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Wayward — Ugetsu EP



Even with all of it’s endless hills and transportation innovations, San Francisco is a walking city. It’s got just haphazardly enough of a layout, plus a history so colorful you could spend a lifetime learning about it, that there’s constantly something new to discover on every exploration, regardless of how long you may have lived here.

A couple of weeks ago the London via Leeds duo of Lawrence Gale Hayes & Louis Greenwood, aka Wayward, released their debut EP Ugetsu, a 6-track set whose eclectically inventive style we find compliments adventure and exploration amazingly. From the lushly sampled, warm atmosphere of it’s lead track Baile, the naturally blissful progression of Reverie, and Hurricane’s funk-infused, alluring piano chords, to title track Ugetsu’s brief yet reflective layers, Waver’s unforgettable appeal, and the outright beauty that is Belize — creating one of the strongest follow throughs we’ve heard in awhile — the guys have…

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When I heard that Rolling Stone magazine was coming to South Africa   I wondered, is this going to be like watching a made-for South Africa American TV show? Would I cringe at the language being used or feel disappointed when I did not see anyone who looked like me or someone talking about the things I like to talk about? Those were my expectations but fortunately for young,black,female me  and  for all of us, Rolling Stone is more South African than it is American-made -for -South Africa.

The magazine appeals to the mind and soul by engaging critically with music and the musician, and with the history that has ultimately shaped both. Much like its editor, Miles Key lock, Rolling Stone South Africa embodies what it means to be rock n roll-unapologetically ruckus, real and outspoken.

In a country where creatives are not just censored but censor themselves, policing their own political correctness, it is refreshing to see a publication that speaks so openly on current and past cultural, social and political affairs. Discussing the musicians he has interviewed and the music he appreciates, Miles Key lock describes how this art form (music) is “rooted in decade’s worth of history” and how “we engage with history every day”. The magazine and the writers, the likes of which include Rian Malan, have a real appreciation for the fact that in South Africa “the past is the present”. It is not all rainbow nations and musical butterflies at every turn of the page, and for any South African writer to make a difference it should not be. There are many words left unsaid, looming in every conversation, encounter and interaction and someone ought to say them before they turn into something far more perverse. It is after all, truth before reconciliation and not reconciliation before truth.

Keylocks‘s slogan seems to be: “write something real!”  It is a challenge all young South Africans should take up not only to better their work but to better themselves for their work. When we are writers we are in the particularly privileged position of sharing with thousands what we know or think reality to be, we are purveyors of truth and so we should be honest and show integrity in our work. Now being honest doesn’t mean we are always right and it can sometimes offend or even hurt others, but that is our responsibility. This is the sort of sincerity absent in our conversations as intellectuals and individuals. This is the honesty which as journalists we so often decry our leaders as not having. But even we are capable of talking rubbish and if we do not write something we know about or are passionate about then in Key lock’s own words “it’s going to sound like BS”.

Telling real stories is what can make a difference. That is all Keylock is asking for -“a good story”. These are the real stories that so often go unmentioned or become fictitious adaptations on the cover of tabloids. I would like to believe that Rolling Stone  South Africa and its readers are  counter this consumer-friendly claptrap, and want entertainment, yes, but lust for insight. South African and African magazine’s can still take up a genuine space in the culture of our country while many others are too far gone in the haze of American or “western” sensationalism.  “We don’t want to colonize (your) minds” says Keylock. If we are going to be more specific here we do not, and should not, let our minds be wantonly attacked by ideals and stories that are so irrelevant to us. Yes they may have worth to South Africans too, we may enjoy them, but they do not have any credibility in this context. A line between the two ideas needs to be drawn, or at least written.

Rolling Stone South Africa may be a “music” or “entertainment” magazine but it is also a publication that takes its privilege seriously. It is not about exposing the country to good music, good artists and good writers. It is about highlighting those maverick, controversial and enlightened human beings who happen to make good music and write good pieces.

Young writers and artists need not separate their thoughts or even emotions from their work; this probably pleases everyone else except the readers. This kind of writing is not Rolling Stone material, nor is it very rock n’ roll. Interviewing “edgy “ bands and “exciting” people is  a waste of time if we do not allow ourselves to be “edgy” and “exciting’’ not only in the way we write or who we are, but what we choose to write about and who we choose to be. This generation needs people to pioneer, to be critical and challenge the status quo in whatever they do. Being a writer, like being a rock star is not a job -it is a calling!

