Skip to main content

CD Release & U.S. Tour: South Africa's Freshly Ground in New York City March 16 2013

From a media release:

CD Release & U.S. Tour
Pushing the Boundaries: Freshlyground’s Catchy Global Pop Inverts the Remix and Expands Sonic Horizons on
Take Me to the Dance (Word Of Mouth Music)

Live at the Apollo Theater, Harlem - New York City March 16, 2013 (Part of the Africa Now Celebration)
• Other U.S. Dates listed below

From the hot banter of a late-night radio DJ (“Mina noBhiza”) to the blistering bass of kwaito house (“Nomthandazo”), from American country-inspired harmonies to urbane beats, South Africa’s Freshlyground welcome it all. From wildly diverse raw sonic materials, the band crafts catchy, danceable songs that shimmer with layers of guitar, rich strings, and multipart harmonies on Take Me to the Dance (Wommusic; March 12, 2013), produced by Steve Berlin.

Wry and sensual, deeply personal yet taking on political complexity, the music of this seven-member collective has finally embraced every sound the band loves. “We opened up our sound with this record, really tapped into something else and spread our wings a little bit,” recalls violinist Kayla-Rose Smith. “We captured diversity of the band, and found a more global, cosmopolitan feel, while keeping a common thread running through the record.”

Some of the band’s signature elements—outspoken, vivid lyrics; sparkling afropop guitar; irrepressible grooves—unite songs that dance from club anthems (“Take Me to the Dance”) to delightfully quirky Xhosa/Afrikaans rockers (“Party Time”). The band’s looser, upbeat jams have tightened up, finding a taut energy that pushes at but never violates the boundaries of a damn fine pop song.

This energy bursts out of Take Me to the Dance, and will be in full effect at Freshlyground’s live shows, which American audiences in New York, Boston, Philadelphia, Northampton MA, and Burlington VT will get to savor this March 2013.

Caught in South Africa’s remote, arid Karoo region, camped out in a small local theater, Freshlyground threw caution to the wind and simply got into the groove. Guided by the low-key, spot-on advice of veteran rock producer and Los Lobos keyboardist and saxophonist Steve Berlin, the band got to places in the studio they’d never quite managed before.

Known for their collaboration with Shakira (the infamous World Cup anthem “Waka Waka”), Freshlyground came together in the bohemian Cape Town music scene, made up of players from different ethnic and musical backgrounds and of different generations. Fronted by a dynamic, big-voiced singer and lyricist of Xhosa heritage, the band hails from across Southern Africa and incorporates instruments that rarely take the lead in pop configurations.

“We’ve always been different from other bands, in part because we have the flute and violin as mainstays,” notes the Zimbabwe-born, classically trained Simon Attwell, who plays flute and mbira (thumb piano) in the group. “That’s always been integral to what we’re about and what people enjoyed: the mix of different influences and instruments.”



But the band’s freewheeling, democratic approach need an injection of new energy. Turning away from their usual open-ended jam sessions, the band had worked separately on material, cutting rough demo tracks on home computers, or working out parts by sending files back and forth. Hunks of this gritty, sometimes lo-fi material made it into Take Me to the Dance’s finished track, adding a fresh dimension to the band’s sounds.

“Some of the songs were in almost finished form, but the setting influenced what came out,” explains lead singer Zolani Mahola. “Even though there was time pressure, there was also a feeling of this generosity of space. It informed the recording. It’s not a tangible thing, but it really lent the whole process an ease that shows.”

The process was eased by Berlin, who flew down to South Africa for a few weeks to record. His guidance proved vital to getting the record done. “Democracy, even with only seven people, is cumbersome, and we needed him to put his foot down, as someone we respected,” says drummer Peter Cohen with a laugh. “We might have needed two years if left to our normal ways.

“With a band of seven brilliant musicians, sometimes you really just need an arbiter who doesn’t have a stake in the game, who doesn’t have an emotional history tied up in the proceedings,” Berlin reflects. “It wasn’t so much a fresh approach, but another voice, someone who wasn’t part of the band.”

Yet Berlin did encourage experimentation that proved both fruitful and fun. “When we were trying to record ‘Party Time,’ we were all in the control room discussing it with Steve and talking about how we’re going to do it. While we did, we started jamming. Peter was playing a box and Simon took up the ukulele. Steve thought it sounded great, so we recorded it, right there.”

“We wanted to make that song work, but we couldn’t really find the way,” Cohen notes. “Steve had us just try it, so casually, and it finally clicked.”

They also tried an innovative approach to collaborating with a dancefloor DJ, South African DJ Headroom, known for his trance tracks. Instead of sending a finished set of tracks for Headroom to remix, the band opted for something different, that lends songs like “Take Me to the Dance” their distinct balance of organic and electronic.

“The band decided we should just send Headroom demos, the cool and not always finished ideas they had,” explains Berlin. “He would send it back to us and we would make songs from the building blocks he had treated. That made it much closer to what the band is. It was a remix inverted.” By turning things on their head, Freshlyground has pushed the boundaries of global pop.

