This week Wednesday Design Indaba kicks off its very first all-inclusive 3-day art, music and film festival set to take place after-hours when the conference ends. We must say we are over the moon to eventually be treated to something a little different- a celebration of creative minds and innovation- a much-needed break away from the standard over-saturated scene of escapism in our city. With that being said, we decided to catch up with one of the most creative minds to take the stage this Thursday at Nightscape, South African experimental genius, Felix LaBand.
MCBN: Felix, thank you so much for taking the time to let us pick that curious mind of yours. Tell us a bit about where you are at right now music wise, what have you put out there recently and is there anything new in store for us fans this year?
FELIX: I actually released a 12-inch album last year. It’s done well for me. It’s called Bag Of Bones EP and it’s on vinyl. But I’m definitely going to be playing lots of new music soon, I’ve been creating a lot of stuff and I’ve had my studio set up for the first time in a very long time and I’ve been in a really great space creatively recently, so expect to hear some interesting stuff.
MCBN: With Design Indaba Nightscape coming up – an event focused on uplifting creativity- do you feel this kind of platform will allow you to weave more expression and experimental concepts throughout your set on Thursday and try new things, or can we expect the Felix Laband we’ve become accustomed to and love of course.
FELIX: Well I’m hoping due to the fact that it’s an art event that the audience will be more susceptible to more interesting ideas. Generally, in South Africa, we have a bit of a problem where there is not much education in terms of audiences being exposed and comfortable with the more experimental music. Generally, people just want like dance music or whatever so it’s kind of difficult as somebody wanting to do something more experimental. So I am hoping that I am allowed that space by the audience, however, if the audience is the usual just drunk and wanting to f**k, fart and fornicate, then I suppose I’ll have to supply them their juices.
MCBN: We’re always interested to hear from creatives like yourself and get their thoughts on the current state of the South African electronic music scene. Do you think the local scene is growing and pushing boundaries?
FELIX: No, I don’t think so actually, I think its pretty shit. There’s certainly some really amazing artists that are coming out and some artists that are doing some really cool things, getting out there and signing to labels as they should be because they great artists. But at the same time, I don’t know, I think we are still such a divided scene. It’s still such a white and black thing. So it’s difficult for me to talk about the South African scene because I don’t even really know what the scene is. Of course, there are interesting things happening but at the same time, there are no record labels and no scene for experimental music or artists for example.
MCBN: Your previous work has been heavily influenced by local sounds, visual, movements and politics – Can you explain the process from creative conceptualisation to the final product of a song. How do you get from the beginning to the end?
FELIX: I’ve always worked around a basic plan beforehand in terms of whether or not I wanna make this a kind of jazz rhythm or slow or fast or what kind of mood I wanna work in and then what I do is I basically go through a process similar to that of a making a visual collage except I’m using sounds. But obviously, I like to source my sounds from a little bit more interesting places then sample CDs of drum n bass samples. I like to go and sample from weird documentaries and stuff. I find it interesting how with a visual collage you can have different prints and patterns and it’s much the same with audio, you have different types of recordings. Recordings from the 60s, recordings from record or sound recordings of intense detail. I am very much into texture and that kind of stuff. Even more so now as I’ve grown as an artist, I’ve become more interested in sound itself as opposed to music.
MCBN: You incorporated a live visual and live instrumental performance into your ‘Dead Safari’ shows. Do you feel this gives the viewer/listener a better chance to understand your sounds, your work and your views on the landscape around or do you like the aesthetic around live arts and performance?
FELIX: No it’s definitely a means for me to try and express myself more fully. I am very much interested in other stuff than music. I spend a lot of time researching things that I am interested like things like wars and stuff that has shaped the world and society. I find the visual aspect is helping me to express a little more than is possible with just music but I haven’t really gotten there just yet in terms of how I wanna do things. I am finding it difficult to perform on my own sometimes. I think at the end of the day I’ll be happy when I have a real live performance, with a couple of people performing with me so that I can actually be live because in terms of playing live on stage you have to concentrate on one or two instruments and trying to do everything yourself is pretty difficult.
MCBN: What would you consider your favourite pieces of work to date, your top three Felix Laband tracks?
FELIX: Some of my favourite work is probably off my second album – 4/4 Down The Stairs. It’s kind of an overlooked album, there were problems with pressings and stuff off that album but it’s really special and for me, it’s quite a beautiful one. There’s a track on there called Rain Can which I’ve always thought was quite beautiful. Then on Dark Days Exit there’s a track called Radio Through Wires, I made it by creating these textures using the sounds of radio static and made this beautiful ambient classic piece and that’s one I’ve always been proud of. Bag of Bones is definitely another favourite track of mine.
MCBN: As one of the greatest musical minds/producers in the country we’ve always wondered if you have ever had any other musical projects under a different guise?
FELIX: Yeah lots! Back in the day when us producers use to all be friends before we all became adults and stopped being friends, we all use to play together and create stuff. Marcus, I and Len had a group called the Killer Dwarfs which was pretty cool. Then I had another group called Guava Rama with Mark Van Niekerk which was fucking amazing. I also produced an album once for a friend of mine Sebastian which was this kind of weird jazzy hip-hop album. There’s actually so much out there and I think I may start releasing some of this stuff on Soundcloud soon.
MCBN: We’re very excited for your set at Nightscape this week. With events such as Nightscape, do you feel they bring an additional element to our nightlife from the arts, film and media direction? Do you feel it allows local artists to show off their creative performance arts through their music?
FELIX: Well let’s hope it does. Because we are sorely in need for a night in our city where people can do more than just play music for people to dance and act silly too. We really have amazing talent here and I really wish everyone would do more stuff, be more productive, start working together and just get things going, take chances, start a label or something. But anyway, it’s just another day in paradise. Thank you and Totsiens.
Be sure to catch Felix LaBand live this Thursday at Design Indaba’s Nightscape Festival for a truly raw and pure experience with a creative mind like no other.
Get your tickets —> here