It’s been a great year for local music. From brand new artists and bands breaking onto the scene, to older acts emerging from the silence with an entirely reworked and revitalised sound, South Africa’s emergent musicians are a varied and multifaceted bunch.
Taking some time to tap into this stream of ever evolving local music, we’ve chosen 15 acts across a number of varying genres and styles who we think you need to hear. From gritty garage rock and ambient, otherworldly electronica, to self reflexive hip hop and breakaway indie pop, take a while to pour through South Africa’s latest musical offerings.
Cape Town based Andy Mkosi is a multimedia artist, turned rapper who has a background in photography. Although she’d been scrawling lyrics in class since her primary school days, she only discovered hip hop around 2008, and took to it naturally. Growing up with the musical influences of kwaito, R&B, jazz and even country, Andy has musical roots in a variety of highly rhythmic genres, but it’s the lyrics that always spoke to her the most—something you can hear in her own emotionally charged, self-reflexive tracks. The rapper has already released her debut EP iPressure, filmed a music video for ‘Mnxim’ and brought out a short album with Sabza through Red Bull Studios Cape Town. A few weeks ago, Andy dropped another single ‘Mna Nawe’ which you can hear below.
About a year ago, a Durban based band made up of two Black Math members released a song called ‘Hand Full of Magic Beans’, a gritty, cymbal smashing track with rolling chords and a sound that rode the line between garage and hard rock, before falling quiet. Two months ago, they broke their silence with seven hooky and infectious instrumental demo tracks. While the demos serve to give you a taste of the band’s sound, we’re anxious to hear the final results, complete with vocals, but in the meantime, you’d be foolish not to check these two out live.
Young Hands are a brand new addition to South Africa’s musical pool. The three-piece outfit from Cape Town is made up of members from City Bowl Mizers and the recently disbanded Meth Breath, and is a fresh take on local indie and pop rock. The band announced their musical debut with two tracks, ‘Loser Complex’ and ‘Wake & Fake’, which make use of classic drum beats and infectious lo-fi style guitar that compliment laid back, charming vocals. Earlier this month, the trio released ‘Swing Gang’ and by the sound of these three tracks, their eventual EP or album is going to be one hell of a hit.
Putting Pretoria on the map for 2015 is ambient electronic artist Buli. Experimenting with music production since the age of 13, Buli first started toying with electronic music around July of 2014. Fast forward to 2015 and the young DJ and producer has made a huge name for himself, particularly in the realm of ambient, experimental electronica. He’s a prolific artist who’s already released a number of tracks and EPs through a number of platforms, most notably his Delusions EP which he worked on with creative agency The Cult of Maybe. Buli also performed at Churn Boutique Electronic Festival in Johannesburg earlier this year and has an LP in the works for next year. If you’re interested in experimental electronica and where it’s headed in South Africa, Buli is one of the artists to keep on your radar.
Leeu’s an artist who’s entirely dedicated to the local music scene. His brand new debut album, Suid Tronica, with its variety of collaborations and focus on the South African musical landscape, is situated in an audio-geographical site called ‘Leeu Island’, which showcases a new world of sound. With a background in drumming, Leeu first began making electronic music in 2005, but existed primarily as a producer. Lately though, he’s been playing more live sets, broadening and playing around with his sound. Leeu also forms part of the Hadedah label—a Jozi-based collective and platform for changing and influencing the local electronic music scene through hosting events combining live music, art and food to create unique sensory experiences.
Batuk don’t always sound real when you try and explain them to a friend—“It’s this musical group made up of a producer, theatre director, fashion designer, and filmmaker”— but the creative collective is very real and very good. Comprising Aero Manyelo, Carla Fonseca, Nandi Ndlovu, and Spoek Mathambo, Batuk is a musical outfit which aims to utilise rhythmic sound as a universal language in an effort to bring about more sustainable social cohesion. Only a few months ago, the local supergroup made themselves known to the world through ‘Daniel’, a single off their upcoming EP. The track itself is a multidisciplinary work of art in its theatrical lyrics, hypnotic drum beats, and striking cover art. The EP as well as a music video are scheduled for release in early 2016 and you can expect big things. In the mean time, check out their remix of Namaste’s ‘Wat Wat’ below.
In a time where the local music scene is supersaturated with emerging DJs and producers, Makonwabe ‘AudioJerk‘ Bekwa, has risen to the top at an incredible speed. Born in Cape Town, AudioJerk has been making music since the age of 16, citing the musical environment of the Langa township as a constant inspiration. Known now for his monthly mixes, the DJ and producer is one of the most booked DJs in Cape Town. He’s also worked with Bridges for Music and Red Bull Studios, and this year has seen him being featured on Metro FM, Goodhope FM, and 5FM as well as performing at the Cape Town Electronic Music Festival, a considerable achievement for an electronic artist who’s so young. With a diary full of gigs every week, there’s always a chance to catch AudioJerk do what he does best—making people dance.
