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BLK JKSincredibly talented band from South Africa


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#61 stretts

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Posted 12 May 2010 - 11:40 PM

If that is legit I'll make you a monument


Better start building Dandelion :P

No problems guys

#62 Dandelion

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Posted 13 May 2010 - 12:44 AM

Haha yeah I already listened to it like 10 times, though I took ZOL! out of the playlist, not because I hate the song but it ruins the mood of the album.

The opening riff on Paradise is epic.

#63 stretts

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Posted 13 May 2010 - 04:44 AM

yeah Paradise in general melts faces - the solo at the end is great

#64 Yukon Cornelius

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Posted 13 May 2010 - 04:50 AM

I dig this band, its a nice change of pace while not being too much of a venture stylistically

#65 Dandelion

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Posted 15 May 2010 - 06:41 PM

Iietys has some parts from "It's In Everything You'll See" from their debut EP... guess what part?

#66 nevbox

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Posted 16 May 2010 - 04:28 AM

Thank you so much for zol!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

#67 Dandelion

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Posted 16 May 2010 - 07:40 PM

Have you ever listened to the BLK JKS? They have another album coming next month.
yes I like them. Would love to see them play with RX bandits on a tour

Nice, I hope someone makes it happen

#68 The Nephilim

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Posted 16 May 2010 - 10:54 PM

That would be pretty cool.

#69 nevbox

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Posted 17 May 2010 - 08:43 AM

i would pay a lot for that show, but i know it's gonna be cheap!

#70 Dandelion

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Posted 04 June 2010 - 12:52 AM

These guys are probably sick of beign compared to TMV :biggrin: ... unless they like them

BLK JKS: playing rock in a hard place

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They will bring an African flavour to the World Cup kick-off concert alongside Alicia Keys and Shakira, but the South African outfit defy categorisation

At the Johannesburg media launch for the Bush Fire festival, which takes place each year in Swaziland, the Swazi people's most prominent mouthpiece cuts off the speeches of goodwill and sponsorship deals with an acoustic performance. "No more fighting/ no more killing/ no more raping," Bholoja sings. No matter the power of the words, it's also the kind of heartfelt message one all but expects to hear in southern Africa. But sitting among tonight's invited guests are four other African musicians, Jo'burg's own BJK JKS, who symbolise another aspect of the soul of modern Africa; the first all-black band with an Africanised spin on the white, western strains of prog rock, post-hardcore and post-rock, whose lyrics span apocalyptic dreamscapes to social breakdown and street-fighting anthems to distressing childhood fairytales. They really are not what you expect to hear in southern Africa.

"The first time I heard BLK JKS," says Lloyd Getye, a music writer for South Africa's Mail & Guardian newspaper, "I thought, 'What the fuck?' And then I thought, 'Welcome to the world.'"

Or as BLK JKS guitarist Mpumi Mcata puts it: "I like a band that sounds like its country."

The world can judge for itself when BLK JKS join the likes of Alicia Keys, John Legend, Shakira and Black Eyed Peas in the televised Fifa World Cup Kick-Off Celebration concert at Soweto's Orlando stadium on 10 June. Given the comparative popularity of the acts, it's rather like Stevenage Borough being invited to play in the Champions League alongside Barcelona and Inter Milan, but the band are playing it down. "Fifa just sent us an email," shrugs Mcata, nursing a beer in a quiet corner of the Bohemian pub/club in the Jo'burg suburb of Richmond. Drummer Tshepang Ramoba nods. "Our name starts with a B, which is high up the list," he adds, unhelpfully.

Actually, BLK JKS made the cut because of their international reputation, after Rolling Stone labelled them "Africa's best new band", and the taste-making US indie label Secretly Canadian snapped them up. It certainly wasn't down to their local profile, because they can barely get playlisted on the radio in their homeland, even though their 2009 debut album, After Robots, won the best alternative music album prize at this year's South Africa Music awards. It appears a black South African audience that loves hip-hop, house and the local electronic hybrid, kwaito, isn't ready for a "rainbow coalition" black quartet that thrillingly mirrors Sonic Youth and the Mars Volta as much as Fela Kuti and mbaqanga, the rural Zulu-rooted take on jazz.

