Bombshelter Beast talks Mieliepop and more

Carina Kloppers

Bombshelter Beast boasts an impressive star-studded ensemble.Their uniquely profound sound that combines old school Kwaito and Ghoema with everything else proudly South African, will be featured at Mieliepop 2018. Perdeby spoke to the group about their experiences thus far and their expectations for the festival. 

 

Bombshelter Beast has a whopping 15 members, each with their own flare and esteem. How exactly did the idea to combine all these different sounds and style come to be?
Actually we're twelve people on stage, sometimes thirteen when our Opera Diva graces us with her presence. If you want to make a certain sound, with a lot of colour, then you need a lot of instruments, it’s like mathematics really! The music originally came out of a film soundtrack I wrote which called for a bit of a Balkan sound, which is pretty horn-heavy, then we added some Zulu raps on top and some badass beats. Hey presto!

 

What challenges did you face in creating a uniform sound?
None actually! We never wanted to create [a] uniform sound, and I think we succeeded! However, we did all just get new jumpsuits in mad colours and prints, that's the closest we've come to a uniform!

 

Was it originally difficult to find an audience for the genre-busting music collective you represent?
No, not at all. There are enough madcap people looking for something different in Jozi. The difficulty is finding a bigger audience, since the powers that be in the music industry are definitely not looking for something they've not heard before.

 

Bombshelter Beast has performed at some big events over the last couple of years, such as Oppikoppi 2016 and the 2017 National Arts Festival. Are these events everything they promise to be? And how does the crowd usually receive you?
Big festivals usually deliver, yes. People go there specifically to have a good time, so they do. Logistics is a whole other story but let's not talk about that.

The crowds sometimes start off with their mouths hanging open, and some have slightly confused expressions (depending on the amount of mind altering liquids/substances [that] have been engaged with) but they all end the same way, shaking it!

 

What is the most obscure inspiration or muse you have had for a song?
Obscure is what we love the most. Obscure is normal. So it’s a difficult question to answer. Our “chicken BB” is pretty obscure, we still don't even know if it’s a boy or a girl. We have a song that's sort of about Trump. He's the most obscure ... more so than a chicken.

 

What was the highlight of recording your album, Dance of the Chicken?
Besides finally finishing the mix you mean? So many highlights! Jitsvinger, Zolani Mahola, Pitch Black Afro, the Stanford University Choir (California), the list is long!

 

Of the many collaborations on the album, which would you say is a particular favourite?
The freestyle rap improvs between Pitch Black Afro & Mapaputsi are absolute winners, but then so are Pule's crazy range of vocal contributions, the guy is on fire! Zolani & Pitch on “Madam Bliss”, Zoe Modiga & Zolani on “Fire” ... eish this list also goes on.

 

This will be your first time performing at Mieliepop. What are you looking forward to most?
The food! We're making a Bombshelter Beast poitjie. The gig of course we are super amped for, and there is a cave? Beasts love caves!

Also taking down the tents is always a highlight.

 

What can fans expect from your performance?
Animals in Jumpsuits! And they must wear tekkies, otherwise their feet will get sore from jumping.

 

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