Freshlyground 2013 US Tour
March 16, Sat, New York, NY Apollo Theatre
March 17, Sun, Boston, MA Paradise Rock Club
March 19, Tue, Northampton, MA Iron Horse
March 20, Wed, Burlington, VT Higher Ground
March 22, Fri, Philadelphia, PA World Café


Comments

  1. I was always a fan of songs with beautiful vocals, and a chill/lounge feel so part of me is ashamed I haven't heard this earlier. Especially when I consider how much I like vocal trance songs, and both the vocals and lyrics fit perfectly with that genre even if the music is a little diferent. An amazing song nonetheless, will definitely add it to my chill playlist at home.
    ===============================
    StreamAfrica

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

What Else Is Hot This Week?

FACTORY presents World Premiere ACTS OF FAITH November 19 to 28 2020 - Free Livestream

 From a media release: World Premiere FACTORY presents  ACTS OF FAITH by David Yee Directed by Nina Lee Aquino Starring Natasha Mumba November 19 – 28, 2020 @ 7:30PM Streamed live for 6 performances Free of charge TORONTO (October 19, 2020) - To kick off its groundbreaking 2020/21 season, Factory presents the world premiere of acts of faith, by multi-award winning Asian Canadian playwright David Yee, directed by Nina Lee Aquino, and starring Natasha Mumba. Written specifically to be performed for a digital platform, acts of faith will stream live to audiences at home for six performances, November 19-28, 2020.  Thanks to the generous support of the TD Bank Group, admission is being offered entirely free of charge to audiences across the country and beyond. acts of faith tells a story about the power of faith, the inescapable persistence of our online identities, and the nature of truth in a digital age. The story follows Faith, a young woman who gets mistaken for a prophet. When a ques

Blues Single | Bushwick Blooze Band: Waiting (Independent / 20 October 2020)

Blues Single Bushwick Blooze Band: Waiting (Independent / 20 October 2020) Stream It From Your Fave Service Waiting is the latest in a string of singles released by Bushwick Blooze Band. The Brooklyn-based blues trio have been performing and recording the blues around the NYC area since 2018. Their first album "Cryin' for the L Train" was released in January 2019, and included covers of famous songs composed by their greatest influencers such as Little Richard, The Allman Brothers Band, Freddie King, and Eddie Vinson.  Bushwick Blooze Band is finishing up the production of their second album "Yes Dear" and unlike the previous cover record, this new album will be their first original contribution to the genres they love. Waiting is an upbeat blues track with a party kind of veneer over solid musicianship. What begins with a classic blues feel transforms into an extended psychadelic flavoured trip. Inventive guitar licks almost make you forget about the virtuosity

Blaise La Bamba & Kotakoli November 7th 2020 Online - PWYC

 From a media release: Batuki Music Society and Alliance Francaise Toronto present A virtual concert featuring Blaise La Bamba & Kotakoli November 7th 2020 at 8:00 PM Enjoy the concert from home! K inshasa’s vibrant nightlife has long been world-famous. It is home to the subculture known informally as the Society of Ambiance-Makers and Elegant People (SAPEUR), which has spread its influence through artists such as Papa Wemba. Blaise La Bamba is part of this scene. He has worked with some of the top names of Congolese music, in particular General Defao. I n 2018, Blaise La Bamba founded Kotakoli , an all-star collective of musicians that perform an energetic mix of Congolese rumba and soukous . In the company of Kotakoli, this veteran musician brings Congolese popular music back to the forefront, with spellbinding dances. The Details Date: Saturday November 7th, 2021  Blaise La Bamba and Kotakoli Virtual Concert Time: 8:00 PM Tickets: Pay what you can This concert is offered to you

CD Release: TriBeCaStan's New Deli Breaks the Time/Space Continuum in New Deli (Feb 7)

From a media release: New Release from Little Known Government of TriBeCaStan : Capital New Deli Found to Have Irregular Time-Space Continuum EverGreene Music - February 7, 2012 TriBeCaStan: News Alert. This morning Aljazzeera reported that the questionable nation of TriBeCaStan ( www.tribecastan.tv ) has made scientific breakthroughs in time travel. The unrecognized republic of nomads has broken the code of the time/space continuum. And by broken we mean: it no longer works. Applying sonic techniques once only known to a small group of punk rock shamans, the nation's most prestigious scientific entity, the TriBeCaStani FolkLorkEstra, uses sound alone to simultaneously place listeners in eras separated by decades and terrains separated by oceans. The breakthrough is outlined in an auditory compendium titled New Deli (distributed by the state-run EverGreene Music, set for release February 7, 2012 ), a recording that allows the world to experience a type of soulful networking mor

Jazzy Pop: Shihori - Soul Trip (Independent / 4 September 2020)

Jazzy Pop: Shihori - Soul Trip (Independent / 4 September 2020) New York City based singer and songwriter Shihori's new single Soul Trip is atmospheric and ambient. Interesting rhythms and interwoven melodic vocal lines showcase jazzy harmonic progressions in a slow groove mode.  As a songwriter, she uses electronic effects with impeccable musical taste. As a singer, her flexible vocals range from a sweet soprano to a strong mid-range. A veteran of the Japanese pop scene, Shihori moved to New York City in 2018, a move she talks about in a media release. "I was so surprised when I came to NY for the first time. Independent and strong women are respected and there are lots of different preferences in music and style. I thought, 'oh my God! This place really accepts uniqueness and freedom! I didn't know there is a place like this totally different world that allows you to be yourself. Everybody looks so different. So many races, colors, cultures, fashion, ideas...I am so