Archive for October, 2012

bizarroMUSIC: Kamp 13

Tuesday, October 16th, 2012

Finding

The Real Heart

of African Rock:

Kamp 13

*bizarrojerri’s exclusive interview with one of Botswana’s best up-and-coming alternative rock bands

“…according to leaked South African government documents, in May 1989, an alien craft was shot down by South African aircraft, somewhere over the Kalahari desert, deep inside Botswana. Legend has it, that two alien beings were captured on site, and sent for “evaluation” to a notorious SA Defence Force military science research facility called …KAMP 13”

–          The Secret South Africa Blog

I like Botswana. I like their flag, a powder blue landscape split by a black and white band. Simple and evocative. I like Botswana’s president, Ian Khama, and his moderate egalitarian philosophy and strong emphasis on environmental issues. I like the fact that Botswana choose not to bulldoze the Okavango Delta into a shopping mall and low-income housing. Above all, though, I think the one thing I like about Botswana is, like that dark bend sinister that runs across their flag, the country has a huge, passionate underground scene dedicated to hard rock and metal music.

Hundreds of leather clad fans gather at weekends, on the internet, at small community hall gigs where bands, inspired by some of the heaviest music known to man, produce some of the most novel and pioneering rock music in all shapes and genres. I like Botswana, and one day, I might like to go there and see for myself what this strange juxtaposition of rock music and African culture really looks like up close.

Until then, I will continue to find beautiful unpolished gems on ReverbNation and Soundcloud websites. That’s how I found Kamp 13. Though not as heavy as some of their contemporaries, with a more melodic-rock with strong lyrical characteristics, Kamp 13 do descend from some of Botswana’s legendary metal aristocracy, as Kamp 13 vocalist Jimmy explains in this exclusive interview with the Fanboys & Soulmen blog:

“(Guitarist) Stux was in Wrust, probably Botswana’s most famous metal band thanks to their shows with Sepultura during the Brazilian legends’ tour of South Africa in 2003. While bass player Lee was in another great metal band, Crackdust, I had been playing in more alternative rock bands for a number of years, including Stealth, where I met Skit.”

Drummer Skit brings a unique, more traditional element to Kamp 13, incorporating traditional Setswana percussion into the band’s music, creating a booming backbone that solidifies, without doubt, Kamp 13’s African roots. “With a rhythmic traditional Setswana dance background, his drum performances gives our live shows a great energetic twist,” Jimmy tells.

The four Kamp 13’ers are bonded by their love of progressive melodic rock by bands like A Perfect Circle, Animals As Leaders and Karnivool,  and a serious curiosity with alternative history –  (“what others may call conspiracy theories, we know the truth,” Jimmy jokes) – which inform their lyrics. “I like lyrics that pose serious questions for the listener, and make them go out and look for the answers,” he explains. Although not overtly political, Kamp 13 use their musical platform to pose questions that should be asked by people who have the power and influence to ask them, but don’t always take that responsibility.

Explaining Botswana’s fascination and love of rock music, in particular the death metal, progressive elements of the genre, Jimmy is philosophical, but straight forward: “Botswana rock fans like their music BRUTAL and HEAVY. It’s a wonderful mystery of how it all happened.” The organic elements of rock music, that seemingly primeval power combination of hypnotic riffs and rolling rhythms, not totally dissimilar to that of traditional African music may also have something to do with the attraction.

On the ground of the Botswana rock scene, Jimmy says, there is a lot of spirit and camaraderie. “Even though rock and metal lives in the shadow of pop music, like hip-hop, house and R ‘n B music, there are always new bands coming out, there are a lot of them now. Fans inspired by the bands of the past, just completely in love with playing music.” That passion is shared between bands, both new and established: “the pie is so small, it seems logical for everyone to share it. We invite bands we like to join our gigs, people share equipment and we always go out of our way to promote and support any band that has something to say.”

Jimmy tells of Metal Orizon, the godfathers of Botswana metal, as being the greatest inspiration for Kamp 13. Formed in 1990, this veritable Black Sabbath of Botswana has had a sporadic, but cultic musical journey, inspiring an entire generation of rockers in Gaborone. “Their lead singer Spencer Sekwabebe, who sadly passed away in 2003, was someone who instigated this strong sense of brotherhood in the metal scene. I remember the first time I came to Gaborone, hoping to make a name for myself in music; the first guy to help me find my voice and cultivate my passion for music was Spencer. He even let me use his equipment (he always had really great equipment). And he did that for everyone,” Jimmy emotes.

Despite this strong culture of musical brotherhood in Botswana, Jimmy says the scene, particularly as far as live shows go, is still a bit of a struggle. There is only so much of the pie to go around. “The live scene is always an up and down, stop/start environment. There are times when events, small festivals, platforms to play, are a-plenty, but then there can months of nothing.” Most bands’ options include making a name for themselves with South African audiences, through the internet, and hoping that, with a bit of sponsorship and some good luck, bands can get to South Africa to tour. Kamp 13 themselves are currently working on a tour to SA in the coming year, performing with fellow Botswanian alt rock band South Of Nine (originally from Gaborone, now based in Johannesburg). “Touring is still the best promotional tool for any band”.

