We talk to Zebra & Giraffe

6 years ago Zebra & Giraffe first saw the day of light. Their very first gig was playing in front of thousands at Oppikoppi. If you kick start your musical career with a gig like that, you can only go up from there. Hard work, good music and a positive attitude towards the music industry made sure these guys are firmly grounded in their musical roots. I caught up with Alan Shenton to for a quick fire chat. 

Since you play big festivals and smaller more intimate venues,both bring a different aspect to your performance. Can you say you connect more with an intimate venue than at a big festival like Oppikoppi?
You definitely connect on a different level with the audience at an intimate show. There’s no crazy lighting and walls of amps to hide behind – you’ve really gotta give yourself over to the audience, it can be quite exposing.
Official tour dates for “Knuckles” is now done and dusted, give us a bit of background on how the shows went down?
We had an amazing tour around our beautiful country on the Knuckles launch – met some awesome fans and got to showcase these new songs for the first time live. It’s been fun!
6 years of making music, hard work, fantastic fans and incredible venues, what has the journey thus far meant to Zebra & Giraffe?
The journey has meant a lot to us, both personally and as a band. We’ve learnt so much about the industry and used this to really push usas band – whilst growing as individuals.
I read online you recently did a charity show for African Voices,  could you tell me a bit more about the program and why you decided to support this organization?
We took part in a year’s programme with Africa Voices and really found it to be very valuable & were able to put on a performance that would raise funds & awareness about the Trust and allow them to continue to do their work; Africa Voices is a non-profit organisation that aims to teach through practical experiences and high-level mentorship, the very specialised skills needed to not only succeed within a studio environment, but to create the potential for employment.

Z&G photos

As a band that is successful in a rather difficult music scene, what would you say is the most positive aspect of the South African music scene as it currently stands?
I think because the local industry is very difficult and poses a lot of challenges for bands in a number of ways, it actually prepares us for difficulties that other bands from other territories don’t get to experience until much later on in their careers. We learn a lot here very quickly, and in many ways this prepares artists for the difficulties to be experienced in other territories.

“Knuckles” is your fourth studio album, an album which is gritty,mature and it feels like you expose a little extra of yourself. What do you hope fans take from this album, what would you like them to “hear” in this album?
We’d really like them to hear how honest this material is – it was written very openly and honestly! We’re very proud of it – like all our material and hope that people relate to it and experience it in unique ways.
I’ve asked this question a few times, I always like to see how artists answer differently. I’ve heard artist say that when they are in studio recording they wish they were on the road playing live, and when they are live playing shows they dream of recording in studio. Do you guys ever feel like this?
Yeah, it’s definitely a bit of both. We really enjoy being in studio, creating music…but there’s a lot of fulfillment in playing the songs live and it’s a stark contrast to the confined studio environment.
Something we didn’t know about Z&G?
Some of us love riding motorcycles, some of us love the bush, some of us love both.
You have such a wide range of influence in your music, but what was that first album, that made you sit up & think, ‘I want to do this for the rest of my life’?
For me it was Nirvana – Nevermind. It made me want to strum my guitar really hard & loud… probably for the rest of my life.

For the rest of the year, what do you have planned? Shows and more tours? What can Z&G fans look forward to?
We will be doing a Summer Tour along the coast and ending our year off in St Francis Bay at The Ruins for NYE!
Take me back to your very first performance as Z&G; unfortunately I actually don’t know where that was. Tell me a bit about the nerves, the excitement and not knowing to expect, a very different story as we stand here now….
Haha, well this is an interesting one! Our first performance ever was in front of a good couple thousand fans at Oppikoppi Festival in 2008! I guess if it was a normal show with a few people it would’ve been less nerve-wracking…however opening a festival like that – to thousands was terrifying. We were popping rescue remedy backstage! We had no clue that it would be that great – and it felt like it lasted a few seconds! Thinking back – I can hardly remember any details, but that it was terrifying!
Is there one track on ‘Knuckles’ that you are more proud of than the rest, a deeper connection perhaps?
There’s always favourites, and I think on ‘Knuckles’ it has to be ‘Dive’ for me. I love when you get a visual idea of a song on first listen…and I think ‘Dive’ really does this! I know exactly what it should look like if it was a story book, or a movie!
Although you’ve been overseas for shows, are there any plans for a tour over the waters?
It’s always been in the pipeline, and part of our plans. We hope to do a lot more of it in 2015.
Name 5 things Z&G can’t go without….
Water, good food & wine, snacks, making music/creating art, friends and family.
A word to the fans….
Our physical album, ‘Knuckles’ is now available in-store nationwide.Featuring 12 tracks, including 6 exclusive, unplugged tracks recorded live in JHB at POP Art Theatre. We will be touring the coastline in December and hope to catch you at a gig soon!

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Catch them on stage here : 

Z&G - Gigs

 

 

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