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Inge Beckmann

Spiritual Syphilis

by Max Barashenkov / 07.10.2010

Back in July we sent Max Barashenkov to review Inge Beckmann’s offbeat acoustic show at the Mercury. He was less than impressed and wondered very publicly whether she was popular due to her musical abilities or her sexual attractiveness. I paraphrase loosely, the exact Barashenkov terminology was a lot more direct and confrontational. A shit storm raged on the comment boards below the story. Invariably, it seemed like a good idea to send the Russian to interview the Angel, and see if his sharp opinions could withstand the the full frontal scrutiny of an Inge Beckmann interview, face to face.

Inge Beckmann: So you guys are using me again?

Max: Hey, hey, hey. I wouldn’t say that. Do you still feel that we used you?

Well not “we”, you!

In what way?

Why did you write such a harsh review about me?

Because I thought the show wasn’t good and I thought you could do a fuckload better…

When you say that it’s not good are you saying that I couldn’t sing properly? That the arrangement was shit? Baring in mind that it was an acoustic set.

I wasn’t critiquing the sound. If you’re gonna do an acoustic intimate show, the artist needs to project some soul and connect with the audience. I thought your performance was bland. The audience wasn’t there to receive anything intimate from you. You could see it was just a hip crowd.

I know that it was different to anything else I’ve done. But to say that I was self-absorbed and can’t sing…come on dude! You can’t tell me I can’t sing. If somebody put a gun to my head and said, “sing for your life!” I’d probably be able to kick out a number and walk away.

It didn’t sound good to me that night.

It’s good that we meet actually. What about the Kool-Aid stuff? If you know me, you know I don’t give a fuck about that shit.

I don’t know you!

You were very mean. For no reason.

I was mean but I’m a mean writer.

I didn’t know about your style. I never really went on Mahala… I mean I go on Mahala now!

Well I did something then.

You definitely did something. It’s certainly refreshing.

My whole thing is bring some fucking balls back to writing. Everyone’s so nice. Ooh you’re a South African band we’ll pat you on the back for that. We’ll give you six out of ten just for being South African.

I totally agree with that, but the reason why you may have been criticized for your review is that I don’t suck. I’m pretty good at what I do. I think people were like – if you have a problem with the general level or value of local music, I’m the last person you would kick around. I’m not average by any means. If you wanna say that then say that about some chick that sounds like everyone else.

I never said you were mediocre.

I know. Anyway. I don’t really have a problem with you. But some guy commented about me being a “pretentious cunt”. That disturbed me a hell of a lot.

You must take those Mahala comments with a kilogram of salt.

It makes me feel like why am I performing for these people?

Inge Beckmann image © Ashraf Hendricks

Why are you performing? Why do you play music? Why do you care?

You know why? I kind of forgot that I could sing. I was in the choir at school and stopped. Then in my early twenties I started listening to really old blues and jazz records and I remember studying these guys and singing along. And remembered “hey I really like singing!” I never envisioned starting a band. Even when Lark formed – myself and Paul- we just got together one night. Musically! And made this fucking rad track called “Black Swan”. Then we’d get together every Sunday, make music and have Chinese take out. Then it just kind of ballooned into this thing. Lark had that special edge. But our achievement is definitely not financial! We opened something up. People’s perceptions.

Well that’s why I was disappointed about the show. I was expecting a similar feeling of something new and different. Anyway you mentioned not making much money out of Lark. The local scene is too small to support acts unless you go the Parlotones route. Do you survive solely off music?

No. I do commercials. I’m the girl walking down the street selling German butter! But you know why SA bands compromise their sound? It has nothing to do with the music. It has to do with the fact that people find it hard to leave. I’ve even got a weird kind of toxic relationship with SA. So they’re trying to get something out of this system that doesn’t work. They try and make it work but they all hit the same glass ceiling.

