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.