried that Jim might not keep his hair for much longer. With new blood - Loz Colbert and Mark Crozier - the Mary Chain are reinvigorated. “No offence, John, but this is the best lineup we’ve ever had” says Jim, before attempting to punch me in the stomach. It’s obvious that he is really enjoying himself, and that living a continent apart from William seems to be working. The reasons for the reformation are complicated. Though not short of money and having turned down many previous requests, Jim says that the Coachella festival made them an offer they could not refuse. Personally, I think it is rather more involved than this. I always thought they would get back together - despite all of Jim’s denials - and I firmly believe that, for most of their hiatus, both wanted to. However, as incredibly stubborn Scottish males, neither could make the first move. Both are clearly delighted to be back together, as is their mother June and sister Linda, who have been flown out to see the gigs. Their father died last year, an event that triggered some serious thinking. The family have always been extremely close, and the realisation that their mother might need them to pull even closer together to help with the grief, put things in perspective. The lure of a big payday gave them the perfect excuse to resume relations while saving face. Both could claim the pragmatism of a
cheque with many zeros, while still maintaining a facade of mutual loathing should it prove necessary. The whole enterprise almost came unstuck within seconds at the first rehearsal, as Jim (never quite as innocent as he makes out) said something that William misconstrued, and blows were a whisker away. Phil King - the long-standing bass player, witness to a thousand previous Reidon-Reid explosions, and present at the final House of Blues brawl, could be forgiven at that moment for wishing Hadrian’s Wall had been properly maintained over the years. However, with the inevitable border skirmish out of the way, the band began to rediscover themselves. The songs sounded good, they enjoyed playing them and, as relations thawed, the reconciliation, still very much a work in progress, began to look possible after all. If they have not quite managed to wash all their dirty laundry - as evidenced by the state of Jim’s shirt at Coachella - they have at least given it a good rinse. After the split, William headed west to LA to live like a rock star while Jim boozed in Kentish Town for years - quite often with me, before sobering up and heading a little less further west. Both had children and got married. William got divorced. Both are doting fathers and would like their children to see them doing what they do best, while they still can. When asked if he misses the UK, William tells me about something called a Slingbox, a device linked to his mother’s TV set in East Kilbride, which enables him to watch all the British programmes, and best of all, change her channels from LA, which infuriates her, but also reminds her that she is not watching alone. As far as he is concerned, he is still in the UK - albeit with better weather and 24/7 home deliveries of whisky (which he wishes could be diet whisky). Unlike Jim, he has not yet taken the pledge. He is a little heavier these days, but in his nicely tailored jacket, looks good - rather like Pedro Almodóvar. That the Jesus and Mary Chain have chosen Meltdown to return to active service in the UK is very appropriate. They share a week of concerts with Motorhead and the Stooges. Ears are going to bleed, trouble will be had, and just maybe ... Asked if they predict a riot, William says how lovely it would be if there was, because he missed the legendary “North London Poly Riot” in 1985 - due to “being upstairs with a lady”- and Jim delights in the image of false teeth and walking sticks being hurled at the stage. As I prepared to leave Jim’s slice of God’s own Devon, he presented me with a gift. Eight cans of Stella Artois, which had remained untouched in the freezer since sobriety took hold - their best-before date was June 2007. Though no longer a drinker, he insisted that they must be consumed. Anything else would be unthinkable. “It would break my heart to see good beers going to waste.” It was my intention to save these collector’s items, or send them to the first people to write in. I still have some of the cans, but to make postage cheaper, I have drunk the lot.
