Archive
Tuis /
Home
Briewe /
Letters
Bieg /
Confess
Kennisgewings /
Notices
Skakels /
Links
Boeke /
Books
Onderhoude /
Interviews
Fiksie /
Fiction
PoŽsie /
Poetry
Taaldebat /
Language debate
Opiniestukke /
Essays
Rubrieke /
Columns
Kos & Wyn /
Food & Wine
Film /
Film
Teater /
Theatre
Musiek /
Music
Resensies /
Reviews
Nuus /
News
Feeste /
Festivals
Spesiale projekte /
Special projects
Slypskole /
Workshops
Opvoedkunde /
Education
Artikels /
Features
Geestelike literatuur /
Religious literature
Visueel /
Visual
Reis /
Travel
Expatliteratuur /
Expat literature
Gayliteratuur /
Gay literature
IsiXhosa
IsiZulu
Nederlands /
Dutch
Hygliteratuur /
Erotic literature
Kompetisies /
Competitions
Sport
In Memoriam
Wie is ons? /
More on LitNet
Adverteer op LitNet /
Advertise on LitNet
LitNet is ’n onafhanklike joernaal op die Internet, en word as gesamentlike onderneming deur Ligitprops 3042 BK en Media24 bedryf.

Is Afrikaanse rock 'n leŽ gebaar?

Koos Kombuis en David Kramer

Koos Kombuis David Kramer

David Kramer se cd huistoe is met die hoogste lof bekendgestel tydens vanjaar se KKNK. 'n Paar weke later het Koos Kombuis die cd in sy Rapport-rubriek beskryf as "iets wat die manier gaan verander waarop ons na ons musiek kyk".

Kort daarna het David vir Koos per e-pos bedank en 'n paar gedagtes by hom laat posvat. Koos wou weet of David sou instem tot 'n e-pos-onderhoud wat oor etlike dae sou strek, wat Koos dan op LitNet sou publiseer.

David het ingestem, en die res - wil ek my verstout om te sÍ - is reeds geskiedenis.

Wat hier volg, is 'n grensverskuiwende kubergesprek ... eerlik, reguit, sonder enige pretensie en vol fassinerende gedagtes en openbarings. Dit behoort lesers te prikkel en te laat dink, en behoort veral verdere debat op 'n plek soos SÍNet aan te moedig. Die e-pos-korrespondensie is so ver as moontlik in die oorspronklike formaat behou, met slegs die minimum redigering.

Lees dit, geniet dit, en laat ons weet wat jy dink by webvoet@litnet.co.za.

Erns Grundling

{David Kramer reageer per e-pos op Koos Kombuis se resensie van die cd huistoe in Rapport, bedank hom daarvoor, maar protesteer oor die feit dat Koos sy musiek as "bluegrass" en "hillbilly-walse" beskryf het ...}

David Kramer

David:

Phew! Probeer jy jou hand in my onnerbroek steek?

Fokkit, what a review.

Dis interessant om te lees wat anner mense in jou werk sien.

Kan ek net sÍ, alhoewel daar baie heimwee op hierdie album is, was dit nie my idee om terug te gaan na die jare dertig toe nie. In die afgelope 30 jaar (%&#!) probeer ek in party van my songs sÍ dat bruin en swart mense ůůk Afrikaans praat en dat hulle ůůk op die plaas gebly het.

Wat my altyd die moer in gemaak het, was dat alhoewel hulle 'n groot deel van my lewe was, was hulle altyd "invisible". Hulle was nie deel van ons geskiedenis nie. Ek dink die Afrikaanse/Boeremusiek het seker dieselfde geskiedenis as Afrikaans. En dit lyk vir my asof die oplewing van die "ou liedjies" weer gebruik word as 'n kulturele glue vir die boere, sonder erkenning van die oorsprong of bydrae van daai deel vannie familie.

Ek dink Afrikaanse musiek is diep in die kak.

Verskoon my, maar nou moet ek in Engels praat, want die e-pos vat te lank om te skryf.

Why do I think this?

One reason is this shame and denial of what has happened. So a kind of inbreeding occurs and a constant reworking of an idea that is so far removed from its source it becomes anaemic. So much of the music is bloodless and pretentious. Or nostalgic for a fictitious, happier time.

This has also resulted in a running away from oneself and your past. Trying to fit into the world without being noticed. And so you wear someone else's shoes and pretend you've walked the same road.

I don't find "alternative" Afrikaans music interesting. The problem is not so much with the lyrics as with the music. This borrowing of the blues/rock/punk idiom is so tired and such an easy option.

I'm not a purist. I believe that art is created from new combinations of things known and things discovered. But it must surprise and provide insight.

So for me much of the Afrikaans music that I'm aware of is created under the influence of the apartheid paradigm. A belief that we are living in a kind of Neverland in which we are blinded to and protected from the realities of our situation.

So for me, the blikviool is not nostalgic, but a discovery and a confirmation of my premise about the roots of this music. It is a raw, exciting sound with the unique voice of the Kammiesberge or the Koue Bokkeveld. It is real and exists and it is played and enjoyed and danced to. It is connected to a painful history, and when you hear it, it sings of the past and the present and it is as jagged and as fucked as the musician playing it. And when you hear it, "dan is jou bloed soos 'n snaar" and you know in your being because you were born here and because you are human that this is not someone else's shoes, this is not hillbilly waltzes or bluegrass.

Dit was my ervaring, this is what I learned on my journey ...

Weer eens baie dankie vir jou review.

