Monday Morning You Look So Fine: Justice
Not the kind of band one might expect to see referenced for their lyrical expertise, if you know Justice at all. As dance music goes, they are apparently mildly controversial "for incorporating a strong rock influence into their music and image." That should set at ease those who associate me rather strongly with rock & roll, but my current loving of this band (and the song below in particular) is largely thanks to Ben, and a little mix of his that I picked up, which kicks off with the Justice track D.A.N.C.E. This track featured (did it not?) at the latest Sovereign Academy party that took place Friday night in Pretoria, and Ben played it the next day as well when he DJ'd at a walk-through I did with Hunter Kennedy of Fokofpolisiekar at the Rooke Gallery (where we all looked a bit the worse for wear after hitting it hard the previous night.)
Seen above with Ben is Loucas. I had no idea Loucas was DJ'ing, but he represents another example of what a small world it is (along with a smoking Johan to the left, the drummer of Kidofdoom) as he now skates for Familia, and will be featuring in a little project I am busy on in the year ahead. That said, I need more coffee. It is going to take more than banging beats to wake me up this morning. But hey... on to the lyrics:'Do the DANCE (do the dance),The way you move is a mystery,Do the DANCE (do the dance),You're always there for music and me.' - JusticeIf that makes absolutely no sense to you, I suggest you catch the video here, or make sure you have your dancing shoes on and are present and correct at the next Sovereign Academy.In the meantime, I might well be posting some more photos from that night soon... check for updates here, right at the bottom.
Monday Morning You Look So Fine: James Phillips.
Oppikoppi approaching... I have itchy feet. Thinking of new perspectives, and South African tunes... James Phillips, in particular. The image above (of Vusi Mahlasela) ties together a lot of ideas and references... it was made last year at Oppikoppi, and it was a shot that had me running to show John Hogg... it is very similar to a shot of John's from years ago, what is for me an iconic image of James, at Oppikoppi, nogal.
Anyway, for the connection... there is a song by James that is often misread, but is one of the most beautiful (and heartfelt) pieces of South African music I have ever heard. I was lucky enough to see Vusi perform it in 2000, with Chris Letcher on keys, for a James Phillips tribute in Oppikoppi Worcester...a place I also didn't get to meet John Hogg, as I felt like a tool seeing as I was wearing a bootleg James t-shirt I had made with one of John's photos of James, from the cover of Soul Ou. Fast forward 7 years, and John and I are at Oppikoppi Easter, sunset in the bar, talking about our kids, Grand Funk Railroad and pipe bands.
Anyway... here are the lyrics to one of the most haunting songs James ever wrote, and one that few can do as much justice to as Vusi: Afrika Is Dying.
'Afrika is dying,
Yes, the place is such a mess,
And no-one gives a heck it's getting frightening.
Oh, if you're listening baby,
You'd better run as fast as you can,
Because she's dying,
And no-one gives a damn.
(West?) man, as he goes where he wants,
And he does what he likes,
And he takes what he can.
He's running with the devil,
And he's running with the cash,
And now she's dying,
And no-one gives a damn...
Hear her crying.
Afrika is dying,
There's a noose around her neck,
And no-one gives a heck,
It's slowly tightening.
If you're listening baby,
You'd better run as fast as you can,
Because she's dying,
And no-one gives a damn.
Hear her crying.' - James Phillips
Damn. Updates at the bottom of this.
"Maybe It Was Injuns."
A long day... very early in the morning, and already in the car, winding my way t'wrds Jozi, to shoot the leads of Footskating 101 for blunt Magazine. God knows how or why we eventually wound up as we did, wired and subconsciously re-enacting a Coen Brothers classic in a faux forest in Bryanston... maye it was injuns. What you see here is a quieter moment from the shoot... to see more, you are going to have to grab hold of the next issue, on shelves August 20th. Rob van Vuuren (knees) had just gotten back from holiday, and Brendan Jack (cop jacket) was hard at work in a sound studio adding final touches to the film, which is set for a 14 September release date. Like Crazy Monkey before it, Footskating is already cult fodder on MTV and I am keen to see it on the big screen. I caught a trailer the other day, and I see my favourite line from the previous film is referenced... (I actually meant to ask you about the "Stop frowing me wif couscous", Brendan.)Speaking of referencing films, I was stoked to find Brendan enjoys classic cinema and obscure Wings songs almost as much as I do... after the initial portraits were shot, the guys, myself and Craig and Yusuf of blunt headed into "the wilderness" of Bryanston and began riffing. We eventually found our way to Miller's Crossing, as Rob and Brendan got all method on me and proceeded to deliver take after take after take for the camera; I think there is a video of it somewhere. Regardless, I was loving it. I owe it to Craig McKune, now blunt's editor, for taking a gamble and steering the whole "cover shoot" thing in a different direction. To see how it all pans out, scan the shelves for Brendan's mug come late August... and for things concerning this blog, check here (at the bottom) for updates.Later.
