Johannesburg - The warm-up events intended to introduce audiences to the Afropunk Festival culture have built up the excitement on the streets for the grand finale, to be held at Constitution Hill, Johannesburg, on New Year’s Eve.
The organisers have held a series of music competitions, including a battle of the bands that will see the winning two groups each get a slot alongside US rapper Anderson .Paak, his backing band The Free Nationals, Solange Knowles and British musician Laura Mvula, Kwaito legend Thebe, DJ Cleo, Durban Gqom crew Rudeboyz featuring breakout star Sho Madjozi, and New York based Ghanean JoJo Abot.
They battled over four strenuous rounds in which the crowds were the judges. Up-and-coming bands Stiff Pap and Automatic Live lifted the imaginary trophy. Their prize is performing at Afropunk New Year gigs next Saturday and Sunday.
The Stiff Pap duo has made sure that everything around them is unique – from their music beat to their names. Jakinda Mshindi Boya is known just as Jakinda and Ayema Qampi’s alias is Ayema Probllem. They hail from Joburg and Umlazi.
Asked about the name, Boya said: “We had a few names in mind. We wanted something authentically South African, something everyone can relate to. Stiff pap is our staple in South Africa, no matter who you are, you know what it is.”
Their sound is best described as a mix of kwaito, gqom, House and hip-hop. They sometimes call it gqom trap, electronic kwaito or even industrial hip-hop. Using the music studio program Ableton Live and a midi keyboard, the University of Cape Town students have wowed audiences. Boya is studying film and Qampi accountancy.
“As soon as exams were done, we started rehearsing. We came up [to Joburg] just for this purpose. It’s been a long journey. We set this goal at the beginning of the year. We heard about the competition and knew we had to get on the line-up,” Boya said.
Meanwhile, the four bandmates of Automatic Live are, Ayanda Zalekile (bass guitar), Lungile Kunene (drums), Vincent Ngubane (keyboard) and Nathi Louw (guitar and lead vocals).
Louw described their sound as a “mixture of elements”. They incorporate rock, Afro-pop, House or reggae to give it a modern feel.
Louw, from Pimville, Soweto, said they called their genre kasi rock, which he insisted was different from contemporary rock and unique to South Africa.
The Afropunk Festival has presented itself as an exciting endeavour for this band.
“It’s a platform I truly believe will give my band and I the opportunity to connect with our audience. I’m super ecstatic and believe that all this will open doors for Automatic,” said Louw.
Fans can look out for their music on SoundCloud and connect with them on all social platforms.
Better still, watch them on the Afropunk stage at Constitution Hill next weekend.