BATUK Creating Music to 'Unite People Through Shared Rhythm Culture'
Batuk is a collective comprised of South African Producers Spoek Mathambo and Aero Manyelo as well as vocalist Carla Fonseca who have come together and infused their different backgrounds to create an idiosyncratic sound.
How did the group meet and what sold you into the idea of formulating a group?
Spoek: I first met Aero when making the Future Sound of Mzansi documentary, but was a big fan of his sound before that. I've always known that collaborating with him would produce an incredible result. I'd seen some of Carla's art and theatre work and was blown away, when she told me she wrote poetry, I know it would translate to lyrics really well. We always say our goal is to unite people through shared rhythm culture, we've been traveling through South Africa, Mozambique, Uganda, and Kenya making music and linking with artists from Germany, Angola and Portugal, to make that a reality. South Africa's been marred as being very xenophobic, we want to destroy those kinds of sentiments by sharing music and art.
What's the origin of the band’s name?
Carla: Batuque has so many meanings for a lot of different people...it's a drum...it's a religion...it's a game. We spelt it differently and made it US.
What genre of music do you consider yours to be?
Spoek: We make house music, with a lot of different influences. We also have some slower zouk type songs; as three individuals we all have quite different backgrounds in music, with house as the unifying factor. Personally I just love music in all it's forms and to an extent draw influence from everywhere. What can you tell us about the Daniel EP?
Aero: It's a 5 track EP with two original songs (Daniel and Reya Congo) as well as three remixes of Daniel. The remixes are by German music aficionado Daniel Haaksman, Angolan afro-house duo Homeboyz Music, and Mozambican producer/DJ Freddy Da Stupid.
The "Daniel" video has also been released, has it been received as you had hoped it would be?
Spoek: I'm really happy that we could introduce the world to our vision with such a sharp and beautiful video. It's such a strong video aesthetically, it's had great impact already, but I think it'll only truly be felt in a year's time.
You were recently part of the closing party at African Futures, how was that experience?
Aero: African Futures after party was our first live show and our debut in Johannesburg. It was very exciting to have the platform to share our music with people. The show was held at Alex Theatre in Braamfontein which has a seating arrangement reserved for theatre productions. This didn't really gel well in the beginning because people were seated and we play dance music! But before we knew knew it, people jumped out of their seats and gathered in front of the stage to dance and get down with us! It was great.
What have been your favorite venues to perform at?
Aero: I had a lot of fun performing in Uganda, all four shows were really great. Our last show in Geneva in Switzerland was really cool as well, a club show with a really crazy audience. People said we brought the sunshine to winter time, and they welcomed us that with excitement.
Could you briefly describe your music-making process?
Spoek: There are a couple of different ways that we work, no strict formula. It may come through Carla's writing, or Aero's beats or I may start the beat, or in cases like in Mozambique or Uganda working with instrumentalists, they may spark the idea. It really just depends.
How has your music evolved since you first began playing music together?
Carla: Like with any collaboration, the more you work together the more refined and better your product becomes. From the time we started our project, we have grown to communicate and combine all our interests, influences, individual flavors a lot more. The collaboration deepens and the music only gets better from here on. Your band has a unique style. Would you say that your fashion choices are reflective of your music?
Carla: Our music is a reflection of us. It's a natural reflection of our cultures, our passion for ancient tribal sounds as well as new electronic sounds.
The fashion could be seen as a reflection of those too, influenced by our cultural and by new age impressions. But more than anything, our fashion choices are just combinations of our personal tastes really; a lot of colour, patterns and a lot of spunk!
Creative Direction and Styling: Phendu Kuta
Styling: Lebogang LPM Makgale
Textiles: Hertex Fabrics