Appeared With A Trace.
My copy of Trace Magazine arrived today, a weird coincidence. I was uncertain of what I was seeing online, but I had a hunch that I knew the screaming mouth, shown on the contributors page, to the left. There was little more that I could see on the low-res version, but when the magazine finally arrived, not only was I on the page (as usual, talking more than anyone else) but it was confirmed that the mouth belonged to Lolo... or rather, Nontsikelelo Veleko, a photographer I had met years ago in Johannesburg. What made it all the more interesting was that she was just about to hold her first solo exhibition, Mute!Scream!Mute!, opening Thursday July 19th at the Goodman Gallery... three weeks to the day after my first solo in Jozi at the Rooke. Small world.
Anyway, here's the text that ran on me in the contributor's section; strange how with so much having happened since January, and a radical reworking of my views on art and the idea of a "document" having taken place since my exhibition, that so much of this still holds true... windgat as some of it may be. Blame it on Supersonic:
'Photographer, proud dad and java-lover Liam Lynch shot this month's feature on South African musician, Vusi Mahlasela. The former journalism and political science major found his calling while documenting student riots and racial clashes on campus at Technikon Pretoria, South Africa. Since then, Liam has turned more towards documentary photography, not just as a career, but also as a way of understanding the world around him, and expressing himself in relation to it. An avid writer, he prefers the title "storyteller" to artist. His work has appeared in South Africa GQ, Marie Claire and Time. Catch his musings on music and life at: liamlynchphotographer.blogspot.com.
What path led to your current work?: I did a variety of socio-documentary work while working as assistant to Omar Badsha, a South African legend in the field. For all the social issues I dealt with, it was my music work that caused him to point out that I was getting something that other's couldn't. Feeling validated, I took it from passion to obsession.
Where do you find inspiration?: South African photographers like John Hogg, whose photographs first made me realize that "ideal images" of music could be made here. Journalists like Rebecca Kahn, whose love for South African music is a driving force, not least of which is seeing her cry while Vusi Mahlasela headlines Oppikoppi [music festival]... but South African music will do that to you.
Style is... owning it, whether its what you wear or what you do, whether its created, borrowed or stolen; making it so "you", it can never be anyone else's. Like an [Annie] Liebovitz homage or the Gallagher brothers from Oasis. That's style.' - Trace Magazine
Oh, and remember, updates are to be found at the bottom of this post.
Monday Morning You Look So Fine: Fokofpolisiekar.
Anyone who knows my work had to know this was coming; no way was I going to regularly post lyrics and not include something by this band, more particularly the words of a writer I greatly admire, Hunter Kennedy. The image springs to mind of late as I have been regularly talking about it, and revealing personal meaning and details of it to an audience at the Rooke Gallery, where I conducted "artist's walk-throughs" this Wednesday and Saturday last. It is certainly my favourite (and most cryptic) photograph from my current exhibition Open To Misinterpretation. Its one thing to tell you what it means to me, and another to write it... I'll leave it to the lyrics, from the song Vir Altyd 07 November, off the Swanesang album. They have significance, as the photograph was made on that very day, the 7th of November. Hunter and I were in London, the band was on tour, and I had no idea of the date or the significance... the photograph has grown in meaning in retrospect, thanks to digital details and a late morning conversation in February of this year with singer Francois Van Coke (revealing to me the greater personal significance the words have to Hunter). Hunter and I wanted to get away that day (or just see the Tate Modern?) and we hit the tube and headed for St. Paul's Cathedral, where we met up with with Wilhelm (to Hunter's right in the photo) and crossed the Millennium Bridge... click:
'Als van jou wat in my gis
Gee my hoendervleis
As dit November is.
Dis al wat ek wil se,
Dis al wat ek kan se.' - Fokofpolisiekar
I will say no more to describe it... I have perhaps been reading too much lately, and have become fascinated with the words of Luc Delahaye: "The more you explain yourself, the less you are understood." Let the viewer convey his own meaning, perhaps? One description I am happy to leave it with is a brief online crit by Mike MacGarry of All Theory No Practice... just because I love that he saw what I love about it, without me having to "sell" it. I admire Mike's mind and views and have since the time of a drunken conversation at some god-awful hour of the morning, in a Wimpy off Empire Road, when he tore documentary photography a new arsehole. Respect. Seeing as his comment was made on a colour version of the image, I have included that here also.:
'I really enjoy the off-kilter symmetry in this composition, as well as the obstruction of my expectations on what view I might or could be looking at if only the photo were taken a bit earlier and concrete were out of the way. Luckily it isn't and like the figure on the right I'm straining to look over the grey band one last time at St. Paul's in the distance before heading off somewhere else and the city closes up again. The words 'iconic' just creeping into frame like the cartoon figure of Killjoy efficiently sum up the experience. A great image.' - Mike MacGarry.
