Oppikoppi Afterview: Bittereinder

What do you call an interview after Oppikoppi? An afterview of course. I had a chat with Jaco van der Merwe from Bittereinder, who, in my humble opinion, were the best local act at Oppikoppi 2011.

How many Oppikoppi’s have YOU been to? And as a band?

Peach has performed at 10 Oppikoppi’s, with SHU, Yesterday’s Pupil, Tumi, Jack Parow and kidofdoom amongst others. My (Jaco’s) first band played a good one in 2005. As a band, this is our first one, partly because we’ve only been playing live shows since February this year…

Is Bittereinder a band? A group? An ensemble?

Yes. Haha.

What memory from Koppi 2011 will stick with you forever?

I think the way the audience took to “die dinkdansmasjien” so quickly. That was pretty powerful. And definitely walking out to more than 10,000 people to sing a tribute song to Dawid Kramer. That was incredible.

Who, aside from yourself of course, was your favourite act at this year’s Oppikoppi?

We really enjoyed Lark, Isochronous, Desmond & the Tutu’s, Yesterday’s Pupil, Fulka, Tumi and the Volume, Mr. Cat & the Jackal, they all killed it. But the sound on the main stage was appalling for almost the entire festival, it has to be said.

How are things going for Bittereinder? Any new vids/albums that we should know about?

We’re always planning things… There’s a shadow puppet video for “Die Waarskuwing” in the pipeline, as well as a new Louis Minnaar special for “Solidariteit”. And I’ve started writing lyrics and planning collaborations for the 2nd album. It’s going to blow the first one away.

I for one was EXTREMELY impressed with the new song you did at Oppikoppi. (Drink dans?) What’s that all about? Any deeper meaning?

The song is called “die dinkdansmasjien”. It’s partly a satire of the party lifestyle, and partly the best party song I’ve ever heard. It’s good old-fashioned social commentary with a thumping beat. I discuss issues like how to deal with critics, the crazy global lust for instant gratification, disillusionment and being trendy.

What’s the number 1 tip / words of wisdom you have for young bands in SA about “making it”?

Keep honing your skills until you can really call it your craft. Don’t expect to be the next big thing because you made a song and a video. I started writing rap lyrics in 1998, the Bittereinder album came out in 2010. I reflect on that fact relatively often, all the negative and positive things that I’ve learned through more than a decade of experience. Collectively, the 3 members of Bittereinder have played more than 1,500 live shows. And we still haven’t “made it”.

Share one random freaky-fact about a band member. You don’t have to say which member you’re talking about…

Two of us are very scared when we fly in aeroplanes. We grip seats with white knuckles, breathe in frenzied panic attacks and make distressed comments about the crazy pilots. Landings and take-offs are real angst-ridden traumatic events. I’ll give you a clue…neither of us are Jaco.

Lastly, upcoming gigs in the next few weeks?

Yes, we’re playing Paradiso in Amsterdam on 19 August, then the Lowlands Festival in Holland on 21 August, then 3 September at the Gariep Festival and 4 September at the Voortrekker Monument with Joseph Clarke’s the Queen Experience.

Thanks for your time Jaco, hope to chat again soon!

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