I don’t know, I don’t think you have to leave. The whole point is to get as many people to listen to your shit as possible. I’m just pissed off there are no good bands for me to watch. Okay have you ever watched a band and gone “yeah that dude’s hot I’d dig to fuck him?”

Sure I have. But people have come up to me and said you probably get a lot of attention from guys and girls. I’ve never ever taken someone home. I’ve almost always been in relationships.

It relates to what I wrote about wondering what you’re like in bed.

I wasn’t offended by that. You probably weren’t thinking that. You just wrote it to get a reaction.

No, I was thinking that by the end!

But I wasn’t doing anything overtly sexual.

To say that your sexuality is not a part of your act would be stupid.

Yeah but it’s definitely not something I ride on. It’s something that comes along with me. Like a tail.

In the market that you swim in, the slightly arty crowd, your non-overt sexuality actually works even more.

The only issue I have with that is when people say it’s the only thing I have going for me because that just smacks of like bitter jealousy.

A lot of feminists had a hissy fit about what I wrote.

But quite a lot of guys had problems with that too.

It may have been too rough of an examination of your sexuality I admit. But that whole “we’re just musicians we don’t want to be looked at as women” just doesn’t make sense to me.

I think it’s because throughout history it’s been quite tough on women. To be taken seriously, to be heard. To be considered as a person. I’m not a staunch feminist. But violence against women and children in this country is appalling. Also, sadly, modern women are kind of turning into freaks. They overcompensate completely. In business especially. If the whole system could just become feminine-brained as opposed to a woman having to adopt a man’s way of thinking, that would be progress. Instead your tits have to be a certain size and you have to look a certain way. And, oh God, if you’re thirty your life’s over. Women more than men buy into it.

It’s funny to me that the lion’s share of the global music industry is male artists consumed by 15 year old girls. They buy it for sexuality not for their music. Nobody says anything about that.

Look at Robert Patterson, that guy from Twilight. He’s completely fucked. Okay you’re good looking – now that’s his box. Completely. Or Johnny Depp in 21 Jump Street. He just said “fuck that I’m not gonna do that.” And that’s why he’s got so much dignity. I never look at Johnny Depp for one second and go I’d like to – you know – not at all, because he’s refused to put himself in that box. Pretty boys fall into that category and then try desperately to claw their way out and they can’t. It’s just like music – if you’re this young good-looking dude you have to make gay music to have little girls buying your albums.

Inge Beckmann image © Ashraf Hendricks.

Tell us about Sweetheart – the movie you’re in.

It’s kind of like a retro sci-fi about motherhood in a way. I call it the ‘domestic trap’ – without sounding bitter or spinstery. It’s social conditioning to the max – excuse the pun. Before the age of thirty women feel like they have to find a husband and have babies because if you don’t have babies what are you, you know? It’s like rabbits. They’re designed to breed and if they don’t breed they get cancer and they die! Being a mother is an awesome thing and it’s hardcore. You’ve got this little imp with you for the rest of your life! Women fall into that and one day they wake up and say “Oh my God I’m fat and I don’t have a life – what happened to me?!” Similarly with men I suppose. You become these providers but you’re rubbish at it because your daddy was rubbish at it. Breeders pass on a kind of spiritual syphilis. Things are never dealt with. You’re just passing on germs.

So will you have kids at some point?

I’ve already been asked why I don’t have kids because I’m turning the Christ age this year (33). There’s a baby boom going on. I’m learning a lot from people who are doing it first. I think I’d be a fucking awesome mother. I know I would. But genes stick. You can’t do much about your blueprint. I need a good enough reason to have a child. There’s something called the Voluntary Human Extinction movement! They’re pro-adoption. The planet is already over-populated. If you like kids go work in a fucking orphanage. Where you can make a massive difference.

We’re all gonna fucking die anyway.

What’s your stance on religion? Do you believe in anything?

