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New Black History Music Interview with Jaime Woods, the songbird of Troy

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When I spoke to Chicago born Jaime Woods for the first time I was thrown aback by how energetic she was at 3 am after a show; my heart skipped  and my voice trembled as my inked fingers shuffled a piece of paper with key notes in the form of scratches and scribbles, I was nervous and had expected someone who would want to get the interview done and dusted as quick as possible. My expectations were promptly flung out the window of my laptop screen as she spoke from her heart so purely and exhibited such a quaint sense of humor, I had to calm down. We digressed into nuggets of conversations before delving deep into the matter at hand, New Black History Music and how she fits into this huge puzzle of dispersed pieces.

How did you get into music that you do now?

I’ve always been involved in music, singing in choirs before I knew what singing in choirs is and just like you know? Learning music from a spiritual and emotional level and that is what is most prevalent in the music I make today. The ability to connect to people on a personal level. In high school joined the high school choir then joined this jazz ensemble at the community college that I went to and then I went to Berkeley and in there I focused on music that I didn’t know a lot about like Folk, hip-hop and different kinds of soul music. It was more of a process of like 5 years of learning different kinds of music and just living and creating myself and that is how I got to the music that I am at now.

When it comes to understanding the start of our music here, the history of black music.  It started on plantations as messages and it started with very emotional ties

How did you stay focused on your musical goals?

The fear kept me going, the fear of not being able to do anything else but music, which was a false feeling but a good motivator, being at Berkeley around musicians and people that were creating helped me push and keep growing.

 

How does your work essentially contribute to the preservation of black history?

When it comes to understanding the start of our music here, the history of black music.  It started on plantations as messages and it started with very emotional ties and I like to be able to create emotions and create scenarios in our music still. The messages in my music are not necessarily political or geared towards political topics  but in my shows I make sure to talk about things that are happening you know? So I don’t feel like I am good at writing political music…that’s not where my gift is, my gift is in being active and creating music that attracts people towards change. My ties with the history is to create music like it was and remind people of emotions that they don’t necessarily feel. So I want to preserve the purpose of the music rather than a specific genre.

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Photography By: Andre Wagner

Chicago, growing up there how was the mood around Black History Month?

Well Chicago is a very cold city this time of the year so you not really going to find people outside of the house, at least black people (laughs). Chicago is a big city and I know a very specific part of Chicago. But with my understanding of Chicago we don’t leave the house, it’s too cold. I was in Chicago about 2-3 weeks ago and I was about to leave for L.A. and as I got out of my garage my nose hairs froze (laughs) it was like -17 degrees °F outside.

 

People aren’t out there?

Nah, we are inside making chilli and watching movies but Chicago is lovely.

 

Generally in a broad aspect of things, do you think enough is being done to create awareness about black history in Chicago more especially when it comes to mixed race individuals, do they get excluded at some point?

Uhmm…Absolutely not and I don’t think enough is being done anywhere else, I feel like the winners of history get to re-write it to whatever they want it to be and I think with us it’s a losing battle as the history keeps changing which is really unfortunate, but in that being done- education is the only way it can be taught, through school but we are not being represented in the curriculum anymore and I don’t know if preserving black history is really a goal for most people living in the area that I am from…for them the goal is more about survival . Especially right now because there’s a lot going on in that city specifically and so making it day to day is more of a goal. There’s a lot that can be done in my city, a lot that I plan to contribute to once I have the means…Chicago needs a lot of help right now.

 

Okay on a lighter note..

Laughs, yeah on a lighter note

 

How did you meet Emily King and how did you start working with each other?

I used to sing in a band with an artist named Nick Hakim. My brother Dale and I would sing background for him. So one day we were rehearsing and found out that Emily King was coming to Boston to do a show. I wrote an email to the drummer’s girlfriend to get in touch with Emily to see if she had an opening act for the show and she didn’t and I sent her videos and stuff and she liked what we had. The show date was when we actually met and after that we kept in touch. I was a huge fan and I let her know that whenever she needs anything she should know that I am super down to work with her and she was like “hey move to New York”. As soon as I moved to New York she offered me a spot in the band, I gladly accepted,

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How’s New York compared to where you are originally from as well as Boston and so forth, how is it for you as a musician?