{Koos vra David of hy bereid is om 'n volledige interview te doen ...}

Koos Kombuis

Koos:

Hi David

Hoe voel jy vir 'n interview/tweegesprek met my vir my volgende LitNet-rubriek oor 'n maand? Jy kan in Engels ook skryf. Ek kan elke dag vir jou 'n vraag stuur.

Ek het die gevoel die mense moet jou opinies hoor, en ek is self nuuskierig. Soos byvoorbeeld oor die kritiek op die hillbilly-statement. Soos jy weet, het ek 'n literÍre agtergrond, nie 'n musikale een nie, en ek speel "dof chords", soos jy self vir Taliep gesÍ het. Ek is glad nie embarrassed om my onkunde te erken nie.

Eerste vraag sou kon wees: Watter genre bedryf jy dan op huistoe?

(Ek is te besig vir chatroom of persoonlike interviews nou - het net 'n paar minute per dag vry om e-mails te lees en skryf, dis hoekom ek hierdie formaat voorstel.)

As jy die gesprek privaat wil hou, is dit ook okay.

{David stem in tot die interview ...}

Ek sÍ jis.

Nou net jou e-pos gelees en die antwoord is ja. My vrou sÍ dat dit belangrik is dat ons oor hierdie dinge praat. Ek dink dis 'n moerse interessante onderwerp en sover ek kan aflei, weet niemand iets daarvan af nie. Ek ook nie. Ek was by die musiekdepartment by UCT en alhoewel hulle ramkietjies en viole het in die Kirby Collection, wat honderde jare oud is, is prof Hansen verbaas dat hierdie musiek nog in die berge gespeel word. Die navorsing wat hulle doen is gevestig op die swart mense en nie die bruines nie. Cool nŤ? Ek dink, en miskien praat ek kak, dat die Kammiesberge ons Appalachian Mountains is, en die Moordenaars Karoo ons Mississippi Delta is. Dinge daar is baie interessant as jy net 'n bietjie gaan krap.

Ek hoop ek het jou nie seergemaak met my opmerkings nie. Ek speel ook "dof chords". Ek is baie lief vir dof chords. Want soos ek jare terug gesÍ het, augmented fifths and suspended ninths herinner my aan Amerika. Daai chords klink net nie reg nie. My agtergrond is in tekstiel, so verskoon my asseblief en moet my nie kwalik neem nie.

{Koos antwoord in 'n e-pos met die opskrif "Nou's ek nuuskierig!" ...}

Hillbilly en bluegrass was baie vae konnotasies. Ek het ook naklanke gevoel in jou musiek van Motown en Soul. Dis nie noodwendig Amerikaans derivatief nie, maar weerspieŽl dalk die feit dat alle swart Amerikaanse musiek Afrika-wortels het.

Hoe lank word hierdie blikviool-klank al bespeel?

En: Is dit nog belangrik om te weet wie was die eerste Afrikaanse rocker? Of het daardie hele debat afgespeel in 'n intellektuele doodloopstraat?

David antwoord met 'n paar aanhalings en gedagtes:

  • Prof Deirdre Hansen van UCT skryf:
    Ramkies

    This is the name of an early form of a long-necked plucked lute with three and later four strings and tuning pegs used by Cape and Koranna Khoi during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. It was not originally a copy of the guitar, although later in its development it acquired certain guitar features, notably a capo tasta.

    The earliest description of the ramkie came from O.F. Mentzel (1733) who witnessed Khoikhoi makers and players of the instrument.

    There is one specimen of a bushman ramkie in the Kirby Collection.

    Later specimens acquired tin-can bodies, which replaced the earlier halfgourd and skin string construction. Today the ramkie is obsolete, having been replaced by the western commercial guitar and "homemade" versions.

    Violins

    Kirby obtained three specimens of violins made by one of Lucy Lloyd's !Kung informants at Mowbray in about 1880.

    Other violins were constructed out of old paraffin tins and wooden cocoa boxes, the strings being made from cat-gut. (Also in the Kirby collection.)
  • In 1790 beskryf Francois le Valliant hierdie hottentot-instrument:
    The rabouquin is a triangular piece of wood, on which are extended three strings, fastened to pegs that can be tightened or slackened at pleasure, in the manner of our European instruments; it is indeed a kind of guitar; any other than a hottentot might, perhaps, make something of it, and render its music agreeable, but here they are content to twang it with their fingers and produce sounds without art or order.
(Miskien het hy die eerste hottentot punk-rocker raakgeloop? Ek wonder wat hy van Kallitz sou gedink het?)

Is "rabouquin" miskien die Franse uitspraak van "raamakie" of "ramkie"?

My subjective mening is dat lank voor die billies in die hillies ingegaan het, was hier viole en ramkietjies gespeel.

Ongelukkig weet ons nie hoe hierie musiek geklink het nie. Maar ek dink musiek is in many ways soos taal, en daar bly woorde oor wat ons nog gebruik. Wat wel interessant is, is dat die eerste musiek wat beskryf word, boesman-sang is. En hoe sing hulle? Hulle yodel. Charles Jacobie het laat hier aangekom. Die eerste Country and Western was koina. Kan ons dit noem: K&W - Koina & Weskus. Die roots van blikmusiek.

Koos: Die Charles Jacobie quote is 'n wenner!

Die Valliant-ou se opmerking is ook interessant, dog ook tipies van die soort patronising houding van vroeŽ geskiedskrywers/ontdekkingsreisigers. Hy kon musiek natuurlik net beoordeel vanuit 'n sekere tradisie.

Anyway, dit lyk dus asof niemand weet presies wanneer hierdie ouens begin instrumente maak het nie; dit kan selfs vroeŽr wees.

