Archive for April, 2012


Bringing it all back home

The two-sided album, Bringing it all back home by folk singer Bob Dylan cleverly mixes acoustic folk with rock n roll blues to make for a killer album any fan would be proud of. The album was released in 1965 by Columbia records and is Bob Dylan’s fifth studio album. Robert Zimmerman, more commonly known for his stage name Bob Dylan takes on a minimalist approach to folk music up until the point of this album. His lyrics show his complete lack for what people think of him, even being labelled as a communist for speaking out against the American government at the time. This album is liberal and not for the faint hearted, although the album is very different from previous albums such as The times they are a changing and A freewheelin Bob Dylan which were softer, more acoustic and contained lyrics which were thoughtful and more personal. He now gets down and dirty with faster lyrics, an electric guitar and less personal story telling. The first track on the album, Subterranean homesick blues is one of Bob’s fastest tracks. He almost raps through the song about his withdrawal from the protest movement in the 1960’s and instead uses the song to mock it. One has to laugh at the line, “you don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows” which completely epitomises what Bob Dylan was trying to do with the song. While the majority of the tracks are pure lyrical genius and can be played over and over again, songs like Outlaw Blues and On the road Again stand out as the more mediocre of the set, with less appealing lyrical content. The most famous song on the CD has got to be Mr Tambourine man which was made even more famous by The Byrds in 1965. Other tracks keep the theme of liberal protest going such as Gates of Eden which seems to speak about the loss of innocence in society referring to war and hopelessness in the lyrics. The track, Bob Dylan’s 115th dream reinstates the way Bob does not care what people think but not cutting the laughter we hear at the beginning of the song in studio but rather leaving it in an attempt to possibly engage with is audience more, one which was turning against him for not being a pure folk singer anymore.  The album is well rounded and easy to listen to. It is a definite must for any fan and even those who aren’t fans will be able to appreciate the cynicism and genius of every individual song.  One must simply remember that during this time in history, ‘the times they were a changing’ and this album tells that story.

 

 

This Cape Town born musician, singer, and songwriter is a force to be reckoned with. Ruthanne Harbour grew up playing guitar and listening to her mom play the piano is her family home.  She is currently studying at The Campus of Performing Arts in Cape Town with voice being her major. She is sure of herself and is it clear her heart is in the right place to be the next big thing on the South African music scene.

Ruthanne learnt to play the guitar on her own, playing from what she heard, a talent not many young musicians have. She recalls picking up her dad’s tennis racket at a young age and turning it on its side imitating playing a guitar thinking,’ if this were a real guitar…’ and that was the beginning of her journey.

With an acoustic style, her songs are all accompanied by the gentle strumming of her guitar and persistent rhythm in her music. She tells me of the first song she learnt to play, Wild Thing and how since then she has been teaching herself as much as she possibly could to improve and learn new things. Ruth took a gap year in 2011 to take time out for herself to work on her career as a musician and develop into the kind of musician she wants to be. She recorded her first demo album with 7 original tracks, her favourite and most prized song being ‘together in harmony’. She tells us about the recording, ‘it took 3 months days and night in a very small studio’. Ruthanne is proud of the final product but it is no surprise she hated hearing herself on the album as most artists do not hear themselves as others do. She is determined to stay true to herself and her way of making music and that is exactly what she will do. Drawing influences from Adele, her faith and people in her life, Ruthanne makes music that is easy to relate to and easy to listen to.

Just like any young artist with little experience in singing in front of people Ruthanne feels nervous about revealing her original tracks to the public. ‘It’s about people accepting your music’ and although she is confident in her music she wants people to see her music for what it is, real. She wants to inspire listeners, to uplift them and to build a personal relationship with people listening to her just through her lyrics. Her first showcase in 2011 was in front of 70 people and she organized it herself. This is simply an illustration of the drive this girl possesses and how determined she is to make it.

Ruthanne feels the South African music industry should be taken more seriously. She feels that there is so much individual talent out there and that the space for musicians in South Africa is too commercialized for them to be showcased. Completely blown away by the dynamic of South African group, The Arrows, Ruthanne feels they are the kind of South African music that should be pushed into the spotlight as much as possible.

 

Ruthanne is well established on twitter, facebook and Youtube. She has a Youtube account with various video recordings of original songs and covers she has sung. ‘It is about putting yourself out there’ she says. Her album is privately produced and is available on order from her at rhopeh@gmail.com. So check her out on these various platforms and give this muso a chance. She is real. She has heart. She has soul and more than anything she has an incredible talent and is here to stay.