I was religious when I was younger. I’ve always been spiritually very hungry. Obviously coming from an Afrikaans home the first institution I was exposed to was the Dutch Reformed Kerk. Then I went to Sunday school. I remember praying in my room once when I was like ten. Praying like “Ek is nou moeg vir die Sondag Skool! God ek wil jou voel. Kom aan man. Throw me a bone!”

And then what happened?

Nothing. But I joined a church later and I felt like a pork chop in a synagogue. Not at one with this at all. Currently my religion is I go purely on what I can feel is right and what I can feel is wrong. You know when you’re being a dick.

What do you think happens when you die?

I have a friend from a hectic Catholic background and she always goes “Fades to black! Fades to black!” I don’t know dude. I really don’t think there’s a heaven. I’d like to just have a lucid dream. I love dreaming. I walked through a wall the other night.

So what do you sing about?

The writing has always been like ataxia. That process. You don’t think. You just write. And a theme will develop out of that. With the solo stuff, that’s more about what I consciously want to say. Somebody broke into my apartment recently and stole my laptop. It had all my stuff on there. So the stuff you heard at Mercury was like an inch of the solo stuff because I had to strip everything down. That’s why it might have sounded quite barren. I’ve slowly started building it up again.

I was expecting to be let into your house and be poisoned or stabbed. People told me I’d be stabbed.

I’m sure they’re all sitting like little monkeys waiting for the feedback. Shame they’ll be so disappointed.

So what’s next for Inge Beckmann as an artiste?

I’m doing an Afrikaans horror feature. A horror comedy vampire thing. And I’m the slayer bitch called Lizelle De La Rey!

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  1. justice says:

    I like the way that Inge interviewed/interrogated Max just as much as he eventually got to question her. And the verdict is now out, she was offended by his remarks about her sexuality – but he doesn’t have the balls or the grace to apologise. Wimp.

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  2. Anonymous says:

    Max doesn’t have to apologise – he defends himself perfectly in this interview. In fact, I’m wholly sympathetic to his original angle – he shows up the double-standard hypersensitive attitude to music consumption, and also underscores this with a brilliant point about non-overt sexuality still animating non-mainstream music.

    Great interview.

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  3. Mick says:

    Wow. How simple an equation for good reading. Two sentient beings yakking a good yack. Great interview, and damn what a sexy mind Mz Beckmann wields.

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  4. James Bondage says:

    I think the big problem with Mahala is the pretentious bullshit found in the comments, not in the articles. But that’s what brings people back. Keeps them reading. Similar to how I see the crowd as opposed to the band sometimes…

    I was at the acoustic gig. I didn’t think Inge was terrible, but that coked up hipster Kloof street rubbish called a fan base was, get over yourselves. You’re not the first graphic designer / illustrator / person to have read [insert generic classic literature here].

    Musicians draw from the crowd as much as the crowd draws from the musician. A bad crowd can turn the best of bands into the worst. You’re shy. Self-aware. Uncomfortable. It’s not fun.

    Works the other way around too…with the right crowd the most mediocre crap excels… I don’t want to go pointing fingers and starting flame wars but look at the fading “indie” scene in Cape Town.

    Throw on a pair of skinnies, grow a moustache, wear something you found in your grandparents cupboard and play absolute shit and you’re the next big thing. That is the most beige nonsense I’ve ever experienced. At least bands like the Lottery Tickets from Somerset West focus more on the music than the look.

    I’m not saying Inge was uncomfortable. But that might be the energy that Max felt. Maybe not. Maybe he was grumpy because I beat him at beer.

    Oh fuck you Cape Town, God bless the suburbs.

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  5. Bryan says:

    What the fuck is the point of this? To create a stir, then rehash it with a stupid interview with dumb questions like “will you have kids at some point”, just smacks of some kind of bullshit tabloid tactic you see in The Sun.

