Interview With Goldfish: One of South Africa’s Best Exports

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I can remember screaming out the band’s name at their sold-out Old Mutual summer concert in Kirstenbosch in March; at the sound of the first killer song, the massive crowd all raised their hands and got to their feet, there wasn’t a single person left sitting.

Everywhere the electronic duo (Dominic and David) performs, it seems that they create a cult-like following and summon a hoard of enthusiastic fans.

Unlike most electronic artists, the highly successfully Cape Town-born group combines electronic beats with the sounds of classical instruments, like saxophones. They also collaborate with lots of other musicians, like singer Sakhile Moleshe (lead vocals for their previous album), which allows them to engage the crowd with lots of different sounds and textures.

These days, Goldfish are once again in the limelight with a re-mastered version of their self-titled “Goldfish” album (released June 2012), which features their hottest tracks and two fresh songs. They have introduced a more rockfish vibe to their new track, Washing Over Me, with the incorporation of guitar sounds and the vocals of singer Steve Sparrow, lead from the UK Indie rock band Morning Parade. However, you can still identify the band’s familiar natural sounds and beats.

Now, with their new album already on shelves, the fish are definitely ready to swim off to Europe for their summer tour. The guys are full of excitement about re-experiencing the European crowds and performing for their extraordinary fans in Holland, where they cannot explain why they are so popular.

We met the duo in The Bungalow in Camps Bay to talk about their upcoming tour, the development of their new album and everything Cape Town.

CapeTownMag: Where are you most looking forward to performing on your European summer tour?

Dominic: Being in Ibiza I think is definitely one of the things I am looking forward to.

David: And playing in The Netherlands. We’re playing in Amsterdam and Eindhoven at Extrema Outdoor Festival.

Dominic: Apart from South Africa, The Netherlands is our favourite place to play.

David: Holland has amazing crowds. At the gig in the Amsterdamse Bos we try to mimic the feel generated by our performance at Kirstenbosch in Cape Town.

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CapeTownMag: What concert of yours do you consider your best?

Goldfish: It is kind of a difficult question because we’ve played a lot of amazing gigs, but we think the best gig was the CD launch for Perceptions of Pacha in 2008 at Kirstenbosch. This was the first time we played the songs from that album, and the people reacted in an amazing way towards music that they hadn’t ever heard before. The album was just released that day, and looking back in time, it was sort of indicative of what was going to happen to us.

But, hopefully the best gig still has yet to come.

CapeTownMag: How do you think that your fans perceive you?

Goldfish: It depends on the fan and the age I think. I know what I was like when I was growing up. I used to worship some South African bands, and when I got to know these bands I realised they were just normal dudes like me. David and I are honestly just normal guys; we just love music and playing music, but the whole point of the entertainment industry is to kind of make what you do look amazing. Music is a very powerful medium for changing lives and people’s moods. We’re just honoured that so many people are affected and like our music.

CapeTownMag: What’s with the name ‘Goldfish’?

David: Dominic for some reason was quite forgetful at the time and his famous move was putting his cell phone on top of the car, getting into the car and driving off. So, I used to call him ‘goldfish’. It was kind of a joke because of his three-second memory. We were also looking for a name for the band at that time, and we thought Goldfish is a name we would never forget and more importantly, it’s a name other people won’t forget. In the beginning, though, we were called ‘fishbowl’ instead of ‘Goldfish’ a couple of times.

CapeTownMag: I bet you’ve that answered that question a lot…

Dominic: yes, but we actually make up a new story every time. [Laughs]

CapeTownMag: Is there an area of Cape Town that has influenced your music?

We do a weekly residency just down the road here in Camps Bay, it’s called Sapphire. We’ve played there for three years now, and I am sure that the place has influenced us musically.

It’s a tiny place, there used to be about 200 people, and they were always dancing on the tables, which was great fun.

CapeTownMag: Best place in Cape Town to cope with a hangover on a Sunday afternoon?

Dominic:  Either Kirstenbosch or Noordhoek beach. Noordhoek is such a big beach, so you won’t bump into someone you know. I just go to the beach, get some sun and recharge. But, we normally just go surfing at Noordhoek, Long Beach, Llandudno, Sand Bay, and Glenn Beach. Dunes beach is our favourite place to surf, but don’t tell anyone.

David: Or in bed with a Bloody Mary, depending on how bad the hangover is. [Laughs]

CapeTownMag: If you were to die and come back as a person or thing, what do you think it would be?

Dominic: Myself. I’m kind of enjoying this life, it’s pretty awesome up to now.

Dave: I would be a cross between two different people. I’d say a cross between Kelly Slater and John Coltrane. So, I can go surf like Kelly Slater does and play music like John Coltrane.

CapeTownMag: What South African musicians have you been working with? With whom do you still want to 

David: Dom used to play with Winston Mankunku, he was a famous saxophone player. I don’t know if he was actually from Cape Town, but he used to live here. He was one of my heroes when I was growing up playing saxophone. I had a poster of him on my wall. Anther person is Miriam Makeba, she is not here anymore, but she was always someone who’s voice and vibe we loved. She was definitely someone we’d have loved to work with, but perhaps we can do a remix one day.

CapeTownMag: What other musicians do you admire?

Dominic: I obviously admire Kruder & Dorfmeister, Moby, Trentemoller, Luciano and a lot of the jazz guys, like Soweto Kinch – he’s an awesome saxophonist rapper from London.

David: In South Africa, Black Coffee is doing some awesome stuff, and I think James Copeland is an upcoming talent; he’s just waiting for his break.

CapeTownMag: When I am not making music, I like being busy with…

Dominic:.. Sleep. [laughs] At the moment that’s about it. Literally, every awaking hour there is something to do with Goldfish. But, we also surf and David likes to fish every now and then when he has a spare second.

Dave: I’ve been fishing for ages, but it takes up too much time. We like surfing and doing something in the ocean that is exciting, I like to get my adrenaline going sometimes.

CapeTownMag: What advice can you give to young musicians on being successful in the tough South African musical climate?

Goldfish: Work hard, practise hard and don’t try to be somebody else. You got to create your own voice and your own path. It’s more difficult to do that, but in the long run it’s better for you as a musician because if you’re just a copycat you will always be seen as that, you will be typecast as that. In the music industry, it’s all about relevance, and if you’re doing something that’s already been done, you’re kind of irrelevant.

Year Award Nominated work Category Result
2008 MTV Africa Music Awards Goldfish Best Alternative[8] Nominated
2009 15th South African Music Awards Goldfish Best Engineer[12] Won
Perceptions of Pacha Best Dance Album[12] Won
Album of the Year[11] Nominated
Goldfish Best Duo or Group[10] Nominated
Goldfish Best Alternative Music: English[11] Nominated
Goldfish Best Producer[10] Nominated
“This Is How It Goes” Record of the Year[10] Nominated
2011 17th South African Music Awards Get Busy Living Best Global Dance Album[16] Won
Record of the Year[16] Nominated
Goldfish Best Producer[16] Nominated
2014 MTV Africa Music Awards Goldfish Best Pop[4] Won




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