Freshly Ground, the South African Band

Freshlyground_BandYou would have to be living underneath a rock, especially if you are in Africa, if you have never heard of the wonderful, refreshing and amazing South African Band, Freshly Ground! Seven very diverse individuals in language, race and nationality come together to produce a truly multicultural cound that is “freshly ground.”Zolani Mahola is lead vocals; Simon Attwell handles flute, mbira and harmonica; Peter Cohen is on drums; Kyla Rose Smith is violinist extraordinaire and also vocals; Julio “Gugs” Sigauque is the go to man for acoustic guitar man; Josh Hawks handles bass guitar and vocals and last but not least is Aron Turest-Swartz who is the go to for keyboards, percussion and vocals.

FreshlyGround broke on the music scene in 2003 with their Freshman album “Jika-Jika.” However, it was not until 2005 that their biggest breakthrough came in the form of their sophomore album, “Nomvula.” In 2007, they released another album M’acheri and their single “Pot-belly” from M’acheri is getting major play across airwaves within and outside Africa. In 2005, the band was nominated for three South African Music Awards. In 2006, they became the first South African musical act to win MTV’s Europe Music Awards for “Best African Act.” The band have also been recently nominated and head to Nigeria today for the revamped Sound City Music Video Awards which they will headline with the American rapper, Nas.

Due to popular demand in the USA, the band recently signed with Sony BMG Africa and will be in New York late 2008 to wow their USA fans! Guess what? We are proud to be the first USA based publication to bring Freshly Ground directly to the Ladybrille readers in the USA. Yes, the band took time out to show some love and introduce themselves, just in case you never heard of them. Click here to see how to win a copy of their autographed CD; which we believe will sell like hotcakes when they soon introduce themselves to their American fans!
Doo Bee Zolani, beyond your beautiful voice, I love your style
sense. Do you collaborate with SA designers to dress you for the video shoots for your songs?
Well, we have not collaborated with a specific designer who has done all the shoots. It has all been relatively haphazard. . .However, for the most recent video –”Potbelly,” the designer Maya Prass dressed me and I have really found her clothes most suitable, especially for a round-figured girl like me. Let’s talk about your 2005 Nomvula release which had “Doo Bee” and “Nomvula” as hit songs. Could you tell us what Nomvula means and is all about? FreshlyGround: Nomvula tells a little bit of my [Zolani’s] life story. It is a tribute to my late mother and my father who raised me and my siblings. A brooding thank you song. “Pot Belly” from your latest release, M’acheri, is
receiving lots of play time. Tell us why you all decided to go with that song and the message you are trying to send across.
Freshly Ground:
We went with that song because we had played it to audiences before we released the album and we had an amazing response to it in the live arena. We hoped that it would follow that we would have a great response when people heard it on the radio and we weren’t disappointed. The message of the song is that we all have the capacity to love and be loved.

Kyla Rose Smith, Violinist [Kyla, what’s your view]?Is there collaboration with SA musicians and fashion designers for music video shoots?
We have not really been a part of any collaboration’s with fashion designers. It’s quite difficult to get one person’s fashion tastes to fit with seven individuals and their style. Obviously as musicians and performers we are always looking for interesting ways to style ourselves and dress up for stage but so far we have not received many offers from designers. How do you think that gap can be bridged to really amplify SA’s fashion and music industry? FreshlyGround: I think thats as artists we could be more open to all sorts of different collaboration, but also I think that over the past few years music and fashion are two very diverse and growing industries in South Africa. We even have some musicians who have their own fashion labels, like Zola. I think that an interesting way for musicians to bridge the gap with fashion designers is to collaborate on a designer label and put your own individual style in the eyes of the fashionista’s and also vice versa, for fashion designers to put their designs on the South African stages.
Pot Belly

Peter Cohen-Drummer [Peter], for our audience, who have never heard of you all, describe your music style and how Freshly Ground came about?
Freshly Ground:
Our music is quite hard to describe in terms of style as we have so many different influences. . . This is probably as a result of how we came together as well. It was a very organic process with very little planning. People often think we put this thing together with a lot of careful thought. This, however, is not the case and I would say the same about our style of music. Let’s just call it Freshlyground. . .that’s our style of music. You’ve got seven very diverse people in language, culture and race in one band yet the unison in voice and message come across in your music. How do you all make it work?
Freshly Ground:
[T]his is not an easy question to answer. . . I am not sure how we make it all work. What I do know is that it is working and this is what’s important. Fill us in on South Africa’s [SA’s] music scene. What is the current state of SA’s music industry?
Freshly Ground:
I think the music business around the world is in quite a state of flux regarding the issues of distribution and this filters through to SA as well. Having said this, I think there is a lot of amazing stuff starting to happen here in terms of content being created. . .There are a lot of bands and artists doing great things and getting a lot of recognition here and abroad: Simphiwe Dana, HHP, Love Jones, Harris Tweed e.t.c. Let’s talk about playing in the USA. When do you guys plan on making that a reality for your fans here?
Freshly Ground:
I am not sure when this will happen. Our calendar is very full at the moment but there is no USA. Maybe next year. . . oops! I lied! I just saw an entry that says we will be in New York in September. Whoo hoo! Awesome! We will be looking for you guys. Thanks guys and see you here soon! FreshlyGround: Thanks! We are working on it.


~Republished July 2nd 2009

Ladybrille Magazine

Founded in 2007, Ladybrille® Magazine is a California based pioneer digital publication demystifying the image of Africans in the west through contemporary African fashion and celebrating the brilliant woman in business and leadership, with an emphasis on the African woman in the diaspora. Our coverage includes stories on capital, access to markets, expertise, hiring and retention, sales, marketing, and promotions.

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