 

 

Music has always had the strange yet very evident way of effecting people around the world. The times of The Rolling Stones saw music causing revolutions, change and leading protest against the way society was run. Nowadays music might not have as much of a political effect but the effect it has on individuals is vast. Whether it makes us feel happy, sad, angry or simply uplifted there is no doubt of the ability of the human brain to link every life situation to a song or melody.

 

A well written love song such as Meatloaf’s I would do anything for love, might have you crying your eyes out while staring out your misted up windows, remembering your first love and how you felt like nothing in the world could be worse than loosing that 15 year old boy. Yet, a song like Eye of the Tiger from the famous Rocky movies might be the perfect song to pump you up before a big race like the Cape Argus. Music can uplift you, it can make you cry and it can serve as a kind of photo album of your past adventures. Something only you in your mind can relate to.

Here is the problem, music and its effects thereof should not be kept to oneself. That is possibly why so many mass murders and teenagers making themselves the worlds very own grim reapers blame music for their actions and get let off being sent to a mental asylum. Yes, you listened to some satanistic music, played it backwards, put on black make up and clothes and then the wrong move you made was picking up that gun to kill a few classmates because Marilyn Manson told you to. ‘Pebble Pebble, bitch bitch, rebel rebel, party party, sex sex and don’t forget the violence’ yes, this is provoking to an unstable teenager in the midst of an apathetic mood. But is it really? Do lyrics of songs really have such a hige effect on a person that they forget all they were brought up with and all that they are as a person? One would think not, surely it has more to do with your upbringing and beliefs than the lyric of a song some guy with black hair putting on a show to earn some money for more drugs said to you.

 

The music industry is full of sex, drugs and rock and roll. Yes! But is that not what makes it so utterly appealing. Imagine Led Zeppelin writing Whole lotta love sober? Music was born from it. So yes it will have an influence on us. It will have terrible lyrics about sex, violence and drugs. Themes all relating to rock and heavy metal. Rap and Hip hop are blamed for gang violence .People are quick to blame Slipknot for setting of a mass murderer but Lil Wayne speaks of bitches and hoes and guns. All that is different is once again the effects of music on people and how we associate people with certain music themes.  Surely a blond teenager with a name like Candy will not listen to Ramstein; she will listen to the likes of Christina Aguilera and Rihanna. Surely. This just illustrates the stupidity and naivety of human nature. Relate a person to a genre of music and box that person, you classify them and mould them into who they become because they enjoy a little bit of heavy metal .

The problem as to why there is no longer a positive link between music and society is because lyrics no longer mean anything, musicians seem to have moved away from the art of making music and now wil do anything to make a quick buck.

Music does have the ability to make a difference, as a force behind political reform and as a way to bring people of the world together in peace. Just ask the men who made up the Beatles, ask Bob Dylan or Janis Joplin. The common trend is that since the world has become dominated by money, fame and glamour; so has music. There is no longer a need for creating good as that is not generally what sells to an audience interested in popular vote. Music can have the ability to change politics, create uprisings and on an individual level change people. The question is whether we allow it to be positive change or if we continue to let it be negative.

 

You have most definitely found yourself humming a catchy tune in the shower, whistling a melody on a bus or using music to change your mood. We all have this link in our minds to let music rule us and it is without a doubt part of all our lives. We have all imagined a song we would choose for the soundtrack to our lives. What would play while we are walking into a test we are doomed for, perhaps what would play after a boyfriend broke your heart? Maybe a little bit of Eamon could help you out. Whatever it is music has had an influence on you. It had caused you to cry in movies, because quite frankly without that tragic music playing in the background you probably would have burst out laughing. Or that scary movie with the faint piano in the background, it was the music that made you jump was it not?

 

So yes. Music does have the ability to change our moods or change us as a person. We cannot steer away from the fact that some heavy metal bands do encourage phycodellic behavior. We cannot deny that Eminem does speak openly about abuse and drugs. We cannot deny that music is real and speaks about reality. We must however remember that the effect music has on us is up to us alone. We cannot continue to blame the state of the young people in our world on lyrics produced by a musician thousands of kilometers away, one these people have never met. We can blame it on upbringing and people we surround ourselves with. Let music have an effect, let it create change and uplift you. Let your theme song be Thunderstruck by ACDC. Let it be uplifting. Music has the power to change the world, if society will let it.

 

There’s a new kid on the block, and he’s about to blow you all away. Literally. With a single breath of air, he transforms oxygen into beautiful melodies. However, hard work and an understanding of the tough reality of the music industry keep Andrew Hoole quite humble. Big things are certain to come to this jazz saxophonist.