"Distrust is a good word for it," says Mcata. "Like, why would they go see guys like us embarrass themselves? And when they do see us, it's not even a commercial version of rock. There's no riff to hold on to. It's real loose."

On top, there isn't even a white alt.rock scene to support BLK JKS, claims Jon Savage not the UK music writer, but a South African who fronts the Weezer-style band Cassette and DJs for the national pop station 5FM. "Given our political history and our cultural mix, we have the most conservative mainstream culture ever," he says. "I played BLK JKS on my first show last month and lots of people went, 'What's this? Why are you doing this?'"

Incredibly, the Bohemian turns out to be Jo'burg's sole indie-rock bolthole, a dishevelled space that draws in the punters with pool tables and good pizza. The stage, shunted up at one end, is the size of a box bedroom. It's BLK JKS's favoured hang-out, with a crowd who reflect Richmond's racial mix not that there are alternatives, given that Jo'burg has a tiny live music scene (there are just seven gigs on the Saturday night I am there, in a city of three and a quarter million people). The Bohemian's headliners on Saturday, Cape Town favourites the Buckfever Underground (harsh and declamatory, they're South Africa's version of the Fall) are in Jo'burg for the first time in three years, yet fewer than 150 people are watching them. Outside, someone has made a fire in a giant steel can and Buckfever-branded model axes are being sold at the merchandise table. It feels a long, long way from the indie hotspots of London.

In other words, why launch an avant-rock band here, whether you're black or white? Mcata laughs. "It's good we didn't have the eyes to see how tough it was going to be. South Africa has a rich history of this vibe, tapping into roots but pushing forward, but the fact we had tunnel vision is what created this music."

BLK JKS were formed early this century by Mcata and Lindani Buthelezi, the band's frontman and debonair enigma, who sidesteps all interviews. The pair grew up together in the East Rand district. "We had no real aspiration toward becoming a band, but one thing led to another," says Mcata, still in a downplaying mood. "Eventually, we found ourselves in a rehearsal room not even knowing what our sound would be. We only knew we had no drummer, and our bassist had quit because he wanted us to sound more coherent, or more 'indie'. Whereas Linda wanted to push things really far, like, 'What the hell are we on about?'"

Ramoba had been drumming for acid jazz and big band outfits when a friend suggested he audition for BLK JKS. "I thought they were going to be jazz," he says, with a grin. Another jazz head, bassist Molefi Makananise, also arrived via a tip-off. He moved to Soweto from the north-west when he was 15 and began to learn music. That was his childhood fantasy, he says he made his own guitars and drums as a boy.

"Growing up, we had what was called bubblegum music throwaway pop and disco that didn't need to make any sense and some Bob Marley and Ladysmith Black Mambazo, and classical music on Sundays," Makananise recalls when we meet at a friend's flat in Richmond. "I heard the Police and Toto, too, but not what I'd call rock. But I always dreamed of forming a rock band, to play different. For township boys like us, it was brave to execute those kinds of sounds because we perceived rock as white people's music."

Mcata scoffs at the idea of racially divided music. "I knew these triplets who lived one house away; their dad would bring back these cassettes from overseas. One from 1992 had NWA and Public Enemy on it but also the Sonic Youth song JC that I thought was also hip-hop because of how Kim Gordon kind of speaks. I also remember these two videos, for Duran Duran and Sade. I didn't hear the songs as white or black, just that both videos for the songs were filmed underwater."

The day after the four JKS first practised together, says Mcata, "we took a bus to the east coast to play a gig at an old jail cell for students, on mushrooms. It was crazy." Local journalist Bongani Madondo got wind of BLK JKS and witnessed another early rehearsal. "The guitar tuning was terrible, the drummer was too loud, the bass came at wrong times, and the singer had no real story to tell. But there was something touching about them passion. And they were so eager to learn and share."

Madondo introduced them to the music of the Mars Volta; Makananise chipped in with Afro-jazz, while Mcata and Buthelezi responded with Hendrix, Smashing Pumpkins and more. What did Makananise make of Sonic Youth, say? "Beautiful. Very pure and electrifying, it moves your body. Bands like Mars Volta, that's madness! And then to Africanise all this, to mix it all together Even now, there's many things I want to do."

