Backstage with BadBadNotGood during their South African tour

Canadian jazz outfit BadBadNotGood blessed their South African audience recently at the Cape Town International Jazz Festival, not only with a world-class performance of some of their best renditions, but also with a surprise performance alongside Yasiin Bey himself. Hanging out with these talented jazz aficionados was definitely worth just one more party in SA. The band, which consists of Matthew Tavares on keys, Chester Hansen on bass and Alexander Sowinski on drums were accompanied by some new blood in Leland Whitty (sax), who joined the crew in January this year. Read on for the guys’ quick chat with Shiba Melissa Mazaza upon their return home. While you’re at it, take a gander below at what went down backstage and during rehearsals below, as well as Ferrari Sheppard’s live painting experiment bringing a fresh dimension to the evening’s performance with images by Ignatius Mokone.

BadBadNotGood on stage (2)

What were your thoughts when you were first approached by CTIJF to perform at this year’s festival?

We were just really excited! South Africa is one of the farthest places from Toronto you can travel, so it was amazing to hear that people there were fans of our music and there was enough demand that we could actually go there. It was also our first time on the continent so it was an incredible experience!

From when you first touched down in South Africa on the 29th, until today, what was the journey like? Can you give us a rundown of what exactly went down every day, and some highlights?

Sure! We got in late on a Tuesday night, and went to the gym because we were super restless from travelling that long. We were hungry after and since we didn’t know our way around we ended up going to a KFC 🙁

The next day we met up with our friend Alison, and basically the next few days she showed us around Cape Town and introduced us to tons of really cool people. Major shout-out to her for showing us around, we would’ve had no idea what to do otherwise haha! Cape Town is really beautiful and it’s always neat to run into people that are on the frontier of the local culture, wether they’re in music, fashion, film etc…

Some highlights are probably meeting the dudes from Beatenberg and hanging out at their studio, super cool guys!!! They also lent us some instruments we needed and helped us out a ton with logistics for some last-minute rehearsals which was really kind.

We also ate at an amazing seafood restaurant by the port of Cape Town, right in the docks. Can’t remember what it was called but it was so good. We went to a club night called “EVOL” which was really fun also. Everything was great!!!

We only spent one night in Johannesburg which also seems really really cool, hopefully next time we can spend more time there as well.

BadBadNotGood on stage (3)BadBadNotGood on stage (4)

Apparently you guys rescued a young woman from a crazy attacker. What happened there?

We were driving home from that club night, and heard a woman screaming, then we saw her walking down the sidewalk and a guy coming up behind her trying to grab her. We stopped the car and all jumped out ASAP to try and help her, Matty actually grabbed the guy and pushed him off of her! Luckily the police drove by at that point and they were dealing with the guy. It was definitely an intense experience.

Just when we thought there’d be no more parties in SA, Yasiin Bey joined you during your show. How did this come about and what were rehearsals like?

We got an email from someone that works with him the first night we got in, asking if we’d be willing to perform a couple songs with him at our show. Of course we said yes, then the next night we went to meet up with him. After a couple rehearsals we figured out what to play, and ended up doing 6 songs. 3 by him, as well as two Rodriguez songs, and ‘Buggin Out’ as a tribute to Phife Dawg. It was an incredible experience! The rehearsals were magical, we really connected musically which is difficult sometimes after first meeting someone.

Any artists you’re hoping to get involved with in future? Did you manage to make any new local musical discoveries while here?

The whole music scene is so vibrant and fresh, and there’s such a huge crowd of young people that are so up to date on what’s going on in their city. It seems like a really great time to be a musician in SA. It would be great to come back and spend more time, collaborating with local artists would be a super cool experience!!

Yasiin Bey embracing ZakiYASIIN REHEARSING with BBNG BadBadNotGood rehearsal (1)YASIIN PLAYING PIANO with BADBADNOTGOOD x Zaki Ibrahim & fERRARI SherppardFerrari Sheppard live paintingBadBadNotGood on stage (1)BadBadNotGood drummerYASIIN on STAGE with BBNG

Words: Shiba Melissa Mazaza

Photographs: Ignatius Mokone

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