Half sitting, half standing against a stool in the middle of Café Sofia in Claremont, Hoole leans into his saxophone for a solo, clearly relying more on his partner playing the electric keyboard set up next to him than on his own sheet music in front of him. The two play together so well that you can tell they’ve rehearsed this set multiple times before. It becomes especially obvious as Hoole reaches down to add a third hand to the keyboard. What many people, like the patrons of the restaurant who seem mostly there for drinks and a bite to eat, may not realize is that he shifted from reading his own music in a treble clef to reading the bass line of they keyboard’s music in bass clef like it was nothing. To practiced musician Andrew Hoole, it really was nothing.

When asked when his interest in music started, Hoole laughs and puts it at about age two or three. “I was sitting on a counter at a shop somewhere up in Joburg, singing away as my mom paid for whatever it was we’d come to pick up. A gentleman, apparently a music teacher, walks up to us, and tells my mom that I am destined to become a musician one day.” Apparently the man knew talent when he saw it, because two decades later Hoole is exactly that. His actual musical education started rather early, with him joining the junior choir and piano lessons in grade two. Soon after that he picked up the recorder, every young student’s introductory instrument, and from that made his way on to the clarinet and then saxophone. When asked why he decided to go into a career in music, he discusses the thought process behind it, saying “It all boiled down to the fact that I couldn’t see myself doing anything that didn’t involve music. I was quite good at maths and science and my other subjects, but music was just the one that I enjoyed to the extent that I couldn’t give it up.”

Giving up certainly doesn’t seem to be in his vocabulary. He chose to attend the University of Cape Town because of its music department and the reputation it has in jazz studies. It didn’t stop there though. After getting a Bachelors degree in Jazz Composition and Arrangement, he decided to continue with his education and is currently studying for a Masters degree in Music Composition. He claims networking to be vital to any aspiring musician, and is quite appreciative of the contacts he has made both in Cape Town and in Los Angeles, which he managed to make throughout his years as an undergraduate student.

If that weren’t enough, he is certainly keeping busy with his work outside the classroom. Besides his gig at Café Sofia, he also plays for weddings and other engagements as well. He also stays busy teaching private lessons on the saxophone and tutoring students in music theory. However his true passion remains in scoring film projects when he gets the opportunity.

Besides talent, it is apparent Hoole has something else that’s necessary to go far in this business- passion. He clearly loves his instrument and just making music, whether it’s for a fully packed wedding or just a few tables at Café Sofia. His optimistic attitude is sure to keep him going past rejections and set backs that the music industry is sure to bring. He admits to the industry being tough to break into, and adds “It’s not so much who you know, which is definitely important, but probably more who knows you.”

Old is the new new

Name: Dominique Rollino

Student number: RLLDOM003

Lecturer: Evan Milton

Publication: The Good Weekend, Cape Argus

 

Entering a club in Cape Town is like entering your home. You immediately feel a sense of comfort knowing what to expect in the music, the people and the vibe. Until that one night you walk in to a venue and instead of hearing the thumping bass line of electro at The Assembly, or screamo-metal at Mercury and Gandalfs, you hear the likes of PRINCE’S, ‘Purple Rain’ pouring out the speakers, or the psychedelic sounds of trance. Or you drive past Fiction on a Sunday night and see, instead of the usual drum ‘n bass hipster kids, there loiters instead, a group of 1920’s flapper girls and mobster-looking guys enjoying the sounds of Swing music filtering onto the balcony. What is this new phenomenon that is sweeping through the club scene of Cape Town? This is the changing of music stereotypes in clubs…and it’s fantastic.

 

Cape Town is certainly not short on the club-scene supply. It can be said that there is easily something happening every night at some or other venue around the city. From the oldies that have stuck around like Monday nights at Shack and Mercury and Thursdays at Fiction, to the usual festivities that occur on the weekend, and more recently Tuesday and Wednesdays claiming some fun in the form of events at Fiction, Assembly and Trinity, there is never a shortage if you want to satisfy a party craving.

People gather en masse at these various events because they know what to expect and they are happy with it. So why has there suddenly been an influx of ‘new’ music in the clubs on certain nights? Well, definitely not new music, as it is often something you would find in your parents music collection, or in the various remixed trance from a few years back. So this change can’t be successful right…well wrong, Cape Townians are notoriously cliquey but at the same time they thrive on new and innovative ideas so this is, in essence, a brilliant idea. The masses feed off being chic and trying new things, regardless of what it is, just so that they can say they tried it, so of course an idea that is so wildly different to what they are used it would go down well. Parties need to satisfy the need of the person before the person even realises the need is there. New music at the same, comfortable, known venue, it feeds all the right senses of the self-proclaimed ‘cool kids’ of Cape Town and it has therefore enjoyed huge success in the previous few months.

 

A perfect example of this new idea is the After Hours parties that have taken over The Assembly one Saturday a month. As Phil Kramer, the co-founder of this idea says,

“I felt like you couldn’t go anywhere in Cape Town to hear people play rock, pop, old R ‘n B records or whatever anymore. Certainly not on a good soundsystem…Lots of people tell me that it’s their favorite thing at the moment.”

