With their Grime like, glitch ridden, ‘neolectro afrobotic’, party rhyme rockin’ take on Hip-hop, Playdoe are definitely one of the most important groups in the Chrome Kids universe, so it’s only right that our first official interview up on the blog should be with them.
Listening to their music is probably the best way to find out where they’re at now but we wanted to find out more about where they come from. So we dig into the past and politics of their home, South Africa. Although we cut it down some it’s still a fair read for the attentionaly challenged so we suggest picking up a copy of their EP ‘Sibot & Spoek Are Playdoe’ which is out now on Try Harder Records (from iTunes or similar) and have a listen while you read.
Alternatively you can download this incredible mix from The Real Estate Agents, another of Sibot’s projects alongside Markus Wormstorm. It’s a beautifully tripped out glitch fest from a live show they recorded in Paris.
(YSI) The Real Estate Agents Live In Paris
Chrome Kids - There’s one or two artists sneaking through out of SA at the moment such as Mujava and Ben Sharpa, Do you feel you fit into the other stuff coming out of there or are you on a different flex?
Sibot -I would have to say we’re kinda different. Mujava comes from a background of like Afro-house, the Kwaito scene from the township. He wrote a beat that got the attention of the internationals and there’s alot of that music happening, we’re not really a part of that scene, we’re doing more like Electro rap kinda influenced by local rhythms from all over the world, stuff like baille and grime stuff from the UK. And obviously coming from a Hip-hop background, we mash it all together and get this kinda hybrid stuff that we’re working on now.
Chrome Kids - You mentioned about Kwaito, many of the articles about Kwaito say that it is angry music, the name itself being derived from the Afrikaans word Kwaai, meaning ‘angry’.
Spoek – No I don’t think Kwaito means angry
Sibot - for me Kwaito’s very specific, you can tell it a mile away just by the tempo and the tone of it – it’s like Anthem based lyrics on top of really slow house. What I was told about how the Kwaito rhythm came about was from early DJs bringing Garage music from the UK on 45s and playing them at 33, really pitched down and slow and then guys started emceeing over it.
Spoek - I think more than Garage from the UK it was a lot of Chicago House coming out in the 80s, but it’s not even such a tempo slowed down thing anymore. Kwaito’s been going for a good 18 years, and anything which has kind of a house beat with Sutu or Zulu lyrics on it, that is Kwaito. A lot of even the rapping stuff, if it’s straight 16 bar stuff it’s still called like Kwai-hop or something cos it’s related to Kwaito it’s just our style of rapping, But it’s very much not an angry or sad music, it’s block party music, like our version of Baile Funk. Just chant based party stuff. With South Africa being such a crazy fucked up country people can have street bashes and have the best time you know, so it’s not angry at all I don’t think (starts singing some Kwaito lyrics) it’s all about dance crazes, it’s a really happy culture.
Chrome Kids - So how does your music relate? Would you say that’s party music too?
Sibot – Yeah I like to think we can make people party. I love Kwaito, I’m really influenced by it and I make some stuff with other producers in South Africa just cos I love the rhythm but I don’t really come from that background and so I don’t really think I can call what we do Kwaito, cos it’s not the same tempo, it’s not the same background or not the same anything really. The stuff we make is a lot more upbeat, a lot more broken stuff. I’m crazy about rhythms, I like testing different types of rhythms so our music’s all over the place, different triplets and 16 bar shuffle stuff.
Spoek – That was a big thing when I started working with Sibot. I was coming up as an emcee and I thought I could bend my head around stuff, but his rhythms and his sense of rhythm would always fuck me up, and this is years and years of trying to sit on beats and not falling on them properly you know, and then eventually getting it better.
Chrome Kids -So he helped to push you as an artist as well, just riding those different rhythms?
Spoek – Yeah, it got heavy and tricky at a point when I was like 17. But I was young and I think I got better at it definitely.
Chrome Kids - You explained there that Kwaito isn’t really your background, but what are your backgrounds musically? Where does your sound come from do you think?
Sibot – Well as far back as like the beginning of High School, I was into Pearl Jam and Nirvana and had a luminous yellow electric guitar, and I’d learn all the licks, and from there I got into Hip-hop and deejaying cos I was interested in what all the hype was about. And then I got big time into scratch deejaying and Hip-hop producing. I was strictly Hip-hop, going into battles and that kind of stuff but then eventually I found a way to just laugh at myself and not take it so seriously, and that’s when I started not giving a fuck about what I make and just made whatever I felt like on that day. Take a rhythm from some crazy West African 6/8 type of influence and turn it into electronic music in my own way. It’s like, whatever’s out there I’m open to now.
Spoek – Sibot and I come from different parts of Johannesburg and totally different backgrounds and what not. So for me, being Black South African, I grew up on Kwaito, all the early tunes. It’s the most commercial music for young people standard. And then there was also church music, going to church and other kinds of African music from my family in Polokwane. I grew up around that naturally and so it’s definitely an influence, but my brother put me on to Hip-hop when I was like 4 or 5. He was 10 years older than me and it was all NWA, Ice T, Father MC, KRS One, and I was young so I grew up on it pretty hard. After that though I discovered there was a lot more in the world which kinda added to my angles. Then the last couple of years I discovered that Rock music isn’t just a white boy thing and that I can get into whatever I want. But a big influence was actually avante-garde Jazz and abstract jazz stuff, just breaking pattern and not having to be so strict and formulaic with what you do. And then on the flip side of that, understanding patterns and respecting them and the funk that can come out of just a straight loop.
