Bring Your Party Faceby Mahala High Five Brigade / 09.05.2013
Experiencing BFG live is a trip, a vertically-aligned space odyssey of fractured electro stabs and high-energy rap frenzy. So when we decided to have a sit-down with lead rapper Bra Sol to riff about the inner-workings of the three-man collective he is a part of in the lead-up to their Puma Social Club appearance this Friday, we were rest-assured to get some informed, positive engagement, fused with a heavy dose of tongue-in-cheek references to everything a Durbanite might be familiar with… and more. Read on to find out about their origins, the collaborative nature of their music, and the inspiration behind their current project.
MAHALA: Please give us a brief intro, who is BFG and what is the collective about?
Bra Sol: @bigfkngun is a creative outfit from DBN represented formally by @Bra_Sol and @Soulfaktor. There are a few people outside the musical sphere who share our vision. @bigfkngun is about taking matters into your own hands as a South African, and African youth in whatever your dreams are. We live by the modus operandi “make it happen” which sounds cheesy but it is the core of the group, because if you don’t take your dreams into your hands then no one will do it for you.
You’ve got a debut EP out, Pop Models. Why the name? Is it a play on those Pop Bottles parties?
No it has nothing to do with the parties. It’s actually a play on the sentiment of creating new models for Popular music. The songs are demonstrating / modeling a new way to approach pop music and offering a fresh outlook on things.
What’s in a name? Why Big Fkn Gun? Is it some gangster shit? Are you guys video gamers? What does it say about the band, music, etc.?
On our tumblr, http://bigfkngun.tumblr.com/ we have a self-made quote and I hope it answers your question: “THE BIGGEST GUN IS THE ONE INSIDE YOUR GREY MATTER”
What challenges did you have to overcome while recording the project?
None really, we recorded some tracks in a pantry in @Bra_Sol’s kitchen so…
The only thing which posed a bit of a challenge is making the EP sound as one coherent sonic party. But I think we overcame that over time. We essentially had a 2 year gestation period making this happen.
BFG have a strong visual identity. Firstly, why the strong focus on the visual element? Secondly, how did the collaboration with Sindiso Nyoni come about?
I don’t know if it’s deliberate. I guess we all come from a communication background having worked in advertising. Sindiso was briefed on the visuals but he is also a big part of the group, as a brother and friend. The collaboration came easy cause he liked the music. It wasn’t like we briefed anyone who didn’t know anything about what we’re doing. I guess you could say he speaks in visuals what we can’t articulate with sound.
You recently embarked on a series of tours in support of the project? How were you received in other cities? Is there potential for a sustainable touring circuit that you foresee throughout South Africa?
The response was great, but there’s a lot of work to do. It’s important to know your following so the tour I think helped us find pockets we can revisit and engage both from a response and our own performance point of view. It was refreshing to know that there are some places and people we didn’t even think would like the music who actually gave us a good response. It goes to show that the language of music can cross any borders, regardless of what language a person might speak. There’s a lot we can still do to create those touring circuits and with the work done by some of our favourite artists like Spoek and Dirty Paraffin, I think it’s opening up more.
How do you describe your sound?
We call it Kick Bhoboza… But then again, when you’re sweating blood on the dance-floor do you stop to think what genre the music/sound is?
You’ve got quite a futuristic but laid-back style, there are elements of both mzansi house and R&B in amongst the hip hop. How does your creative process work?
It’s pretty organic, we don’t ever set out to make a song that embodies any specific elements. Not to box us, but @Soulfaktor, the Chief Producer is a House, SA Jazz & R&B fundi, and I’m more into Radiohead, Bon Iver, Pink Floyd and Jimi Hendrix. @Bra_Sol has more of a hip hop influence, so we make music having all of these influences in our bloodstream. I’m pretty sure it doesn’t come out that way, but I don’t think we intend to emulate our musical heroes. We also don’t want to be too conceptual in the music and lose the soul, cause that’s an important part of connecting with people.
What do you make of the term Afro-Futurism?
Not sure exactly what that means to us, maybe some people latch onto it, but we can’t exactly latch onto something we can’t define. Our take is that of polychromatic time, which is to say the future and the past are intertwined, that’s why you can find elements of the future in the past and vice versa
How do you respond to the term ‘black hipster’?
