It’s an incredible season for local music in South Africa, with a seemingly constant string of new acts bubbling up and into our (very happy) ears. From this abundant pool of fresh and emerging acts we’ve chosen 11 who are busy making a name for themselves while making significant contributions to the music scene here in SA, and often internationally while they’re at it. In turn, we’d love to hear who the new local musicians you’ve recently discovered are – let us know in the comments!
Most of what you need to know about Push Push – the rapping moniker of Nicci St Bruce – is wrapped up tightly in her lyrics with lines like: “I put the ass in gymnastics” and “I’m just a brat rapping in a PE accent”. Though she’s been writing raps since age 9 (according to Crazy White Bitches) her music-related endeavours only became public knowledge in 2014. Nicci made her debut recording performance as Push Push with ‘Cave Swoon’ off Oh! Dark Arrow’s first album, Goodspeed Thundercat. By September last year she dropped a solo EP Free Push with two tracks, ‘Jut Life’ and ‘Atom Bomb’ produced by Thor Rixon and these were just featured in the Comedy Central series Broad City. The yet-to-be-confirmed murmurs of a debut album are hardly surprising but, to keep us going in the meantime, Push Push has a couple new collaborations (with Thor and Okmalumkoolkat) in the works.
For our annual Creative Women series last year we caught up with the multi-talented Nonku Phiri who, until recently, had been working as a graphic designer, illustrator and art director by day while making music on the side. After she took the plunge to focus the majority of her creative output on music she’s performed and collaborated with the likes of PHFat, Crazy White Boy and Jack Parow. Her versatility is due in part to her alter-egos JungFreud and Cleopatra, allowing her to explore various aspects of her personality on stage and experiment with a range of different genres including hip hop, alternative and rap. To kick things off this year, Nonku and Okmalumkoolkat featured in the catchy “sophistipop gem”, ‘On The Low’, produced by Card On Spokes
Heroine released their debut EP titled MILK earlier this month and their dreamy, grungy and stripped down sound had us captivated from the very first listen. Based in Somerset West, they’re an all-girl band comprised of Roxy Lombard (vocals and guitar), Simone Basson (lead guitar), Helen Wells (drums and vocals) and Ruby Swinney (bass). Since launching in 2013 Heroine have been performing frequently at venues and festivals such as The Pit, The Waiting Room, Ramfest 2014 and Psych Night’s Inner City Fest. Also last year, Heroine recorded a track with naas for their Laaitie compilation called ‘Guts’.
Dope Saint Jude
This week Catherine Saint Jude Pretorius, aka Dope Saint Jude, dropped a new track feat. Angel-Ho called ‘Keep In Touch’ along with a photo series by Chomma. Layered over a catchy melody, it speaks about cultural dynamics specifically in relation to race and gender. She began rapping as a teenager, initially writing her own lyrics over other artists’ songs, and in 2012 Saint Jude first used performance to challenge gender norms by founding drag king troupe Bros B4 Hoes. Her debut music video for ‘The Golden Ratio‘, directed by Jendrik Schröder, sways from the the archetypal narrative of a rap video with two female protagonists and two male back-up dancers. The upcoming music video for ‘Keep In Touch’ follows this trajectory, and we’ll be premiering it here on 10and5 on 23 February – stay tuned!
Angel-Ho is the persona of Cape Town performance artist and DJ Angelo Antonia Valerio. Using “arbitrary sound” accompanied by conceptual drag, he is interested in stirring up dialogues about classism, identity, sexuality and gender. “She, Angel-Ho, is a concept, a critique of socio-political issues within South Africa,” Angelo says in an interview leading up to a performance at the Design Indaba Party on 26 February. Incorporating elements of NY ballroom bass, bubblegum bass, industrial bass, electronic synths and minimal house; Angel-Ho has developed her very own sound dubbed “Angelwave”. In addition to her (very) recent collab with Dope Saint Jude on the track ‘Keep In Touch‘, Angel-Ho’s solo releases include: ‘Runnin’ With Knives’ which marked her debut 5 months ago, the atmospheric ‘Night Repair’ and a newly-dropped track by the name of ‘01010101010101MALLSECURITY‘.