Photograph: Lisa skinner
Elbow Room .Part 01 , Music was the obvious choice seeing as I am what you could call clinically obsessed I also saw a need for some very honest criticism . ... How the hell are you doing? I am well, thanks for asking. First of please tell us what you are busy with at the moment? At the moment I am busy researching the South African music scene. A fellow journalist friend Borrie La Grange and myself have, after a number of successful vinyl hunting sessions, secured a sizeable collection of South African albums from the 60s through to the 80s across genres like soul, funk, disco, maskandi, mbaqanga and many more. We are still trying to figure out what half of this stuff is, because we have some plans to turn it all into a blog, radio show and podcast series. At the same time we are putting the finishing touches to the next Pavement Special compilation CD. For those that are unfamiliar with The Pavement Special, it is an independent magazine that focuses on the South African music scene, published by artist/designer Michael MacGarry and myself. In between magazines we put out compilation CDs that feature rad new tunes from cutting edge independent musicians. Our next launch is at the beginning of December, so we have to go to production soon. Explain your work to us and what you do? Well for my day job I am employed by the Mail & Guardian as a senior business journalist, where I basically write about how big business is screwing the consumer. On the side I am also the music journalist at the M&G where I get to write about the amazing talent that we have in South Africa and the great music they are making. It’s a cool job. Then again on the side I run a local music blog, http://www.isolation.tv and publish the aforementioned Pavement Special. Just because I am sadist and I fancy a bit more work we are planning to launch a new radio show and podcast series and a further blog that goes with them. How long have you been a journalist now? I have been at the M&G for about five years now and besides a little bit of freelancing before that, you could consider that my journalism career so far.
Why did you feel the need to start Isolation? I was interested in the idea of blogging and there is only really one way to get a feel for it. So I started a blog. Music was the obvious choice, seeing as I am what you could call clinically obsessed. I also saw a need for some very honest criticism, because it seems that there are a lot of music journalists that are so wrapped up in being friends with musicians they can’t actually be honest about their music, which does fans and the musicians themselves no service at all. So we launched the blog, made some enemies and now have a fairly solid readership. I am very happy with how it turned out. Give us your breakdown of the South African alternative music situation at the moment? That’s a tough one really. Basically there is some really great stuff and a lot of kak. If you really want to know who the local musicians I rate are, read my blog or check out the Pavement Special. Tel us more about the Pavement Special and your involvement in it? Well as I said above The Pavement Special, it is an independent magazine that focuses on the South African music scene, published by artist/designer Michael MacGarry and myself. In between magazines we put out compilation CDs that feature rad new tunes from cutting edge independent musicians. Michael and I had started talking about the concept behind The Pavement Special years before we actually got round to it. However in June 2007 my girlfriend and I broke up after a long relationship and all of a sudden I had a lot of time on my hands and a tendency to hang around in live music bars till the early hours of the morning. Naturally the project finally got going and by December we published the first magazine. Since then we have launched a compilation CD in June and we are launching another in December for our first birthday. The next magazine should be out in the second quarter of 2009 and it’s looking great!
You have recently started another blog that will involve old African music where is that heading? Not started, but conceptualised. Basically we are interested in the lost gems of South African music, so we are busy scouring second hand stores looking for local vinyl that we can digitise and turn into a blog, radio show and podcast series. We have enough vinyl for probably the first year of the project, but we are always looking for more. Right now we are setting up the tools we will need for our little project and hopefully we can launch the blog and first podcast before the end of the year. Do you think that maybe Jacob Zuma should bring out his own album and become a solo recording artist rather than being a politician? I think Jacob Zuma should branch out, he sounds like a stuck record at the