Every now and then, we like to look at overseas music scenes and look at the bands that are rising in those respective industries. Our South African correspondent, Craig Roxburgh, recently conducted an interview with Clement Carr of TheCITY, a fresh face in the South African music scene. They spoke about the history of the band, their unique fusion of tribal and pop music, and their plans for the future:
You guys are a fresh face, having only received popular attention this year, on the South African music scene. What is the story behind the band?
Bonj (Mpanza) and myself met working as musical director and backing vocals for a band that ended up dissolving but we really dug working with each other and there was a natural chemistry so we released an album and started gigging together as a duo. We were later joined by Ryan (McArthur) on bass [they’ve have been friends and playing in bands since 2002], and Reuben (Crowie) who met at the SA College Of Music at UCT where we all studied. We all had similar interests in music and had worked together on other projects.
Being relativity new, if 2012 could be called new, but also containing members that have seen their fair share of the South African music scene, what are your thoughts on the current state of the South African music industry?
There are some amazing fresh acts who are writing progressive South African music, ie. Okmalumkoolkat, Nonku Piri, Card on Spokes, The Brother Moves On and local festivals popping up, people putting gigs on in their gardens and living rooms every weekend all over the country and there are new young studios setting up shop and passionate entrepreneurs trying cool things which are being noticed by the rest of the world. The industry is not doing badly. We do find it to be very segregated down racial lines but it is changing.
TheCITY are unique in that you guys step away from the typical formula of adhering to Western musical formulas, and actually attempt to create something unique. Have you guys felt like this has isolated the band from the trendier musical circles?
That is quite a loaded question, haha. We’re still fairly young as far as a band having songs rotate on national radio is concerned and this is how line ups are basically decided on for “trendy” gigs but we all work with, and are friends, with some of the highest earning local acts, so no, we don’t feel isolated.
On that note, TheCITY has a very eclectic sound as you fuse hip hop, pop and tribal influences into a singular sound that sounds a lot like the very heartbeat of South Africa. What inspired you guys to create such a sound?
Thank you, that is quite a compliment. We really feel there is a new young South African identity and pop has always played a role in that through artists like Brenda Fassie and we feel there is a voice we can add to this identity.
Are there any artists in particular that you have influenced your sound over the years?
Little Dragon and Stevie Wonder.
Your Facebook page cites that you’ve worked with the likes of Goodluck, Jack Parow, The Rudimentals and many other artists. What was it like working with artists that have so clearly carved out their own personal brand in the landscape of South African music?
We only put that on our page to play the industry game. They’re all just people passionate about music and trying to make a living playing it. They do all have a great work ethic and a positive outlook in common, otherwise just regular folk.
What are the plans for the rest of the year, and where do you guys hope to see yourself in the next five years?
We want to spend the rest of the year promoting the EP nationally and hitting the festival circuit hard. In 5 years we want to have released 2 full-length albums and be touring internationally on a regular basis.
Finally, what are your thoughts on the recent results at the SAMAs?
Hard work pays off.
Purchase their new EP here.