DANI VAN HORST
The iconic alternative Afrikaans album EET KREEF!, has been given a new lease on life through the talents of some of Cape Town’s finest artists. The live production of the Johannes Kerkorrel en Die Gereformeerde Blues Band classic has taken South Africa by storm, winning the 2020 kykNET Fiesta award for “Best Music Production”. The production will be showing at the Atterbury Theatre on 27 March. PDBY had the opportunity to catch up with Laudo Liebenberg and Frank Freeman, the two major driving forces behind the project. In the production, Liebenberg and Freeman perform alongside Sheldon Yoko, Schalk van der Merwe, and Mikhaela Kruger.
When asked about what it is that makes EET KREEF! such an iconic album, Freeman stated that “it struck [him] how relevant the content of the album still is today, just in a different context”. He stated that he was amazed by how something that was produced in Afrikaans during the late 1980s could still fit into the modern South African context. Liebenberg suggested that the album still resonates with a lot of people because it deals with themes of division and “cultural loneliness”. These are themes that carry through generations, even after society has moved forward. Liebenberg says that when Freeman approached him to work on this project it “placed the fear of god inside of [him]” as this is a “holy album” and “purists wouldn’t want it to be messed with”. He stated that they had to strike a balance between respecting the original work and making it their own. He felt that they had a duty to make the album appealing to the younger generation as the content is “still so relevant today”. They had “big shoes to fill” but Liebenberg feels that after the first performance he was confident in their abilities. He felt as though they “were doing [the album] justice”.
“it struck [him] how relevant the content of the album still is today, just in a different context”
Freeman stated that their goal was not to simply replicate the album but rather to add their own twist to it. Liebenberg suggested that one of the ways in which they did this was by replacing many of the multi-instrumental aspects with guitar effects.He says that this brought certain elements of “eeriness and chaos” that Kerkorrel could not recreate with his guitar. “I haven’t listened to the album again since we started performing it because I didn’t want to be tainted by the old way” said Liebenberg. For him singing, reading, and playing the music has really shown him just how amazing these songs are. It has shown him how the “simplest songs can actually be the most poignant”.
When asked why students should go and watch the show, Freeman responded by saying that it “gives great insight into the history of alternative Afrikaans music”. He says that it is really great to see that people from “the older generations” were thinking in this way. It is important to see that there were different albums and different angles on Afrikaans during those times. There was an entire branch of Afrikaans people who were conforming to the societal “norm” at that time. He says that it’s so important to “experience something from the past, reinterpret it in the present and to still see the relevance”. Liebenberg added in that “it’s important to see how people got together to put a message out” and how they acted as “a voice in standing up against the norm”. He went on to talk about his experience of becoming socially aware and how when he felt “so ashamed” of what the people before him had gotten up to. He felt so removed from that culture and to know that there were people in the midst of that who were “fighting for equality and for the right for human beings to be unified” was inspiring. Freeman wanted “to do something in Afrikaans that proved that there are a lot of Afrikaans people who don’t necessarily fit into the “stereotype”. There are a lot of Afrikaans people who feel differently, think differently and do not conform to the stereotype. This album was a “testament to that way of thinking, even all the way back in 1989”.
“experience something from the past, reinterpret it in the present and to still see the relevance”
Freeman stated that while it’s hard to ignore a classic song like “Hillbrow”, “which is one of the greatest Afrikaans songs out there”, some of the songs that really stood out to him include “Ou Ou Lied Van Afrika” and “Liefde”. Liebenberg stated that the emotionally driven songs like “Donker Donker Land” and “Tronk” make him feel like he is a part of the audience when they perform them because it shows him that they are “just the vessel for the voice and the message of these songs”.
The EET KREEF! album is important for an array of reasons but as Liebenberg suggests, it catalysed an entire musical movement. EET KREEF! is about taking the language back from the oppressor. Afrikaans can be poetic, beautiful and unifying, if you choose to use it in that way. You can purchase tickets for the show on the itickets website.
Image provided by Mediabook