Another term we can’t latch onto…
As inspiration do you pull more from Waddy Jones or Kool Keith?
I mean those guys are great and we love them, but our musical styles are so different that I wouldn’t see a link
Kanye West / Hugh Masekela
Who would you say is the godfather of this Afro-Futuristic vibe you’re pushing?
I’m not sure if we are pushing an Afro-Futurist vibe as mentioned before, I don’t actually know what that means in the bigger scheme of things. We are pushing being ourselves in the face of fear though in more ways than one. Fear is a motherfucker. There are many people who have had a similar outlook so there is no real father to that. I guess we stand on the shoulders of giants like Hugh Masekela, Caiphus Semenya, Prince, Afrika Bambaataa, Fela Kuti, Senyaka, and countless others
What are you trying to achieve with the BFG project? Where does it end?
We’re just trying to reach out to the world and say, hey SA’s got some sick shit. There are kids in SA who haven’t even been discovered yet and it’s exciting to even know that. It will determine its own ending, but as the saying goes “Energy doesn’t die, it transforms”
What’s more important the message or getting people moving on the dance floor?
I think vibration is the most important thing because it forces you to move. It may come in the form of words or sounds. The movement might be physical or otherwise, what counts is that there is an energy within SA youth that says you can actually be different and familiar at the same time. You can vibrate to the rhythm of your own greatness. You don’t need anyone to tell you what you can and cannot do. That’s important.
A lot of your shit is very provocative, from the name Big Fkn Gun to Pop Models and the track Wunga… is that simply attention grabbing pop music shit, or is there a controlled message and plan behind it? If so what is it? Explain it for us.
Big Fkn Gun – We have been told that we are a violent nation and know nothing else but that. But when you look closer, you find people, beautiful thinking people with our own personas and textures and colours and set of values and principles… We live in boxes, behind fences, in shacks, the middle class, everyone. Each of us have been told to stay where the fuck we are and not challenge anything, but we all have brains to think for ourselves. Use your BIG FKN GUN to blast all these boxes and stereotypes out the frame and fly with us. It’s a journey, no-one knows where it’ll end up, but the shit’s exciting as hell.
As I said, Pop Models has a play on creating new shit. Who knows it might be the next shit in your radio station, it might not even make it to radio cause we’re too broke to pay the gate-keeper, or maybe the station manager thinks the shit is confusing (as told before), or it might catch the youth’s vital nerve and BOOOM, who knows. So if that is provocative, then sure. It was never intentional anyway.
Wunga – I don’t have to tell you how this make-shift drug has gripped some SA youth. The song, speaks for itself. Sort of like a mirror, saying hey, we’ve got a problem Houston, but plays out like a dance-floor stalker anthem, get’s you in the vibe, then before you know it, you’re falling, tripping in a twilight zone, you have no way of getting out, you’re a junkie. I mean listen to the song…
What other music-related projects can people look forward to from the collective?
There are some videos coming out in the next coming months so look out for that.
Tell us about the ‘golden era of Durban rap’ in the early 2000s.
it was a training ground. A musical Boot-camp. The greatest thing that came out of that era is Manelis – A Linguistic Genius whom we worship.
You guys are all about pursuing new horizons, but how do you actually achieve that?
I’d say we’re pursuing self-realization. Bruce Lee once said every form of knowledge is ultimately self-knowledge.” For us, knowing that you can be the greatest at what you’re doing is the goal at the end of the day, which is why we’re constantly pushing ourselves, even when it hurts to be the greatest song-writers, composers, arrangers, performers, fathers, visionaries, self-creators, listeners, etc
What is Room Number 3?
It’s where BFG lives, a room with no ceilings. Our website, headquarters in the cloud. The concept came about when we realized that the number 3 played itself out in a lot of what we are doing. There were originally 5 official members to the group and now we are three. The name BFG has 3 letters. Each of the words BIG FKN GUN have 3 letters. The number 3 comes across in almost everything we do. So we decided to call our website roomnumber3.com instead of using our name.
When can we expect an album?
We have an EP that we’re not yet tired of
What should party-goers expect during your set at the Puma Social Club on Friday?