Name: Dominique Rollino

Publication: Mail and Guardian

We have all hummed the familiar tune, or imagined a lion, a meerkat and a warthog dancing through the jungle singing the song, and we’ve all watched the movie countless times but what we don’t know is that every time ‘The Lion Sleeps Tonight’ some make millions and others, namely Solomon Linda and his family, receive nothing. Who is Solomon Linda I hear you ask. He is the man behind the creation of this iconic song. He is a man who died penniless and unrecognized in 1962; a mere year after the song “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” became number one hit worldwide. So, how did a song that originally consisted of just the word ‘Mbube’ evolve into ‘Wimowhe’ and then into the ‘The Lion Sleeps Tonight’ and cause so much anger and controversy? This story must begin with the idea of where the song came from and the results of its popularity will become clearer. Who owns a folk song? That is the age-old question that has surrounded many songs but it was the “The Lion Sings Tonight” that received international acclaim and caused a court case that has continued for years. Aside from this court case, the idea of a complete disregard for Zulu tradition must also be recognized. According to Zulu tradition ‘fasi pathi,’ as the high falsetto that the Zulu women trill in is known as is not allowed to be used by men, and yet Linda made the one word of ‘Mbube’ famous because of the haunting pitch at which he sang it. He made it so famous that men across the world were taking potions in order to achieve the pitch as they copied the song numerous times. It is an accolade to the amazing sound that even though the actual lyrics of the song were altered over the years the pitch at which is was sung was not altered but rather the voices of the singers were. Similarly, the changing of the word ‘Mbube’ occurred because the actual meaning was misinterpreted. When Solomon sang that word the story attached linked to the hunting of the lion and it had happy connotations. However through the joking of international stars that covered the song the meaning evolved from this to ideas about the lion eating humans and eventually the lion sleeping. It changed from ‘Mbube’ to the ever-popular ‘Wimowhe’ and then to “The Lion Sleeps Tonight. As is evident from the number plate of Pete Seeger, one of the first artists to cover the song, ‘Wimowhe’ made him famous. Famous and rich enough to show it on his car. Aside from the disregard of the above-mentioned Zulu traditions the actual issue of the ownership of the song has caused the most controversy and made the ideas of who actually owns songs come to light. It was famously believed that because nobody actually owns a folk song anybody could cover it. However, the artists who first copied the original did not believe that the song was anything but a folk song. They did not know that the song was, in fact, a Solomon Linda original. The song that they were covering had been ‘stolen’ from him through an agreement on a signed piece of paper by a record company that did not care for the artist but rather the royalties they would be receiving from a song that was already incredibly popular in the local communities. After many years of arguing and finger pointing from the international artists as to who was in fact to blame about the theft of the song, it came to light that the one person was benefitting hugely from the song and that was George Weiss. Because he added the lyrics that are used in the modern version he gains all royalties and recognition whenever the song is used. He does not claim to be using the melody written by Seeger when he covered it or the music that was written by Linda for the original, according to him it is an original song by him because nobody owned the folk song he used to make it. Solomon Linda never realised the controversy his song would cause on the day he became exasperated in the studio and wailed out the word ‘Mbube’ just so the song could be done. He died without realising the he was owed millions and that he did not have to live and certainly not die in abject poverty. For him the biggest payment was to know that his music was recognized and enjoyed by his peers and for the traditions of his culture to be sung about and enjoyed. His traditions were not honoured, they ere changed and his family is still living relatively poor. All because of a lion, a warthog and a meerkat dancing through the jungle humming that famous

The exploitation of a black Zulu man in Apartheid South Africa is not an unbelievable story or a new one. What makes Solomon Linda’s story so different? He could have been rich. His family could have been rich, and he improvised, probably, the most famous and well-known melody in the whole world.

“Mbube”, sung by Solomon Linda and his a cappella group The Evening Birds, was recorded in 1939, in the first recording studio in South Africa, owned by Eric Gallo who formed Gallo Records. Better known as the “Lion Sleeps Tonight”, nobody in that room could have imagined that this melody would go on to be recorded around 160 times, of three different versions, be featured in 13 movies and musicals, 6 commercials and 60 years of airplay. How much of that money did the Linda family see? A measly, $12, 000. What an outrage! What an injustice! Right?

