Dont Party presents :: the GAZELLE interview
Every so often you meet creatives that really inspire you. They drive your passion and rip you from the dark underworld of insecurity that you sometimes go through as an artist. For me, one of these inspired groups is South Africa’s own: Gazelle.
Fused with a passion for good music, creativity, intellect, a social conscience and a zest for fun Gazelle, combines art with fashion with Africanism to represent this country in all its splendor to the world.
We do quite a few interviews with intelligent people from all over the worth in all their respective fields, but this one, I can honestly say, is one of those ones that I will really cherish in my ‘scrapbook’ from this website. So without further ado,
DONT PARTY Presents
THE GAZELLE INTERVIEW
- You’re living across the Atlantic now. How does that feel, do you miss SA?
I’m an adventurer, I always like to explore and experience new challenges so I think this new move is just a part of how I have been living the last 10 years. I surely miss SA and many things about it but like this I miss many places that I have experienced and rather appreciate where I am than long for where I’m not.
- What is living in New York like?
It is exciting, fast, very challenging and damn expensive. If you don’t swim here you will sink, but the thought that any moment something might happen that completely changes your situation keeps you going. It has so much to offer and I already love being a part of the city.
- Your journey as a struggling South African artist to a very well known an established one (I often here your tracks circulating on radio stations like 5fm) was quite hard-fought. Does this move to the states seem at all daunting to you seeing as though you’re a much smaller fish in a much bigger pond? I guess what I’m asking is: did you go out there on a whim or did you have certain things in place, like an album deal etc, before you went over?
I think for an artist the struggle never ends. Even probably the most successful musicians in the world look for the next challenge and goal. It’s not easy at all but I guess that is what makes it exciting. It has been really hard and it still is, although our music is on the radio and we’re on tv were still fighting our fight and keeping our heads above water. I think success to the outside world can easily be misunderstood. Yes I might be writing this response from a remote exotic island in Tahiti but I’m surely not as rich materially as most accountants my age but I can say I am much richer than many in life and experience. Most places that I have gone have just been on a whim, I believe that you have to aim at creating your own opportunity, don’t sit around and wait for someone to give you a chance. With the USA I’m taking my time building it slowly like I had done in South Africa and Europe, step by step.
- You are about to record a track with the amazing ‘Peaches’. How did this come about and when can we expect a track preview?
We’re planning to do a big tune for Berlin. We are busy producing the tune for the Vice Magazine and Smirnoff international exchange event at the end of November. It is quite exciting to do songs with people that you are a fan of. I have been fortunate that through my whole life I’ve been able to work with people that had been my heroes. I still remember the day that I made a track with Teba Shumba for the album. It was a great honor since I was a big fan for a long time.
- What kind of reaction are you getting from your music overseas?
Every place is different but fortunately we have never had a bad response. We have had great responses performing for people in Germany, France, Italy, Switzerland, Spain, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Austria, Poland, Ukraine and South Africa. I guess different cultures react differently, some go mad and some show their appreciation in a different way.
- Are you still as motivated and impassioned about music as you were, say, 5 years ago?
Yes I would think so, but every day is different, it is not easy being completely independent apart from any corporation that makes business; although we are looking at the long run of building something on our own. So we stay motivated and keep on going.
- You have always had such strong African influences in your songs and media presence, now that you are no longer living in Africa how has this influence changed or adapted in New York and how are you representing your African heritage over there?
It is a part of me and always will be. I guess not every song or act in the future that I shall do will all be completely influenced by Africa but even some of my new solo work that I have been recording is quite African influenced. I think the most important is to be authentic and use what you have and is a part of you rather than trying to be someone else. That is what makes you unique and interesting to others.
- A lot of your music has a political undertone, mostly expressed through videos like ‘Just Now’. Why does African politics seed into your music?
I see it as a very important responsibility that any artist has to use their position to speak about things that matter. I think we live in a very fucked up political situation where a new regime is forming and it is up to young artists to speak out against this if no politicians are willing to. I mean there are almost no young leaders in South Africa we can look up to that are challenging what is wrong within our country. So I believe it is the responsibility with all public figures to do this.
- How does it feel to be selected to represent South Africa in the Smirnoff Exchange project and are you excited about this challenge?
It is a great honor of course and we surely will share what SA music is about to the world as we have done in the past.
- What can the people of Germany expect to see in your show?
We have one of the tightest bands together; a Gentleman’s backline band. So musically we’re gonna blow them up. As usual we are bringing the theatrical spectacular, so they can surely prepare for some surprises.
- You do a lot of fashion collaborations, as with Inoue Brothers. What influences do you draw from the Fashion world?
We have established a brand called Ubuntu with our partners that is doing really well. We have just signed some of the best designer shop accounts around the world like, Comme des Garcons, Dover Street Market, Beams, Storm and for this season Barneys which we are very excited about. It is a long process of investment and development, so it’s not really financially viable but we are fortunate to give work to countless of crafts people in South Africa to support their families. We have the ambition to build the brand annually to be able to establish our own production facility. This is how we make change in SA, real positive change that creates opportunity. It is our philosophy to share opportunity as we receive it.
- What future projects can we expect from Gazelle? Anything on the horizon that we should keep an eye out for?
We have started our own record label called The Imperial House of Africa with which we are finding new talent from Southern Africa that we can share with the world. Using our network of international connections we aim to give the artist, through the label, the same opportunity as we have had. We are also currently working on our new album that has gone through a one year process of pre production which I am very excited to share soon. We also have a couple of new music videos coming out that has been in a long process of production.
If anything you all should keep an eye out for this talent in the future! It seems that they have great things coming for us all! Thank you Gazelle, you are true artists.