Sweeping, grand musical 'Calling Us Home' on at Artscape – limited run
An interview with Cape Town’s upcoming band ‘TheCITY’
Electronic music with an Africa flavour
It seems that Cape Town is becoming a centre for new music artists. Bands and DJs are popping up like daisies. Cape Town is undoubtedly ready for an epic fresh sound. Have you ever heard of the genre Afro-electro? Meet TheCITY.
We were front and centre for the recording of TheCITY’s video for Channel24. We talked with them about music, their recently released album and the role of Cape Town in their music.
The band consists of duo Bonj Mpanza, vocalist, and Clement Carr, pianist. They describe their sound as ‘Afro-electro’, - a mash-up of African, groove and electro music. The Cape Town based band came up with the name ‘TheCITY’ because they say it totally describes their sound.
‘The name represents every city in the world, but Cape Town as the Mother City of South Africa gives a good idea of how we think a city should be.’
All diversity and every day occurrences that take place in cities gives the duo inspiration to make the music that they produce. Bonj and Clem are two people from different music projects that came together in 2010. Bonj was focused on gospel, R&B and soul music while Clem was into electro and reggae music.
Despite the different musical backgrounds they immediately felt attracted to each other’s music and brought their genres together.
The collaboration between Clem and Bonj symbolically describes their band name. In a city like Cape Town you can’t get around without meeting people who are different from you. These characteristics of a city bring forward something unique, like the sound of TheCITY.
TheCITY have recently released their self-titled album that is free on Facebook as well as Bozza, a free mobile app that can be downloaded on any mobile phone. The reason for the free album is because the musicians want to share their vibe with the world and what really counts to them is that people come to see them live.
The album is therefore a promotional tool, a stepping-stone into the limelight if you like, to give people an idea of their music.
The audience is very important to them. “We want to be a conduit for expression.” They want people to think, “I know how you feel, I feel the same way.”
When I asked them about the responses on their album so far they smiled from ear-to-ear. They have got some amazing responses in the short time the album has been available.
Cape Town & music
As a band based in Cape Town you should have a favourite spot to draw inspiration from. I asked TheCITY about their favourite places to be in Cape Town and how this place inspires them into making music. Bonj’s favourite areas in Cape Town are Rondebosch (the student hub of the southern suburbs) and Long Street.” These are great places to meet young enquiring minds who have a positive view of the future and they know how to party!”
The other half of TheCITY Clem gets his inspiration from the Misty Cliffs, Scarborough. ‘It’s a great place to think, unwind and enjoy the natural beauty of Cape Town.”
Cape Town is more than a place to live. Another reason why this city in particular is very important to them is because the styles of music where they are influenced by are very prevalent here.
HHP, Goldfish and Sbongile Khumalo are some good examples of what they think are good South African artists.
They also get influenced and inspired by music they grew up with. They were told stories about artists like Hugh Masekela, Mirriam Makeba and Abdullah Ibrahim. “We’d like to think that we’re carrying the flag along with other young proudly South African musicians. “
They already have a big fan. This admirer is the two-time Grammy Award winning American producer, Ron Feemster, the man who produced Michael Jackon’s last album. TheCITY met Ron Feemster during the World Cup in South Africa. He invited them to join him in an intimate workshop programme.
“To have someone who is at the top of his game affirm what we’re doing, point us in the right direction and instil the importance of persistence, hard work and faith was just what we needed at that point.”
For the video recording for Channel24 we headed out to a place in the middle of nowhere. An old garage located in a quiet area in Newland’s forest.
This silent landscape totally changed from the moment that the first electronic beat erupted from the speakers. The warm sound of Bonj’s stunning voice reverberated through the forest. The abandoned site suddenly came alive and it felt like the band was surrounded by a big audience.
By Karin Willemsen
Get a taste of TheCITY’s first album on their Facebook.