You walk up the stairs of The Assembly and instead of electro or the live music that is showcased on some Saturdays you are can expect to hear golden oldies…and the venue is busy. “I think people were hungry for something like After Hours when it launched,” says Kramer. Attendance has been on the rise every month since its inception and there are always rave reviews about the good times after the event finishes and the sore heads pass.

Therein lies the answer as to whether this event is successful but it also shows the idea of cliché Cape Town. It’s an idea that is liked for now but who knows how long it will last. New ideas rely on clubs that will take a chance on music and ideas that are not part of the club culture and, especially, in a city like Cape Town the industry thrives on such ideas. New is good in Cape Town, but different is even better.

 

Whilst the idea of these new ventures with different music genre’s in the Cape Town club scene is being happily received at the moment, there is always the question of how long it will last. Although it is indeed a positive thing, there is always the worry of whether it ha the following to go all the way. The reason for this concern can be placed upon the fickle character’s that frequent the venues or it can be placed upon the organizers, but regardless of who is, or isn’t allowing for the change to stay for a good long time for the moment, it is a positive aspect to the club scene of Cape Town. The real question now, with the introduction of this new and welcomed idea is why has it taken so long? Why have the venue owners and events organizers not seen this niche market before and followed through? What has been marketed over the past few years in and around Cape Town is safe but, as Kramer says, “being able to see what people want, which they aren’t getting, that you can provide with a high level of quality is important.” Yes it is, and having people who are willing to listen to the wants of the Cape Town party seen are saluted for their efforts and success.

If you haven’t already gone out and purchased Rihanna’s latest album, consider this your sign to do so. Her sixth album, Talk That Talk, was released in November of last year, and its success so far shows exactly how she’s climbing the ladder of success. This latest album has RiRi expanding her range to new musical styles beyond the pop and edgy vibes we’ve seen her do before. Obvious in the first single she released from the album, We Found Love, her typical pop style is mixed with some electro sounds giving the album a feel of house music that is making Rihanna a leader of this trend. If you’re like us, and are finding yourself getting into the new trend of house music, you’ll definitely love it.

For those of you who are hard-core fans of Rihanna’s signature classic sound, you’ll love the album’s title track, Talk That Talk, featuring Jay-Z, which is more of her typical spin on pop. We, however, absolutely love the third single from this album, You Da One. Featuring influences from her native culture, this Barbadian beauty gives the song a Caribbean feel that makes you wish summer would last forever. Perfect for one of those days spent chilling at the beach, or a casual braai with friends, you have to add this song to your summer playlist while summer is still around!

What really interests us is Birthday Cake (Official Remix). Why? Because it features the notorious, no longer out of the picture, Chris Brown. Yup. THAT Chris Brown. Backed by some real electro beats, the two certainly don’t sound like ex-lovers who have been through so much. At one point, Brown even sings, “For a long time I’ve been missing your body,” making us wonder exactly how much honesty is being put into this track. While the story behind the collaboration is definitely intriguing, the song itself is just as alluring. It samples some of Rihanna’s new electro feel with a beat that makes you want to get up and dance at the club. Birthday Cake, along with her new track Roc Me Out, will definitely both be club hits in the near future. The latter track’s beat and catchy lyrics will have you singing along in no time!

One other noteworthy track off Rihanna’s latest album is Farewell. It doesn’t have the peppy, upbeat quality that many of the other tracks on the album have. As more of a ballad, it’s the perfect song for getting over that summer fling that might not have worked out.

Although one of her shortest albums, we credit Rihanna with making it one of her greatest. With a mix of electro and house beats, the album is definitely venturing into new territory for Rihanna. She proves that she is truly the Princess of Pop and manages to combine her signature Barbados style of pop with these new elements without losing what we loved most about her music in the first place- herself.

One Million Hit Wonders

Music artists Justin Bieber, Katy Perry and Sean Kingston all have something in common, besides being accomplished musicians and celebrities, of course. These icons all made it into the world of fame by sharing videos of themselves over the Internet. After accumulating a large number of followers online, they were eventually discovered by important people in the music industry and embarked on their music careers; developing into the successful stars we know them as today. Although this may seem like an effortless task, there is more to becoming discovered online than simply catching a lucky break. With a little push, however, I think this innovative way of reaching your dream is at least worth a try.

Rather than the boring, old-fashioned way of being scouted in shopping centres or discovered in talent shows, these days it is becoming more and more likely for music artists to become known through online networking. With websites such as YouTube, MySpace, Facebook and Twitter, social media has provided the youth of today with the exposure that new artists need in order to gain world-wide fame. The process of sharing a video with just a click of a button is proving to be more powerful than we could have ever imagined.