Technically, that is $12 000 that the Linda family, by law, were not entitled to. Solomon Linda sold his song, “Mbube”, and all the rights to the song, to Gallo Records for 10 shillings. When “Mbube” became The Weavers’ “Wimoweh”, Gallo traded the copyright in return for administering the song in places such as South Africa and Rhodesia. Even though legally Solomon Linda was not cheated in any way, it becomes a question of morality. All that happened, because Solomon Linda was black. He died in poverty because he was black. He was exploited and forgotten, because he was black. In hindsight, the Linda family deserve to benefit from the creation of their father, which white American men have been benefitting from since 1950.

Journalist, Rian Malan, made it his business to pursue this issue, to help those white American men remember to whom they owed their careers. In his article, In the Jungle, published in the late 90’s, Malan tells us of his journey into the entanglement of copyrights, covers and publishing organisations, in order to figure out how and why this injustice occurred.

Malan traced the history of the song and discovered how the song got to America, and became “The Lion Sleeps Tonight”. He felt strongly that the Linda family should benefit from their fathers genius, based on the context of the situation, which enabled the stealing of his creativity and the rights to his creation. Malan wrote letters to both George David Weiss, the man who co-mutated “Mbube” into “The Lion Sleeps Tonight”, and to Larry Richmond, president of The Richmond Organisation, that published The Weavers’ version of “Mbube”, “Wimoweh”. In a lengthy letter describing the little, that Linda gained from his artistry and how he was a victim of injustice, Malan sat back hoping that their moral conscience would propel them forward to do something about it.

It did not. However, Pete Seeger, from the Weavers (who was always aware of Solomon Linda’s involvement in the writing of the song) attempted back in 1950, to ensure that the Linda sisters would receive songwriter royalties. While Seeger believed the Linda sisters were receiving these royalties, they say that they did not receive anything other than a few breadcrumbs over the space of a decade. After Seeger received a $12, 000 check for the use of “Wimoweh” in a US commercial, he realised that he had been receiving royalties from the song all along, when he thought his share of “Wimoweh” royalties were diverted into a charitable trust. In realising this, he demanded TRO send the money to the Linda sisters. This sparked a series of events that now ensure the Linda sisters are receiving songwriter royalties for all their fathers creation of the most popular melody to come out of Africa and make its’ way around the world.

CEO of Johnnic Entertainment (parent of Gallo Records) Paul Jenkins announced they would handle the affairs of the Linda sisters, and organised one of the best copyright lawyers, Dr. Owen Dean, to handle their case. What was the outcome?

In February 2006, the parties involved reached a settlement. The Linda sisters would receive royalties for past use of “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” as well as for future uses of the song. Legally, Solomon Linda is now co-composer of “The Lion Sleeps Tonight”, and the song is recognised as derived from “Mbube”. The Linda sisters are now able to sustain themselves economically, and will most likely be able to do so into the future.

It is safe to say that without the investigations of Rian Malan, none of this would have happened. It most certainly is tragic that it even took that long for someone to recognise and make a noise about the fact that the songwriter credits belonged to Solomon Linda. How many other black men were exploited and had their creative efforts stolen from them? Plenty, probably. This is just one case in many. At least it is happy conclusion for the Linda sisters, and the legendary melody is credited to its’ rightful owner, Solomon Linda.

Rolling Stone is iconic for its covers. As a musician or band gracing the cover of Rolling Stone would probably signify the ultimate success in their music career. The general perception is that appearing on the cover of Rolling Stone is your one way ticket to the Hall of Fame in the music world, it means you’re a brilliant musician and probably destined for greater things. So with the recent addition of Rolling Stone South Africa to the franchise, one cannot help but wonder whether the magazine will live up to this perception and advocate the parent magazine, yet still be credited as an independent magazine with an opinion of its own or whether it will just jump the on the band wagon (excuse the pun) instead of making its own claim to fame independently and become “just another Rolling Stone publication”.

Miles Keylock, ex-English language, literature and drama lecturer at the University of Cape Town turned full time music journalist and more recently editor of Rolling Stone SA smashes all doubt that the magazine is just a spin-off hoping to feed off the success of the Rolling Stone brand. Miles says that Rolling Stone SA aims to be the voice of South African pop culture by telling the “untold stories” of our local musicians. When asked about how the magazine goes about choosing who will feature on the cover Miles challenged the general perception that one has to be a musical genius to land a cover by stating that Rolling Stone doesn’t necessarily look for the most amazing artists.