Chrome Kids - Going back to Hip-hop, I remember South African artists like Prophets Of Da City breaking through over here, but were you getting to hear local Hip-hop there too?
Sibot - Before my Nirvana faze I was big into early Hip-hop like Big Daddy Kane, and POC was out then. They had their videos on TV with all the international stuff. I don’t think I particularly liked it, just because I could pick the accent out and I was kind of into the American stuff, but what they were doing was amazing.
Spoek – I once did a show with their Beatboxer and for me it was a huge milestone, to bridge my kinda young spasticness with an old school established beatboxer, and hanging out meeting Shaheen. So yeah they were a huge influence, but also they were from Capetown and the Cape Flats and Sibot and I are from Johannesburg. At that point Capetown was a world apart.
Sibot – Johannesburg had nothing, the Grafitti and everything was in Capetown and I used to see it on TV and kinda just be like ‘what the fuck is that?’ Really intrigued by what was going on there.
Chrome Kids - Was there ever a rivalry?
Sibot – Later on, Jo’burg was way behind I think. Jo’burg’s such a spread out place, there’s no central cluster or unity between artists. You can’t just ride your bike to the guy’s house cos everybody is from so many different places.
Spoek – He’s totally wrong about that, totally wrong. Soweto’s like the biggest ‘community’ community, Diepkloof guys and Dobsonville guys will have like benches and parties. I think things flip, Capetown understood Hip-hop first but once it translated to Johannesburg, like right now if you go to Johannesburg, there’s Sunday sessions every week and there’s strong new artists, young artists, old artists, really killing it.
Sibot – We would have to go into central Jo’burg to get a Hip-hop party and that was cool, really centralized. There’d be emcee battles, but there was nothing between Capetown and Jo’burg at the time from what I saw. Maybe like POC guys would come to Jo’burg for a couple of years and they would do some mic sessions and there’d be the occasional battles, but I think only later on there was competition between Jo’burg and Capetown.
Chrome Kids - A lot of people I know say that South Africa’s a very political place. Would you say that goes for you guys as well or are you trying to move away from that and concentrate on trying to bring the party?
Spoek – No, I want to make music, I want to talk about stuff but a while ago I kinda got bored and disgusted by heavy handedness and getting force fed people’s issues and ideologies so I like to make smart and digestible messages not heavy political, I know that might sound kinda wanky. We come from a really really charged environment where every single thing is political and it’s a spore to the music.
Sibot – We’re forced to be political in a country like that, you have to have a point of view. Growing up in a country like that you’ve been made aware of what kind of country you come from and its history. You’re ingrained in it whether you like it or not. But something which I always believe in is that I don’t like to go up to a party and then force feed people political stuff and try and give them a message, because I don’t like to think of music as being that kind of thing. People like to come out here and forget about their problems and not be force fed other people’s problems.
Chrome Kids - So what’s your vibe on the political situation at the moment with Mbeki stepping down. How do you see the future with Motlanthe and Zuma? Do you think it’s going to get better at all? Or is it just going to get crazy?
Spoek – Kind of a pessimistic view is that it will go crazy and that Zuma’s gonna mean the end of our country and there’ll be civil war but I don’t know, all we can do from this point of view is hope that it’ll be cool. That Motlanthe will hold it down, that Zuma will get prosecuted, cos I think he’s a crook and he should not run our country.
Sibot – No he should not but I think that everything will be fine, and the reason why I say that is cos there’s so many hands in the pot at the moment from all the biggest companies all over the world, and all the big countries. There’s so much invested in our country that it’ll be hard for it to speed wobble out of control at this stage.
Spoek – Yeah but the point is that we might think that big countries are like these benefactor figures but the UK government in a weird sort of way are supportive of Zuma and invited him to their house of Government. He’s a dodgy character but they had a beef with Mbeki so they were playing them off against each other even before anyone won. If you look at civil wars around the world they have been supported by these big European supposed…
Sibot – I don’t mean that what’s happening isn’t being supported, it’s just that the country’s got so much invested in it, as one of the fastest growing economies, that those businesses are gonna make sure that shit doesn’t fall apart. And that’s my belief is that when you’ve got so many people involved and they can threaten to pull and push stuff to influence the country then they’re gonna do that.
Spoek – But I think that’s a bit naïve. Look at the Congo, look at Nigeria, look at the big corporations that have their hand there, look at the minerals. When certain people get into power there’s no way of shaking it. I mean diamonds are worth a lot, oil is worth a lot to a lot of people but still things go haywire, because of power, because of maniacs and dictators.
Playdoe have a bunch of new tracks ready to drop so keep checking back on their MySpace. Here’s a little exclusive we got from Sibot, something a bit different from him as he drops on a Dubstep tip with an intense but bouncy jump up track.
(YSI) DJ Sibot – Badman Juice
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SOME OF OUR OLD SKOOL MIXES
Chrome Kids - Pyjama Ban
Welsh Electronic Mix recorded for BBC 1Xtra (Jan 2010)
Chrome Kids - Knowledge Me
Mix recorded for Knowledge Magazine (Nov 2009)
Chrome Kids - Pimp My Tour Bus
Mix recorded for Adam Walton's Mystery Tour on BBC Radio Wales (Oct 2009)
Welsh Hip-hop Mix Recorded for Rob Da Bank & Friends on BBC Radio 1 - Nov 2008