New York is incredible, I feel that I am fortunate with the success that I have had in New York and that a lot of people don’t have the same story as I do and I am very, very grateful and giving when I can . It’s been amazing and also having spent time in Boston and moving to New York with a bunch of people that I went to school with was very, very helpful and the circle of musicians from the school that I went to also helped with getting me started here. The energy here is amazing and super inspiring, you are surrounded by people who are doing the same thing and so you never feel alone in the sense of trying to make music and that’s a gift and I don’t know too many places where you are able to do that, being around people who are constantly creating that’s really cool. Chicago is a little more chilled, it’s the mid-west, the urgency is not really present and everybody sort of has time.

 

Your Troy EP, how did you come up with the album, what message did you want to convey?

Well the TROY EP was more of a self-goal to see if I had what it took to start and finish a project well. It was my test to see if this is really what I wanted to do, and if I really trusted myself to really do it, so I didn’t really have expectations, just goals to this project. I wrote these songs over 4 years, I had a bunch of friends that helped me record some of the music but the bigger picture was really lonely. It was like I’m taking a journey through the dessert trying to figure myself out and it went well, I’m really happy with how it came out and the doors it opened.

I also wanted to be like that for myself, to fight for myself and cherish myself the way that I should and that was really in line with the EP, where I was trying to find myself in a specific time

 

Will we be getting more from Jaime Woods?

Of course (laughs)  absolutely! I’m still writing and creating but it’s hard because sometimes you evolve faster than you are able to record or you record faster than you are able to evolve and so trying to catch both those things at the same time is kinda difficult but it’s cool, it’s a challenge and its very rewarding.

 

So you are in New York and experiencing all that pace and energy, say I am a fan how do you think you can keep the same relationship with me while you evolve so quickly?

I think that my sound is not what is attracting people but the vibe that is attracting them is the feeling that it gives you, that feeling is consistent  and as long as I keep that feeling consistent then it will always feel like home. The emotions will be the same, regardless of what it sounds like.

 

My personal favourites are “Home” and “Can’t let it go”, what inspired “Home”?

It was a friend of mine who had a girlfriend who was out there living her life and in living her life she wasn’t sure if she wanted to be with my friend or not and my friend had been through a lot..well not a lot but enough. He spent his time waiting with no sense of security and this song is about that waiting and not knowing what’s going to happen but I’m here…

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Photography By: Lauren Desberg

Why the Title Troy?

Troy is a flip on Helen of Troy, it’s Greek mythology. I don’t know if you know the story but Helen was the daughter from an affair between Zeus and Leda. She was this beautiful woman who was intelligent and admired, I kinda picture her as Esther in the bible, she was that “it” girl, she was just awesome and she ended up marrying the king of Sparta. The prince of Troy really desired her and he kidnapped/seduced her. War was waged between two cities over her and so the idea of being that powerful and influential that two whole cities would fight for you was really attractive to me and so I wanted the people who like the music that I do to be like those two cities. I also wanted to be like that for myself, to fight for myself and cherish myself the way that I should and that was really in line with the EP, where I was trying to find myself in a specific time and I thought “well Troy fits”. I was thinking of changing my artist name to Troy but I thought that may be too specific and the name is really epic and I am not that Epic yet. That’s basically why.

 

How can you describe the music you are doing now, post Troy?

As far as the type of music that I am writing now…I try to be me more honest , I am trying to find the courage to write about the things that I am feeling and in doing so I am creating some pretty cool stuff, I got some self-discovery songs that I am really proud of. I’m really enjoying dance hall and some of my songs have that Island vibe with heavier emotions, I like that balance of not being too dark or too light.

 

Will we be seeing you in South Africa?

Absolutely! It would be incredible.

 

Written By : Lethabo Ngakane

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Feature

South African Illustrator imnk talks about empathy, improvision and the imagination behind his art.

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His name is imnk and his Instagram profile unflinchingly reads: “Africa is not a jungle”. This South African illustrator is undoubtedly an artist’s artist known for his ethereal imagination and his distinct style with a fineliner. imnk has found a way to ingeniously communicate social ills and realities through his unworldly style of art, especially in his latest series. We caught a moment with him, to find out more about the man behind the art.