As word spread further, after they had toured South Africa, the US DJ/remixer Diplo tried signing BLK JKS to his Mad Decent label before Secretly Canadian stepped in. But Diplo's friend Knox Robinson, former editor of New York youth magazine the Fader, now manages the band; he also secured Secret Machines' Brandon Curtis to produce their debut EP Mystery and then their album After Robots, recorded in the snow in Indiana. The band now tour abroad for months on end, which is their only chance to survive financially. Festivals aside, BLK JKS shows at home are intimate events. Jo'burg's dire public transport especially at night, when it's needed the most means people have to drive (inconvenient as everyone drinks like fish here), take a taxi or more commonly, only attend shows in their own neighbourhood. It means that the only non-black faces at their Soweto shows have been the band's white friends.

At least Soweto hasn't rejected BLK JKS, says Makananise. "The first time we played Soweto, people just stood there at first, like, 'What's going on?' But after the third song, some heads started to move, and by the middle, everybody was dancing. It was raining, but people didn't run away. Tshepang got a shock from a microphone. I saw it as an approval."

BLK JKS' new EP, Zol! also invites township approval. The title track adapts a jubilant Soweto football chant with no detectable tempo-shifting gusts of guitar. But neither is it a shameless bid for World Cup-associated credibility; in South Africa, Zol means spliff.

"You sing it with friends, chilling around a fire, or going to a game," Ramoba explains. "The real song goes, 'We smoke weed/ Spliff after spliff' but in ours, we sing 'Song after score' and then 'I can roll and shoot at the same time.' Well, we sing 'spliff' too but you can't really hear it."

"South Africans know Zol! was written by the people, for the people, so we thought it should be a part of the World Cup," says Mcata. "This is the reality of soccer here. People smoke marijuana, they sing the song on the streets. It's good to preserve these things. For me, ancestors are the strongest part of BLK JKS. Not the sounds. Not the audience. We've never even thought of our audience. And we've never felt any pressure. That's not the idea with this band."

Zol! is released on V2 on 14 June

http://www.guardian....th-african-band

#71 nevbox

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Posted 13 June 2010 - 08:40 PM

Who saw BLK JKS on fifa, i missed it like hell?
w/ alicia keys:

Zol!:
http://www.youtube.c...feature=related
zol! w/better audio mixing http://www.youtube.c...feature=related

i think they got a lot of recognition from this concert!!

#72 Dandelion

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Posted 13 June 2010 - 10:04 PM

I watched it... I was expecting one more song :( specially cause Mzabalazo is not one of my favourites. But it's based on an anti appartheid chant so it was nice from them.

#73 overthehill

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Posted 14 June 2010 - 01:09 AM

Blk Jks on one of their favorite albums.



#74 ryan

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Posted 14 June 2010 - 01:20 AM

So...this is pretty much the equivalent to playing the super bowl right?

#75 Dandelion

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Posted 14 June 2010 - 02:19 AM

I don't think so... how many countries care about the super bowl besides the US?

But if by that you mean a huge mediatic impulse, yeah.

#76 nevbox

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Posted 14 June 2010 - 07:05 AM

yeah kinda like the super bowl except the world instead of just the states. so like the olympics if they were cool.

just watched this, pretty interesting. apparently after robots is a concept album.


#77 Mataxia

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Posted 15 July 2010 - 02:07 AM

yeah kinda like the super bowl except the world instead of just the states. so like the olympics if they were cool.

just watched this, pretty interesting. apparently after robots is a concept album.


Very cool.

#78 Mataxia

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Posted 06 August 2010 - 07:55 AM

Just thought I'd ask, does anybody have any BLK JKS lyrics or know if they even included lyrics with their releases?

#79 stretts

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Posted 06 August 2010 - 03:00 PM

Mystery ep - no lyrics

After Robots - only lyrics for like...three songs i think which is strange

#80 Dandelion

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Posted 06 August 2010 - 05:39 PM

Yes, only lyrics for Molalatladi, Banna Ba Modimo and Kwa Nqingetje. But the digipak is very nice.




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