Next Level Shit

I recall first seeing a Die Antwoord video two or three years ago. It was the strangely trashy YouTube video for the single ‘Beat Boy’ with an interview about South African Zef counter-culture:

I can’t recall how that video hit my radar, and I promptly forgot about it. In the meantime, Die Antwoord has broken through and their videos attract millions of YT views. The stuff is viral, addictive, and toxic as crack. Zany and sometimes wicked parody seems to work as a kind of Trojan Horse for critical viewers. Most viewers, who may not understand much of the parody are probably dazzled by the eye-candy (eye-smack, really) and the uncanny vocals that mix South-African English, and unfamiliar Afrikaans and Xhosa languages. Where did Ninja and YoLandi park the UFO? In one YT interview, shows Ninja (humourously) losing his temper at an interviewer who ask about their involvement with ‘conceptual art’, while Yolandi pretends not to understand the term. But dig a little deeper and you’ll see that indeed Die Antwoord have dablled in the art world and have collaborated with Leon Botha and Harmony Korine.

Jacques Dutronc – L’Opportuniste – Scopitone 1969

This could serve well as the anthem of a global corporation!

Lyrics (use the translation bar at the right if you can’t read French)


Je suis pour le communisme, je suis pour le socialisme
Et pour le capitalisme parce que je suis opportuniste.

Il y en a qui contestent, qui revendiquent et qui protestent.
Moi je ne fais qu’un seul geste, je retourne ma veste
Je retourne ma veste toujours du bon côté.

Je n’ai pas peur des profiteurs ni même des agitateurs
J’fais confiance aux électeurs et j’en profite pour faire mon beurre.

Il y en a qui contestent, qui revendiquent et qui protestent.
Moi je ne fais qu’un seul geste, je retourne ma veste
Je retourne ma veste toujours du bon côté.

Je suis de tous les partis, je suis de toutes les partys
Je suis de toutes les cauteries, je suis le roi des convertis.

Il y en a qui contestent, qui revendiquent et qui protestent.
Moi je ne fais qu’un seul geste, je retourne ma veste
Je retourne ma veste toujours du bon côté.

Je crie vive la révolution, je crie vive les institutions
Je crie vive les manifestations, je crie vive la collaboration

Non jamais je ne conteste ni revendique ni ne proteste
Je ne sais faire qu’un seul geste, celui de retourner ma veste
De retourner ma veste toujours du bon côté

Je l’ai tellement retournée qu’elle craque de tous côtés.
A la prochaine révolution, je retourne mon pantalon.

This Song Changed Popular Music

According to David Bowie:

One day in Berlin … Eno came running in and said, ‘I have heard the sound of the future.’ … he puts on ‘I Feel Love’, by Donna Summer … He said, ‘This is it, look no further. This single is going to change the sound of club music for the next fifteen years.’ Which was more or less right.

The Donna Summers tribute at Wired describes the importance of this track for electronica.

Strobe Castle

Continuing with the YouTube vignettes, but skipping ahead about 30 years, here’s an intriguing live video of Toronto band Crystal Castles doing Alice Practice which was a hit a few years ago. I shudder to think about the cocktail Alice Glass may need to imbibe before such exhibitions, but the video does at least demonstrate the kind of engaging performance that can be possible  with even a very lo-fi approach.

Oddly enough this video reminded me of my early youth: I sometimes played with a high powered strobe light my father used for adjusting the timing of the car engine. It seems no one was very worried about photosensitive epilepsy in those days, though we did have the idea that the strobe might be able to trigger a seizure. I certainly tried out all the possible frequencies more for visual effect than neurological experiment. We sometimes used the strobe to turn the basement into a makeshift disco. This was during elementary school and my interest in art and technology may date to those experiences.

Glam Days

Hopefully this blog will not degenerate into a series of YouTube highlights, but since I broke the ice with the Nina Hagen post, I thought I’d add another peek at an era young viewers are probably not familiar with. Frankly, the beginning of term leads me to seek relaxation on certain days (you might be able to guess specifically which days) and there are times when light entertainment is needed.

First up, “White Punks on Dope” by The Tubes, a tongue-in-cheek send-up of early 70’s glam band excess. You’ll recognize the tune from Nina Hagen’s “TV Glotzer”: Nina borrowed the song but changed the words. Not sure how that would have worked out copyright-wise. Other than being hilarious, this video is a record of the Tubes’ UK tour, which made an impact on early UK punk, or so goes the story.

This dates back to my pre-teen years. I can vaguely recall this catchy tune being on the radio. My family made a trip back home to the UK in the early 1970’s and I can remember watching glam bands on TV, most likely on “Top of the Pops” rather than the more mature “Old Grey Whistle Test”. I also have a surreal memory of some teachers getting our class to dance to Gary Glitter‘s early 70’s glam anthem “Rock and Roll Part 2”. That must have been either grade six or seven.

Two excellent acts of the glam era were David Bowie and Brian Eno (with Roxy Music during Glam). First, a recently re-discovered video of David Bowie in a 1973 Top of the Pops performance of “The Jean Genie” a pun on the name of controversial writer Jean Genet. It seems that the BBC had erased this video tape, but one of the cameramen had saved a copy because it used a television camera customized with fisheye lens. The video showed up on YouTube late last year.

In the final video for today, you can watch Brian Eno, when he still had feathers, playing the tambourine and soloing the VCS3 during his glam days with po-mo art school rockers Roxy Music. The VCS3 was an early commercial synth that had only three oscillators and rather unstable voltage controls. These days a VC3 in good condition will fetch more than £5000.