“We’re interested in artists who have something to say. Just because you’re a good musician doesn’t mean you have a story to tell […] You’ve got to have attitude […] It’s about navigating where we live in. SA is full of contradictions and paradoxes […] The stories centre on answering and trying to figure out how to live in this strange world.”

While Rolling Stone is indeed a magazine that focuses on music, we need to realise that South Africa is drenched in rich culture and therefore our art, in this particular case music, is a representation of that culture. This is something that Rolling Stone SA stresses with each story and each cover.

However, this idea of the right “attitude” and finding ones way in this “strange world” we call home sparks a little bit of hope for all the artist struggling to “make it” in the music scene. Knowing that it is indeed possible for an indie band from the southern suburbs of Cape Town to one day claim a Rolling Stone cover says a lot for the way in which the industry is growing. Heck, South Africa landing its own Rolling Stone alone proves that internationally our music industry is being recognised and acknowledged, that said if they pull it off well.

While Rolling Stone intends to give local music a platform through which their stories can be told we cannot ignore the fact that it is a business and that they actually have to meet a sales quota and all those other boring things that come with running a magazine that has such a great legacy. Miles mentions some of the battles the magazine has to face when it comes to choosing who goes on the cover or which stories will be published. Investors naturally have their investments best interests in mind and tend to try and influence the magazine’s choices in a way that will benefit that said investment. There is often the situation when they have to choose between a “safe” cover like the Red Hot Chilli Peppers, that could possibly sell more easily than a riskier cover featuring an unknown local artist like Spoek Mathambo (May) with an interesting story. However, Rolling Stone has thus far remained true to the “underdogs”  and hav dedicated six of the seven covers to local artists and pointing us in the direction of talent that is right under our noses.

On that note, not only does Miles seem to be a professed supporter of local music but also seems to back the young journalist. When asked what made a piece worth publishing he simply said that it was passion and heart. He went on to saying that lack of passion would prove to be a problem if one wanted to be a sucessful writer. These wise words reverberated throughout the room filled with second year media students who all had one thing in common, they were all interested in entertainment journalism and passion and heart was something they all claimed to have.

Rolling Stone SA’s ethos represents an overwhelming support to all that is African culture and all those artists who were never given the opportunity to tell South Africa and the world their stories. Thus far Rolling Stone has proved that it can carry on the legacy of its father publication yet at the same time stay loyal to South Africa’s roots.

There is no fear expressed by the editor of rolling stones South Africa in a press conference held about the magazine being taken over by the digital wave. The water is encroaching but fails to touch the world renowned publication and it sparks interest as to how. There is a simple answer to a question that opens the door to many complexities: Integrity. Remaining true to the original intention of the brand and the heart of it has allowed Miles Keylock the privilege of establishing and continuing to successfully run the magazine.

The internet is for browsing and spending hours surfing the web; getting superficial knowledge about everything on offer. You walk away with strained eyes a sore hide and equipped with a range of facts to start or contribute to a conversation that you would otherwise avoid. Other online media provide much the same satisfaction. It allows for snippets of stories filling you in between the spaces of lived reality. It is only inevitable that the craving for a steaming steak with gravy and roasted potatoes kicks in. That is how Rolling Stone South Africa serves this hungry population.

Like a good restaurant Rolling stone is known for its brand. It has a reputation that exceeds name. There is a high caliber associated with the magazine that is acknowledged on an international foreground yet the idiosyncratic South African brand differs significantly. It chooses not to “colonize” its consumers with American content; Keylock elaborates stating that the brand needs a “South African voice in the pop culture landscape”. The South African brand has a responsibility to represent the respective demographics of the population. It has managed to stand its ground and not fall prey to the convention of other brands to splash international celebrities on the front cover and mass coverage of them in the content (the exception rises when a star does something of global resonance). The focus is rather at what we have on our doorstep. The magazine acknowledges and acts on the fact that there is a varied selection of artists in the indigenous context. In this a revelatory experience is realized that our country in its diversity of artists serves a diverse audience. The focus of the local magazine is to cover artists that simply have a real and in-depth story to tell. Taking a look at Zahara; she is perhaps considered a commercial and big artist that if it were anyone else may have lost herself in the music but she stands apart as her songs translate a greater message of hope.