David: Beslis. Hierdie musiekinstrumente is seker so oud soos die oorspronklike inwoners van hierdie suidelike deel van Afrika.

Koos: Daar is wel mense wat altyd sal voel die klank op jou CD huistoe, hoewel dit nou nuut vir blanke Afrikaners klink, teruggryp, nie net na 'n vergete deel van ons volk nie, maar ook na ons eie verlede. Ook wat die lirieke betref, vind ek eggo's van ons eie vroeŽ digters. Dis wat ek bedoel het met volkspoŽsie. Die Sestigers en latere digters het wel teen Apartheid geprotesteer, maar dit was vanuit Europa, en 'n hoogs teoretiese woordespel. Polities was hulle inklusief, maar literÍr eksklusief. Maw, al was hulle aan die bruinmense se kant het hulle goeters geskryf wat die bruines nie sou begryp nie. Wie gee 'n hel om oor Isis as jou kinders deur bendelede vermoor word?

David: ??? Koos I'm not quite sure if I understand you correctly here, but you seem to be saying that the Sestigers were way over the coloured people's heads. Which is a very one-dimensional view. What the Sestigers had to say went over the heads of the majority of white South Africans. There were brown Sestigers as well, such as Adam Small, Richard Rive, Alex La Guma, and James Matthews. For me as a teenager Adam Small's poetry was mind-blowing and it had a profound effect on me and many others, working class coloureds amongst them. When I returned to Worcester in the early seventies I was working with Danny Tromp, a coloured bricklayer who wrote vernacular poetry describing his life and that of the farm labourers. We performed together on a few occasions in people's lounges.

I doubt that there were fewer brown intellectuals than there were white. Did you ever meet any of the members of The Unity Movement?

Koos: Ja, en toe vang jy my lekker uit. Net nadat ek skryf oor hoe patronising De Vaillant was, wys jy my daarop dat my statement oor bruin mense en die Sestigers ook maar 'n gruwelike veralgemening was. Sjoe!

Wat dink jy van Brasse vd Kaap en Kallitz?

David: I'm very impressed with the lyrical content of the Kallitz album. I don't have a Brasse CD and have only heard them a few times, but I know they use a similar idiom. What they are doing is giving expression to a particular Cape Flats experience. It is not the only aspect of the Cape Flats (which is complex and sophisticated) but what they rap about is well observed and has an authenticity about it. It appears that they are using the American gangsta-rap template, seeing the similarities in their own situation (although, much like the American gangstas who rap about gangsters, they are probably middle-class and reasonably well educated), adopting and adapting by using the local vernacular. It is more like poetry than it is songwriting and thus follows on what was started by Small and Peter Snyders.

So here we have a contemporary example of what has happened so often on the SA music scene where an American music template is used as a vehicle for local lyrics. A large number of the alternative Afrikaans writers and bands have done this with blues and rock. (I'll say more about this later.) And Brasse, POC, Kallitz and others are doing the same thing. So what we have is interesting and exciting development on the lyrical content, which isn't matched by the music on which it rides. Personally I find what Kallitz is doing more acceptable, because here the "music" has been pared down to absolute minimalism - a drum beat and a keyboard - to the point where the lack of musicality is poetic - that the "music" is as boring and as bleak and as abrasive as the surroundings in which I imagine the protagonists to live. The beat serves as the page to the poetry. It is mindnumbingly monotonous (people dance to it) and yet the lyrics (which is the music to my ears) are rich, dense, and overflowing with imagery and flavour. It is culturally very political and I am excited by the poetic talent displayed.

Koos: Om terug te keer na 'n vroeŽr vraag van my ... in die lig hiervan, dink jy dit is nog belangrik om te weet wie was die eerste Afrikaanse rocker? Of het daardie hele debat afgespeel in 'n intellektuele doodloopstraat?

David: We first heard rock 'n roll in the late fifties. What we heard was the white American versions of Buddy Holly, Elvis Presley and Bill Haley. The first white South African rock 'n roller was Johnny Kongos. He had a band called the G-Men. (Manfred Mann came from Jo'burg as well.) Die eerste Afrikaanse rocker? James? Toe hy homself Bernoldus Niemand genoem het?

Hoe weet ons wat dit beteken: "die eerste"? Daar was baie Afrikaanse mense wat rock 'n roll gespeel het vanaf die laat '50 jare. Langs my ouma-hulle het 'n jong man sy eie amp gebou en 'n pick-up op sy kitaar gehaak. Dit was 1958. In die sestigerjare was daar drie of vier rock bands op Worcester alleen. Budgie and The Jets was een van hulle. Hulle het 'n klub oopgemaak waar tieners dronk geword het en dagga gerook het. Die Landstem het daaroor geskryf. Dit was 'n egte rock 'n roll experience georganise deur working class Afrikaanse jeug, vir Afrikaanse jeug, maar nie in Afrikaans nie.

Koos: Johnny Kongos!!!! Natuurlik onthou ek vir hom. "He's Gonna Step on You Again" was amper nie meer rock nie, dit het so 'n tipe tribal drum beat gehad - die ou was either voor sy tyd of agter sy tyd! Wat op dees aarde het van hom geword?

David: He has lived in London for many years. The last I heard was that he'd released an album which was inspired by another genre of American roots music, namely Native North Americans (Red Indians, as the Cowboys called them).

Koos: Daar is 'n persepsie dat Amerikaanse en Britse rock via jazz ontwikkel het by idees en klanke wat oorgewaai het van Afrika via die slawehandel. Ek dink dat jy in breŽ trekke hierdie formule steun, al is dit dalk 'n oorvereenvoudiging.