moment. He needs another hit if he is going to move beyond the one hit wonder tag. Maybe he should cover that old 60s song “It’s my party and I’ll cry if I want to” What do you reckon he should call the CD if he did? ‘Let me have my day in court’ oh that wouldn’t help with the stuck record vibe though. What is the last live show that you saw? Last weekend I hit the road to Bloem with Kidofdoom and Yesterday’s Pupil. They played Die Mystic Boer and it was a great show. Before that it was probably Battery 9 at the launch for their new CD Galbraak. It was at the Rock Bar in Melville. Great Band! Who do the best live shows over here right now and who would you recommend people to go and see? There are so many. Recent killer live shows that I have witnessed include Isochronous, Kidofdoom, Blk Jks, Tale of the Son, Foto na Dans and Yesterday’s Pupil. Other artists that I haven’t seen in a while but always rock are Jane Rademeyer and Jim Neversink. Who is the most legendary artist that you have ever interviewed? The interview I was most nervous for was probably Clash bassist Paul Siminon. I had to interview him about that project he did with Damon Albarn and Tony Allen, it was called The Good, the Bad and the Queen. He was not a great interview and you could tell he really wasn’t interested in doing it. Another interview that I was very nervous for was Stephen Malkamus from Pavement. He was very cool though. On the local front, the first time I had to interview Battery 9’s Paul Riekert, I was pretty intimidated because I had so much respect for him, but he is a great guy and really put me at ease right off the bat. I was also pretty nervous interviewing SA legend Blondie Chaplin who was a member of the famous 60’s band from Durban, The Flames and went on to be a member of the Beach Boys and is now a touring member of the Rolling Stones. He was also very cool and happily told stories of his past exploits. The best interview I have ever had was with Beth Ditto from the Gossip, because she is such a rad person. She ended up asking me more questions about myself and life in Johannesburg than I did of her. Do you find it hard to find classic alternative LP’s over here? Yeah it can be hard but that’s half the fun. When you find something really special, the joy is severely magnified because you know how long you have been looking for that album on vinyl. I know I have felt that when I bought some rare Joy Division records and also some Bauhaus, Orange Juice, Talking Heads and Smiths records. When I found my vinyl copy of New Order’s Blue Monday twelve inch, I was jumping with joy.
What are the last records that you bought and where? The last CD I bought was today at Musica (Disclaimer: I don’t usually shop there I find them infuriatingly limited, but I saw this and had to have it). It’s called New Orleans Funk Volume 2 and it was put out by Soul Jazz Records this year. It is a great collection of bad ass funk tunes where the bass and drums sound like they are going to jump out the speaker and mug you, they’re so nasty. If you meant vinyl, the last records I bought was this collection of 70s and 80s South African stuff, for our new blog. My favourite from the set is a band called The Additions. The album was recorded in 1978 and it is some amazing African styled soul music. Look out for it on our soon to be launched blog, this shit is crazy good. Do think a lot of our local front men’s jeans are too tight? Yes in fact we wanted to originally call The Pavement Special ‘Look ma, no skinny jeans!” What gets you up in the morning? My alarm clock on my cellphone, but sometimes it fails at its task. No seriously my life without music, I can’t imagine it. Every day is a chance to discover something new that will blow your mind. I also really get a lot of satisfaction out of my job, which is rad! What are you listening to right now? I am listening to a double CD anthology of the music by this 60’s South African band called The Invaders. They were from Uitenhage in the Eastern Cape and they made some great soulful rock ‘n roll records in the 60s. Very rad shit! It was put out by Gallo earlier this year. What would you change if you could? No South African music would be out of print, it would all be endlessly available for new listeners to discover. I hate the fact that access to this stuff is dictated by mega corporations who only care about profit margins and don’t give a fuck about preserving and respecting our cultural heritage. When is the last time you cried? When that bloody bitch broke my heart! Which brings to mind that James Phillips song, “My Broken heart/ is all I have/ to keep me warm/ to keep me glad.” What are you going to do after you have done this interview? Go home and listen to my New Orleans Funk compilation. Is there life after death…? I don’t really care china, when its time, its time!
