A Quick Chat with Bittereinder

Since their legendary first show at Hotbox Studios in Pretoria in February 2011, Bittereinder have ceaselessly built their live performance reputation, underscored by big festival shows at Lowlands (Netherlands), Oppikoppi, Synergy (JHB & CT), Ramfest (JHB & CT), Splashy Fen, KKNK, Aardklop, Innibos, Festival for Afrikaans (Netherlands), Mieliepop, TUKS Spring Day, Smoking Dragon, Gariep Festival, TUKS Rag, PUK Jool, Park Acoustics, STRAB (Mozambique), Hart van Windhoek (Namibia) and The Campus Invasion Tours.

Bittereinder 01

Jaco van der Merwe (lyricist and rapper), Peach van Pletzen (musician, engineer and producer) and Louis Minnaar (visual artist, director, VJ and musical producer) lend equal impetus to the lyrical, musical and visual elements of Bittereinder, an audio-visual project – more than just a conventional “band”. They recently released their 4th studio album, “Dans Tot Die Dood” (which was one of the most anticipated SA releases of the year).

Bittereinder has collaborated on stage with David Kramer, Koos Kombuis, Inge Beckmann, Jack Parow, Kongos, Tumi Molekane, Hano de Jongh (The Narrow/Not My Dog), Richard Brokensha, Hemelbesem, Carlo Mombelli, Reason, Schalk Joubert, Albert Frost and Shane Durrant (Desmond & the Tutus) amongst others.

I’ve followed them around for the last few years and I must say this Pretoria Rap ‘n Roll act has definitely evolved into one of the best live acts in the SA Music Scene (and if you consider that I’ve been going to gigs since the mid 1990’s, you’ll realize that’s one hell of a statement). I recently had a quick chat with Bittereinder. This is what they had to say:

What would you say makes Bittereinder different from other acts in the SA Music Scene?

That’s a tricky question, especially when you’re answering it about yourself. Perhaps being “different” is not necessarily something which is even possible, but in a commodity-driven pop culture landscape I guess everyone’s out trying to do something “unique” which can distinguish them from the hordes. Perhaps we’re the only suburban-Afrikaans-electro-conscious-rap group in the world, how’s that?

What is the funniest thing that you okes experienced at your live shows?

The one show we played in Witbank a few years ago will always stand out: drunk people climbing on stage during the show and chatting to Peach and taking selfies with him, stealing CD’s from the merch table afterwards and being paid in cash by the female club owner who insisted on putting the money in our underpants. Too many funnies for one gig.

You’ve gained quite a reputation for your “outfits” that you wear during your live shows. Which outrageous designs are hidden away in your minds or storage that never made it onto the stage?

From the pencil-heads to the rabbits to the mad scientists to the bewilderbeasts to the astronauts, Louis has come up with all the wardrobe vibes. Most of those ideas usually go into production, we’ve never actually discarded any of the ideas once they’ve been made…

Bittereinder 02

You’ve collaborated with tons of local (and international) artists over the years. Who would you like to collaborate with that you haven’t collaborated with before?

Thom Yorke, Trent Reznor and Bjork usually feature in our collective answers for this question. Jaco speaking here: Sufjan Stevens, The Knife, Karin Park, Anita Tijoux, Mos Def would all be great.

You’ve played all over SA at festivals. Which SA festival is your favourite to play at and why?

Probably Oppikoppi, just because we’ve been really lucky with 4 awesome slots and stages between 2011 and 2014, and sound man Marinus Visser brought his A-game. All 4 of those shows rank in our top 10 shows ever…

What album is currently playing on repeat on your iPod / CD Player / Car Radio? The Wêreld Records Volume 1 mix tape.

What can we expect from Bittereinder in the near future?

New videos and plenty of shows (check our Facebook page for dates and venues)…

I’d like to take this opportunity to thank Bittereinder for taking time to answer these questions. If you have not bought their new album yet, get it on iTunes NOW at this link.

Watch this space for regular updates in the Music and Interviews categories on Running Wolf’s Rant.

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Henno Kruger
Blogger, Desktop Activist, Twitter / Facebook Addict, Music Festival Addict, Avid lover of South African music, Founder and owner of Running Wolf's Rant and co-founder of SA Music Zone
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