David: Ek vra weer verskoning dat ek in Engels moet oorslaan om hierdie onderwerpe met jou te bespreek, maar my ou brein is in Engels ge-hardwire, en ek kannie anders nie. Alhoewel, ek onthou nou net dat ek gisteraand in Afrikaans gedroom het.

The first part of what you say above, is to my knowledge, a gross simplification, but you are correct in thinking that the evolution of rock 'n roll has had a huge influence on my thoughts as regards my own music and song-writing. I was as Paul Simon says: born at the right time. Pretty much the same time as the birth of rock 'n roll. Maar volgens my mening was ek in die verkeerde plek. The right time, the wrong place. Or so I thought when I was young. As I said before, rock 'n roll was introduced to us by the white American recording artists, but the real father of this musical form was Little Richard. In the late fifties or early sixties, my father brought home a record player and my brother who was older than me, bought our first records (from a shop called M.N. Smuts), which surprisingly enough weren't Elvis or Buddy Holly, but Little Richard and Fats Domino. Little Richard singing "Slippin' & Sliding" and "Good Golly Miss Molly".

Years later, when I was a student at Leeds University, we heard a rumour that Paul McCartney and his new band were going to perform in the refectory that afternoon, so I went along. It cost 50p to get in and sure enough there he was with this band called Wings and because he hadn't written any songs for them at this point they played about ten early rock 'n roll songs. One of which was "Good Golly Miss Molly" and some others that were in the early Beatles repertoire. A very special moment for me, as you can imagine, standing about ten metres from Paul and watching and hearing him pay homage to the roots of rock 'n roll. Elvis was never the King. Little Richard was, but he was black in America at the wrong time. And let's not forget Chuck Berry, who was a pivotal writer and performer whose inventions are still being used to this day. Rock 'n roll was an expression of a black experience and had its origins in Boogie Woogie, Gospel and Blues. When things started to cook at Sam Phillip's studio Sun Records in Memphis with the likes of Carl Perkins, Elvis and Scotty Moore, then into the mix came country, bluegrass and what was called rockabilly. Rock 'n roll was built on the foundation of American roots music. Jazz wasn't part of that foundation but an offshoot from similar roots. The closest link we have is with Louis Jordan who came from playing in big bands to play in the smaller combos that arose in Chicago and New York in the form of Bebop.

Koos: En boeremusiek? Is dit 'n authentic local style, of ly dit ook aan bloedarmoede?

David: As you know, America has a fascinating musicology, and what can be described as American roots music evolved out of the process of colonisation. The various forms of roots music have been documented and analysed and their origins are quite clearly understood. We know that the Blues evolved from the work songs of the slaves and that Gospel came about through the interpretation of church hymns. Gospel in its original form was called Negro Spiritual. And it is from African American churches that we got the early vocal harmony groups. Irish and Scottish jigs and reels fed into the country, bluegrass and cowboy traditions. And Cajun and Zydeco had its beginnings when the French Acadian refugees from Canada resettled in Louisiana and make music with violins, accordions and guitars. To say nothing of Tex-Mex music and the original North American inhabitants, the so-called Red Indians.

Taking into account that there were musicians here in southern Africa before the Portuguese, the Dutch and the British arrived, who played pan pipes, ramkies, rattles, and drums and sang, we have a similar colonial history to North America. Similar processes occurred and musical forms were born. Of which boeremusiek is one.

Our problem is that, unlike America, our musical history has not been well documented or even explored. When it comes to many South African musical forms I am ignorant and I become completely subjective and speculative. There might well be people who know something about our musical histories and I wish I knew who they are, but it's not exactly like one can walk into Exclusive Books and pick up a book on the subject or buy a CD anthology on roots South African music.

But what happened in America must have happened here as well.

Take the concertina, of which I unfortunately know very little. In Boeremusiek the English Wheatstone is the preferred instrument, but amonst the Zulus it is the boerekonsertina which is used. Both Boere and Zulu concertina music is unique to this country - similar instrument but stylistically very different. The Zulus re-tune their instruments to suit the scales they prefer. Both make South African music. Roots music born out of a unique history and experience.

Boeremusiek has a lot of similarity to Cajun and Zydeco. Not surprising really. Both feature accordions and violins (although the violin has been largely replaced by the concertina as a lead instrument in "white" bands, but the violin and accordion were maintained by the "coloured" bands). And they made music to dance to. Popular rhythms were polkas, mazurkas and quadrille. Well. The quadrille was popular in District Six and was played at dances as late as the 1960s. The polka is a staple of boeremusiek.

Koos: Is daar enige ware local styles behalwe hierdie wat julle ontdek het? Waar staan ons met African jazz en Vusi, Gito Baloy, ens?

David: Yes, there are many authentic local styles of South African roots music, some of them still alive and well, others gasping for breath as they get trampled by modernisation.

In the Cape the oldest and most authentic is the "Malay" Choir tradition. Just like in America, slaves were brought to the Cape to build the settlement and out of this relationship between Dutch master and slaves from all over the Indian Ocean we get Afrikaans, the "Malay" Choirs and the Klopse which evolved from the celebration of the slaves. The Klopse Coon Carnival has been distorted by politics and commercialism, but the choirs have settled in a pretty rigid format which is now considered tradition. At the competitions there are different categories such as Combined Chorus, Best Solo, Nederlandse liedjie, and the Moppie (comic). There are also the Christmas Choirs, which aren't choirs but marching bands with string and brass instruments.

Other South African styles? There are many and again I must emphasise I have no research to back me up. I immediately think of Marabi and Kwela and Mbaqanga and Isicatamiya and Goema and Langarm and the various guitar styles that fall under Optel-en-Knyp which I encountered on my travels.

