Thursday, October 31, 2013

what do you want?! more metal from Botswana!!: Skinflint

Skinflint (Botswana)
Here we are again, with another Skinflint album, “Dipoko,” coming to you from Botswana. Skinflint has one of the most special sounds that I have heard in years. If you like honest recordings, it’s possible that you will like it a lot, if you give it a chance. There is no sense that they are trying to deceive the listener into hearing a band that cannot play this music live. Rather, Skinflint sounds very much like a live band. As you will read in this interview, Skinflint has a whole philosophy about recording music. The listener can definitely hear the bass, the drums sound like real drums, and the guitar is intelligible, and the vocals sound only like Skinflint. Not polished high singing, not growling, yet very expressive. Skinflint is Sandra (drums), Raskebo (bass) and Juice (guitars/vocals)
Greetings, Skinflint! Big congratulations on your album "Dipoko"!! I really like the way the album sounds!! How do you get your sound?
Raskebo: Thank you! I am very pleased with the overall production, we used a 1960s Vox bass amp, JCM 900, and Premier Drums. The producer Ivo also has a lot of experience recording live music, and helped us to achieve the classic Metal sound. Juice: Thank you, we are glad to hear that you like DIPOKO! As for the clear sound, we recorded it "Live in the studio" and tried to preserve as much as possible the source sound coming directly from the amps and instruments. We didn’t use any pro-tools, modern technology, or studio tricks. We wanted an honest sound, as if you were sitting in the same room as the band. This to me, makes the music sound much more personal, as you can hear its real people playing!
Sandra: Thank you very much! We had a great experience recording and mixing the album, and we wanted to maintain the purity of each instrument as much as we could.
Shall we give a new name to Raskebo? Shall we name him Kebonye "Steve Harris" Nkloso?! Raskebo: Thank you, I will take that as a compliment. Steve Harris is my inspiration!
Alessandra Sbrana has now returned to her throne as Skinflint's drummer? She was the drummer from 2005 to 2007? and returned in 2012?
Raskebo: Yes, that is correct! Sandra: Yes, I have returned, the drums were calling my name!
Sandra, what were you doing between 2007 and 2012? Did you have family or job problems?
Sandra: I did not have any job or personal problems that held me from the band. I chose to further my education. Between 2007 and 2012 I attended university in Cape Town and acquired my Bachelors Degree in Architectural Studies. I then proceeded to work after i graduated.
Sandra, how old were you when you started playing drums? Did your parents support your drumming?
Sandra: I was 16-17 years old when i started learning how to play drums. I stopped playing for a few years while i was in University. It was a very difficult thing to do. As soon as I graduated from UCT though I got right back into my little drum room and started practicing once more. I played solo for two years until I rejoined Skinflint. I grew up in a musical family. My father was the lead guitarist and vocalist for Nosey Road band, and my uncle and aunt played bass and keyboards respectively. Thus Nosey Road Band (the founders of rock music in Botswana) inspired me to play music. I was always fascinated by the positive impact their music had on their audiences. I was also inspired by the pure enjoyment and energy that the band had on stage. I wanted to experience that. I attempted to learn how to play acoustic guitar when i was a teenager but I did not pursue it in depth. My parents were strangely encouraging towards my passion for drums! They bought me my first and current MAPEX drum set. They always supported my decisions regarding music. So they had no complaints about all the noise I made haha!
Sandra, what do you think about all the "modern" metal albums with sampled drum sounds? A lot of bands do not use the sound of their own drums, and instead use sample drum sounds (from a program/brand/studio) and the drummer's work is not actually what we hear. It sounds all "perfect," but it also sounds like plastic garbage. What do you think?
Sandra: I believe that the best Heavy Metal and Rock music encompass strength, individuality, creativity and originality. I think real music, that evokes strong emotional responses, comes from the core of our being. By using artificial sources and sample sounds, a musician does not physically connect with their instrument. In return the instrument does not connect with the musician. In the end the connection between the listener and the music is weak. It’s a long chain of events :) I think using triggers and sample sounds kills the authenticity and emotion of the music produced. It also raises questions about the musical talent of such bands. Plus, it’s so much more fun actually playing the drums!! Why would someone want to replace that experience?
Is what we hear on the album the sound of your real drums?! It sounds like it!
Sandra: Yes, all the percussion and drums on the album are played and recorded live, in our home based studio.
The two other people in the band have nicknames, but not you. Have you thought about a nickname for you? What do you think about Sandra "Fire" Sbrana?
Sandra: Yes, the boys have heavy nicknames! I have recently been called 'Hurricane Sandy' by one of our fans. I think i will let the fans and readers come up with nicknames for me :) I like Fire, it’s a pretty cool name! Maybe i should die my hair fire red to go along with it?!
So, what happened with Skinflint's previous drummer Mothusi Cool Mahuri (2007-2012)?