One word that describes you?

That’s probably the hardest question for me to answer. There is no one word I could come up with that would encapsulate me. So for a lack of a better word, “Me”

Where are you from?

I come from a place called Ekangala, Bronkhorstspruit. But I also call Pretoria home.

How did you get into illustrating and how can you describe your journey?

It has been quite a journey. I knew I would do something in the creative field, my dad was an artist (painter and Sculptor) and my biggest influence. I have always known how to draw. I thought I would be a painter but I did Design in high school.

It has been quite a journey. I knew I would do something in the creative field, my dad was an artist (painter and Sculptor) and my biggest influence. I have always known how to draw. I thought I would be a painter but I did Design in high school.

Illustration became a happy medium between Fine Arts and the Advertising / Marketing field. Illustration still combines the creative ideation that is prevalent in Advertising and drawing which is more fine Arts.


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How long have you been in the game?

I’ve been in the game since I painted my shoes yellow in primary school and made my friends pay me to do theirs.


What has inspired your recent work?

The main inspiration was the plight of women. I think one of the most essential tools one has to have as a person living in 2019 is the ability to put yourself in someone’s position and think of how they feel.

How long does it take for you to complete one of these spectacular works of art?

The time I take to complete a drawing depends. There are a lot of variables that will influence the duration. But I try to do it in 2 weeks normally. But it could take more time it could be less.

The time I take to complete a drawing depends. There are a lot of variables that will influence the duration. But I try to do it in 2 weeks normally. It could take more time or it could be less.


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What medium do you use and can you also describe your creative process?

My favourite medium is Fineliner. I hate graphite because it can get dirty. I favour Finliners because it’s a little less forgiving with mistakes. I like the improvisation and creativity that you have to do when navigating a mistake.

I keep my process very simple. 70% of it happens in my head. I can take 2 weeks trying to solve it in my head. Once I sit down, I normally don’t want to figure much out, I want to sit down and execute. Most of my ideas come from the environment around me. That’s what I prefer documenting.


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How can our readers get to experience more of your work?

I am active on social media. Facebook Imnk Nkululeko and imnk_1713 on Instagram and I’m working on a kool ass website.

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Events

10 Oppikoppi Camping Essentials for first timers

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Written by Lethabo Ngakane

There’s only 10 days to go before Oppikoppi – one of Africa’s best 3-day music festivals. This year Oppikoppi spots a different variety of locally sourced live acts on their line-up, that are most likely to attract a horde of first-time Oppikoppi campers.

Since I have been to this festival a few times, I know how it feels to be under preprared and overwhelmed by the unexpected; I have created a camping checklist to ensure that you have the essentials sorted before you head to the dust!

1. Camping Tent

This is a pretty obvious one, but the trick here is to ensure that you buy the correct size tent, for instance it’s better to buy a 4 man tent for two people to ensure that you have enough room for sleeping, changing and storing personal belongings.

2. Sleeping Mat

A sleeping mat is one of the most important items if you really want to have a comfortable nights sleep and avoid the cold ground at night. An air mattress is lightweight but has superior comfort levels as compared to the standard sleeping mat or bag.

3. Camp Site

Arrive at the campsite early so that you can find the most convenient space before it gets crowded, It’s always wise to have a campsite large enough for your friends to join you too.

4. Light up your life

It gets very dark at night and you are most likely to get lost while travelling to and from your campsite at night, so do it right by making sure that you have a torch or headlamp to help you get around, and don’t forget to have more batteries for back up.

5. Hygene

It’s important to keep clean and fresh on a daily basis because the heat, sweat and boozing can give off a rather unpleasant smell. The festival has public showers and wipes also help keep you fresh and clean. Bring some hand sanitizer too, it gets pretty wild out there.

6. Food

Festival food can be pretty expensive or not cater to your dietary needs so it’s always smart to pack none perishable foods to sustain you for the duration of the festival.

7. Stay Charged Up

Since this is your first experience, You will probably want to take lots of pictures and videos to share with your friends and followers, so it is important that you stay charged up with a fully charged power bank or two.