Justin Bieber is probably the most well-known music artist to be discovered on Youtube (besides Rebecca Black perhaps, but, for obvious reasons, I will refrain from mentioning her ‘claim to fame’). Bieber began singing at the early age of twelve and casually took part in local talent competitions. Wanting to share his talent with their friends and family, Bieber’s mom opened up a YouTube account and posted videos online of his performances. It turned out that it was not only his friends and family who were interested in his videos, but many other people were too. More and more people began to subscribe to the videos and Bieber quickly established an online fan base. The commotion around these videos soon came to the attention of talent manager, Scooter Braun. Braun, obviously impressed by what he had seen, contacted Bieber and flew him out to Atlanta, Georgia to meet with world-renowned artist, Usher. In October of 2008, Bieber was officially signed to Island Records and went on to record his debut album, “My World”. Usher continues to mentor Bieber as he manages to maintain the public’s attention, whether good or bad, and thus demonstrates how it is possible to achieve global fame simply through the Internet.

Sean Kingston’s story proves to be a bit more about persistence than luck. Instead of using YouTube, Kingston followed tips posted on the Internet about how to gain recognition via MySpace. Taking this advice, he proceeded to send music producer, J.R. Rotem, countless messages pleading him to listen to the songs which he himself had posted on his MySpace profile. Kingston continued to send Rotem messages until, eventually, he replied. After listening to Kingston’s music, Rotem became interested in working with Kingston and it wasn’t long until Rotem signed Kingston to his new label, making him the first artist to be signed. Kingston has since created a name for himself in the music world. He has gone on to work with artists such as Bow Wow and Lil’ Wayne and is set to work with Akon, T-pain and Dr. Dre in the near future. Therefore proving that, by taking advantage of the opportunities he had in front of him, Kingston was able to use the Internet as a means to get himself noticed.

Katy Perry’s journey to fame demonstrates how, even though there might be a certain amount of luck involved, little can be achieved without putting in hard work. Before gaining international stardom, Perry pursued her music career as a Gospel artist, signing with the Christian music label, Red Hill. During this time in her career, she released a self-titled album, “Katy Hudson” (she only later adopted the stage name ‘Katy Perry’, due to the fact that her actual name was too similar to that of the actress Kate Hudson). Her debut did not prove to be a success and even failed to chart. In the end, the record label ceased any further operations. Perry, however, did not give up. She went on to record yet another solo album, but this unfortunately never got released. It was only in 2007, when Perry signed with Capitol Music Group, that her career took flight. In November of 2007 she adopted the idea of offering a free download of her up-and-coming song “Ur so Gay”, which she posted on her MySpace account, in order to create online buzz. It proved to be an instant hit and was even brought the attention of Madonna, who created even more of a buzz by mentioning it on various radio stations. From then on, Perry’s career blossomed. From the release of her chart-topping single, “I Kissed a Girl”, she has since spawned five number-one hits and shows no signs of slowing down. Through her story, she demonstrates that, while it is easy to disclaim these stories as pure luck, fame is only achieved by putting in the effort. She went through a lot of rejection in the beginning of her career, but broke through and never gave up.

The difficulty with this means of finding fame, however, is that there are more than a million other equally, if not more, talented people out there with the same dreams and aspirations. It is said to be believed that there is an average of 48 hours of video material being uploaded every minute onto YouTube alone. This obviously decreases the chances of ever being noticed by anyone who can make you famous, but it does not make it impossible. The stories mentioned above, although examples of artist who managed to find their place in the music industry just by sharing their talent over the Internet, ensure that becoming famous does no simply happen overnight. They do, however, suggest that, as long as there are people who are willing to continue to do the same as what they did, it is more likely that music executives, and other important people in the industry, will come across such talent and go on to create budding new stars.

I therefore encourage as many of you as I can to display your talent on the Internet and try to gain as many followers as possible. For, whether you are an aspiring rock star, an indie kid, or even if you believe you are the world’s next pop sensation, it seems quite clear that posting your videos on the Internet might pay off quite well. It certainly did for some artists.

Now Everbody is Trance Dancing

BY KYLIE HOLLIDAY

There is this little thing that has been on the minds of many (maybe even a few utterances have been made in and amongst the crowds) but nobody has thought to put pen to paper concerning the atrocities. Which of the countless man-made abominations afflicting the earth am I possibly referring to you might ask? None other than the vastly expanding popularity of the trance ‘genre.’ Although, the fact that trance is becoming popular isn’t really where the qualms of many lie, but rather in the contemplation of whether it is, in fact, the music that these new-found trance-lovers love, or the party-rocker lifestyle with which it so effortlessly goes hand in hand. The commercialisation of trance, or the trance lifestyle?

