Interview with an African Renaissance Man

Lucky us. We get to interview a person who, in our opinion, is one of the most important musical acts to come out of South Africa in the last 3 years... Not just by pioneering a new sound for SA, but for creating a chance for other local artists by performing all over Europe and proving that South African's dont have just make shitty Alt Rock and Emo shit that nobody here even listens to. Gazelle in our books is a National Hero... So anyway here's an interview with the Man changing the face of SA Music....

Jordanglowboi: Well you had quite a prosperous year last year. With touring Europe and all, congrats by the way... and now you will be releasing your first album (which we got a sneak peek at. It's fucken great, we might add), can you tell us more about what we can expect the album to sound like and how you feel it sounds?

Xander: It has been quite a process of growth to find what the spirit of Gazelle was... Like any first album of an act I believe... it is a youth coming of age... The sound I can only call a fine mixture... Some elektro 80's, some traditional African music, dub, funk, disco, soul... A fine mixture as I say... One thing is no matter what one says, I am very proud of this album... truly a part of my who I am at the moment.

Barry NuBuck: When I caught your show at Assembly last year... I felt the overall vibe, to me, kinda felt like Africa's answer to Daft Punk (minus the enormous LCD pyramid of course)... were they ever an influence? If not really who would you say influenced or maybe inspired your sound? more over your performance act??

Xander: Well not really, but I have massive respect for those two groups since they take an electronic act and put theatrics to it... a real stage show... real entertainment... not just people standing around on stage playing some music from their music... I think in SA we can learn alot still about entertainment... that it is more than just the music. Look at classic disco bands, or George Clinton, they went all out... an audio visual experience...

Jordanglowboi: When I listen to the new singles from your album, I can't help but feel that you have created a unique South African sound, with the use of township guitar strings and other traditional African instruments, was this a decision you made early on with your album or did it develop as you went along further into the album... did the producer also have a rather large part to play in the creation as well?

Xander: I just used what I know... inspiration that I grew up with... listening to Johnny Clegg and Ladysmith, I grew up surrounded by traditional African music and a steady disco influence, and it is a part of me... Also I had to do something authentic, because in the world of overflow of media, if you do not really do something fresh that really reflects a part of you... you will drown in the river of information... There is no real satisfaction in redoing something that has completely been done before.

Barry NuBuck: On the topic of Creating music, when it comes to writing a new song, what sort of process do you guys follow? Do you lay down some beats and kind of feel your way through, or do you start with a concept and work from there?

Xander: It depends, but most of the songs develop through time, changing and falling into shape as they grow. Its crafting not so much creation... Rome was not built in a day... many of the songs would start with a simple beat/melody created on my computer waiting in airports around the world...

Jordanglowboi: The whole time we have been blabbing on about your debut album. I havent asked the most important question... how, when and where can I get it? Can I grab it in a Look 'n Listen (Local SA retailer) or is it going to be more difficult?

Xander: Well for now it is more complicated... We have created it all inhouse, the whole album box set... without any record label or financial support, so we take it a step at a time... for now it's 111 first edition albums and they will be on sale at the show on Friday. Then in cape town we will stock Mabu vinyl, Scar hair, a store, High five and African music store. Working on distribution deals, but will rather sell it out of my own hands than letting some greedy distributer hustle us for most of the cake after months of dedication and hard work.

Barry NuBuck: You've performed in the EU and probably some other awesome first world places, to great reception. What would you say are the major differences of the shows there versus here? More to the point, are there things missing or laggin behind here as aposed to over there? If so what would you like to see happen to get us up to speed?

Xander: Well every country and culture is different... Some countries dance more, they are more expressive than others, I like those crowds... People that are not scared to do what they feel like doing. Not thinking of what the person next to them is thinking about them too much...I think we can get over ourselves a bit and let loose without having to get fucked before we lose our conservative inhibitions. It is simply confidence. To do what your mind or body feel is to truly express.

Jordanglowboi: How much do you guys focus on the local scene in terms of pushing the envelope. I mean do you kind of look around to see where everybody else is at? Do you look past African borders to see what the level is out there or dont you really take that into consideration and just do what you guys are happy with? (This was totally NuBuck's Question I stole)

Xander: Well no point in looking anywhere than straight ahead... People around us must do what they do, doesnt help to stress on that... All I can do is support people I respect, and create something to be proud of.
But of course I look beyond the local scene since foreign places have been good to me... Its been amazing to play most of the major cities in Europe and have the opportunity to give people there a little bit of ourselves... I look to build it even more across the globe... Well I hope the local scene would give us support....thats why I made a new music video for my one Afrikaans song, ' die verlore seun' and sent it to MK89... so ask them to play it...

We Would Like to thank Gazelle (Xander) for his time and helping us understand him a little better. We would also like to wish him all the luck in the world, for the release of his album this Saturday at Assembly in Cape Town!

Catch other posts on Gazelle here: Try, Down the Line in 2K9, Gazelle Feature

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