Photograph: Lisa skinner
logo: Michael MacGarry
Photograph: Lisa skinner
Borrie La Grange Lloyd Gedey
Elbow Room .Part 02
Indigenous Music For Ingenious People A journey into Africa’s long forgotten musical heritage :
So I started to wonder South Africa must have a similar lost musical heritage, surely? Who were Carter Dlamini and the Soundproofs peers? The more I listened, the more the idea of this lost South African musical heritage began to fascinate me . Carter Dlamini and the Soundproofs. This journey began with one old dusty 7-inch single. I was at Book Dealers in Melville, looking for a biography on Bryan Ferry and Roxy Music, I had become somewhat obsessed of late. I was out of luck, but I decided to check out the pile of old records that were normally stored at the back of the store. I found a bunch of early David Kramer records, which was quite a score and then decided to go through the small box of 7-inch singles on the floor. There were mostly really weird stuff, but then I found one with the Soul.Soul label. I recognised the imprint immediately, it was released by local label Teal. Gallo’s archivist Rob Allingham had put out three CDs of the 1974-76 recordings of Bra Ntemi a couple of years ago and they were also from the Teal label and had the same imprint. The next thing that grabbed my attention was the name, Carter Dlamini and the Soundproofs, what a great name. Who were Carter Dlamini and the Soundproofs? Was this some long forgotten South African classic? I pictured a day back in the seventies when punters stormed the dance floor to get down to Carter Dlamini. I was intrigued; this was definitely going home with me. When I got home I slipped it on the turntable. The single was branded as Zulu disco vocal and the producer was listed as David Thekwane. From what I could make out, it was released in 1978. The A-side was a song called Emakhaya and was written by Lulu Masilela. I slipped it on. A funky organ riff burst from the speakers, followed by a great driving upbeat tempo and some cool guitar lines. The song practically leapt off of the turntable, it had so much energy. Wow, what a discovery. But what about the B-side? It was called Ngizo Sala Nobari and was also written by Lulu Masilela. This was even better, a soulful little number driven by some killer organ, but this time the vocals were amazing, much more earthy. I was so excited and now more than ever I had to know who Carter Dlamini and the Soundproofs were. My searches on the Internet drew a blank and so I figured that if
there was anyone who going to help me solve this mystery it was Gallo archivist Rob Allingham. Rob told me that Lulu Masilela was a member of the afro-soul group, The Movers who formed in Alexandra in the late sixties or early seventies. They released something like thirty albums, which sold incredibly well and Allingham has plans to reissue fifteen of these albums, which has selected in consultation with Masilela. Currently there is only a two CD set best of available through Gallo, but it is badly packaged with kak album covers and no information about the band. David Thekwane was the main producer at Teal and Rob says that it is quite likely that Carter Dlamini and The Soundproofs never existed, that it was just a name that Thekwane invented to release the two songs in question. He says the band is probably made up of various session musicians from the Teal stable and there may even be a chance that Masilela never even wrote the two songs as often producers would use songwriting credits as a tool to reward or punish musicians. So my fantasy about the lost great Carter Dlamini and the Soundproofs may be shattered, or at the very least hanging by a thread, but whoever they really were, they have unlocked a door for me, into a lost world of South African pop music. Anthologising Africa Around the same time I got my hands on a bunch of compilations that collected long forgotten songs recorded in the seventies in studios around Nigeria, Ghana, Benin, Togo and Zimbabwe. It seemed there was a crate digging revival going on. Audiophiles with healthy obsessions for funky African tunes were scouring the continent collecting rare singles. They were tracking down the musicians responsible for these great tunes and then conducting interviews, collecting rare photographs and recording this long lost history of Africa’s golden musical era of highlife, funk, disco and psychedelic rock. These old 7-inch singles were re-mastered and reissued on boutique labels, as beautifully crafted packages with booklets containing the history of the music. These compilations really awoke something in me, the music was raw and