Despite the ever-present “No U18’s”, “No ID, no entry” and other such requirements stated on Facebook event pages, in the fine print on posters, even on the tickets themselves, the used-to-be-underground trance party scene is riddled with teeny-boppers in their short-shorts and straight peaks. To add insult to injury neon stickers and paint gets plastered all over their bodies to the extent that they look like walking glow sticks. I’m not begrudging short-shorts, straight peaks or glow sticks, but I can’t say I’m a fan of aiding helpless teens to the toilets to empty their stomachs of whatever has been ingested, or worse to the medic tent because they’re frothing at the mouth. I’m also not much of a friend to the youngster who passes out in the most inconvenient location before he could make it back to his tent.

A fellow trance lover says:“People that go just for the sake of it, wearing lumo stickers and wrapping scarves around their heads (so that you can only see their eyes) while prancing around like fairies, are just the people looking for photos to put on Facebook”

Yet to each his own so party attire aside, do these kids really respect and love the music they are there to party to? This is where the problem really lies, apart from being under-aged – an issue in itself and giving event organisers the headache of a lifetime, they rock up with – or looking for – all sorts of ‘party supplies’. This results in them being hammered beyond belief before the night has even reached its climax. Surely, they can’t be there for the music if they don’t even make it to the best parts, can they?

Granted, it was everybody’s first trance party at some point. No one knew how to act that first time, so we adapted once we’d learned what was what at a trance party. Surely if an event is for the legal members of society, those who don’t fit into that category should wait their turn? Why? Firstly, so that they don’t ruin it for themselves; secondly so that they don’t ruin it for the others; thirdly so that they don’t risk landing event organisers in copious amounts of trouble and lastly so that they don’t kill themselves. Under- agers, booze and the illegal ‘party supplies’ are not a good combination, and who gets blamed?

This, sadly, is not to say that the under-aged lot are the only offenders; there are those who probably couldn’t tell the difference between trance and drum and bass if it hit them in the face. Professing your undying love for the magic that is trance and then confusing Pendulum with Orca is just not okay. Also, not being able to distinguish a music festival from a trance party is a habit of the ignorant; trance music is rarely played at festivals. That stage with the Red Bull truck? Yeah, that’s electro, bro. Those who go to trance parties with the attitudes of ‘f***ing s*** up’, like the jock-types who are perfectly capable of consuming way more than the recommended dosage of beer but not without swinging punches at the nearest stomping- hippie or guy in an opposing water-polo team – thoroughly ruin the experience for those around them. At the risk of sounding like a spoiled brat, that’s just not fair. These kinds of people can’t be there for the music either, if all they do is get drunk and pick fights.

Now I’m not saying that trance is for the righteous and that the ignorant fools should stay away; by all means, if some level of education could be given to the ignorant so that they saw the light and began to realise what the music is really about, and started showing some degree of respect for the genre, then they could party on. Everyone, within the sphere of legality, has the right to go to trance parties, but bringing the wrong attitudes to an environment where people are meant to enjoy themselves is really the epitome of inconsideration.

The theory: if you can rock out to some psy-trance sober as a stone then that makes it a truer experience; then you’re a real trance-lover. Although one can’t hold anything against a drunken stomp if the drunken- stomper can do it sober too. There are people out there who may profess that you’re not a real stomper if you don’t do drugs, or if you have anything against drugs. Their argument often concerns things about how specific drugs help you tap into certain parts of your brain that you cannot otherwise access, and that you can’t be a true trance- lover if you haven’t experienced what those drugs have supposedly helped you to see… blah blah blah! Having a good experience because you’ve used mind- altering substances doesn’t make you any more or any less of a true trance lover, but telling people who or what they are because they don’t abide by you standards, or partake in your recreational habits makes you much less of one.

What I’m saying, is that if you’re not there for the music, what are you doing there in the first place? Clearly the commercialisation of trance has nothing to do with the music. Ironically, it has everything to do with the people who enjoy the lifestyle of freedom and of having a cool party with a couple of drinks, and take it too far. Trance isn’t becoming popular because of trance, it’s becoming popular because of trance PARTIES; whether people actually like the music is unresolved because it’s impossible to tell the fakes and the frauds from the true trancers in the crowd.

Where’s my monkey?

The idea that just a few years back musicians got up onto a stage and had a crowd mesmerized for hours with just their music must seem foreign to many in the ‘new generation.’ Sensory overload seems to be the trick of the trade at the moment and by my calculations; come ten years a music concert will involve a hovercraft, edible tickets and a monkey as a departing gift. As outrageous as the theatrics are, one cannot help but marvel at their creation, it is just a pity that they are starting to eclipse the musicians themselves.