Another way Rolling Stone South Africa transcends this digital takeover is through serving true musical coverage to different generations while not swaying from the brand. They use timeless legends like Hugh Masekela, deemed by Keylock as “embody[ing] the rock and roll spirit”. Suggesting that the use of musical god’s is to illustrate that one needs to exceed the artistic form and embrace music as an attitude, a lifestyle. The purpose of this serves the old generation as well as etches the pathway for the rising artists that are changing the face of music; special mention was made to Spoek Mathambo. The requirement, however, is not to be an acclaimed artist but rather an artist that has an interesting story to tell paired with a brilliant attitude in navigating where they, as an individual, and we, as a country,  are living.



Content is chosen being mindful of their audience. They address a range of “high end” material that perhaps has aspirational value for its readership as well as “low end” content which introduces the element of reality that may be easier to relate to. It is ultimately all in an attempt to answer the introspective question quoted by Keylock as “How do I live in this strange place?” Because of the paradoxes rooted in South African soil it creates grounds to answer this question through the juxtaposition of coverage. The answers will involve an exploration of history to map out the future; this is made manifest through conversation of which Rolling Stone has many. Set with conversation and a focused purpose, a meal of a magazine is bound to be chosen over snacking.

Besides being fundamentally different from other forms of online media, Rolling Stone South Africa is differs slightly within the category of traditional print media. Both serve make the public aware of the environment around them, but the distinction comes in the method. Whereas the latter creates a space for news based articles, Rolling Stone South Africa, maintaining its integrity since the 1960s, uses music to reflect its surrounding. This, according to the editor of the South African publication, is “about expression in the most sincere way” that enables a magazine to be formed from more than just words and pictures. The content, he adds, is fortunately limited to that which strikes a chord with him and his audience. Writing, where passion ecstasy and heart can be seen, is believed. Remaining true to these ideals one can be assured that an authentic message is transmitted differing significantly from the replication of simply mind written pieces available on online media platforms.

Online media has its place in the world. It serves its purpose to a generation that needs convenience and information on the go. With regard to music it also allows for snippets of creative flow but is not suited to deal with pieces that allow for the imagination to travel and find its way to your core. Rolling Stone South Africa, as an independent entity, is held accountable for every word expressed in representing the interests of an entire diverse population. Because of their success thus far it is evident that even in a generation so obsessed with the online world and consuming less, they will go for a second helping of the printed Rolling Stone South Africa.


Erryn Gracey

Its 8 am and not one of us have any idea what we are about to get ourselves into, or the musical genius that is about to step into our presence. Now sitting in front of us is Miles Keylock South Africa’s only full time music journalist and now editor of Rolling Stone South Africa.

For about 40 years Rolling Stone has dominated the music journalistic world, being recognised for its heavy opinions, and world famous covers. This magazine has the power to make or break an artist and has a huge influence on what people listen to. So taking on a project such as Rolling Stone South Africa is a huge risk that only the best of the best would be willing to take on- one of those people is Miles Keylock.

I always thought that Rolling Stone International was a very commercialised magazine. So when I heard that it was coming to South Africa, I must admit, I wasn’t too thrilled. But now, cards on the table, I can eat my words. I have been pleasantly surprised by the great minds that have put together such an amazing magazine. I anxiously await every issue wondering what I can read next.  I can proudly say that I think Rolling Stone South Africa is definitely at an international standard.

He is not a simple guy; he is not a complex guy. He is a fan.  It’s the word that defines him and his life. This is what makes his best for the job, “I can’t unplug myself I am a fan” he honestly says. But being a fan doesn’t mean he doesn’t take his Job very seriously, Keylock is willing to bring all his energy and efforts to the foreground “I bring a 360 commitment to what this is”, because to him the future of Rolling Stone South Africa depends on Integrity. This is why he has put together the best team possible for the job that brings together some of South Africa’s best entertainment journalists, editors and design team who all bring their best abilities to make the magazine the crème de la crème

An often-commercialised rule is: when South Africa takes on an International Project it leads to disappointment and failure. But every rule has an exception. Rolling Stone South Africa is the exception. Each article is a new and interesting voice to listen to and try and comprehend. Each writer is unique and extremely talented- they’re ‘real’ as Keylock puts it. There is a real and very unique story behind each article published in the magazine, specifically the covers, which have often surprised South African readers.  The 4 South African artists (Hugh Masekela, Miriam Makeba, Die Andwoord and Zahara) , who have appeared as covers, have not been your typical commercialised Musician but artists who have a story to tell that is unique and their own.  Writing a piece of journalism or any form of expression is almost like writing a song; the audience can tell if it’s real or not. And this team is real, which allows the audience appreciate their art even more. Rolling Stone is the perfect place for these writers and editors to be ‘real’ as Keylock says, “It’s about being able to express themselves in the freest of ways.” For Keylock Writing is  all about what is real, about telling the truth and ‘getting out of the way’, its all about writing from your heart and ‘bleeding onto the page’.

