If you’re still one of those people who think that RAMfest is just a parade of hardcore rock and heavy metal bands, wake up and smell the bass line. This year’s RAMfest offered up what was probably its most diverse line-up yet. Don’t believe us? Here are two pages of proof. That sound you’re hearing? Those are screams from Riversands farm that’ll probably echo until next year.
Man as Machine interview You’ve recently received a lot of praise from your peers in the music industry, yet Man As Machine has been around since 2008. Why do you think it took a while for people to really start talking about you? I think that it just takes time for some things to grow to the point where they need to be. For us, it took a little while to get people to remember, but now it’s happening. Next step is to grow the fan base to an even larger level. Up, up and away.
You released your debut album, Nothing But A Thing, at the beginning of 2012. Do you have any plans for a follow-up? We do indeed. We are currently writing new material every chance we get, so people can expect to see a release later in the year.
How do you see your sound evolving from Nothing But A Thing? Our skills, as musicians and songwriters, have progressed and matured since the writing of the first album. While Nothing But A Thing was a collection of songs written over a period of a few years, the new material will be more focused and refined.
A band that plays your genre of music struggles for airplay on South African radio stations, meaning that you guys have to have a tight live performance to generate a fan base. What do you think goes into an electric live performance? For our style of music: energy and spontaneity. You could plan out a crazy show with moves and lights and what not, but you run the risk of looking overly rehearsed and fake. And that’s not our vibe. We like to run around and jump and get sweaty while putting on a tight musical show. So we rehearse our music often and hard, but seldom our performance.
You released your debut music video in September last year. Do you have any plans to shoot another one? Yep. Along with the release of each new single this year will be a new video.
What’s the most exciting thing about playing at a festival like RAMfest? Playing on large stages. Our sound and performance style lends itself to bigger stages, so it’s awesome and exciting for us to get to give it our all.
Who are you most looking forward to seeing on stage at RAMfest this year? Bring Me the Horizon, Rise Against and Pendulum are obviously on the watch list due to their size and status. Locally, Truth and Its Burden (who’ve recently come back from quite a large American tour) and Pestroy (who haven’t played in a while).
What music festival tip can you give to first-time RAMfest-goers? Drink water – lots of water. You can booze hard and party harder, but without water it’ll be difficult to last until the end. And who wants to miss out on any [of the] bands?
What else can we expect from Man As Machine in 2013? Gigs, gigs, and more gigs! We’ll be touring and playing as much as we can this year. Full band and acoustic shows, new singles, new music videos, and more fun. We take our fun seriously!
Sibot interview You’ve been around for quite a while now. How do you feel about the sudden mainstream popularity of EDM? I think it’s great, it’s spreading far beyond just EDM and showcasing electronic music as a whole.
Let’s talk collaborations. You dabble in a lot of side projects, can we expect another one any time soon? I think I’ll do tracks with people here and there but no foreseeable colabs. Finding a way to work alone has been really liberating. It’s more pure.
The last full-length album you did was in 2007. Are you working towards another one or are you just sticking to EPs? Don’t really know. I’m liking EPs, but who knows? Working on that album was super fun so, yeah, I’m sure I’ll do that again.
Any overseas plans in the near future? Yeah. Toyota and I are gonna be touring France, Spain and Poland in July/August. I’m sure this tour will grow.
What’s the most exciting thing about playing at a festival like RAMfest? The preprod[uction] – trying to imagine what it’s gonna be like and then writing music for that.
What music festival tip can you give to first-time RAMfest-goers? Don’t wear fancy shoes.
What else can we expect from Sibot in 2013? Hopefully some new production paths. More things in America. Work in the townships with Bridges for Music [an organisation enhancing opportunities in disadvantaged areas through electronic music]. Lots [of] free music.
Asleep in Transit interview You released your second EP, Kaleidoscope, in December last year. What has the response to it been like so far? It’s been great! People are really liking the fuller sound. We are really pleased with the work we did on Kaleidoscope. We recorded and produced the whole thing ourselves, so the fact that it turned out well and people like it makes us happy.
You released your debut EP earlier in 2012 as well. Did your sound evolve between the first and the second EP? Definitely. The band was very much more folk back then. And only two original members from that line-up remain (Allister and Irina), so naturally the sound will change with new members and their inputs. We even play some of those songs faster now, like “Burlington Station”. We seem to have picked up the tempo a little bit overall, as well as having a fuller sound.