Juice: We are still friends with Mothusi Mahuri, and we parted ways due to different interests at the time. He is still passionate about music, and plays drums.
Juice, where do you get the idea of sounding real, like a live band of human beings, and not robots? What inspired your objective to sound this way? I wish you could convince more metal bands to record their music like you do.
Juice: I felt that there is no better way to express my discontent for mainstream popular culture, by embracing the old-school way of recording real music, rather than superficial computerised junk. The decision to record this way also strongly reflects my personality, as one who does not follow trends nor care the least bit about perfection. It is the imperfections, and human aspect of music... that gives it a soul I can relate to!
I saw the promo video of Juice and Fire for Nairobi Rock Fest in 2012. How was that experience for Skinflint? Was that your first time in Kenya? Did you get pictures?
Juice: Well, apart from the plane nearly crashing on take-off, due to a thunderstorm and the passengers piercing my eardrums with screams from deaths nethermost gates hopelessly grasping the air upon descent, I would say the experience was great. It was our first time performing in Kenya, and the fans were phenomenal. I would estimate the attendance must have peaked at around 300-400 people at the Nairobi Rock fest. Yes, we do have some pictures from the festival.... Oh, and "compliments to the pilot!!!!!" Sandra: Yes, we had a wonderful experience in Kenya, we are blessed to have been invited to perform there! The fans were very enthusiastic about our music and they were not afraid to show it.
What did you find about the metal scene in Kenya?
Juice: Some of the bands we played with, most of which had recorded material were Mortal Soul, Parking Lot Grass, Last Years tragedy, Rock of Ages and more! Sandra: There seemed to be quite a strong following of metal music in Kenya, I was happy that some radio stations were supporting metal music! They have radio shows that broadcast and promote both local and international heavy metal and rock bands, which is something that we struggle to achieve in Botswana.
Did metalheads in Kenya already know about Skinflint?
Juice: Most of the fans knew about us, and after the show we took some time to meet and greet them. I was happy to find that they, like me, are blessed with a morbid outlook of life and a peculiar sense of humor muhahahahaha
Sandra: Yes, we met a lot of amazing fans that have brought us continuous support and inspiration.
How was the material from your new album "Dipoko" received? And of course, you played your older material like "IKLWA" songs, too? What about songs from "Massive Destruction"? Juice: It is always challenging to play new songs for the first time live, as the audience will be unfamiliar with the material. But I was surprised by the reaction, and the response exceeded our expectations. Of course, we also played the hits from IKLWA and Gauna. We never played anything from Massive Destruction as we were focusing on IKLWA, GAUNA and DIPOKO!
On the album "Dipoko" at the beginning there is another drum instrument that we hear on the song "Blood Ox Ritual". What is that?
Juice: We used African percussions in the song “Blood Ox Ritual.” Skinflint's lyrics focus on African ancestral beliefs.
What is the case for Skinflint and traditional music from Botswana?
Juice: We grew up listening to different types of music from all over Africa, and are greatly inspired by our environments. Songs like “Blood Ox Ritual” and the intro riff to the song "Iron Pierced King" are very good examples of incorporating traditional African music with Metal. As for the lyrics, they are mostly in English. That is correct, my main focus is on African mythology and beliefs. For the writing of "DIPOKO" I took a story-telling, rather then a poetic approach. This is so, because in Botswana and many other African countries, storytelling is a very strong aspect of its culture, and superstition is still very strong in rural areas. We will continue to further expand on the genre, and incorporate more elements from local culture in future releases.
I have seen the video for the song "Mask of the Dead." What about for "The Warrior Dance"? That's a rocking song with good metal melodies.
Juice: Thank you! As of now we don't have any plans for a video of "The Warriors dance" as we have just completed a new video for the title track "DIPOKO" which you can watch on youtube or our website. The story stays true to the Tswana tradition, and idea of DIPOKO. We hope you enjoy it!
What about for "Lord of the Night"? I have not seen the lyrics for this song. Do you think it would easy to do a video based on the lyrics for that song? I have read the lyrics to "Blood Ox Ritual," "Iron Mamba," and "Mask of the Dead."
Raskebo: I like that song a lot, but it would be very difficult to shoot a video for!
What else are you planning to promote more of "Dipoko"?
Juice: We are currently doing online promotions, videos and shows to promote the album further. We are also planning to embark on a European tour in the near future!
By the way, what does "Dipoko" mean?
Juice: Dipoko is a spirit, that could not become a "Badimo" (ancestor) Due to a troubled and sordid existence.
Finally, for people reading this interview and interested in your music, what can they do to support your band?
Juice: They can check us out on where we also have a Skinflint store and downloads section. They can also join our mailing list for the latest news. Skinflint: Thank you for this opportunity, and we would also like to take this opportunity to send our gratitude to all the fans and readers out there for their support. Keep the fire burning \m/ THE END.

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