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Clash of the Titans

by Tumi Molekane & Jeremy de Tolly / 26.08.2009

By all accounts, Red Bull SoundClash was a riot. Here we get Tumi from the Volume and Jeremy from the Dirty Skirts to give us the blow by blow of how it all went down at the Carlton Skyrink.

And it’s about time we saw some innovation from promoters in the South African music industry. For too long they’ve left it all up to the musicians to bring the “new”. Taking the idea of an old school Jamaican sound clash, pitting two of Mzanzi’s finest acts against each other, getting them to cover each other’s songs, create and collaborate live is an innovation that was long over due.

The pre-match

Tumi: What meant to be a 15 minute, 3 song set turned out to be a 10 minute, 2 song set. The energy we started with was electric, light, cameras, passion. If it works at international rock festivals, surely it should work in S.A. It did. I felt like it hurt them that they played longer than us, people wanted the thing to start already.

Jeremy: Warm up felt good. It was funny to follow TATV – their warm up was tight and punchy. That said, we had some ‘dependables’ in the three tracks (Feeling the Pressure, Come Witches Bewitch Us, and Is this It?). Hooky, fast, and fun to perform, so I think we matched them here.

The Dirty Skirts

Round 1
The Cover Version
Spice Girls ‘Wannabe’

Tumi: We owned this song, completely. Even in rehearsals everyone in the venue thought we killed that cover. I changed the lyrics to a girl power anthem to write a very sordid macho, “I like big butts” track. You really need video for this. “If you want my future? You gotta have ass, big ole bazookas, hour glass, waist with more shape than a paragraph.” The skirts version was a great song, well structured but for the competition, it did not work. We won this round 1 point to us.

Jeremy: Hmm. We arrived at the Clash loving our cover version – a great reworking of the song. But the moment we heard theirs, we knew it was going to work better. Ours was quite musical, theirs kicked ass. We knew before the voting happened that we’d lost this round. Tumi’s lyrical humour was brilliant. 1-0 to TATV, Skirts a bit worried!

Round 2
The Takeover

Tumi: Here we had to start our song and have them take it over, and the same for us. Their version of ‘Floor’ was heavier than ours and was well crafted, great bridge section. Jeremy rapped as good as I sang. I would have given this round to us, close… but they took it. 1 point for them.

Jeremy: They took over ‘Homewrecker’ and it was… OK. I liked their interpretation, but the original has so much energy that theirs fell a bit flat. Tumi sang rather well, despite it not being his strong suit. Our interpretation of Floor was faster and harder, so that helped us a bit. I barely made it through my debut rap, mumbled in places, but we turned the song into a more delicate, more musical version in the second half. I wasn’t entirely convinced by either of us here… but I’d had to endure my own rapping, which was horrible.

DJ Kenzhero

Round 3
The Clash (playing our songs in different genres)

Tumi: Afro Music… They took this hands down, can’t beat that Johnny Clegg white boy singing ‘Thula’ shit. 1 point to them.

Jeremy: Afro – OK we cleaned them on this one. It was funny being a white boy band and singing Xhosa at them and the crowd totally getting into it. Thank god. Our first moment of, “we’re properly in this!”

Tumi: Heavy Metal… We creamed them. We killed this, I spazzed the fuck out on this one, even took my shirt off. Can’t wait for those pictures to make their way ‘round.

Jeremy: Heavy Metal… We should have won this, our version was hard as nails and had people grinning ear to ear when we’d rehearsed it. On the night, we messed it up hard and it was plain poor. They took this one.

Tumi: Dance Music… We did a great Kwaito song, got the whole place dancing, they had technical difficulties and when they finally started the song sounded too close to the original. We got this one.

Jeremy: Dance Music… Pretty even to me. It was difficulty to tell their song from their normal sound. I think Tumi thinks the same of ours. 0-0 on this one.

Tumi: But this is when shit went pear shaped. We clearly got the most shouts but that darn noizeOmetre was on the fritz.

Jeremy: We won this round. Again.

Tumi: They took all three points. That was weird to me. It really bazzled most people. But it made the show better.

Jeremy: Hard cheese, comrade.

Tumi and Zolani

Round 4
The Wildcard (invite a secret guest)

Tumi: They brought on Thandiswa Mazwai on, great fucking song. Jeremy and her sounded so great together, made me start salivating at how wonderful South African music would be without those FUCKING self imposed boundaries. Great song too.
We called upon Zolani of Freshly Ground, we pretended we had Mzekhezekhe and even had a masked dude run up on stage for a second then she came on and murked a solo-come-chorus. I love her voice, I love her, I think she is stunning. Don’t even remember who took this round but it did not matter at that point.

Jeremy: We won this one hands down, I reckon. Thandiswa and I sang eyeball to eyeball on our song ‘Wake’, and the electricity and passion was incredible. I am humbled by that woman’s genius. Tumi’s song with Zolani was a bit of a ramble, and never really came together. I understand that they made up her contribution on the spot, and it sounded like it. She’s also completely brilliant… but I think a more planned execution would have worked better.

The Jam

Tumi: We did a very messy jam, that turned out to be a photo op.

Jeremy: What Tumi says… But let me just say, what an incredible experience. At the end I really felt that no one really deserved to win it. A tie would have suited. That said, my ego would not have enjoyed losing! We got to spend wonderful time with Tumi & the Volume, who we love as people and as extraordinary musicians. The winning part was so marginal as to be irrelevant. We’ll work with Tumi and the guys in the future, and I can’t wait to collaborate on their new album. Red Bull – kudos for putting on crazy events like this. The hotel in Jozi wasn’t too bad either. Thanks.


All Images Courtesy and © Craig Kolesky/Sandisk/Red Bull Photofiles.

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