Koos: Optel-en-knyp? Klink soos Slap 'n Tickle!

Jy het vroeŽr gepraat van die mense van die Unity Movement. Ek het hulle nie geken nie. Brei uit as jy wil?

David: The Unity Movement was largely middle-class. Their principle was "non-collaboration", and their preferred tactic the boycott. Unfortunately they were not very effective in mobilising the masses. Many of their members were intellectuals. Although their meetings were not well attended, their legacy involved a new sense of "power and pride" among many coloured intellectuals, the questioning of divisions amongst blacks and an enduring spirit of non-collaboration (from Cape Town in the twentieth century).

Koos: Jy het baie interessante idees en tonne info, nou wonder ek hoekom jy nog nooit voorheen aan enige gesprekke deelgeneem het soos byvoorbeeld op LitNet nie. Jy weet dit dalk nie eers nie, maar die afgelope paar jaar het die kak behoorlik gespat tussen Kerkorrel, Dagga-Dirk, Anton Goosen, Steve Hofmeyr en ander. Any comments?

David: I'm not someone who spends much time on the web and I was not aware of this debate. I heard later that there had been a lot of finger-pointing. Maybe you could summarise what the issue was and if anything was concluded from all the mud-slinging? Even if I had been aware, I doubt whether I would have dived into the fray.

Koos: Laat ek jou eers DIT vra. Is die musiek van die sogenaamde alternatiewe beweging, asook diť van die populÍre musiek, in jou oŽ alles betekenisloos?

David: I am quite sceptical about labels like "alternatiewe beweging". They are usually invented by journalists for their own convenience and don't serve to inform our understanding of the creative thrust of the individuals involved. Usually the people who are collectively described as a "beweging" had no idea they were part of it until it gets described in the media as such. In my experience, the creative process is usually a solitary one. I have collaborated in my time, but that has mostly been in the theatre. Up and coming songwriters are usually not aware of their peers until such time as they have a bag full of songs and are attracting attention when they perform. And if there are others working in a similar vein, our competitive nature and personal jealousies are probably lurking just below the surface.

"Alternative", in my opinion, is just a term used to try and differentiate new artists' work from mainstream commercial success. The "alternative" label is usually applied in the early stages of the artist's work, but if that person has any broad impact it quickly falls away. Time and popularity being the enemy of the "alternative".

The word "kunstenaar" has become a meaningless term in its current application. We now have complete confusion because of the tendency to call entertainers artists. I think there is a distinct difference. An artist can be both artist and entertainer, but an entertainer is not an artist.

No artist is completely original. We are who we are because of what has gone before and the influences of the world around us. Hopefully an artist can bring some kind of insight into the confusion that surrounds us. I believe that to qualify as an artist you need a unique vision and a distinctive voice that gives expression to a common experience. One that does not deal in clichťs. Clichťs provide comfort, artworks are revealing and could evoke all sorts of responses.

If we look at a genre like rock, then I'd say that what was once fresh, exciting and alternative (within the Western context, particularly America) became stale and clichťd a long time ago. That the so-called alternatives use rock (in a broad sense) as the musical vehicle for their lyrical expression is what I find particularly boring. Particularly in the light of our recent emancipation and the current state of American politics.

Koos: Ek dink rock, selfs nagebootste Amerikaanse rock, was 'n goeie medium vir die VoŽlvry-protes. Dit wat in Amerika al passť was, het hier 'n geweldige skokwaarde gehad. Probleem is, die VoŽlvry-idee het te lank aangehou. Tot vandag nog is daar dosyne Koos Kombuis clones, Valiant clones, etc.

Na die VoŽlvry Toer het Valiant Swart voltyds begin toer met sy soort eiesoortige fusion van rock en boeremusiek. Valiant het grootgeword in 'n boeremusiek-omgewing en kon van kleins af dit speel, toe ontwikkel hy dit in sy rock-klank in; presies hoe hy dit doen, weet ek nie, dis baie subtiel, maar luister maar na 'n song soos "Eye-Shadow". Dis die perfekte fusion; 'n truly South African popsong. Dit gee my net so 'n thrill soos jou "Meisiekind sonder sokkies", en om dieselfde redes; want jy het ook 'n soort eiesoortige klank gehad, lankal al, nog voor die Karoo Kitaar Blues ding.

Des en Dawn LindbergEk is bly jy distinguish tussen musikante en entertainers. Jou onderskeid is blykbaar nie judgmental nie. Albei hierdie groepe mense verdien hulle brood met harde werk en toer. Hoewel ek self eerder na die werk van eersgenoemde groep luister, kom ek baie goed oor die weg met laasgenoemde groep; ek vind die entertainers van ons industrie 'n besonder pretensielose en aangename groep mense. Daar is nie een van hulle wat vir hulleself airs aansit en probeer voorgee dat hulle groot kunstenaars is nie; hulle is sakemanne en -vroue. Hulle het selfs respek vir wat ek doen, hoewel ek self nie juis die grootste of mees oorspronklike "musikant" van die lot is nie - to be honest, my eie roots lÍ by die jeugdige Des Lindberg en by Kinky Friedman.

Teenoor die entertainers ervaar ek dikwels dat die sg ware musikante - met 'n paar uitsonderings - ongelooflik jaloers op mekaar is, en argumentatief. Dit, ten spyte vd feit dat heelwat ouens in die sg alternatiewe stal, soos ek, decidedly overrated is. Hoewel ek hulle nie wil afskiet as heeltemal waardeloos nie, is ek persoonlik geweldig verveeld met meeste vd musiek van mense soos Jakkie Louw, Beeskraal, Akkedis, en selfs Die Naaimasjiene. Die tyd vir daai soort "pose" is dalk verby. Soos ek sÍ, die VoŽlvry-beweging het te lank aangehou.