Remember further blog updates can be found at the bottom of this post... they still continue.
Monday Morning You Look So Fine: Savuka.
Oh shit... it happened again. Took forever to update. Hopefully that'll change, now that I have finally finished with work I have been concentrating on since December last year... the last aspect of that was emailed off just before 9 this morning; more on that later. For now, you can check back to this post regularly for updates from January onwards... no kidding. Its been that long.
In the meantime, I am adding a little bit of structure; Monday mornings are a time I need to crank the iTunes up full and make sure there's a full pot of coffee in the ol' Russell Hobbs. It can be hard to get the week started. So I'll be posting lyrics that help me do so and where possible, I'll add photos to the mix (no prizes for guessing where the post's title comes from though, hey Paul?)
'They said I should learn to speak a little bit of English,
Don't be scared of a suit and tie.
Learn to walk in the dreams of the foreigner.
I am a Third World Child.' - Savuka
One of my favourite songs by Johnny Clegg, in English, that is. And the most powerful part of it, for people who know it. The photograph is from his performance at OppiAarde, in Potch last year. He owned that stage... as he only allows photographers to shoot for one song, I thought it was a loss; but he started with an extended medley, and really delivered. I have never never seen a musician open up like that for the first song... and this at the age of 53! The man is a legend.
Unseen ads and a day with the lads...
OTM Press: Bluntmag.co.za
A Journey with Fokofpolisiekar
The Rooke Gallery. Newtown Johannesburg. June 28.
By Sydelle Smith
The endless queue cramming to enter Liam Lynch's first public exhibition - documenting the life and time of the legendary Afrikaans band Fokofpolisiekar - was a good measure of how many people admire his work and have a strong relationship with his subject. On a mid-wintery cold Jo'burg evening, the queue snaked its way around the Rooke Gallery - a newly renovated happening spot in Newtown.
The gallery walls, still redolent with the smell of new paint, gave the bold black and white images a stark and clear background space. Fokofpolisiekar, with their controversial name in a country with one of the highest murder rates in the world, exploded onto the airwaves shocking and igniting the youth from 2003 to 2006. Proudly, they claim the title of being the first Afrikaans punk band to be played on nationwide radio stations.
Talking to Liam about his work, it is apparent he has a deep passion for the counter culture the band represents, a passion one sees clearly reflected and engrained in his documentary approach to photography, driven by his urge to tell a stories as they are. The photographs capture the unique energy of this bold group of musicians who weren't afraid to push limits or stir the pot, especially amongst their own Afrikaans compatriots. With daring lyrics like "Can someone get God on the phone and tell him he is not needed anymore," Lynch capture the ironies of their messages in provocative poses. In one, band members hold Christian crucifixes; in another an injured drummer lies in his hospital bed with a cigarette dangling from his mouth. These are personal moments that could only ever be captured on camera by a close friend. A friend who has followed and documented the journey of a moving statement that shook up the stage wherever the band has traveled and played together.
Lynch may have made more careful selection of the work exhibited to avoid repetition in the theme and poses of some of the photographs. Not all of them held as rich visual meaning as others. Most striking were pictures of live shows that captured a vibrant and real perspective of the frenzied crowd dynamically interacting with the band on stage - chaos and the mayhem, all about.
A group of images in particular held my attention - The Tuks FM New Year's Eve party in Pretoria: one of the last gigs the band would play together. Interesting moments on the road in Belgium, the Netherlands and London show five young guys having a rocking time as they expose Europeans to a new African sound, in a sister-tongue of Flemish or Dutch. Other images that portray the legend that Fokofpolisiekar will no doubt come to be, are of silhouetted band members caught in mid air, legs outstretched; immersed in smoke and sweat, beautifully portraying an intense passion and rage emitting from the stage.
Band photographers such as Liam are gifted with a powerful weapon, being able to blend into the background of a lifestyle of shows, parties, recording studios and bad road food. A musician himself, formerly with The Slashdogs, Liam's eye is fine-tuned. He has successfully captured the rise and the fall of a unique Afrikaans band that shook the nation with its lyrics and daring questions, commentating on social and political issues that the post-apartheid generation of Afrikaans South Africans has had to deal with.
Lynch's camera and fine artistic eye has given us a well-chronicled visual document portraying critical iconic moments of a band that did more than just get a crowd moving to catchy lyrics. Fokof managed to break all the boundaries in the realm of the music of the youth in this country. More than just a wall of beautifully constructed black and white images hung on a newly painted wall in a gallery of the regenerated Newtown precinct, Lynch's body of work stands as evidence that the Afrikaans Music Revolt has irrevocably arrived.
Original article to be found here.