14 April 2010
A little article I wrote on Die Antwoord.
I remember when my friend Richard, my source of all things new and trendy happening in the city, invited me to go watch Jack Parow at the Assembly in Cape Town. I’ll admit I’ve never seen anything quite like it. Afrikaans rap? C’mon.
Not a week later Richard called me up and invited me to go see a band called Die Antwoord at Disko K in Loop Street. My first impression was that I had jumped headfirst into the rabbit hole, only to find myself in the deepest pit of the Cape Town underground.
There was Waddy Jones from MaxNormal.TV, rapping away on stage, going under the new guise of Ninja, with some crazy Pollsmoor prison tattoos on his chest.
The rest of Die Antwoord is made up by the foul-mouthed Yo-Landi Vi$$er, DJ Hi-Tek and Leon Botha, the oldest South African survivor of Projeria Syndrome.
It’s like watching Afrikaans pop-cultural performance art, with 90’s rave synth and swear words.
I once saw Ninja on the Friday night of the Loeries weekend, doing the Hammer Dance at The Purple Turtle during a Wedding DJs old-school set. He started a rap dance circle comprising Loerie delegates, Long Street party goers, cleaners and car guards.
That’s the beauty of Die Antwoord. People don’t know whether he’s the real deal or not but they can’t help but get caught up in the hype.
This is where Harry&Co’s Sean Metelerkamp enters the scene. A professional photographer for the last two years, Sean knew what he wanted to do since the age of sixteen “by process of elimination and encouragement.” Sean has been and is well-known for photographing South African bands like aKing, Van Coke Kartel, Die Heuwels Fantasties and Zebra and Giraffe. It is little surprise then that Ninja called him out of the blue wanting to collaborate on a project.
Sean says, “For six or seven months I got into the world of Die Antwoord. I did not create or think of much else during this time. They’d usually pick me up where I live and I’d get into Ninja’s car with my camera. He’d then drive super fast playing Kylie Minogue kak loud while he, Hi-Tek, and Yo-landi would smoke cigars and down quarts on our way to an undisclosed location. It was nice to collaborate with them to make the world come alive through specific imagery.”
The result was Zef Side, a mockumentary style video shot by Caleb Heymann on the Red One Camera and edited by Eben Smal of Priest. The video introduces the band in all its white trash glory, Pep Store shorts and all. It’s set in what looks suspiciously like the Cape Town suburb of Brooklyn, with locals waving and smiling for the camera, many without their two front teeth. Since it hit the Internet Die Antwoord are no longer the stuff of dingy Long Street nightclubs, they’re playing in Los Angeles venues and are a talking point among stars like Fred Durst and Katy Perry. The video is going to be screened at the San Fransisco Film Festival in March and in London at the Short & Sweet viewing room.
It was a mutually beneficial relationship. Sean explains, “I’ve never really seen myself as a photographer, and so the spontaneity of working with Die Antwoord helped me to become a photographer rather than a constructor, because I was now capturing moments.”
Calls are coming in thick and fast for the hot new directing talent, even from as far as New York. Currently a director for Harry&Co, Sean will continue taking photographs if it’s a project he feels strongly about, whether it’s a band, or birds, or a wave breaking against the shore. “If it will satisfy me, then I will do it,” he says.
There might even be a film on the horizon, although it’s not the type of film you’re thinking of. “A cinematographer friend of mine, Shaun Lee, and I have been talking about making a bad porn movie and I’d like to make one before I turn thirty. I want to make loads of money out of it, but someone needs to help me with the money thing,” he says.
Sean won’t tell me what he’s currently working on except to say he’s busy painting a dinosaur in his garage. Like Ninja, he’s crazily creative, but you don’t quite know whether to take him seriously or not. The only thing you know for sure is what stems from his genius is awesome to behold.
This article first appeared in The Callsheet.