Dis hoekom ek opgewonde voel oor jou album huistoe, en oor bands soos Kallitz. Ek is dol oor Kristoe Strauss. Hy is musikaal dalk nie baie vernuwend nie maar daar is altyd plek vir nog ouens wat werklik mooi melodieŽ en goeie woorde kan maak. Abel Kraamsaal is baie belowend. Karen Zoid is vir my geweldig underrated; het jy al na "Danville Diva" geluister?

Steve Hofmeyr is nie vir my 'n vreeslik opwindende songwriter nie, maar kom ons wees eerlik: hy't 'n donnerse goeie stem, hy's 'n goeie digter en sy insette in die debatte is vir my baie opwindend. Ek sien vir hom 'n toekoms as politikus, want hy hou van limelight. Die groot ding wat ek by hom geleer het was om nie 'n snob te wees nie.

David: Thanks for your last e-mail. You always make me smile with the way you say what's on your mind regardless of the feathers you might ruffle. How much of this dialogue do you intend to make public? Or is this just between us at this stage?

I don't think Afrikaans Rock needs defending, any more than singing opera in this country needs defending, but it might just go somewhere if there was a lot more self-examination, a deeper understanding of rock music's history and roots and a facing up to our own situation in the unique country we live in.

I agree with you that the embracing of the rock ethos at the time of the VoŽlvry tour had a shock value and it was the rallying point for the mainly white Afrikaans-speaking youth who were discovering that they were not alone with their feelings of pent-up rebellion against an older generation of Oomies who were forcing their fear and stupid plan for dealing with it down everyone's throats. The tour was an act of rebellion. And its choice of rock as a vehicle was suitable, just as it had been for the American youth in the fifties and sixties. It wasn't the first time that rock had been used this way in SA, but earlier rebellions in towns and dorpies in the fifties and sixties had more to do with adolescence and fashion than politics.

VoŽlvry had a political dimension. The voice of dissent by the blonde youths who were supposed to pick up R1 rifles and ride happily into the townships to suppress the agitators. The Afrikaans establishment shat in their pants.

And you got coverage. There was now a younger breed of journalists who articulated what was happening, rather than ignore it. You had the benefit of a newspaper like Vrye Weekblad championing the cause.

I was excited by what I heard and happy at the reaction. Rock 'n roll is always best at the worst of times. Ten years earlier, when I had performed on campus at Stellenbosch University and a few years later at Tukkies, I was regarded with suspicion and reproach and had students praying for my soul.

But I wasn't a rock 'n roller any more. I was now a folk singer and when I appeared at Tukkies the first time, the students applied for a special permit because they thought I was coloured.

So yes, I agree, the shock value of rock at the time worked and galvanised a section of the Afrikaner youth. When I came to the concert I was impressed by the lyrics and the attitude, but to my ears the music was old hat (had no one heard of The Safari Suits, Savuka, Bright Blue?) and I thought an opportunity had been lost. But I was wanting too much all at once.

I'm not in a position to comment on individual songwriters and performers, because I'm afraid my knowledge of their work is superficial. I listen to very little. I hear bits and pieces here and there, always with the hope that something is going to surprise me, startle me, make me sit up and take notice, but that hardly ever happens any more. As you say, the air in the room has gone stale. I'm not saying that old formulas can't be used, but if they are then I need them to be reconstructed in a way that provides me with some fresh insight; something that opens a new door to the possibilities of the world I live in. Otherwise it's just the old comfort blanket, the same old wallpaper in a new colour combination. Wake me up before you go-go.

The problem to my mind (and maybe I'm out of touch) is that most current artists and entertainers operate within their safety zone. By and large that means working within the historical paradigm. And in this country that means working within the paradigm of apartheid. Now that the old regime has crawled off into the woodwork and we have been exonerated of our guilt and complicity, we find ourselves in this amazing twilight zone of freedom. We are free to live without a responsibility to our past. We can now go to London without fear of being hissed at or spat at and wallow in our quaint customs and be as crudely chauvinistic or patriotic as we like. Ten years into the New SA and there is still very little cross-cultural contact. The barriers of the old paradigm are not easily crossed or broken down. I look at these new young bands and what do I see? I see young Afrikaans coloured kids imitating their American counterparts in da hood. I see young Afrikaans white kids thrashing their guitars like their Canadian counterparts in the suburbs. Where, I ask, is the reaching out? Where is the fusion? Look at what Nico Carstens achieved in the nineteen fifties: a smash international hit with "Zambezi". And so many other hits that were fuelled by his receptiveness to cross-over influences, probably due to the multi-cultural environment of his youth. He almost single-handedly re-invented and revitalised boeremusiek. Where is the Nico Carstens of the new millennium?

The most successful SA music exports have been products of the kind of fusion I have in mind.

Afrikaans was born out of the bizarre circumstances of colonisation.

Probably our best music is as a result of cross-fertilisation. My message to young people would be: stop playing with yourself. It's pleasurable and there's nothing wrong with it, but it's not creative. You have to break free from the confines of the bedroom of your mind and go out into the world and engage with it; react to it; make sense of it and send me a postcard that makes me feel envious that I'm not as young as I used to be. Wake up every day and be aware that the old paradigms exist, and that your job as an artist is to explore and undermine them. And I don't mean some kind of superficial tokenism. No amount of bluffing and posturing is going to cut it. I mean real engagement, real experience, real understanding, and maybe you'll be rewarded with the little diamond of a fresh insight and open a path through the veld for others to follow.

