Now before you read any further, you probably might have tried to connect the dots between a fully fledged hip hop platform interviewing a non-conventional hip hop entity such as Black Motion, who have no reason further prove their dominance in what they do in our opinion. But this goes beyond genres because South Africa’s dance duo Black Motion, have continued to push their musical influences throughout Africa and beyond. So during a visit to their Johannesburg home studio, HYPE took the time to appreciate the strides they have made, which recently included that Ballentines ‘Beat of Africa’ campaign that they have been publicly a part of. And of course it helps to get a nod from other global platforms such as Billboard too, so during our brief chat, we dissected how they got to be a part of the campaign, how they remain relevant and what more they have in store for the world.
So we know that the ‘Beat of Africa’ campaign started last year. First of all, how did the conversation around it between you and Ballentines even begin?
Thabo Mabogwane: Everything started with a Boiler Room session. The first one that we had in Johannesburg Maboneng. It was 2015 and that Boiler Room session opened a whole lot of doors for us, especially with this Ballentines collaboration. From there on, because of the unique African sound that we’re doing, we stayed true to it throughout the whole scenery changes of falling into like hip hop and a whole lot of things. Then came the Beat of Africa campaign which found us trying to find that unique sound all over Africa, that everyday sound, that didn’t have to be modern or come from the PC etc.
Oh like taxi rank sounds for example?
Bongani Mohosana: Whatever sound that makes you not to spend money.
Thabo: Yes, as you were saying, that taxi rank sound, gumboot sound and that whole vibe.
Interesting. We imagine that you guys had some personal reactions when the collaboration came through. Prior to you guys Ballentines worked with the likes of Black Coffee which immediately shows you the level quality that the brand gravitates towards. How did you guys feel when it all became a reality? Real talk…
Thabo: [Laughs] Man, first of all when they approached us and we saw the whole tag line that was saying “stay true to yourself” we were excited because we’re all about staying true to ourselves. We’ve travelled the world, we’ve heard sounds and we’ve heard genres of music that we would’ve loved to be falling into at that moment but we decided to stay true to our sound and get more indigenous sounds from Africa to the rest of the world. That’s where Ballentines came in and when we saw that, personally, we said we’ve been with brands but this is more towards us. So this is more Black Motion because it’s all about staying true to ourselves and we didn’t have to act or force anything.
Damn. So how was the response from the people towards the campaign? What sort of submission and interaction did you get?
Bongani: Yo, it was crazy, especially overseas because we play more overseas than home. So we’ve played at major stages and major events. We get followers from overseas and the whole of Africa. The brand is growing.
Thabo: The submissions were crazy as well, the sound that we we’re getting we had never heard before and these were sounds that are exciting to put into a song. People are going to be amazed and ask how did this guy just take a sound from whipping eggs and make it into a song [Laughs]
Damn…Okay. That’s crazy.
Bongani: And we were hearing sounds that we had never heard before and for us it was all about getting new sound to create new music. People are creative out there.
Thabo: The aim is for a major company, like Logic or Fruity Loops, to one-day buy soundbanks that we’re creating out of this whole ‘Beat of Africa’ campaign and having an African indigenous pack in all of these producing programs would be something that would mean a whole lot to these producers or people that found the sounds.
Dope! Now let’s talk about you guys as a brand now, what sort of mentality is Black Motion working with right now?
Bongani: This year I think we’re going to base on collaborating with other musicians, especially outside of South Africa and also do more travelling & continue building our next project which is releasing 2019. And we’re still going to release singles from the previous album. So this two-year gap is going to be about research and making more music.
Just to wrap this up. What impression is Black Motion aiming at portraying overall?
Thabo: What we were trying to achieve three years back, we’ve achieved for people to understand the sound we were trying to put out there and just as we’re talking about staying true to ourselves, in the sound that we started with when we created Black Motion, there was this unique drum sound and it represents home, it represents Africa as a whole. In each country in Africa, they play a drum and we had to find a way to fit in as well but still not lose our signature sound. So it’s all about putting our signature sound out there and making sure that people hear.