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  6. engel naaier says:

    ag klomp kak Bryan… i’m glad he had the guts to actually sit down in front of her and confront the things he said. “instead wondering what Inge Beckmann would be like in bed. Would she be gentle, ethereal like her voice? Or would she fuck like an animal,” Kudos to Mahala for forcing journos to confront the uncomfortable silences they create and justify themselves and their opinions. This is the real deal here

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  7. Bryan says:

    Ya, Engel Naaier, I can’t tell you how many sleepless nights I had over the original article, worrying about what Inge thought.

    This is all very contrived.

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  8. isolation says:

    Credit to Max and Inge. If you cant justify what you write and stand by it there is no point in saying it and if you cant take criticism as an artist, you are not worth a damn. I thought Max’s original review pushed things to far, but that’s “just my opinion man” and he had a right to speak his mind. I am glad Inge agreed to meet him again for this interview and interrogate his motives. Well done Mahala, now if only your readers (not all of them obviously) could show the same level of maturity, but then again that might like wishing for world peace!

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  9. Bob says:

    Don’t like it?
    Fuck off.
    I enjoyed it, so I’ll still be reading Mahala tomorrow.

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  10. Andy says:

    Isolation… ever heard of a vocal minority?

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  11. justice says:

    This sorry situation is symptomatic of our current generation’s over-exposure to sexual posturing in the media, to the point that there’s a kneejerk assumption on the part of less literate and mature consumers (yes, that means you Max) that an attractive woman who presents an honest and soulful front to the world must be trading in on her sexuality by default. Inge Beckmann is not Madonna or L’il Kim. She dresses stylishly and does not resort to crotch-antics or pseudo-orgasmic behavior during performance. If less evolved little boys feel curiously aroused by her vocal inflections or lithe moves, then that is entirely their problem. These hormonally challenged onlookers would do better to practice a little introspection and to speculate publicly on their own sexualities if they see fit. To transpose their maludjusted response towards the name and reputation of a well respected artist is just plain rude and inappropriate. Call me old fashioned if you like, but in my world such levels of basic respect still count for something.

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  12. Lorien Bolus says:

    Aah Maxine my buddy.
    REALLY enjoyed you and Inge having a little banter. Like real human beings.
    All this hype is bullshit.
    I really feel like I got to know Inge a bit better. Like a window into her complex mind.

    Thanks a shitload to both you cats.

    More of this please.

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  13. HollowAxis says:

    I like this writer. I agree with his point of view. Why do we reward mediocrity in this country? There is lots of really terrible and sub-par south African music praised merely because it is south African. If it isn’t good enough (And this is the case very very often) then we should say.

    Rewarding mediocre performers gives us things like the parlotones etc. Bands that are not up to any sort of realistic worldwide standard that still make a living somehow.

    The industry in this country needs some honesty, and a hard look at what it is producing, praising and why.

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  14. Anonymous says:

    First time I heard Lark was like a music explosion in my ears and I was grateful that someone could tap into creating something so ‘full’. People that can create something like that must be aware of a great inner source of creativity that most of us can only dream about. Sadly it makes people greedy and they expect the musician to give them that at any given moment. Like anything, music grows and evolves with the person. So what if one acoustic session didn’t bring the same feeling of pleasure as the last? Great if someone stirs the pot but think a bit what it does to the person at the receiving end. Good on you to go back and have a ‘patch up’ interview but consider yourself as just another tabloid writer from now on. Sadly you did it to yourself.

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  15. Amy says:

    GREAT interview. And even though I agree with Inge, I would f–k Johnny Depp!!!

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  16. Anonymous says:

    No, Amy. Johnny Depp would fuck you.

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  17. Johnny Depp says:

    Inge, call me.

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  18. Ian says:

    I managed to get an interview with Lark last year and remember being nervous about Inge, who often does seem a little stuck up on stage, but I was pleased to discover she (and her band mates) is actually very down-to-earth and most friendly, just with a lot of balls.

