INTERVIEW: Straatligkinders release new album, Verdwyn

Afrikaans rock mainstays Straatligkinders have recently released a long-awaited new album, Verdwyn. We spoke to frontman Bouwer Bosch about the album, and their single, “Wonder”.

Interview by Ashton Kirsten.

Photo by Werner Botha.

A quick skim of the YouTube comments on your music video for “Wonder” shows that fans are loving the new track and are so glad to have you back. As a staple in the Afrikaans rock market, how does it feel to be releasing an album essentially six years in the making?  

Howzit, well we are super excited  to share our new songs with fans. A Lot has happened in 6 years and we wanted to share what was up and how we have grown as people and writers.  The thing with time is that people change over time, we change as writers and musicians, and the fans change as well because we all change all the time so it’s going to be interesting to see how many new people hear from us the first time and might like us, or old fans that don’t like us anymore because of our album.  It’s normal, because people change all the time, but I’m very interested in that dynamic at the moment.

Speaking of the new music video – the pastel suits, endearing host, and attempts at traditional family friendly viewing are so charming. What influenced this retro aesthetic for the track’s video and social media hype?

When the writing process started in June I thought about the idea of Straatligkindes in the late 1960’s and how we would have looked then. So that was the concept for our whole cover shoot, the plan was then to do our first video in that vibe as well. We might continue with the whole nostalgia vibe with the next videos, its very tempting, BUT it’s also tempting to just shoot something very beautiful and epic and not ruin it with a VHS filter, [laughs] so we will take it song by song I guess.  There is something about history and retro/vintage trends we as humans are lured to. Just go to Cotton On or any other popular clothing store for alternative kids and you will see band shirts from the 90s, and we are always fascinated with the way our parents looked in photos, so we wanted to go for that vibe just right now. We wanted to make our 6 year hiatus look like it was 30 years.

The question on everyone’s lips: are you planning on touring with the new album?

Most definitely. We don’t have any December plans yet. So our tour starts early 2019.

Many members of your fan base grew up with your music during the MK89 days, and your sound has been influential in the South African music scene – did the process of “unlearning” some of your heavier sound on “Verdwyn” come organically?

Yes definitely. The older you get the less angry you get with the world. I know want to talk about things and not scream about things so just vocally the album is a lot less heavy.  It’s heavy content/lyrics but not melodically.  People change all the time, we as writers and musicians grow and change, and listeners/fans grow and change as well as human beings so this album just reflects that, all that we have been through the last 6 years.  Music is also a business and you its not about selling out its about buying in. Being responsible with your songs and approach and figuring out what you want to achieve with your music, our fanbase from 10 years ago are older now and we want to still serve them the way we did back then.

Can we look forward to some new merch to accompany the new album?

Yeah, we are working on some fun shirts for December online shop vibes but also at shows.  Our original plan was to release the album first on Casette Players (walkmans) on a limited edition vibe but I could not get it imported soon enough so that was a master plan that did not work out, which truly bummed me out, I still have the cassettes, just no cassette players.

You have mentioned that one of the main influences on the album has been time. Could you please elaborate on this?

Time helps us to learn and unlearn. They say your best album will always be your first one because you write it your whole life. We wrote this album over 6 years, a lot happens in 6 years. Life throws you around a bit.  I think just it gave us a different perspective on our first 7 years we had as a band, what we did right, what we failed at and getting new perspectives on why we want to do this again and how we are going to try to do it differently this time.