funky; I just couldn’t get enough of this stuff. For more on the key compilations that I found see below, but if you want to read my full feature article on these reissues you can go here: African Scream Contest (Analog Africa) Analog Africa’s Samy Ben Redjeb latest offering is the African Scream Contest compilation a selection of raw and psychedelic Afro sounds from Benin and Togo. Redjeb says the fourteen-track compilation was whittled down from over 3000 singles that he collected on his scavenging expeditions to Benin and Togo. From the addictive funky jive of Gabo Brown & Orchestre Poly-Rythmo to the organ driven funk of Napo de Mi Amor Et Ses Black Devils, this is party music of the highest order. If you ain’t dancing you must be dead. Also check out Redjeb’s reissues of Zimbabwean rockers Hallelujah Chicken Run Band and The Green Arrows. Nigeria Rock Special: Psychedelic Afro-Rock and Fuzz Funk in 1970s Nigeria (Soundways), Nigeria Disco Funk Special (Soundways) Audiophile and DJ Miles Cleret was inspired to start up his record label Soundway, after a visit to Ghana in 2001, where a DJ friend dragged him around the capital Accra looking for rare singles. The result was the Ghana Soundz compilations, which collected rare Afrobeat, funk and fusion tracks from 70’s Ghana. Two of the latest releases on Soundway focus on 70’s Nigeria. The first is titled Nigeria Rock Special: Psychedelic Afro-Rock and Fuzz Funk in 1970s Nigeria and that’s exactly what you can expect. Whether it’s the acid-guitar freak-outs of The Wings or BLO’s heady mix of blues and funk, this album is an absolute must for any serious music fan. The second release on Soundways is titled Nigeria Disco Funk Special and it is probably the greatest party album released this year. It collects pure Nigerian funk music, with tinges of disco thrown in for good measure. If you’ve ever wanted to know what a Lagos nightclub in the mid seventies sounded like, this is as close as you are going to get. Highlights include the Asiko Rock Group with their party anthem Lagos City and the straight up disco-funk closing track Motya Ginya by The Voices of Darkness. Nigeria 70: Lagos Jump (Strut) Formed by Quinton Scott, Strut made its name releasing everything from African dance music to Italian Disco. Club Africa and Nigeria 70: The definitive story of 1970s funky Lagos were the two most famous African compilations it released before it went into liquidation in 2003. Thankfully it has returned in 2008 and one of its new reissues is Nigeria 70: Lagos Jump. Continuing where its predecessor left off, Nigeria 70 is jam-packed full of funky dance tracks from Nigeria’s capital such as Ify Jerry Krusade’s Everybody likes something good and Bola Johnson & His Easy Life Top Beats’ cracker Ezuku Buzo. However this not all funk, there is some great Nigerian soul and rock tracks too, as well as a great reggae stomper called Ire Africa by Chief Checker. Fans of James Brown or the Brian Eno produced Talking Heads albums should track this fantastic collection down, it’s a winner. Vinyl Hunting in Johannesburg So I started to wonder, South Africa must have a similar lost musical heritage, surely? Who were Carter Dlamini and the Soundproofs peers? The more I listened, the more the idea of this lost South African musical heritage began to fascinate me. We were going to have to do something about this. Where did we start? A couple of days later my friend Borrie La Grange came round to visit and I popped on Carter Dlamini for a spin. He loved it; in fact he kept playing it endlessly on my turntable. We talked about this lost generation of South African musicians and about trying to find out more. Then I remembered a copy of Brenda Fassie’s debut album Brenda that Johannesburg musician Jim Neversink
had given me. He had found this guy who had a whole bunch of South African vinyl and had bought a bunch off of him, including some still sealed copies of the Brenda Fassie album. That was it, that was the starting point, we were going to find that guy and see what else he had. A few phone calls later, we were in the car, we were going vinyl hunting. Needless to say we found the guy and he had hundreds of local vinyl released in the 70s and 80s. We made him an offer and carted the vinyl home eager to pour over our stash.