You have mentioned that you are working on a full-length album. Why did you decide to go this route after releasing two EPs? Well, the two EPs allowed us to release music more quickly and allowed us more flexibility to change and find a sound, without having to commit to the expense and time of putting out a whole album while the band was essentially still forming musically. So now we feel like it’s time for a full-length album. We feel like we know what we want to say, and how it needs to sound, and we are keen to get it underway.
You have a very DIY approach to practically every aspect of the band. What do you think this adds to the sound that you are creating? Well, I guess it means we don’t answer to anybody, and we write what we feel. We make the music we want to make, and we do it because we want to share it with people and enjoy it ourselves. I think that doing everything ourselves up until this point has meant we could focus on making something we can be proud of, without worrying about any other pressures or concerns.
You’re also working on a documentary for MK. Can you tell us a bit more about that? It’s an EPK and a short documentary following us to the Berg, where we went to work on the new songs on Kaleidoscope. It features a lot of jamming, messing around and best of all – snow! There’s also going to be some stuff from RAMfest, practices, interviews. Just an intro to the band and our little musical retreat to the mountain.
Your songs are very narrative. What appeals to you about writing songs like this? Allister: I have always really liked that type of structure in a song, where you can hear a story, especially from both sides (usually a boy and a girl). I don’t really know why, but to me the songs are like pictures, and I describe what I see.
What music festival tip can you give to first-time RAMfest-goers? Pace yourself. It’s fun to start drinking at 10:00, but you want to be functional come sunset. You don’t want to be that guy (or girl) passed out in a thorn bush come the morning, having missed everything. Also, sunscreen. And if you like a band, buy their stuff!
Das Kapital interview On Twitter you said that you will be playing RAMfest in a leopard onesie. How do you think this will fly with the audience? Due to travel arrangement complications, I had to run backstage from the artist registration and start playing before I had time to awkwardly hop into the fleece leopard suit. But I got to wear it around the festival after my set and the reactions were pretty fun. The interesting thing is that because a lot of the onesie companies are based in Cape Town right now, the people in cities outside of the Western Cape are actually really intrigued by the concept, having seen me speak about it online.
You’ve said that you will be testing out a lot of your new remixes and tracks at RAMfest. Having played Cape Town and Durban already, what’s the response been like? When I’m testing out new songs, or versions of remixes I’m finalising, it’s to gauge both the crowd reaction to the builds and dips in the track, as well as to actually see how the song translates from studio to being played out. The responses were very much tied to the mood of the crowd but ultimately people had a great reaction to the new material. I was really glad that the tracks blended seamlessly with finished material, which means I don’t need to tweak all that much!
You have a slot on Assembly Radio. What do you enjoy most about doing something like that? The best thing about doing radio is getting to expose people to things they haven’t heard yet. [Either] through […] unreleased music, or from obscure artists in niche genres that the general listening public wouldn’t otherwise have reason to look for. I’ve had a lot of people come to me saying that I introduced them to a genre they had never heard of before, or changed their opinion of certain aspects of dance that they had resigned themselves to hating. It feels good to facilitate people enjoying things they never knew they could or would.
You have your own label called Do Work Records. What goes into putting something like this together? So. Much. Work. There [are] a lot of due processes that go into releasing music, so I’m going to try and make this breakdown as simple as possible. For my first EP on my label, for example, which had three tracks, we went through about a total of six months of reversioning and testing the finished tracks until they were in a form I was ready to have out there for people to hear. They then had to be mastered (which was done by my personal favourite mastering house in the UK, Masterpiece), and given to the publishers, who then go about filling in details about genre and so on, before pushing that to the online stores. This has to be done several months before the songs actually get released, in order to have your copyrights registered and your music loaded to the webstores databases (Beatport, iTunes, Amazon et al.). Then, in those months leading up to release, it’s about getting the music to the music press, and making sure the tastemaker DJs are getting the tracks early to play out on radio and in their sets – this [is] in order to have people [pay] attention when it finally releases.
What else can we expect from Das Kapital this year? Oof! It’s tough to say, because there is a lot of stuff still in the works, but as of right now: a 3rd EP (to be released on a particular foreign dance label), a new Do Work Records EP from a 17-year-old I’m working with, a compilation album I’m putting together, the Do Work label launch parties, my first UK Tour, a lot of remixes ranging from downtempo to full-on club music, lots of gigs across the country, and some really great developments on my radio show.
Photos: Eleanor Harding and Hendro van der Merwe