4 Days til Gemengde Oorsprong

Gemengde Oorsprong: Hemel in Aardes Kruike (Design by Roger Williams)
Gemengde Oorsprong: Hemel in Aardse Kruike (Design by Roger Williams)

The strapline says it all. Yep, there are 4 days left ’til I debut my first festival show under my own name: Gemengde Oorsprong: Hemel in Aardse Kruike (Mixed Heritage: Heaven in Earthen Vessels). I keep harping on about it being my first festival performance, just because I always end up playing bass for some other artist’s show at festivals. Most of the time I’m just filling in the root notes, because every ensemble needs an instrument that fills in the low end. I’m just happy that for once, I get to do my own thing without anybody questioning why I choose to use the forms I do – or whether it seems stupid to them that I have an interest in certain forms and genres of expression.

Someone remarked last week that the show’s poster is by far the most progressive one they’ve seen at Woordfees (Word Festival) and I wouldn’t be surprised if the show itself is one of the most progressive period. Not that we’re pushing any sort of boundary that hasn’t been pushed before, but rather that the forms that we’re dabbling in are so novel in the traditionally “white” Afrikaans language and culture. What do I mean by that? I mean the shows is a mixture of a lot of different elements from hip hop to jazz, ghoema to funk and everything in between. The overarching element though is that of spoken word.

Keenan Stevens
Keenan Stevens

If you’re unfamiliar with spoken word, it’s a genre of performance poetry that borrows heavily from hip hop culture as well as griot style praise poetry. In essence, it really is a fancy word for reciting poetry while keeping a distinct sense of rhythm. In “coloured” culture, it is somewhat innate – the manner in which people tell stories. It is part and parcel of why we decided to include such a strong throwback to our own heritage in the show.

Right now, my artistic goal is to totally inhabit the forms that mirror my experience as someone from mixed heritage. For me, there’s really no point in trying to conform to stereotypical notions of what is kosher in the traditional European sense – since it doesn’t come close to  the forms that articulate my vision fully. Secondly, there are tons of local artists in Afrikaans telling their stories with the music and aesthetics that fit their familial and cultural conventions – so why shouldn’t I adopt a similar standpoint from the perspective that resonates most strongly in me?

David Dos Santos
David Dos Santos

That is what excites me the most about this show and my personal artistic journey – it’s a kaleidoscope of colours, influences and cultural nuances. It seems more lively to me than some of the more useless and self-indulgent shows that I’ve seen many contemporaries immerse themselves in.

From the get go, Raynie and I agreed that we wanted to make a positive impact with this show while keeping in mind the stark realities of life. We also wanted it to be an explosive experience for any audience member – whether they are familiar with the forms or not.

So far we have two more rehearsals to go, with Sam doing directing and Keenan Stevens laying down some eclectic jazz guitar as well as David Dos Santos keeping the groove on the drums! Raynie will be reciting poetry and I’ll be doing the same with bass guitar in hand! Sam and I also went around Stellenbosch yesterday sticking up the posters, hopefully we get a nice turnout.

The show is this Saturday night at 8pm at Aan de Braak Theatre and costs R60. Let me know if I should make a booking for you.

If you’re still not convinced on how awesome the show is going to be, here is the animated video that Roger Williams put together as part of our online promo campaign:

And if you’re still not convinced, here is Raynie’s “behind the scenes” video that might help you understand a little more about what we’re doing:

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