Southern Wild are one of the hottest up and coming bands in SA. The band was formed in early 2015 and they been making waves in the industry ever since their first performance at Up the Creek in February. The band started out as a 3 piece, but they’ve added and extra member. The current members of Southern Wild are David van Vuuren (on vocals / guitar), Julian van Rensburg (on guitar), Alex Smillie (on bass / synth / keys) and Dylan Hunt (on drums).
I was lucky enough to be at their very first gig at Up The Creek this year and I was also one of the lucky music fans who watched their epic set at Oppikoppi Mr Vos Vos and I must say that I’m thinking that we can expect great things from these boytjies.
I recently had a chat to this Cape Town based Rock n’ Roll / Hard Rock / Folk Rock / Psychedelic band about River Republic, their performance at Oppikoppi and a few other things. This is what they had to say:
How was your first gig at Up the Creek in January 2015?
David: It was pretty amazing. The sound was incredible on stage and we heard from some of our friends that it was great out front as well. Had quite an early slot on the Sunday morning but was still great. That’s actually how I name came into being. Julian played bass for that one, before we found the very talented Alex.
Dylan: Up the Creek is an amazing festival, we had never been, so we were very chuffed to be playing. Although it was on the Sunday morning, we woke the festival up in style. We had some very surprized faces out front, especially the folks from the Laughing Yoga group the “opened” for us! Hahahaha:)
Julian: Up The Creek was set to be a challenge for us as we had never played on an actual stage before, let alone in front of other people. We had rehearsed in Dave’s lounge at whisper volumes so the contrast really gave us an adrenaline rush. When we took to stage, it was an entirely different beast. At one point Dylan hit his China cymbal so hard that it flew off stage nearly decapitating an innocent bystander. So in summary, it was exhilarating!
How has the band evolved since that first gig?
David: Well, the songs we played that day were mostly songs from my solo stuff, so, it wasn’t really a Southern Wild show. It was just the first time using the name. We have a completely different set now and as I said previously, Alex joined to play bass and Julian took his natural place in the band as Lead Guitarist.
Dylan: The Up The Creek gig in January was the first incantation of Southern Wild, we played as a three piece, David, Myself (Dylan) and Julian. The songs were also older tracks that I had previously played with Dave as his solo gig, “Free the Animals”. After that gig we started writing new songs and added Alex on bass, to the mix. We have a great dynamic in the band with some very talented okes, so are really looking forward to the future and the type of music we are making.
Julian: Well, we recruited Alex to play bass for us and I shifted to my normal spot on guitar. This has opened the door to many new weird and wonderful places for us to take the music. We have a totally different sound to what was heard at Up The Creek this year and we’re gradually moving towards a distinct sound with our material. 2015 has been a great foundation year for us both musically and structurally.
You played a memorable set at Oppikoppi this year, did it go down exactly as you expected or were you surprised by it?
David: We were so unbelievably stoked just to play Koppi. We were buzzing before we got on stage, nerves shooting through the roof. Once the first song kicked off we were in and it was quite a surreal feeling because that was the first time we were hearing our songs that loud. Could feel the tunes through the floor, so we were bound to give it everything we’ve got. Nothing ever goes as expected, sometimes the actual experience is a lot better and in this case it was. It was incredible. The reception was epic as well.
Dylan: It went down even better than we could have hoped, the sound was epic, the crowd were responsive, and we played like champs. I was very proud of the guys and how we all threw down with all we had. Again, very surpirzed faces out front. Koppi, beware for next year! Hahaha:)
Alex: The gig was exhilarating! There was a nervous excitement building up to the show but once we were on stage we ended up having so much fun. It was also great seeing our friends from other bands we’d recently been gigging with in the front row cheering us on. The support and energy from the crowd was completely unexpected and we loved every minute of it.
Julian: We had immense support at Oppi and I think nothing was going to get in the way of us giving our all. The sound was fantastic and the general atmosphere was most definitely conducive to an electric performance. We didn’t expect the overall outcome and response but we definitely approached it with a mindset that had envisioned a great
What do you think of the current state of SA Music?
David: It’s definitely picking up! Cape Town is great for music. There’s a lot of culture here.
Dylan: The SA scene is filled with a whole bunch of amazingly talented people. It is a small industry, so there are also lots of very good friends too. South African people should really make a point of going to see the local bands out there at the moment, they will be pleasantly surprized. Support your local bands people!
Alex: It’s incredible how much talent we have in our country. I think we’re moving in a direction where people are now getting more recognition for what they do because they’re finding new and creative ways to stand out. It’s definitely a healthy route for our industry and I think we’ll see some amazing things because of it.
Julian: It a small scene harbouring immense talent. I think it’s worth mentioning Dan Patlansky who has just supported Joe Satriani on his European tour. Perseverance is key!
What can audiences expect from you at River Republic?
David: A massive duck dog, flimsy frog of a performance!
Dylan: A little journey, from the dirtiest, to most beautiful of emotions. Loads of energy, and a lot of fun. We are super excited to do our best and show case what we can do.
Alex: Raw, sweaty Southern Wild energy! It’s going to be massive!
Julian: Some sweat, blood, perhaps even a casualty? Haha. Just kidding. We’re bringing some new material and some great energy, so don’t miss out!
What can we expect from Southern Wild in the future?
David: Big things! We are going to give it everything we’ve got. We have a studio session booked with legendary producer Theo Crous and very excited about the prospects of potentially working with him on a full-length album. Our biggest mission now is to record our songs and capture the bands energy. We think Theo is perfect for this. So before the end of 2015 there will be a single on the radio. That is our first priority for 2015. In 2016 we will be
working on that debut album and playing a lot more shows all over South Africa.
Dylan: We will be recording a single with the legendary Theo Crous early December this year which is amazing, thanks to the ever so sexy Wynand Myburgh, who will be helping us out with management and bookings. The future looks very bright, and we can’t wait to get out there and get people jamming to our tunes. Prepare your ear holes for something amazing.
Alex: We have a couple of exciting things lined up. 2016 is going to be a big year for Southern Wild! We will have something to release very soon so keep your ear to the ground!
Julian: We’re slowly building a family and are laying the path for a long journey, and you’re all invited to share it with us. In the immediate future you can expect a single, hopefully followed by some sort of Album or EP. Thereafter it could go anywhere, so keep in touch with us and let’s see what happens!
I’d like to take this opportunity to thank Southern Wild for taking time off to answer my questions. I wish them all of the best with their future musical endeavors.
If you haven’t done so already, go LIKE the Southern Wild Facebook page and follow @SouthernWildSA on Twitter.
Band photos on this post were taken by Beneath The Sky Photography.