There were records by Stimela, Brenda Fassie, The Soul Brothers, Don Laka, Ray Phiri, The Green Arrows, The Big Dudes and Ladysmith Black Mambazo. Those were just the names we recognised. There was a whole bunch of other records too, from blind Pedi choirs to Sotho traditional bands, from Maskandi outfits to late eighties disco tunes. The next month was a journey of discovery, pouring over limited information on the sleeves and records, listening to thousands of songs, trying to figure out what we had bought. Not that this process is complete, far from it. In fact since then we go vinyl hunting almost every weekend searching for more forgotten local classics. We have decided to launch a new blog, podcast and radio show that will document this journey to map out our lost musical heritage, which we will hopefully have up and running by the end of the year. However here are some of the great records we have discovered in our first month. Indigenous Music For Ingenious People The Additions – Don’t let me down My favourite discovery so far from our vinyl stash is the Additions. The cover really didn’t provide much information. All I knew was that the record was produced by Roxy Z. Buthelezi and engineered by Owen Wolf and it was released on EMI/Brigadeers in 1978. From what I understand about the history of South African music, after the Soweto student uprising in 1976, the most popular style of township music, which was know as Mbaqanga, was viewed skeptically by the youth and there was a move towards music that was influenced by American Soul, especially the Stax stable, people like Wilson Pickett and Otis Redding. I guess that this is an example of that movement. After a little digging I discovered that The Additions were a soul band from Soweto started by Ignitius Madeira. The record I have features a 19-year old Jabu Khanyile, the legendary SA musician who would go on to become the vocalist for Bayete. Jabu’s brother John was the drummer in the Additions and when he left Jabu took his place. His friend Fana Zulu who used to hang around the band’s practice sessions also joined when the band’s bass player left. The story goes that one day when the band was playing a wedding the singer was so ill that Jabu had to take over vocals as the sick singer played drums. Jabu was so good, that he took over the vocals full time. Jabu then invited his brother John to rejoin the band in 1977 and the band moved to Teal to work with David Thekwane. They had a number of hit singles, but because the band was members of the Soweto student representative council (SSRC) they were harassed by the security forces and eventually all the band members besides Jabu went into exile. Jabu tried to resurrect the band with some younger musicians, but after a few more recordings the band disbanded in 1984. Fana Zulu by this point was playing with Sakhile the band formed by Sipho Gumede, Khaya Mahlangu, Menyatso Mathole and Mabi Thobejane. However he didn’t last long, jumping ship to join Bayete with Themba Mkhize. Soon enough Jabu had joined Bayete too and the band would go onto a very successful career, before disbanding in 1993. So right
here on Don’t let me down, you have the first early musical beginnings of a South African music legend. Zulu Soul Vocal: Top Hits – Various Artists Another of my favourite discoveries was courtesy of this compilation album called Zulu Soul Vocal, which was released by Gallo in 1978. It features four bands; The beggars, Patience Africa, Amaswazi and Mpharanyana & The Cannibals. The later is the one I want to talk about. Jacob ‘Mpharanyana’ Radebe is a great singer, truly great and his backing band The Cannibals are amazing. Not surprising really, I found out later that the band included Ray Phiri on guitar and Isaac Mtshali on drums, two of the founding members of Stimela. The Cannibals formed in 1972 and were an instrumental band until 1975 when they hooked up with Mpharanyana. Over the next four years they recorded five or six albums that were hugely popular. However Mpharanyana died at the height of his fame and the band had to continue on without him, before they broke up in 1981. The story goes that The Movers and The Cannibals were on tour together and they both broke up on tour. Phiri and Mtshali from The Cannibals hooked up with Lloyd Lesola, Jabu Sibumbe and Charles Ndlovu from The Movers to form Stimela and they would go on to a mammoth career before breaking up in 1996. So here again we have the early recordings of some South African music greats and the work of one of our countries finest vocalists and it is all out of print. Luckily Rob Allingham is busy with reissuing all of their albums on CD. As for the rest of the Zulu Soul Vocal compilation, well Patience Africa is amazing, but I haven’t found anything out about her yet. Mama yo yo No.4 - David Thekwane & the Boyoyo Boys Released in 1973 on the Ma Ma imprint, this 7-inch single was released by David Thekwane & the Boyoyo Boys. The A-side is Mama yo yo No.4 and the B-side Goofee Goofee, both written by Thekwane. The Boyoyo Boys were a band of Teal session musicians