Wondering where South Africa’s rock ‘n roll is? Meet The Tazers. They’re the type of band you’ll first see in a crusty pub, performing on a beer soaked stage behind a curtain of cheap cigarette smoke, putting forward the most passionate performance you’ve seen in a good while. After their inception in 2014, the three piece psychedelic rock ‘n roll outfit gigged around Jozi for a while before bringing out their first EP in July this year—a six track collection of straight psych and rock ‘n roll, with a touch of the blues. About a week ago, the band released a bootleg of ‘Disease’, a track off their upcoming 2016 EP, and if anything, it’s a sign that next year will be an even better one for The Tazers.
Sipho the Gift
If you don’t know the name yet, you will soon. A Kimberly born kid who grew up and moved to Stellenbosch in the Western Cape, Sipho the Gift is part of a new wave of South African rappers combining identity politics with well-produced, high quality hip hop music. Last year, Sipho began making a name for himself with his musical debut ‘Poundcake Freestyle’, a track that from the first note, showed signs of the artist’s talent. This year, the 23 year old rapper released his first full length album, Coming of Age for which he produced all of his own tracks. The album details the thoughts, experiences, and reflections of a young black male growing up in South Africa and marks the beginning of what looks to be a hugely successful career.
Sol Gems is an example of what happens when you take a few smaller locally loved bands and throw them all together. Since performing their first show together in December of last year, the three-piece psychedelic rock group has come to grab the attention of music lovers across the country—and for good reason too. With SA seeing an increasingly enthusiastic revisiting of psychedelic music, Sol Gems are among the top acts leading the movement. The group has already opened for Californian 60s-revival rock group Allah Las, performed on live national television, released a highly successful debut A-side/B-side, and show no signs of stopping. Now all we need is a full length album. It’ll be worth waiting for.
If you’ve heard Cape Townian future afro group The City, then you’ve heard Bonj Mpanza’s voice before. As part of The City, Bonj gained considerable celebrity within the jazz and contemporary music scenes, but her recent collaborations have seen her amass a significant following as a solo artist. Her vocals on Cape Townian DJ and producer Card On Spokes’ tracks, and more recently, her feature on Maramza’s latest EP, have shown just how successful collaborations between South African musicians of varying genres can be. While these hit collabs have been welcome musical treasures, we wouldn’t mind seeing a solo album come out in the near future.
Having written music and performed since he was 13 years old, Pascal Righini has no shortage of experience in music and musical range. The 28 year old musician is probably known best as the singer and guitarist for psychedelic pop band The Plastics, but has now begun his latest project, Yum Yuck in an attempt to venture into more experimental sounds and ideas as a solo artist. His debut psychedelic, lo-fi single ‘Icicles’ was released two months ago and served as the perfect introduction to his sound. Recently, the artist has released his first EP, ‘Make Yourself at Home’ co-produced and mixed by Thor Rixon. Making a name for yourself outside of an already established band or musical collective is never easy, but Yum Yuck has already achieved significant recognition as a solo artist. Keep an eye on him in 2016. He’s going places.
Interchanging and merging music, fashion and creative direction, Khaya ‘Bhubesii’ Sibiya is a busy guy. Musically, he forms part of the new wave hip hop creative collective BoyznBucks, and makes music as Bhubesii while also co-running the Jozi based fashion label Punk&Ivy. In 2012 the artist released a music video for ‘Members Only’ before laying low for a while. After about three years, Bhubesii’s broken back into the music game with ‘Kobayashi’, a hard hitting, energetic hip hop track that does well to announce the rapper’s return. ‘Kobayashi’ alone hints at a reinvention of both his sound and style, and with an artist like Bhubesii, whose merging of audio-visual aesthetics make up much of his character as a musician, taking a look at his tumblr will help for a better understanding into his work.
Before he launched his own career, Seferino spent a few years touring with Cape Town afro-pop outfit John Wizards as one of their guitarists, and the influences of those times remain consistent in his music. Seferino’s sound is unique though, make no mistake. It’s melancholic, polished dreampop with hints of oldschool disco and funk. It’s the type of music you play in your car on slow drives around the city at night. This year saw the artist release his EP ‘Monkey With No Tail!’ through Ryan Hemsworth’s Secret Songs label to international audiences. The release came with a lyrical music video for his single ‘Party Master’ featuring iconic Cape Town shots and quirky dance parties on the beach. He’s currently working on a new release for early 2016 as well as a US tour and we’re expecting nothing short of brilliant.
Witness the Funk
Better known simply as WTF, the three man gqom, trap and hip hop outfit hails from Durban and is comprised of KZN rappers Moshine Magnif, Aux Cable, and Efelow. They’ve been on the scene for a while, but really started making a name for themselves with their single ‘Nomusa’ for which they released a lavish, poolside staged music video earlier this year. More recently, the trio have released their first full length album Finding Nomusa which is fast garnering nationwide attention. WTF have also collaborated with the likes of DJ Sliqe, OkMalumkoolkat, JR, and Gigi Lamayne and with the speed at which their fame is growing, they’re sure to be teaming up with even bigger names soon. Last month they dropped ‘MCE’ which you can hear below.
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