And so to the future of Kamp 13. “We’ll keep writing songs, developing a strong collection of good songs. Touring whenever possible, just working hard at something we all love doing” Jimmy says. The band are also keen in finding some interesting collaborative projects, across a number of genres, be they electronic, hip-hop or classical experiments, “I’d love to adapt the Kamp 13 melodic elements for a chamber orchestra, I think the two would work well together.” He believes, despite the presumptuous obituaries always been written about rock and metal, that rock  is not entirely dead, and that as long as there are still good songs been written, the genre has a lot of life left in it. “Rock music has this amazing ability to adapt and evolve on its own terms. Look at Karnivool, or Tool, always creating challenging inroads within the rock genre, keeping it fresh, but at the same time, remaining true to their spirit.”

On whether the band would consider a permanent move to South Africa to cultivate that game-changing creativity, Jimmy remains enigmatic and elusive, understandably so.  “As fans with a lot of respect for a band like Metallica, whose longevity and evolution is admirable, we’re inspired and determined to be that kind of a timeless hard working band. So maybe a move to South Africa might be in our future, somewhere down the line. Whatever the future holds, we plan to be around, rocking out and enjoying every minute of it, for a long time still,” Jimmy concludes with a smile.

For more info, check out the Kamp 13 Facebook page here: https://www.facebook.com/Kampthirteen

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bizarroPOLITIK: what is political debate?

Friday, October 12th, 2012

BIDEN V. RYAN 2012

Some

random thoughts

on the role of

political debate

AKA: A Rambling 600-word Caption to a Really Cool Photo

 

Watching this morning’s US VP debate, I was struck again by just how vital, in the broader political scientific sense, a debate can be , despite the modern televised debate being an over-hyped, overly stage-managed and yet grossly under-estimated event. Done really well, as it was this morning by both speakers, debates can be a powerful tool in the political discourse – interesting to note the differences between the Biden and Ryan styles and tactics; in normal circumstances it’s usually the older, incumbent warrior that would take a calmer and more ordered approach, and a younger challenger would go in emotionally-charged and with a little more (perfectly justified) scrappy verve. In Biden v. Ryan, however, those roles were reversed, a proverbial passionate Baby Boomer vs. jaded Gen X’er contest, probably the first time this kind of matchup has happened in American politics.

It is something sorely missed in the South African context, for obvious reasons. The last real South African debate, if I’m not mistaken was between Nelson Mandela and FW De Klerk in 1994. And apart from the occasional mature parliamentary disagreement, political discussion in South Africa is reduced to either one-sided childish mudslinging or badly designed, underhanded PR and media manipulation covered in distracting newspeak. Do South African politicians still know how to debate?

Are we not teaching high school kids how to debate, properly, intelligently, with the respect it deserves? I remembered being taught – I was never good at it, too emotional most like – how to understand a subject or a point of view, to research it, to discuss it and, even if you did not agree with it, attempt to defend or oppose the issue in a mature and proper manner, to the best of your abilities.

Say what you like about the Americans, but one thing I get out of their electoral process, is this: they are master debaters – see what I did there, those who are still reading this ramble?  In the true sense –and non-entendre sense – their debate skill, both Democrat and Republican, and their approach to political discourse as a whole is something to be admired, emulated and reproduced in our own sphere of supposed “democracy”. Granted, I admit, their system is not perfect and not completely honest. There is still a lot of backroom manipulation and above board “spin” in the American political process, but they really do it well. They present the options, the choices to their people in such a way that they still think they are important enough to be part of the process, assured of a stake in how their country is run. For the most part, this is mostly smoke and mirrors, but its hell of lot better than what we have here. Our politicians can’t even speak the language, and when I mean language, I don’t mean English…I mean the language of politics.

In an ideal South Africa, I’d like to see, in the lead up to the ANC’s Mangaung Leadership and Whiskey-Tasting Jamboree and beyond that, to our next general elections, one great multi-lingual professional televised clash of skill, wit and policy presentation between President Zuma and whoever feels fit to challenge him for leadership of the ANC, and in turn the country. I doubt it will ever happen.  We might learn something about our politicians, our political process, and about ourselves.

Thanks for reading, if you got all the way to the end. I hope I didn’t bore you, depress you or waste your time. All I actually really wanted to do post this really indicative photo of the two American VP candidates which I thought was really cool, with a 600 word caption that used the term “master debater” in a semi-serious way.

bizarroMUSIC: The Bizarrojerri Soundcloud

Thursday, October 11th, 2012

bizarrojerri presents:

The

Malodorous Antiphonies of Zeugma: Syllepsis of Paraprosdokia

A new collection of  original lofi electronica by bizarrojerri.

click on pic for link:

Inspired by grammatical folklore, The The, Michael Nyman’s The Man Who Mistook His Wife For A Hat, M83, Thundercat, the Nigerian film industry and that one time I DUI’d to someone’s lake house and almost saw the end of the world.

*not surprisingly, as none of these compositions have lyrics, I can’t prove any of this…

Enjoy. Thanks for listening.

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