All images: Kent Andreassen
All words: Lu Makoboka
The supergroup Bantwanas are esteemed for their distinctive blend of luminous electronic textures that are adorned with a variety of African elements. Although something which shouldn’t escape mention is the saga of stories which accompany their craft.
Their latest release ‘Gus & Lib’ is a shining example, particularly since the EP is named after Blanka’s great grandparents with the title track channelling them through the enchanting vocal performance. Through the music, they essentially assure the ancestors that they will continue to restore what they’ve left behind.
In this interview, Bantwanas member Blanka shares the creative process going into the project and the backstory of his ancestors.
MCBN: For those who aren’t familiar with the story of Bantwanas, how would you describe the journey of the group thus far?
It’s probably the best story about collaboration. All the contributors of the group really brought good energy and effort to what we know as Bantwanas today.
MCBN: Do you feel as if your blend between African elements and Electronica is more widely received locally, or internationally? And in what kind of way does Bantwanas incorporate African influences in their sound
We think it’s well-received internationally more than locally. The influence comes from the vast backgrounds that each member experiences. Each member tells their authentic story through Bantwanas.
MCBN: You’ve mentioned that the title of the EP is taken from the names of your great grandfathers. I’m curious as to how they were an inspiration thematically, and why it’s important for you to “rebuild what they’ve left”?
Tracing back about them it turns out they were gifted musically. Knowing that the gift has been found again is the best way to honour them. Each member of the crew really connects with their ancestral origins. We are now honouring and giving them the praise in each of the projects that we’ve come to work on. In that way, we hope to receive millions of streams with our music.
MCBN: What was one of the most challenging aspects when it came to finishing Gus & Lib EP?
Lol really sticking with the final version.20 of the song. We had many versions before.
MCBN: How are you trying to make people feel, or what kind of space are you wanting to put people in after they’ve experienced the project?
Ancestral. We are really trying to let the people into our space.
MCBN: In your opinion what are some of the key elements that produce the best collab relationship between artists?
Being able to be vocal about the production process. Many producers find collaborations very hard. At times it’s only because the music takes the back seat and ego take the front seat. When you put the music first then it really does become about the music.
MCBN: Okay so, 1) An artist/band you’d love to have a D.M.C (deep meaningful conversion) with 2) An artist you think would be rad to party with 3) An artist you would love to spend a week within the studio. South African artists only and you’re welcome to select from artists who are dead/retired.
Busi Mhlongo/ Mandisi Dyantyis/ Zonke – this last one was a tough one we couldn’t decide who was our fave.