Tag Archive: die antwoord

Rolling Stone hits South Africa

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.


And the Stone Keeps on Rolling

By: Tendani Mulaudzi

When I heard that Rolling Stone was launching a South African version, a few things immediately sprang to mind: So You Think You Can Dance South Africa, Survivor South Africa and Who Wants to be a Millionaire South Africa. These South African copies of international shows are of amateur quality compared to their originals. If I had to choose between a copy of the British Elle and South African Elle, I would grab the British version without hesitation (regardless of the fact that I wouldn’t be able to get hold of any of the clothes, much less afford them). “Obviously Rolling Stone SA is going to be a failure,” said the silly, naïve me. “I mean, there are like hardly any famous South African musicians. They’ll probably have to recycle cover stars like twice a year.”

Interacting with Miles Keylock in a press conference made me feel ashamed of the words that I had said about the magazine. Not only is Rolling Stone SA an enriching magazine that’s definitely worth the read, I think that the American Rolling Stone could learn a few things from our version.

I must admit, I was not the biggest fan of the international Rolling Stone to begin with. But in order to compare the two magazines to each other, I had to do some research. When I googled “Rolling Stone covers”, I found several pages of different covers. Sadly, I could recognize every face. The artists on the covers had all made it to the ‘big time’. They were as commercial as a musician can get, regardless of their genre. Making the cover of Rolling Stone is HUGE for artists; it could be considered the peak of their career. That’s all good and well, but what about those not-so-well-known artists that have a story that’s worth telling?

This is what sets Rolling Stone SA apart and what makes Miles Keylock such a great editor. Hugh Masekela, Zahara, Miriam Makeba, Paul McCartney, Spoek Mathambo and Die Antwoord have rightfully been on the cover artists of Rolling Stone SA. Not all of them are of commercial status and have made the big time. An artist doesn’t need to be super famous to be on the cover, just extraordinary: musically and personally.

Don’t agree? Well, think about it. Hugh Masekela is simply a living legend, or as Keylock explained, “This is the biggest rockstar we have.” Zahara, as Keylock puts it, has music with a message. “Her songs are rooted in decades full of history and she sings songs of hope,” he said. Spoek Mathambo; now that’s a name many average people haven’t heard of. And average they will remain, until they hear what this artist can do. I first came to hear about Spoek Mathambo collaborating on a song with one of my latest obsessions, PH Fat. Spoek got my attention immediately. Miles Keylock’s attention was also stolen by this up-and-coming artist, “Spoek has given his art so much time in terms of thinking… He has found his voice and is going global.”

All these artists have interesting stories to tell but the writer is the one who has to fully articulate the musician’s story. As readers, reading the same old thing with a change of names can a get a little boring. As an editor, Keylock doesn’t want to have bored readers. It works out perfectly. Rolling Stone SA is all about writers who write from their heart. Keylock says, rather factually, that if a writer does not write from their heart, “it will eventually tear away at their soul.” A writer needs to have passion to write for Rolling Stone SA and if they have none, this will prove to be a problem.

An example of a brilliant piece of writing that has featured in the magazine is the article in the form of a love letter to Miriam Makeba by Bongani Madondo. This piece defines writing from the heart. It is personal but not boastful; it is poetic; it is a tribute to an incredible artist. If there is one Rolling Stone SA article you should read, I highly recommend this beautifully written one.

Rolling Stone SA is a magazine that informs, entertains and intellectually stimulates. It has proven my initial assumptions wrong in many ways. There are so many talented South African artists that haven’t been given the recognition they deserve yet. Rolling Stone SA does this for them. It also tells the stories of musicians that are famous already but still have so many interesting aspects to them we are not yet aware of. It is a magazine by South Africans for South Africans; it doesn’t try to put as many internationally-related things as it can into the magazine to get more sales. It doesn’t care if a musician is white or black, coloured or indian; if the artist unique and talented, skin colour doesn’t make them any more worthy of being featured in the magazine. Rolling Stone SA wants to tell the stories that haven’t been told, and believe it or not, there are so many we have yet to hear.

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.