TALITA CALITZ AND MEAGAN DILL

South African safari-dance act Gazelle have slowly been infiltrating their homeland. Think of them as South Africa’s best kept secret. Having had much success internationally, they recently returned to home soil for a countrywide tour. Perdeby managed to find time to have a chat with frontman and conceptualist Xander Ferreira before he jetted off to New York.

 You have a very distinct style in your music and image. What inspires this?

I think everything around me, you know. We mix a lot of different aesthetics – African aesthetics with contemporary aesthetics, giving us an international kind of look and flavour.  We’re just trying to create our own thing, you know? And we use different elements: like we’ll go to the Chinese shop and buy a bunch of bulls**t there because those are the guys that are selling what looks like traditional stuff. Like a blanket that would be, for instance, a traditional Ndebele blanket – but it’s made in China.

What do the overseas crowds think about your Afrikaans song, “Die Verlore Seun”?

I guess they don’t really understand it but a lot of people really like the song melodically. It’s been a very successful song for us. Some of our English music has become much more popular in different places – our one song “She Did Me In” got onto 5fm and is playing there. It became a really big hit in Spain because it was used for a clothing brand commercial so then it became a really well-known song.

What do you think of the current state of the music scene in South Africa? Are there any particular trends in terms of local music at the moment that you like or dislike?

I think it’s great that there are a lot of people that are daring and are stepping beyond just trying to play music. I think there’s amazing talent coming out of the country. I mean, we’re playing this one festival in France: us, 340ml, Tumi and the Volume, and Die Antwoord. I’m not sure who else. But serious South African acts. And we’re playing with big bands. We’re playing with Iggy Pop. Like, really crazy acts. And it’s great to see that we can use this window of opportunity while the world is looking at South Africa.

How would you describe your sound?

It’s a mixture of a lot of elements. All the stuff we like – from electro and punk, to disco, reggae, dub and then lots of elements of traditional South African music. And every time people asked us this question we didn’t know what to say. So we decided, “Okay, let’s just make up a name.” And we called it limpop. Like Limpopo without the O, because we come from there and that could be a musical genre. So we just used that. The cool thing is it became a real word because it’s been published, f**k, maybe more than 50 times on TV, radio, magazines and newspapers, wherever. Because they wrote limpop as a genre, it exists now. So we’re hoping to find another band that can fall in the same style, you know?

Perdeby heard that you are busy with a clothing line. Would you like to see South Africa catching on to the Gazelle style?

I don’t think so, you know. I don’t think that our style is really a pop style, it’s more like a mixture. It’s a little more extravagant. I guess a little bit more daring. We are there to try and make statements.

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