Freshlyground: Looking To OneSight Acoustics Jozi

Freshlyground are due to perform at OneSight Acoustics Jozi this weekend. We caught up with the ground-breaking South African band about their diverse background, their political stance and found out that they are due to release a new album.

Let’s jump back in history. Freshlyground is comprised of an incredibly diverse range of musician each with a completely different background. What is the story behind the formation of the band? How did all of you meet and decide to start making music together?

This is a tricky question to answer cause it happened so long ago it’s all a bit of a blur. What I do remember is that it was a very organic process and there wasn’t much thought as to what we were setting out to do. I would attribute a lot of our success, to that approach.

Your rise to success occurred almost instantly with the release of Jika Jika. What was that journey from being unknown to instantly being a household name in South Africa like?

It was great…we could fly around to gigs in other parts of the country as opposed to driving which is the norm for a new band. It was an amazing time. Nomvula sold 350 000 units, which was way beyond anyone in the band’s expectation.

With that in mind, do you think that kind of instant success is still possible in South Africa’s current musical climate?

To sell that amount of units doesn’t happen often in SA not then and definitely not now…Instant success is hard to come by, but what’s even harder is maintaining it. We’re still in the game, up and down, but still at it and I think that’s pretty amazing.

Continuing along that tangent, what are your current thoughts on the South African music scene? How do you think it can be improved?

I’m not sure how the industry could be improved. The music biz is forever changing and artists have to adapt. A bigger live music scene may help and maybe more clubs.

You often imbue your music with commentaries on the political and social situations in South Africa. Shall we see any new music being released in the future that deal with the recent tumultuous events that South Africa has been faced with in terms of the student protests and the rapid descent of our government into blatant corruption?

We are currently in an intense writing phase and as South Africans, it’s very hard not to get influenced by what’s going on around us. So yes we do feel the need to speak out. We don’t wanna preach to people but we do want to use our voice to express what’s going on in our lives as South Africans.

Many people often try dodge around giving their honest opinions on the recent events in South Africa, and others relish in vomiting up blatantly racist and prejudiced opinions regarding the state of affairs in South Africa. So, what are your thoughts on the current state of affairs in South Africa especially with regard to the widespread manifestation of racism that has accompanied critique of the Fees Must Fall movement?

Racism sadly still exists  in our world as does  large amounts of prejudice and small amounts of tolerance. I think the fees must fall movement is just one layer of our troubled society and until South Africa seriously addresses the gap between rich and poor we will have protests under many different banners. There are just too many with too little…history has shown that this is always a path to protest and struggle

Finally, to end this off on a much more light-hearted note – is there any advice you would give to young musicians wishing to follow in your footsteps?

It’s a tough industry and  a demanding lifestyle. Don’t go into it thinking it’s an easy option. Practice practice  practice



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