Net vir oulaas. One last PPS. for what it's worth. I have never thought of you as a rocker. Your natural talent is for satire and humour. Admittedly for a while you lived the life of drugs, sex and rock 'n roll, but for me you were always a South African Tom Lehrer rather than a Neil Young or Kurt Cobain. And Johannes (Ralph) belonged in the theatre. A Kurt Weill for me. It is so sad that he never found the way to where he truly belonged.

Koos: Daar het 'n liggie vir my opgegaan toe ek jou laaste antwoord lees. Ek weet nou wat jy bedoel. Die soektog na 'n ware SA local musiek-klank is nog aan die gang; met jou CD huistoe het jy ons 'n stap nader gebring. Dis amper soos die search for the Holy Grail!

Vandag se Afrikaanse musikante eksperimenteer met vervormings van tradisionele Afrikaanse en FAK-lirieke - dus is hulle bewus van 'n soort soeke na eie roots - maar hulle soek nog nie werklik na 'n roots-KLANK nie.

Met enkele uitsonderings, soos jy en Valiant Swart, bly hulle vassteek by rock, pop, folk, hip-hop of variasies van techno en industrial rock. Selfs die hoogs aangeskrewe Boo! doen maar net die reeds tried and tired resep van glam rock (hoewel ek werklik baie van hulle lirieke hou; hulle sing nůg Engels nůg Afrikaans, maar 'n soort weird fanagalo vol neologismes, en dit lees baie boeiend as jy dit uitskryf soos poetry). Die meeste ouens se musikale invloede is egter van oor die water. Ek weet byvoorbeeld nie eers van 'n enkele Afrikaanse sanger wat stilisties deur 'n briljante kontemporÍre SA swart musikant soos Vusi Mahlasela beÔnvloed is nie. (Daar was op 'n stadium baie vrugbare samewerking tussen hom en Laurika, maar nog te min van die soort werklike cross-pollination soos wat ons gehad het tussen Anton Goosen en Lucky Dube op "Danzer".)

(Gepraat van glam rock; dalk sal mens iemand soos NataniŽl as glam folk kan beskryf?)

Om weer te verwys na die rock van VoŽlvry: ek stem saam dat die musiek glad nie deurgaans van hoŽ kwaliteit was nie. Max du Preez het blykbaar onlangs iewers beweer dat nie een van ons sedertdien iets van waarde bygedra het nie; as hy wel so iets gesÍ het, en ek kan dit amper nie glo nie, is dit seer sekerlik een van sy onnoselste statements ooit. Shame on you, Max! Eet Kreef was 'n memorable geleentheidsalbum, en dis waar dat Kerkorrel se werk sedertdien van ongelyke standaard is, maar daar was juwele soos "Halala Afrika", "Hoe ek voel", "My ewige onbereikbare beminde" (die eerste goeie techno-song in Afrikaans), en "Die ander kant".

Ek voel self my werk op Equilibrium was die beste van my career (veral as gevolg van Albert du Plessis se verstommende kreatiewe production process saam met die eksperimentele groep Benguela), al het daardie album die swakste verkoop (you probably know the feeling; kyk maar na Baboondogs)!

Dit was wel vir my 'n geweldige verligting toe jy my nie tipeer het as rocksanger nie, maar as satirikus. Ek vermoed dit lankal. My vroeŽ invloede as kind was die solo-Des Lindberg (van "Die Gezoem van die Bye"-faam) en Jeremy Taylor. Dis anyway sommer kak dat mense my bestempel as "die Bob Dylan van Afrikaans". Kinky Friedman is die Koos Kombuis van Amerika!

In ieder geval, om die VoŽlvry-topic af te sluit, het jy geweet dat daar in die eighties, TERWYL ONS BESIG WAS OM VOňLVRY TE DOEN, 'n hele paar soortgelyke rock-gebaseerde politieke revolusies aan die gang was wÍreldwyd? Oa in ArgentiniŽ, die Oosblok, en selfs NigeriŽ. Dit sien ek toevallig nou die dag op 'n documentary op MTV. Nou wonder ek: HOEKOM HET NIEMAND NOG OOIT HIEROOR IETS GESKRYF NIE? Al die fokken joernaliste wat nou al soveel jaar lank wank en philosophise oor sg Alternatiewe Musiek, en hulle doen nie eers die moeite om 'n vergelykende studie te doen nie!

Ons was dus nie uniek nie. En vir my is dit reassuring om te weet daar was ander ouens wat dieselfde crazy droom gehad het iewers ...

In elk geval: Wie gaan die Holy Grail ontdek? My geld is op Worsie Visser se broer.

David: Ja, ons issie almal Willie Nelson nie. Jy het seker vir Kinky F gesien toe hy jare terug hier opgetree het. Ek het sy aand baie geniet. Sy boeke het my nie gegryp nie. Het jy al Randy Newman se "Sail Away" gehoor? Dit was 'n moerse invloed op my in die 70's. Ek was ook a Harry Chapin en Tom Waits fan. Harry het verongeluk maar het amazing song-stories geskryf.

Ek het verlede week die FAK Sangbundel gekoop en daar deurgeblaai. Dis interessant om te sien hoe maklik dit is om tussen die oorsprong van die liedjies te onderskei.

Hou jou roksak toe.

David

Koos: Hi, enkele laaste vrae en los gedagtes.

Hoekom het jy gesÍ Potchefstroom is nie reg vir jou en jou band nie?