RIHANNA singing on stage with a handful of back-up dancers is a long lost memory somewhere in the recesses of my mind. The image that I and the rest of the world now have emblazoned into our poor heads is a half-naked red-head practically having sex with transformer robots and riding a ridiculously phallic pink tank onto stage.  A little extra garnish to her tank-rider act was a conveyor belt across the front of the stage and a hole that swallowed her up for costume changes. If you looked closely you could spot the musicians and singers of her band somewhere beneath the ridiculous amount of pop paraphernalia. One needs to just stop and marvel at the absurdity of it – the talent over-shadowing theatrics that are running rampant throughout the music industry. 

Rihanna riding her pink tank

This virus seems to have affected even the most classic of acts including the activist band U2. The idea of a 360◦ tour is impressive enough with the band dishing out 110 shows over three years. Add a four legged stage design nicknamed ‘The Claw’ to the mix that stands 51 meters tall with each leg an entire sound system on its own, and ‘impressive ’just turns into preposterous. To add insult to injury, the need to be the ‘biggest and the best’ seemed to have out-weighed the bands concern for climate change with the chokingly large amount of carbon dioxide emitted in the beasts erection. It is such a shame that when walking out of the Cape Town stadium, after seeing one of the most esteemed groups in history, all that I heard people raving about was “that massive space-ship.” I will not deny the producers the credit that they deserve in erecting a gob-smacking piece of equipment. The video screen alone was composed of over one million pieces. My mind cannot comprehend that many pieces never mind assembling and disassembling them 110 times, but is it all really necessary?  

U2’s mega-structure “The Claw”

I cannot be the only one who wonders what happened to the days when just the sheer presence of an artist on stage was overwhelming enough. It is us, living and consuming in the rat-race society we have become, that perpetuate the problem. We need more. We need bigger, flashier and faster.  If we were given laser beams in one show we expect those laser beams to be shooting out of a robot’s every orifice while it flies over our heads in the next. In a time where online access to music is easier than pulling your socks up it is understandable that artists need to find bigger and better ways of attracting their fans who won’t admit it but cannot resist that free download.  

Almost every genre within the musical world is facing this problem, none seemingly more so than the little DJ with his headphones and his mixing desk.

The electronic scene has become renowned for its appropriation of the most advanced live performance technology which has successfully epitomised the acid electro music it accompanies.  I will allow myself one crude moment and exclaim: “That shit is trippy!” Electronic DJ DEADMAU5 is one of the frontmen of this craze with his LED-covered cube that consists of 36 massive tiles and costs an estimated $1 Million. Psychedelic imagery, Super Mario ‘chases’ and altogether weird techie images splay over the cube and into the crowd keeping them transfixed. If you wondered why you paid R350 to see a DJ, now you know why. The sad truth of it is is that most of the crowd who went for the ‘vibe’ will probably have failed to acknowledge the pure technological genius that Joel Zimmerman is who started producing chiptune tracks at the age of 15 and now writes the programs which he uses to produce his music.

The Mau5 and his Cube

 

SKRILLEX, the current king of Dub-Step, however, takes the techno cake with his motion-capture technology. Not only does the emo-kid reside in an out-of-this-world LED constructed frame during his Mothership Tour but also has a massive alien or robot (depending on his mood) match his every move on a projection behind him. Admittedly I am a fan of the music but watching an alien signalling for me to jump manically to the WOB WOB WOB resounding in my ears scares me.  The technology is undoubtedly impressive; the concept is however too much for me to handle.

 

Skrillex displaying Motion-Capture technology

If you, like myself, have begun to lose all hope in ever having a concert remotely human orientated ever again, you were sadly justified in feeling so. HATSUNE MIKU is a Japanese pop star, one who is selling out concert venues across Japan. HATSUNE MIKU however, is not real, she is an anime character who performs “live” with a band and is projected holographically. People, it seems, are willing to pay to watch a performer who doesn’t exist and after the re-appearance of TUPAC at the Coachella Music Festival are even more excited to see a deceased one.  The murdered rapper appeared in hologram form and performed alongside old friends DR DRE and SNOOP DOGG. Apparently the disturbing vision took four months to create and costs close on $400 000. For the more morally inclined individuals, do not fear; TUPAC’s surprise appearance and his prospective world tour have been permitted by his mother. As though this makes any of it sane!

Dead men and anime pop stars is what it looks like the future holds for us. One may question why having the ability to have a deceased performer resurrected or lug a multi-million Dollar space-ship around the world for three years is a bad thing, perhaps it is not. It seems safe to assume that as long as the possibility of doing something is there it will eventually be done. Perhaps like the generation before mine who marvelled at the creation of cell-phones I now too am receiving my own ‘shock to the system.’