The tribute to Miriam Makeba in the form of a praise poem is the perfect example of ‘bleeding onto the page’. Bongani Madondo is vulnerable in his writing, which is what gives him strength and allows him to capture the hearts of the readers. But his writing is a needle amoungst a million other needles- all perfectly polished, sharp and unique. There is no middle ground, the viewership will either ‘love it or hate it’ and according to Keylock that is when you know your article is worth reading.

Rolling Stone has always had a huge influence on what and who people chose to listen to, and this is how we can increase the viewership of South African artists out there, Its what we need as a nation because as we all know local is lekker. The artists that have appeared on the cover are ‘huge’ in terms of their icon status. Miriam Makeba and Hugh Masekela are 2 of South Africa’s most loved artists, as Keylock says Masekela is, “South Africa’s Rock Star”. But we can definitely expect a diverse range of artists to appear on the cover, and yes 90% of them are going to be South African, which is a huge deal and will get our artists a lot of air time.

The possibilities are endless for this Magazine and the future looks extremely bright. South Africans will find themselves listening to a wide range of talented South African artists who deserve the recognition. Their integrity has been established and they can be extremely proud of the work they have done. Keylock’s visions for the magazine is coming to play, and we can safely say he is a fantastic editor in chief that deserves the recognition he is getting, if not more.

By: Iman Adams

With anything new that has a lot of hype around it, people immediately dismiss or criticise it. It was no different when news of Rolling Stone coming to South Africa swept the country. South Africans are naysayers, we like to reject, comment and stick our noses up in the air; especially when it comes to international influence in our music industry. Now obviously, this is impossible to escape, but what I mean is, there is a general annoyance when there is not a South African flavour in our music. With our local music scene struggling already, in terms of press coverage, Rolling Stone just seemed like something else to take the spotlight away from our local artists and turn the South African public to the international.

However, with six issues out already and a sit down with the editor, Miles Keylock, the possibility of Rolling Stone taking South African artists as well as music journalism to new heights, seems all the more likely. Rolling Stone is ultimately about having a passion for music and journalists having a passion for whom or what they are writing about. If this is the crux of the magazine, then I personally, cannot see how they could go wrong.

Miles Keylock as editor means that Rolling Stone SA will be real, raw and South African.Yes, issues of representation are still afloat; wafting about in the air, but Keylock says that representing South Africa, reflecting the demographics of the country is something that Rolling Stone SA deems incredibly important. Ultimately it cannot be about the bourgeois, South Africa is like the man in the street, it must cater for him too. However, whether this is accessible to those in the townships is unclear, but I think right now, Rolling Stone SA should have a chance to find their bearing.

The local focus is fantastic, but with reference to the Paul McCartney issue, international artists are not excluded from the front cover of Rolling Stone SA. Keylock says that they had to give it a try to see how an international would do on the front cover. Apparently, this made no difference in terms of the sales.

Everyday Keylock is hassled by advertisers to put an international band, or a white person on the front cover, as advertisers believe sales increase. Clearly, they are wrong. It’s decisions like these that can affect the integrity of the magazine, but in these situations, Keylock reinforces and ensures the integrity he so intensely believes in, by telling advertisers that Rolling Stone SA needs to represent South Africa.

With Rolling Stone being an international brand, we were all weary of who was making the decisions regarding content. As it turns out, Rolling Stone SA is independent, at least in terms of content. All they have to do is maintain the international standard that is the Rolling Stone brand. We now have an opportunity really to explore artists. Their long-form features provide a space for journalists that are only available in print, only really available in the Rolling Stone SA.

Rolling Stone has always been well-known for their journalistic integrity, independence and of course, the front covers, and these are aspects Keylock seems adamant to uphold. This is not because he is supposed to, but because it is something he truly believes in. He wants honest, heartfelt and passionate writing, he wants the local artists represented, he wants South Africans to know about their musicians, and get excited about them. This is something about Keylock that really sticks out, and when he talks about the magazine, there is an assurance that it will not be industry-controlled bullshit.