8. Keep it cool

Make sure you stock up on ice blocks from the festival so that you can keep your beverages and some foods cool all the time. So don’t forget that Coolerbox.

9. Know the rules

Although Oppi is one of the most fun and free events to attend, it also comes with its rules, so make sure you get acquainted with rules before heading into the dust.

10. Clear the ground and keep it clean

Make sure that you clear the ground you will camp on, making sure that there are no sharp objects or stones. Not only will these damage your tent but they will be uncomfortable to sleep on. Don’t forget to clean up before you leave, respect nature and leave it as it was!

 

Next week we will be giving you cool tips on how to survive #Oppikoppi #Nomakanjani like a pro! So remember to follow us on social media or join our newsletter to stay in tune.

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Meet Kornilios Victoria: Behind The Muffin Man

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Written By Lethabo Ngakane

It’s been over a year since I first came across Kornilios’ work online, those who know me, know that I am one to get easily bored and I hate repetition…which is the case with most artists who have found their “style”…not this one  though. A firm observer of social media culture; Kornilios’ work is constantly changing from digital paintings all the way to abstract pieces of art which all seem to have the same theme which is meticulously communicated and embedded in different phases and styles. He has branded his work through colours and characters such as The Muffin Man and although no two works are the same, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to identify his work and his stroke of genius. We caught up with Kornilios on the high speeding streets of the internet and had a chat to find out more about the mystique behind the character and the work.


Who is Kornilios Victoria?

I’ve been told Kornilios is the visual artist version of J.Cole just before he released Sideline Story. So let’s just run with that…

Where are you from and how did you get started in your field?

I’m from Pretoria and I’ve always been into art and design from a young age. It’s hard to pinpoint how I got started but some years ago I decided it should be something to do full time because I couldn’t imagine doing anything else.

Over the years we have seen the Muffin Man Concept grow on social media and other spaces, could you tell us who the muffin man is and what is the goal with this complex character/story?

The Muffin Man is a character who serves as a satirical idol of contemporary issues of identity, lifestyle and beauty. I would like to leave it to the audience to decide what kind of personality she has and what she stands for and what she has accomplished.


Your style seems to cover a lot of approaches from painting, pop art,3D, illustrations and some abstract work, what is the motive behind that?

I’d like to think that it tells a better story, a multi-dimensional view of a story helps you to connect with it better.

Can you tell us more about the exhibition?

Well, the main intention was to present this as primarily an online exhibition. I think it creates a more interesting form of engagement between the artwork and the audience; I’d like to think that it also breaks a few barriers between the artist and viewer and it serves as an interesting format to tell a story considering that most of us spend a lot of our time online.

What should we expect from the exhibition?

Well, what I personally expected from this exhibition has already been achieved; once again I’ll leave it to the audience to decide what that is.

Your work is extremely well branded, from the tone of the posts and the blue and magenta hues in the artwork (to name the obvious few), what was the main intention behind this?

Thank you, I suppose it has become a habit, designers are trained to present ideas a certain way and I believe it will come across in the way they present everything else they make. Whether it’s artwork or an omelette.

What are some of the hardships that an artist of your nature faces in your industry?

I think all industries are tough in some manner so I won’t go too deep about what keeps me up at night, but I believe that for most creatives, especially introverted ones such as me, the challenge is to get hold of the business aspect of it. We spend years trying to grow creatively and to be asked to forget all that for a moment and think about how it is a product to be sold like a microwave oven is …eish

 

What other interesting projects are you working on or have worked on?

What I’m working on is top secret for now. Projects I’ve worked on before including a taxi decal design with the SA Taxi Foundation some time ago and it was pretty cool.

Do you have artwork for sale and how can people get their hands on it?

Prints will be made available soon along with information on how to get hold of them in an easy and convenient manner, but I’m always available for commissions.

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Zakifo 2017 -A Weekend of electrifying live performances and chilled vibes

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The third annual Zakifo Music Festival took place at Blue Lagoon this year and as always it promised to be an epic festival for eclectic music lovers.

It was an unusually cold weekend in Durban for the 3 days of the festival but people came out nevertheless to experience a world-class line-up. The lineup worked to solidify one of the festival’s intentions which are to showcase a cross-cultural exchange of artists. The set up consisted of two main stages and we could go from one stage to another as soon as the acts on one stage were done and the other stage lit up.

