With a new album on the way, it was a pleasure to get a chance to talk to one of the most talented groups out there making their way through the neo-soul plains. Before you get your hands on their May 17th release, Thina, make sure to see what all the gifted individuals that make up Seba Kaapstad had to say about playing with different styles, fighting feeling frazzled, and of course – the music.
Kendra: Like superheroes, every artist and band has an origin story. What’s yours? Was it music that brought you altogether or were you, friends, beforehand and then realized you were all talented and started a band?
Seba: The bandhas come alive in 2013 when I was applying myself to study at UCT in Cape Town. I worked with a number of talented musicians and also began working with Zoe and Manana in an informal setting, jamming standards and rearranging songs of our choice. The more we worked together the more it seemed as though deeper chemistry was being formed within the music. We started to write songs, and I already could feel, that this collaboration gonna be very special in every way. We were really able to freely express our minds on a lot of topics and enjoyed the process while at it so much. Finally, in 2016, we recorded and released our debut album Tagore’s. Pheel, who has been a really good friend to me for a long time joined the band later as a producer and percussionist.
Kendra: Congratulations are in order for signing with Mello Music Group. What did you do to celebrate?
Pheel: Thanks, we really couldn’t believe it at first and are so thankful to be part of Mello now! Once the agreement was signed, we had a video call together and definitely some champagne. But the real celebration will take place when Zoe and Manana are in Germany for the upcoming shows.
Kendra: One thing was to release “Breathe.” It’s unique on all fronts and that’s attributed to the various backgrounds and styles every single member brings to the table. When it comes time to record an album, can we assume that “Breathe” sort of set the standard of what’s to come in the near future?
Manana: Yes and No. We’re always challenging each other to write in a way that best expresses each of our respective backgrounds. We as a band have similar tastes in music and what we listen to. Our backgrounds are so different though, and you can hear that in all our songs. The songs are all different, so expect different, not more of the same.
Zoe: More than setting a standard we believe this project introduces the many layers that we as a band have to offer. The song is a taster for where we are taking the album sonically and it’s a testament to our ever-evolving music.
Kendra: This song made me think of breathing as a way to combat stress and anxiety. We not only take deep breaths but also listen to music to ease our minds. With that, what song do you turn on when you’re feeling overwhelmed?
Manana: Right now it’s Emily King’s “Forgiveness.“
Zoe: For me, it’s Oumou Sangbare’s “Mogoya.”
Seba: Definitely Asa’s “Eye Adaba.”
Kendra: That also came to mind because in “Breathe” comes the line, “mind’s a crowded mess.” Americans like to think we’re the only ones dealing with things, but it’s obvious that isn’t the case. We’re all a bit frazzled at times. Why do you think that is right now?
Zoe: Being human is always an ebb and flow of experiences regardless of where you are in the world. It is for this reason that music is a powerful antidote for all of us. So much influences our lives right now; from social media to social ills and although each experience is singular a lot causes us to be in a place of being “frazzled.”
Manana: I think we’re living in a time that is a little confusing. It’s never been easier to connect with people because of social media, but somehow we still often feel alone. We also get to see the best part of people’s lives and that can cause us to feel slightly insignificant, and maybe a little frazzled.
Kendra: It’s clear that you love to take in a variety of styles and give them a home in your style, but is there one style or genre that you’d keep out on the front porch and never implement into Seba Kaapstad?
Manana: I don’t think so. We’re really open to implementing any genre that fits into the story we’re trying to tell. Our primary focus is the story. There are genres that may never really be used but that’s simply causing that specific sound won’t assist the storytelling.
Kendra: Now it’s time to let the people know what’s coming for you guys? Writing, recording, playing shows? Let us know.
Pheel: Rehearsing and also checking out how we gonna play the new songs live. By the way, we are already busy writing and recording new songs. But first of all, we are really looking forward to the release on Mello!
Seba: There are for sure a lot of things on the menu. It’s important to focus on writing, recording and our bookings at the same time. Otherwise, it’s difficult to make big progress especially cause we are living quite far from each other. But yeah, the main focus, for now, is the upcoming release and the preparation for our shows.