So what does an artist have to do in order to be covered in Rolling Stone SA? Keylock says they don’t have to be brilliant; they just need to have an attitude and a way of navigating the way we live. Rolling Stone SA wants to cover the icons with the knowledge and stories that comes from a life of a musician, such as Hugh Masekela and Paul McCartney. They also want to cover the new artists who are coming out and changing the game, such as Die Antwoord and Spoek Mathambo. As long as there is truth, passion and imagination, Keylock is interested.

Ultimately, it is all brand new, there is a lot to be learnt and experimented with, but the main thing is that there is opportunity, there is hope, and there is excitement. We can attempt to drop the cynicism just a little bit, and show a bit of support. From the past six issues, it is apparent that this operation is not a measly attempt at being more like America, or more international, but instead is an attempt to give our artists the recognition they deserve in their own country.

When Miles Keylock told the class with a wry smile that he didn’t believe in weekends off, the traditional hours of a 9-5 workday, or silly things called “holidays”, his long hair and dark aviators seemed a lot less cool.  I couldn’t help but picture Meryl Streep in “The Devil Wears Prada”–the epitome of the boss from hell.  With his blazer undone, his iPhone aglow in his hand, and his long locks tucked behind his ears, he exuded a rock star personae.  I could picture him standing beside Jimmy Paige at a Led Zeppelin concert, cigarette in hand.

Our professor and music journalist, Evan Milton, had called him in to our class to conduct a mock press conference.  As I prepared my questions in advance, I hadn’t felt intimidated, but as soon as Miles began to speak, I felt the air grow tense.  He spoke quietly, succinctly, but with a conviction that could split steel.  His title as editor of Rolling Stone South Africa began to fully register.  His hands sliced through the air, demonstrating his points and commanding our attention.  I could feel my throat tighten up as I prepared to ask my first question, and felt his somber gaze turn in my direction.  He answered in the same frenzied manner, tossing his hair off his face, before addressing the next question.  As the press conference continued it became clear that there weren’t any horns hidden beneath that long hair.  Instead, I began to see a determined man, bent on the pursuit of genuine and heartfelt journalism.

As students began to ask Miles more questions, ranging from the challenges of being an editor, to the process of choosing the image for the cover of Rolling Stone South Africa, Miles’ commitment to music journalism became clear.  Clearly his assertion about giving “360 degrees of dedication” to his job was not an exaggeration or a publicity stunt.  Although his work ethic goes unquestioned, Miles sets himself apart by staying true to his earliest conviction of using journalism to document genuinely interesting stories.  For him, this comes in the form of local South African music.  Miles talked at length about navigating the complicated terrain of the relationship between USA’s Rolling Stone and Rolling Stone South Africa.  Surely, his magazine has many ties to its father publication, but Miles made it clear that he was more interested in discovering the stories that have never been told.  Rather then just appealing to popular demand and reprinting the headlines of USA’s Rolling Stone, Miles tries to capture the essence of South African music.

Several times Miles made the distinction between successful bands and bands with interesting stories.  International success and sell out venues does not guarantee a profound story.  Miles looks for artists that, “are after the present”, rather then artists who coast off their economic success.  For Miles, these artists appear in unlikely places, such as rural villages and townships scattered across South Africa.  This realization has led Miles to attempt make his publication “a voice that is representative of an entire cultural landscape.”  It’s a lofty goal.  Yet, one would find it difficult to find a man more devoted to representing music in its truest form.  When business executives encouraged him to put international celebrities on the cover page to increase sales, Miles resisted, pasting South African artists on 6 out of the last 7 covers.  Even when advised to place Caucasian men on the cover more frequently, Miles resisted again, saying, “We have a moral responsibility to portray South African music.”

As the press conference began to wind down, I started to detect a central theme in Miles’ answers.  Rather than focusing on the business aspects of being the editor of Rolling Stone South Africa, Miles repeatedly emphasized the crucial characteristics of good writing.  In his eyes, good writing was directly connected to the truth: “Are you writing from the heart?  If not it will eventually tear away from your soul.”  Being inauthentic does not produce good writing because readers can feel when an author’s article lacks depth and feeling.  Miles’ most important role as editor is not to point out run on sentences, direct the course of the piece, or even to select the story.  His main goal is to encourage writers to find their voices, and to write stories that explore unseen topics with compassion and curiosity.

Now the dark aviators, the shoulder length hair, and the unbuttoned blazer seemed more like the clothes of a hopeless romantic and less like the uniform of a crazed boss.  At the core of this man is a teacher.  In his electric eyes I could detect a quiet look of content.  I saw a man who has combined his two passions in the world, music and writing.  I could also feel his desire to spread these passions to anyone who is willing to listen.  After this press conference, I’m sure he’s gained a few more listeners.