Friday night started off with the classical and jazz sounds of Jobie Clarke who welcomed us all with a calming spirit and a set that made us all look forward to what would follow. Lu Dlamini followed with a mesmerising performance that got most people standing and moving slowly to her smooth and graceful sound. As soon as Lu Dlamini’s set ended the next stage started luring people to it with the soft sounds of percussion instruments and people started gravitating towards it.

By the time Thandiswa Mazwai’s unmistakable voice echoed on the  Blue Lagoon grounds the amount of people who were on the grounds had doubled. She was undoubtedly the headline artist for the night as the grounds filled up and the audience sang along to her Xhosa rhythms and swayed to the jazz and funk sounds provided by her band.

Ray Phiri went on next hitting everybody with a bit of nostalgia with his iconic jazz set delivered with the energy of a young man at heart.

Baloji culminated the night with his charismatic raps and afrocentric Hiphop instrumentals that had the crowd dancing throughout his set.


Saturday evening had the likes of Bongeziwe Mabandla, Gangs Of Ballet, Nova Twins, Tiggs Da Author, Birdy Nam Nam and The Soil sharing the two different stages. Throughout the evening one could dance to an eclectic range of sounds from Hiphop, Jazz, Grime, Soul and heavy Urban Punk. It was The Soil who slowed things down with their acapella set and ultimately stole the show that night. It felt like the crowd was singing along to every lyric with their hands in the air in unity. Tey truly delivered a stellar performance, one that everyone seemed to talk about even after they had left the stage.

 



Sundays festival activities started early with Durban based electronic Dj and producer Missu who eased the crowd into the performance of Durban Duo Easy Freak. Easy Freak welcomed the crowd to the last day of the festival with a mix of rock, funk and electro. They were followed by the Sax Machine from the USA, Kommanda Obbs from Lesotho, Jojo Abot from Ghana and our very own Petite Noir. Petite Noirs set boasted a broad range of sounds which were a trip sonically because of how borderless yet endemic they were.

As soon as the lights went off on the first stage where Petite was performing everyone gravitated to the quiet stage where a man waving a flag around stood. Everyone stood in excitement as they waited for the crown jewel of the festival Damian Marley to grace the stage. The band started with an instrumental intro that was a build up that eventually bought out Damian Marley. The grounds were the most packed that I had seen them since the festival started. Damian Marley started chanting in a powerful voice and the crowd seemed to chant with him. Throughout his set, he moved from his loud songs all the way to his soft ones all with the full attention of the crowd. It was the perfect way to close off the festival. Almost every genre of music was covered at the festival and it seemed everyone’s musical taste was catered too.

Words by: Nana Sokhulu

Photography By: Rejoice Kunene

 

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Feature

Head down to Zakifo Music Festival This weekend!

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All roads lead to Durban this weekend!

Today marks the beginning of the 3rd annual Zakifo Music Festival at Blue Lagoon, Durban. The 3 day music festival is a joyous melody of over 20 local and international bands, food carts/stalls, thirst-quenching craft beers and interactive installation art exhibits.

Here are some of the iconic artists from home and abroad that you should definitely take the weekend off to check out and create memorable experiences to:

Damian Jr Gong Marley (USA/ Jamaica)

Thandiswa Mazwai (SA) Ray Phiri (SA)

Lu Dlamini (SA)

Jobie Clarke (SA) 

Baloji (Belgium)

Ray Phiri (SA)

Birdy Nam Nam (France)

Tiggs Da Author (UK)

Nova Twins (UK)

Petite Noir (Belgium / SA)

Kommanda Obbs: (SA / Lesotho)

And much more!

 

Kaffein Magazine will be in the thick of this artistic medley bringing you closer to your favourite musicians as well as giving you a peek into what went down!!!

Feeling the FOMO already? Well, it’s not too late to purchase your weekend or daily tickets. Make your purchase here! The show starts this evening at 18:00, see you there!

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IG: @Kaffeinmagazine

Twitter: @Kaffeinmagazine

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Words by: Lethabo Ngakane

 

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