that were used to back Lulu Masilela, Thomas Phale and Thekwane himself. In 1981 ex sex pistol manager Malcom McClaren traveled to South Africa and reformed the original line-up of the Boyoyo Boys, cutting new versions of their hits Tsotsi and Puleng. McClaren remixed and overdubbed Puleng, renaming it Double-Dutch and it went to number one in the UK charts. McClaren refused to pay royalties, claiming that he was the sole author of the songs, so the band sued him and he had to settle before the case got to the British High Court. The two tracks on this album are typical later Mbaqanga tunes and are a real treat. Impupu Yami – Cokes and the Midnight Stars Cokes and the Midnight Stars, another great band name, but quite likely another invention of David Thekwane, who produced this 7-inch single in 1978. The A-side is Impupu Yami and is written by S.Chounyane. The B-side is titled O baba Abanyane and is credited to Teal session musician Thomas Phale, although Rob Allingham after listening to it says it may not be his song. One thing is for sure these are two great examples of the early souldisco movement that sprung up in the late seventies. If you want to find out more about our plans for the blog, radio show and podcast series send us an email with the subject line “Indigenous Music” to email@example.com and we will mail you all the details when we launch. Also if you have any local vinyl, you want to get rid of, or donate to the cause please get hold of us. Or perhaps you can just tip us off as to where we can get our hands on more local vinyl. Thank you
Photograph: Lisa skinner
Photograph: Ross garret
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The South African youth has this bad habit of listening to their parents and being negative and repeating patterns and mistakes that were made before hand and were so obviously wrong... rather stand up and say what an exciting, cool place we live in ,“ ”
How the hell are you doing? I’m pretty chilled for a Monday morning First of please tell us what you are busy with at the moment? Just rescued a dog from a shelter in Welkom this weekend that was going to get put down – spent the weekend finding her the best home –which I did. Work wise – doing a presentation for TOTAL and doing all of Gallo’s product Point Of Sale for Christmas Explain your work to us and what you do? I have a company called Red Flag Design and Marketing – www. redflag.co.za, which is a boutique design agency in JHB. We do big design work and marketing campaigns. Just won finalist position in “702 small business of the year awards” which was rad. Also have a website called www.tickyboximages.co.za which is an image bank that celebrates Africa. Pretty pictures of a pretty country. Tel us a bit about the history of Red Flag and how it came about? I started alone with one designer and basically took all the things I was doing at Gallo and decided to do them on my own – Gallo became my first big client and supported me while I was building myself up – then one of my clients, Lara Preston and I had a drink and said “lets make a bigger one”. And then we just brought all our clients and expertise together – now we are 6 full time staff and growing. You worked in the music industry for a long time, what made you realise that its time to move along and do your own thing? I turned 30
There seems to have been a huge need in a company such as yours in the industry and you are dealing with some big names now. Was it hard to convince people that a new kid on the block can take on the challenge? I have avoided going out and pitching for work and stealing clients from other agencies. Work has always flowed in naturally and it speaks for itself so through that the bigger ones come and ask for pitches and then great, we take them, but I don’t go out there convincing people to use us – its annoying and a waste of time – they will come when they are ready. What has been the most satisfying project for you up to date? They are satisfying for different reasons but I personally like the work we do with NGO’s – companies that are doing work to make the world a better place – just did a campaign with the Southern Africa Trust to eradicate poverty in Africa – stuff like that is good for me. Then there’s the more glamorous stuff as well which is fun but at the end of the day I’m always searching for work with meaning. Do you ever follow politics in this country and do you vote? Of course I follow politics – it’s the most exciting time right now because it could go either way and people are jumping ship and doing crazy things and I think its all going to rock, If we can see opportunity. My vote is private though. Now Ticky Box Images is another one of your side projects besides Red Flag, how has that concept been doing so far? People like it because its an empowerment project for photographers and celebrates Africa through a positive light. The pics
are of a seriously high quality and its slowly growing – I see a big future for it.
started producing a series of documentaries which is going to be something quite amazing once they are released.