Singer/songwriter Lucy Kruger was born in Durban and raised in Johannesburg, before moving to Grahamstown to study at Rhodes. As far as she’s concerned, “not being involved in music was never a possibility”, and since completing her honours in drama and a degree in music she’s made Cape Town her home to pursue this. Backed by The Lost Boys – Andre Leo (guitar and vocals), Lucas Swart (guitar and vocals), Calvin Siderfin (bass) and Werner von Waltsleben (drums) – she released a self-titled dream pop/psychedelic folk album in June 2014. Also with Andre, she formed one half of Medicine Boy. The “dream noise” duo released their debut EP, More Knives, in September last year and their latest round of performances has seen them opening for Allah-Las during their SA tour with Psych Night.
Music played a prominent role in the upbringing of Moonchild Sanelly; her mother was a jazz musician and her brother and BLK JKS drummer Tshepang “Rambo” Ramoba operated as a producer from a studio in their family home in Port Elizabeth. It was only after moving to Durban to study fashion design (which she still does under her label, Moonchild Cultwear) that she began to actively pursue a career in music herself. Her unique sound has emerged out of a blend of influences ranging from classical and jazz, to hip hop, kwaito and electronic. A few of her collaborative highlights so far include the track ‘Rabubi’ produced by Tshepang, and two collabs with Richard Rumney aka Marazma: ‘Inkwenkwezi’ and ‘Cut The Cake’. Most recently Moonchild featured on Fantasma’s ‘Shangri-la’ accompanied by a trippy, live-animation-filledmusic video. She’s also just wrapped up her soon-to-be-released debut album.
Known simply as Msaki, the gorgeous and powerful voice of indie/afro/folk songstress Asanda Msaki Mvana is hard to ignore. She began to focus solely on music in 2012 when, following previous stints in law and art, she was selected from hundreds of applicants to attend a music school in North Carolina. After her return to South Africa she introduced her sound with a compilation of some of the songs she had written in her debut EP, Nali’themba (translating to ‘Harbouring Hope’). Msaki is now in the midst of recording her first full length album titled Zaneliza: How The Water Moves. It’s a hugely collaborative effort, and she’s documenting the journey from start to finish on tumblr and YouTube.
Alice Phoebe Lou
As if we’d planned it, a chilling and beautiful video of Alice Phoebe Lou performing a reworked version of her song ‘Rebel Rose’ live at Popsicle Studios emerged this morning just in time for this list. Originally from Kommetjie, Alice fell into her musical journey while busking on the streets of Berlin to make ends meet – she had recently matriculated and had taken a gap year to travel. This led to a clear realisation that music would be a life-long path for her, and she’s been gaining traction as a solo artist since. Two notable highlights from 2014 were Alice’s performance at TedxBerlin and opening for The Lumineers during their SA tour in December. Based in Cape Town for the time being, her independent blues/folk album Alice Phoebe Lou with Matteo recorded live at Grüner Salon came out this month. Catch Alice live at Erf 81 in Tamboerskloof, where she’s performing an intimate show tonight as well as tomorrow night.
Umlilo is the “delinquent musical brainchild” of the performance artist formerly known as Siya Is Your Anarchist. In the music video for the track ‘Out of My Face’ (produced by Umlilo and mixed by Beatenberg’s Ross Dorkin), gender defying characters star in a retro club-banging extravaganza. Soon after this came a video for ‘Magic Man’, illustrating a person’s metamorphosis from a tortured outsider to a fully realised divine being. Umlilo’s latest audio-visual offering is for ‘Chain Gang’, featuring a black-clad and heavily-accessorized fashion pack attending the funeral of Rita, played by Umlilo, who also takes on the role of a re-imagined Karl Lagerfeld leading the sermon as ‘Father Karl’. The track explores the dark, pretentious and ever-fleeting world of modern gangs where money is the currency and fashion is the religion. ‘Chain Gang’ and ‘Magic Man’ are two singles off Umlilo’s upcoming EP, Aluta, to be released this year.
Amy Ayanda Lester completed her bachelor in fine arts at Michaelis last year – we chatted to her about this as part of our Fresh Meat series in January. The majority of her visual expressions are in paint and other mixed media, but she’s recently been exploring her musical identity as well with the ultimate goal to connect music and art in a way that is functional and inspiring. Amy’s distinct vocals punctuate an otherwordly composition by Thor Rixon in her first publicly released track, ‘La Llorna’, which came about after years of casual collaborations between the two artists. At the Design Indaba Party on February 26, Amy is performing all of the music that she’s written over the past few years for the first time, before heading off to Germany to continue working on her art.