By Duncan Lowe


From the Heart

It was early, way too early for any self-respecting student. The sun had barely wiped the sleep out of its eyes and neither had I, in fact I had overslept, which for a 20 year old female is significantly problematic. I, much to my dismay, had to throw on whatever was nearest, hastily run a brush through my hair and most definitely avoid mirrors at all costs before having to race to campus. I got to UCT with just enough time to grab a cup of coffee and swing right on to our make-shift press conference with the king of music journalism in South Africa; Miles Keylock. If you don’t know who he is, shame on you! He is rock star journalist turned boss-man editor of Rolling Stone South Africa.

Walking into the building, my fellow classmate half-excitedly, half-sleepily exclaimed; “Dude, that was him.” What was him? Who was him? My tired brain didn’t have the consciousness it required to process what she was saying, but it all made sense when the man himself sauntered into our classroom shortly after we had taken our seats. The guy, even at 8am, managed to look like he’d just rolled off the cover of his own magazine. If I hadn’t felt hideous before, I certainly did then. I couldn’t fathom what I must’ve looked like with my make-up-less face and god alone knows what I was wearing; it could’ve been anything from my pyjama pants to my old matric dance dress. Luckily next to no attention was paid to my unkempt appearance and our little press conference kicked off. I felt a bit like I was the only, or maybe the most eager, amateur typing like a beast, trying to get down every word dripping deliciously out of his mouth; for this aspiring journalist every word uttered was a gem!

The obvious questions about how the South African publication would differ from the American Rolling Stone were asked, with less obvious answers about how the branding of Rolling Stone South Africa has a voice that is representative of the entire SA pop-culture landscape. Keylock explained that instead of taking the easy way out by slapping Beyoncé on the cover and doing a feature article on her latest whatever, Rolling Stone SA uses our own chart toppers with six out of the so far seven covers being local talent. No disrespect to Beyoncé, but damn is it high time that our indigenous talent gets recognised above and beyond whatever is happening on the international scene! When a guy is hitting on you at a club, will you be more impressed that he’s clued up on what GREEN DAY is up to, or will the fact that he can hold a stimulating conversation about the band on stage result in you saying ‘you had me at hi’?

Then came a real titbit of information that, as a wannabe journalist, had my mouth watering. Keylock doesn’t really care that INSERT BAND NAME HERE is technically excellent; they’ll do just fine without being the next feature, he wants the meat; the story that’s going to make him stop what he’s doing and pay attention. “Just because you’re a good musician, doesn’t mean you have an interesting story.” So here I am, little miss nerd at various gig venues with my pen and paper, looking for the next best thing- South Africa’s hot new talent- when all I really need to do is find someone with a story worth telling? That’s amazing, Rolling Stone here I come!

Keylock points out how as an editor there is little room for ego and that by surrendering to what the magazine wants to be, engaging with his staff and the pop-cultural landscape the stories will tell you, as the writer or reader, what they want to be. He explains that as both a writer and an editor, the biggest challenge but most valuable lesson is simply to get out of the way. Something with which I have some difficulty I must admit, but at least I keep good company.

Finally it came time for ‘that annoying PR guy’, expertly played by our lecturer; Evan Milton, to finally get around to letting me ask my question; “What makes a piece of writing stand out, what gives it that quality that makes you go ‘I have to publish this’?” What did he say? What had I sat through a slew of, for my purposes, meaningless questions to hear? “Heart.” No seriously, that’s what he said. I’m not sensationalising it for dramatic effect, the guy is really just that cool. Keylock explained that as a reader you know whether you believe what the writer is saying, and whether they believe it themselves. He spoke about writers ‘singing from the heart’ because the readers are going to make a connection with that sincerity, they’re going to relate to it because it’s from the heart.

Keylock finished off with exactly what I had been wanting to hear, that writing is about sharing a story that strikes a chord because it has been conveyed in an honest way. “Integrity can go out the window if you’re not [writing ecstatically or from the heart], if writing isn’t your passion there’s a problem.”

So what does it take to make oversleeping impossible due to the excitement of getting to write for the coolest magazine to grace the shores of Southern Africa? Heart, imagination, a voice and a story worth telling. Of course being a masterful manipulator of words doesn’t hurt, but being able to write isn’t everything in the world of journalism- who knew?!