DANI VAN DER HORST
Jackal and the Wind is an independent band from Stellenbosch. They are best known for their single “Ukulele Song” and are making waves across the South African music scene. PDBY caught up with their lead singer, Chris Kruger.
In July, the band released an EP titled Methuselah. Kruger said that “it started with literally just me, I set up like a small studio in my room and the songs sort of just wrote themselves. I would play guitar and then record it on the fly. None of those lyrics have even been written out. It just sort of formed itself. I then sent it to our bass guitarist, who is based in Cape Town, he added bass lines to it. Our drummer, who was in Paarl at the time, recorded his own percussion and my brother, the lead guitarist of the band, he’s been in Italy for the past couple months, recorded his lead guitar parts in Italy. So, it was a super cool experience!”
Methuselah, according to the bible, was the oldest man who ever lived, being the primary inspiration for the name. The EP is accompanied by a short, animated series. Kruger says that adding a visual story to the music has always been something that he has wanted to do, and the band has been working with artist Simeon van der Bergh since their beginnings, who is responsible for the animation series. “The animation series basically just follows this character who could be called Methuselah if you want him to be. And it follows his little journey,” says Kruger.
“…the songs sort of just wrote themselves“
In May, the band released a single titled “Big Dogs Bark” which bears striking resemblance to popular “Ukulele Song”. Kruger says that “Big Dogs Bark”, as with Methuselah, was a spontaneous release. The song started in his small studio, where he played around on his ukulele, thought it sounded cool, and then added in some words. According to Kruger, this is remarkably similar to the way that “Ukulele Song” was made and that is probably why the two songs have a similar energy to them.
The band is planning to release a new single on 24 September titled “Broken Shoes” with Cape Town based instrumental dance band, Nomadic Orchestra. “It’s a song that we are super excited about. It is by far our best live performance song. Nomadic Orchestra added some crazy brass to the track” says Kruger. He explains that the song is actually pretty old and that they have been playing it for about a year at gigs. This is different to most of the new material that they have been putting out which has spontaneously been recorded during lockdown. Kruger says that the recording experience was crazy, and that they “recorded at my house and sent it to our bass guitarist, Alex Mayers, who then recorded the bass lines. We wanted gang vocals. So, I invited the band to my house, and got my parents involved as well and then we started singing in the room.” Kruger rates Nomadic Orchestra as one of the greatest local live acts that South Africa has to offer and says that it was a wonderful experience working with them.
Kruger explains that this next chapter of Jackal and the Wind is definitely going back to the really unique and raw sound of the band’s early days. This is mainly because they have been recording in a room again with a single mic. Kruger says that he really likes this, and thinks that the band will stick to this in the future. Recording like this does come with its disadvantages, but Kruger suggests “you just need to work around those things”. Luckily, Mayers acts not only as the band’s bass guitarist, but also as their mixing engineer – Kruger stating that “he really knows how to work the sound. He really makes magic”.
“This is different to most of the new material that they have been putting out which has spontaneously been recorded during lockdown.“
Kruger says that Jackal and the Wind is a band for everyone because they try not to conform to one specific genre. The songs on Methuselah are Kruger’s favourite, stating that “for the first time, if I were to go sit down and listen to music, I’d want to listen to Methuselah. I normally don’t like listening to my own music and I didn’t do it in the past but this music I like listening to myself.” This has always been the goal for the band, putting out music that is honest, authentic, and for themselves. Kruger feels that writing music for other people for the sole purpose of having it trend, loses the honesty of the music.
Jackal and the Wind is largely influenced by old school legends like Johnny Clegg, Paul Simon, and Dire Straits. The band also credits a lot of their sound influence to Zimbabwean musician, Oliver Mtukudzi.
Kruger’s main piece of advice for anyone wanting to break out into the South African music scene is to “persevere and persevere”. He suggests writing and releasing as much music as possible and steering clear of covers if you can. Kruger is hopeful for the future of the South African music scene and he says that the band has received an outpour of support in the lockdown. But he does state that, in the industry, “people need to go out and listen to more music – get involved and support local bands”.
The band does not have any plans for a live or virtual performance in the near future, but they do have plans to do something at some point, so be sure to keep an eye on their social media accounts. However, it is clear that there is no stopping this small but mighty band and they are well on their way to cementing themselves in the industry.