    I have also found her solo stuff incredibly disappointing and would not hesitate to tell her so, so I’m glad Max didn’t buckle under pressure and I think in the end she probably respected him a lot more for it.

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  19. Katoey says:

    Nice one; lucid and engaged. More please

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  20. hey everyone, says:


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  21. derek says:

    An awesome read. It does feels like 2 different interviews tho. The first half is a superb power struggle (sexual tension anyone?) but the 2nd half felt like it was just to win back a bit of favor with her. Regardless it’s an excellent interview.

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  22. Lizzy says:

    found the discussion on breeding and kids pretty interesting. maybe because it was the least trivial part of the interview, or perhaps just because i’m old and can relate…

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  23. rob says:

    this is a fun interview, but max, it’s “bearing in mind” not “baring in mind”. 😉

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  24. Max says:

    oh rob, you stickler. blame my editors for any grammatical errors. and for the sensational lead 😀

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  25. brandon edmonds says:

    oh its like that you ungrateful little turd eater…

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  26. Max says:

    aw edmonds, u know i joke. this wouldn’t be up if it weren’t for my editors. so when are we picking u up to go to Daisies?

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  27. JKG says:

    Breeders pass on a kind of spiritual syphilis – Love that line! Too true!

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  28. Brett says:

    Inge was in Sindle Sekt right? I liked them. So random watching them with all the metal bands.

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  29. josh says:

    @Brett: haha, yeah i remember spindle sekt. They were interesting- the K in ‘sekt’ is the most new-metal thing ever tho. always pissed me off.

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  30. why? says:

    was never a ‘k’ always a ‘c’.

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  31. tim lester says:

    I also walk through walls when I sleep 🙂
    but I enjoy flying around my neighborhood more . .

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  32. Anonymous says:

    ‘I know I am not shit. I can sing. I am good. I am not pretentious’.

    I know I am good at some things too, but to say so, and blatantly, would make me pretentious, surely?
    I suppose a point felt like it needed to be defended. I dont think Max ever claimed in the original article that Inge was kak, just that the performance he reviewed lacked luster.

    Also: dont you midgits who give max shit for his overtly sexual commentary accept that your very reaction justifies it, that the comment itself was commentary, that he handled the topic in a much better and thoughtful way than our friends at LMG whose response to the article involved a whole issue pretty much dedicated to the cause, with fold out pictures of hot SA performers, a completely unvieled but stupid attack on Max (how petty) and pretended to be all understanding of the female performer (when we all know those ole horndogs would break off any piece they could get) and in the same magazine, have a giant advert for the shack with just boobs on it.

    Well played.

    Also, lets not assume this was the full extent of the interview. I am sure a lot more was discussed, and this is an edited transcript of some of the more interesting topics discussed.

    By the way, that person who said, ‘I love how Inge turned the interview around and was the one grilling max’ is so damn cheesy as well.

    (and lets be honest here again: Lark was hardly an original band or sound. Maybe by SA standards, but they pretty much mimicked other international acts, and I’m sure Inge herself would know exactly what I mean. maybe her solo career offers an opportunity for more original work to be well recieved by a mass audience because of the platform lark provided. One can only hope so anyway).

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  33. IB says:

    anon: i wonder what you do for a living or what it is that you are really good at? do you doubt your skill? or can you stand in front of people and say. hey! i am the guy or girl for the job! i am good at this! if i sucked at singing but said i was great at it that would be pretentious. not the case. i believe in myself. sue me.

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  34. PC Guy says:

    Pretentious Cunts.

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  35. justice says:

    @Anonymous two comments up (try a more original pseudonym next time buddy). Just because a publication that indulges in hypocrisy also chooses to criticise Max for his sexism, this does not detract from the objectionability of his behavior. They’re one of several voices who can see beyond the veneer of coolness and to a far more troubling gender bias. If you want to critique the remarks and attitudes of others, please try something a bit more substantial – calling a remark “cheesy” is hardly insightful.

