Picks of the week
This is the first in what will become a weekly selection of the most inspiring new ideas to pop up on our INDIE radar screens. Make sure you look out for updates every Friday.
For this inaugural post I’ve focused quite specifically on South African film and video. So without further ado:
Sakawa Boys: I Don’t Want To Teach English In South Korea
Maybe it’s because I actually did teach English in South Korea, or perhaps it’s because I shot my first ever music video for John Seth’s original band of misfits, New Loud Rockets, but I’m really loving this band and their debut video. After New Loud Rockets disbanded, John finished up his law degree and went on to work at one of the country’s top firms. This deserves much respect, but personally I’m really happy to see him living his passion on stage again with Sakawa Boys. With a new tour scheduled for later his month and some hot new merch to boot, I’m sure you’ll be hearing a lot more from these indie rockers real soon.
I love the lo-fi ethos of their video too. There’s not much in the way of plot – basically they’re just mucking about on the piss with a handycam and some Korean subtitles – but it works for me; an endearing visual counterpart to their stripped-down, frayed-at-the-edges sound. These days a video is often less of a major event and more of a means to carry a song across social media. If you wait until you have the budget for a killer video, you’re likely to miss the bus. So kudos to Sakawa Boys for just getting out there and shooting something to package this really catchy tune.
PHFat x Al Bairre: Caviar Dreams
Now there’s a collaboration I never saw coming. Which is probably why I got so excited about this. I love it when artists step outside of their comfort zones to produce the unexpected. This particular collab was a part of an Xperia Mashlab project sponsored by SONY, and I have to say I think the result is exceptional.
To make things even better, the accompanying video was directed by one of SA’s music video greats – Daniel Levi. It’s been a little while since I’ve seen a new Daniel Levi joint, but this effort proves that the man is till at the top of his game. The video is just so cinematic and emotionally evocative, at times calling to mind Gus van Sant’s 2003 controversial masterpiece, Elephant. I’m not 100% sure what’s going on with the blood cells and the levitation and the explosions… but I really don’t care if my conjectures are accurate or not. It’s such a beautiful ride, and I expect the sense of confusion and discomfort is well-calculated. It feels like the trailer for a movie you’re dying to see.
It’s just a pity I’ll never be able to look at those sweet Johnson twins from Al Bairre in the same way again.
Darkroom Contemporary: We the Transposed
The next item on the list is a little different. I know very little about contemporary dance in South Africa, which is actually a source of some embarrassment because I know we have a ton of great talent in that department. Darkroom Contemporary is a Cape Town-based dance company that exists as “a vehicle to reimagine dance as art form within the current contemporary society.” They’re aiming to produce a a sound installation and dance work called ‘We the Transposed’, focused on the diaspora located within the Johannesburg CBD, and bring it to stage in Cape Town and Johanesburg. We all know funding for the arts is pretty hard to come by, and so they’ve taken to Thundafund in an attempt to raise the necessary cash to make it happen (a relatively meagre amount, it ought to be said). The video they’ve put together to try and elicit sponsorship is quite haunting, and definitely makes me want to see the idea come to life. I think it’s really cool that a dance company is using video and sound to invigorate this primal medium. Check out the teaser, and consider donating to their campaign.
Yogi’s Barbershop: Jess James Harris
Yogi’s Barbershop on Buitengracht Street is something of an institution in Cape Town, which is why I’m so glad Jess James Harris and Ebrahim Hajee took the time to immortalise it in this short video. It’s a beautifully shot video portrait of an individual, as well as a real testament to the old school ethos inherent in this family business.
KO: One Time (Feat. Maggz, Masandi & Ma-E)
One of my highlights from the recent Digital Edge conference in Johannesburg, was listening to Kuhle Nkosi talk about his new venture, I.AM.HIP.HOP. Essentially, it’s a unified online platform for South African hip-hop heads, born from the frustration of waiting to be taken seriously by a television network. Taking matters into their own hands, a small group of passionate friends took their idea online instead. I.AM.HIP.HOP is a brilliant resource for local fans, and is impressively up-to-date with the latest video, single and mixtape drops. It’s where I caught wind of this brand new release from KO, which has been burrowing its way deeper into my head ever since. The music video looks great too.