Hatsune Miku ‘performing’ for her fans

Local is not Lekker

South Africa is a country that is incredibly rich with musical talent and we always appreciate having international bands perform here. However, the assumption that South Africa remains silent when there are no international acts is not true; this ‘gap’ is instead filled with local acts that are  just as incredible as anyone overseas. But is it possible that we are the only ones who know of the talent that so many South African musicians possess? The loss of South African heritage in artists who are successful internationally is making this a definite possibility. The United States is where everyone makes it big, but sometimes, it is also the place where musicians forget where they are from.

A friend of mine decided that to make her singing and acting career a reality – naturally she had to go to the USA. On her first visit back a few months later, she still had her South African accent and told us that her manager thought she should keep it because it “made her different”. On her next visit here (about a year later), however, her accent was the strongest American accent I had ever heard. Apparently being South African wasn’t working out for her musical career after all.

Like my former-South African friend, Seether is a band that has taken on American attributes. The band was started in South Africa in 1999 and by 2002 they had reached international fame. Since then, Seether has been based in the USA and have only come back to perform in South Africa twice, in 2006 and 2008. “Well first we’re just going to Europe then we’re going to countries we haven’t been to before we’re going to Australia [and] New Zealand and then after that we hook up with 3 Doors Down in Europe and we finish the tour with them and we come back  [to the US] and we do a Nickelback tour in April and June I think,” says Seether’s front man, Shaun Morgan, on their 2012 tour. Hopefully one day soon South Africa will feature in one of the band’s ‘world’ tours.

Like Seether, Civil Twilight is also a band that seems to have lost touch with their roots. Formed in South Africa but based in Los Angeles from 2005, the band had their ‘big break’ in 2007,  and since then the only time they have stopped by for a quick concert was in October 2011, at the Rocking the Daisies festival in Cape Town.

I’m sure if either of these bands could justify themselves, they would argue that it was the gaining of success that made them abandon their heritage. To get to where you want to be, sometimes you have to make certain sacrifices and give up things you don’t want to give up. In the case of Seether and Civil Twilight, they are both rock bands and have no particularly unique aspects to them that could make them stand out. Their genre is a genre of the Western world and to be successful in that world, they have to live and breathe Western culture. But is it worth it to have worldwide success when you don’t have your country standing behind you, for the simple reason that many South Africans do not even know that these bands are originally from their home country?

Die Antwoord is a band that seems to be doing incredibly well internationally even though most of the global audience can’t understand their lyrics, let alone their name. The band’s uniqueness is what got them an act at Coachella in 2010 and what makes them one of Fred Durst and Katy Perry’s favourite band. The uniqueness I speak of is their completely weird music, which could be placed under the genre ‘Zef’. Zef is Die Antwoord, Die Antwoord is Zef; there is really no other way to explain it. In a nutshell, Die Antwoord’s South African-ness is what made them so well-known around the world. Now isn’t that a treat?

And then there are artists, such as Paul Simon, who aren’t even from South Africa originally but have used huge parts of South Africa’s genres in their music. Paul Simon’s album, Graceland, was released in 1986, and was a huge hit. Simon included many South African aspects in this album, such as the Zulu Isicathamiya singing style and the Mbaqanga style. He worked with the internationally recognised Ladysmith Black Mambazo as well. It was a perfect mix of American and South African styles. Not only was this Paul Simon’s most successful solo album, it also won several Grammy Awards and reached number 3 on the US Billboard 200. A classic example that South African music is not only limited to the South African audience, but internationally, it is enjoyed just as much, if not more.

The only way the music industry in South Africa is going to be noticed is by musicians who take the world by storm and let everyone know where they are from and that they will always remain Proudly South African. Bands like Die Antwoord, Freshlyground and GoldFish are bands that are not giving up on their country, and still call South Africa their home. That’s not to say that Seether and Civil Twilight aren’t completely wrong in ignoring their roots, their genre demands the taking on of western culture. But maybe it’s possible for these bands, in their next few albums, to start bringing aspects of South Africa into their music. The South African fan base would love it and they would probably make many more fans in their home country, fans that may not even particularly like their music, but will support them because they are South African; they are part of a community.

That friend of mine who went overseas to reach her dream? Well, I think if she wanted to tell the world she was South African, she could. I doubt that this would make her any less successful than she would be taking on this American persona. Surely it’s better to be known as the “21-year-old South African girl with a voice like gold” than “just another American teenager who is exactly like every other female artist out there”? It’s about being noticed, standing out. Fitting in doesn’t get you noticed, you just become a part of the crowd: a tiny drop in an ever-growing ocean.