How do you find time to manage both because it seems you have a lot on your plate? I have loads on my plate – two bands as well. I always say I will only have this energy once so I have to capitalise on that. It kinda sucks for my relationships though because I don’t dedicate enough time to them but that will change this year – a good balance.
How many tattoos are you sporting on your body and when will it stop? 9 at the moment and I don’t know, its hard to say – I take long breaks in between – I’m not a junkie
You have some really good photographers under Ticky Box, how has that project been and what is the main drive behind it? I have great guys on there – the work is something I am so proud of – I have always wanted people to look at Africa and not just see the big five or tumultuous political pics – there’s so much more to the continent – so it came about as a silly idea over lunch time with my friend Joanne and then we just said we would do it and we did.
How many cigarettes do smoke a day…? 30 plus, but always trying to cut down What gets you up in the morning? Molly my sharpei – she kicks the bed at 6am and says ‘breakfast please mom” What are you listening to right now? She Wants Revenge, The new Kings Of Leon, The Clash (right now in fact) What would you change if you could? The South African youth has this bad habit of listening to their parents and being negative and repeating patterns and mistakes that were made before hand and were so obviously wrong. I want the youth to get a grip and support their country and stop bailing out on something that’s uncertain – rather stand up and say, “what an exciting, cool place we live in”. Read a book called Don’t Panic – its R52 at Exclusive and something every South African should be reading right now. When is the last time you cried? Last time I had PMS – I cry every month because my hormones are up to shit and I will see an advert on TV or something lame and it just makes me bawl. What are you going to do after you have done this interview? Go into the design office and brief a job that came in while I was filling this out, finish my coffee, do some invoicing, check facebook, try not to smoke Is there life after death…? Not as we know it
Besides PR side of your life you still find time to get involved as an artist with a few musical projects, can you elaborate on your latest project with Richard the 3rd…? It’s a secret. But it’s a hot one When is the release date on that? When we’re ready How do you manage to relax between all of this? I do house work. I’m serious – and gym, and play with my gorgeous dogs and play shows with my band. Are you happy with the direction your life has moved in so far? Creatively I am – but there’s still so much I want to do – just
Photograph: Ross garret
The first issue of
PANGRAM. is dedicated to
Brian Ferry and roxy music
the magazine would never have been finished without the following albums
country life & stranded by roxy music.
“PANGRAM. Published for weak humans.
Planning BLOOD.CULT.ART.MUSIC.VICE.CORRUPTION.LUST.DUST.MISTRUST.COUTURE .ANARCHY.FILTH.LOVE.HATE. GENIUS AND THE GENERAL BURDEN OF MAN. ISSUE ONE, *BABYLON Deadline: 15.10.08
Jason Bronkhorst 10 yes/no sent done Christian Nerf 10 yes/no sent done Gareth Skewis 10 yes/no sent done Stan Engelbrecht 10 yes/no sent done Erika Koutny 8 yes/no sent done Michelle Son 8 yes/no sent done Charl Malherbe 6 yes/no sent done Marcel Rossouw 10 yes/no sent done Andre’ Leo (Pretty Blue Guns) John Moore (The Jesus and Mary Chain)
Caroline Hillary Lloyd Gedey 4
yes/no sent done
Bar by the bay
4 yes/no sent
yes/no sent yes/no sent
Photographers: Warren van Rensburg (cover) Stan Engelbrecht Lisa Skinner Ross Garret Eric Palmer Mark Reitz
(pan′gram′) noun A sentence containing all the letters of the alphabet; esp., such a sentence in which each letter is used only once.
thank you .
“PANGRAM. fuck those dudes .