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  36. Anonymous says:

    Hmmm, a publication with no integrity that tries to sell some kind of moral high ground is rendered mute, yes. They are part of the very misplaced ideal that DRIVES the sexist tendancies in the music industry. They pander to trends. They react to them, they dont instigate them. they watch from the back of the bars and see what makes waves and then write about those waves as if they are on the cusp of them themselves. No bravery. Sticking to a formula. Staying safe. Too much opinion and not enough action.
    Max said what they wanted to say, the context of sexuality in music becoming more relevant the more crap the band sounds, till it’s mass fodder for people without any desire for depth beyond a pretty face. He managed to sum that up in a few lines, LMG had to dedicate a whole issue to it, and then failed too. People wh9o failed to see the implication of what he said and took it on a basic level are the very people being targetted by this anti-kak revolution that is so desperately required for our music scene to have any future associated with integrity or quality.

    But to take your personal attack further, Justice: To start, your very first comment was wrong. So was your second…
    You said she was offended by Maxs comments, but he is too much of a wimp to apologise.
    But, to remind you:
    “It relates to what I wrote about wondering what you’re like in bed.
    I wasn’t offended by that. You probably weren’t thinking that. You just wrote it to get a reaction.”

    And if your very first point is so obviously wrong, I dont see why I should bother forming better insults beyond the word ‘cheesy’ if you cant even take the time to read the article you’re giving opinions about.

    I called it cheesy cause it was an automatic response from an automatic position, and gave no creedence to the content of what was actually discussed. you browsed through it briefly and decided, typically, that ‘INGE ROCKS, MAX SUCKS’ as if those were the only two positions you could walk away with after reading this multi faceted and insightful article, within context of it’s ‘history’ of the situation, and you came up with that. Cheesy.

    So, if YOU want to critigue the remarks and comments of others, please try something more substantial.

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  37. Finn says:

    She’s probably the most talented artist this country has produced. Hail to the Queen I’d say…
    But she’ll find her support in the US of A.
    Hope she gets the fuck outta here…

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  38. sss says:

    “Ek is nou moeg vir die Sondag Skool! God ek wil jou voel. Kom aan man. ” — was ook al daar.

    Super on-mahala, ek weet, maar probeer Jan v Riebeeck laerskool, sondag oggende 9h30.

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  39. Anonymous says:

    My first thought when I see Inge on stage is SEX. She’s got the ‘it’ factor for me at least. It’s not her body or anything overtly sexual. Just the way she stands, sings, moves, it hits the right chords with me… my male brain instantly says “I’d like her to have my children”
    Now that isn’t a bad thing at all. Some woman think that about guys on stage or on movie screens too. It’s the eternal teenage fan factor. I’ve never had a conversation with her. Maybe if we were mates I’d feel different. But right now she is an object of desire, as well as an artist.. and that is a very powerful combination.

    I will definitely go and see Inge perform purely for this reason only, even if she is mediocre as a singer.
    So what I’m saying here is.. metrosexual Kloof street guys.. MAN UP and admit it. Unless of course you’re in a relationship then you might not allow yourself to feel the same way 😉

    However, Inge IS a good singer, worldclass in fact. She could perform in any city in the world and a good portion of the audience would be mesmerized.

    The best thing you can be is confident and believe in yourself. People are jealous and haters, try not let this kak get to you Ms Beckmann. I know it hurts a hell of a lot, but trust me the haters are probably on meth, pretentious, or know shit about life. Hard to get over and move on sometimes, but I know you will 🙂

    Stay strong, and come back to Durban 😉

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  40. James Bondage says:

    You love me. You really love me.

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  41. Don Dada says:

    first rule of intimate performances – DON’T DO IT AT MERCURY!

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  42. ARG says:

    This article smells like a pussy has been shat on.

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  43. Andy says:

    classy ARG

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  44. macedoner says:






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  45. macedoner says:


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