TananasWaar pas instrumentele groepe in, soos Landscape Prayers (jy ken seker vir Nibs van der Spuy) en DNA Strings? (Met ander woorde, is hulle op pad na 'n eie SA klank?) Het jy gehou van Tananas?

Van die nuwe generasie hou ek die meeste van Karen Zoid. Ek hoop sy word famous oorsee voor sy soos Elvis begin lyk (vir my was daai deadline te laat).

David: In Potchefstroom het 'n baie onsmaaklike rassistiese konfrontasie met lede van my band in ons hotel gebeur. Ek het gevoel ons moet die show kanselleer en huis toe gaan, maar die band het besluit hulle gannie so weggejaag word nie. Die feesbestuur het gesoebat dat ek nie koerante toe moet hardloop nie, en ek het nie. Maar nou's ek spyt want ek het later van anner sulke voorvalle gehoor.

Ek weet wie Landscape Prayers en DNA Strings is maar ek het nog nie na hul musiek geluister nie. Ja, ek hou baie van Tananas. Steve Newman (ook Tony Cox) en ek het saam begin by die Barleycorn Folk Club in die 70's.

Ek dink wat Bright Blue met "Weeping" geskep het is my idee van 'n wÍreldklas song wat unmistakably Suid-Afrikaans is. The Usual het ook interessante invloede saamgeweef.

Koos: My eintlike doel deur met jou te gesels was persoonlik en terapeuties, eerder as om vir jou (vir ons?) nog publisiteit te gee. Want wat my die meeste impress het van huistoe was die gevoel dat jy elkeen van daardie liedjies geskryf het in oomblikke toe jy baie tyd gehad het, 'n baie groot headspace, en sonder die minste konsiderasie vir die kommersiŽle waarde van die projek. Jy het by die punt uitgekom waarna ek smag, en wat ek sedert die opname van 'n Jaar in die Son saam met Valiant vir die eerste keer weer begin ervaar het as 'n moontlikheid.

Toe ek jonk was het ek langs die beach gesit by Nature's Valley met my kitaar en gedroom van die studio, fame, en die stadsliggies. Nou wil ek net so ver as moontlik wegkom van die venyn en die oneerlikheid en die waansinnige wedywering van die musiek-industrie, en daardie gevoel ervaar van "net ek en my kitaar". Ek gaan later vanjaar, na my laaste lang toer, weer soontoe ... miskien skryf ek dan 'n paar nuwe songs net vir myself, om later te release op 'n guitar-and-voice CD soos Ver van die Ou Kalahari. Dit sal 'n gepaste koebaai wees aan hierdie fase van my lewe voor ek heeltemal in FA Venter verander!

Ek weet ek sal self nooit die Holy Grail ontdek nie. Ek is bly ek kon die pad help aanwys. Ek is bevoorreg om mense te ken, persoonlik, soos jy en ander wat, ten spyte van die verraad en pyn, goeie en getroue vriende geword het. Stef Bos, Anna Davel, JohrnŤ van ddisselblom, Amanda, Dowwe Dolla. Ja, ek het selfs goeie verhoudings opgebou met die sogenaamde kompetisie, en ek hou baie van Jurie Els, Kurt Darren, Steve Hofmeyr en Gerrie Pretorius. Dozi is een van die coolste en niceste mense wat ek ken, so ook Frank Opperman en baie ander, te veel op te noem. Die verhoudings onder Afrikaanse musikante is oor die algemeen baie beter as wat die publiek besef; feitlik al die sogenaamde bad vibes word veroorsaak deur korrupte platemaatskappye en enkele antisosiale musikante wat bitter ůf jaloers is oor fok weet wat. Ek haat rock-snobisme baie meer as wat ek kommersiŽle musiek haat.

Daar is ook minstens twee joernaliste wat alles in hul vermoŽ doen om stories te versin. Moenie alles glo wat jy in Rapport lees nie (behalwe natuurlik my rubriek)! Dit gaan beter met die Springbokke as wat mense dink, en eintlik gaan dit okei met die meeste van ons ook.

Die uitsig is vir my mooi hier van die reserwebank af.

Alle eer aan die ou grotes wat ons tot hier gehelp het; ek dink in die besonder aan Lucas Maree en Os du Randt.

David: Dankie vir die lekker gesprek.



LitNet: 30 Julie 2004

Wil jy reageer op hierdie artikel? Stuur kommentaar na webvoet@litnet.co.za om die gesprek verder te voer op SÍNet, ons interaktiewe meningsruimte.

boontoe


© Kopiereg in die ontwerp en inhoud van hierdie webruimte behoort aan LitNet, uitgesluit die kopiereg in bydraes wat berus by die outeurs wat sodanige bydraes verskaf. LitNet streef na die plasing van oorspronklike materiaal en na die oop en onbeperkte uitruil van idees en menings. Die menings van bydraers tot hierdie werftuiste is dus hul eie en weerspieŽl nie noodwendig die mening van die redaksie en bestuur van LitNet nie. LitNet kan ongelukkig ook nie waarborg dat hierdie diens ononderbroke of foutloos sal wees nie en gebruikers wat steun op inligting wat hier verskaf word, doen dit op hul eie risiko. Media24, M-Web, Ligitprops 3042 BK en die bestuur en redaksie van LitNet aanvaar derhalwe geen aanspreeklikheid vir enige regstreekse of onregstreekse verlies of skade wat uit sodanige bydraes of die verskaffing van hierdie diens spruit nie. LitNet is ín onafhanklike joernaal op die Internet, en word as gesamentlike onderneming deur Ligitprops 3042 BK en Media24 bedryf.