Penis is my Leweby Roger Young / 16.02.2010
Peach Van Pletzen and Francois Van Coke came to perform together last year when, artist turned media mogul, Peet Pienaar was looking to “create something that would challenge the musicians and create a much more theatrical show.” That was 2-21, a play performed at KKNK and directed by Jaco Bouwer. After the play completed it’s run Francois and Peach continued to work together, with Peach having just finished producing the new Van Coke Cartel album Skop, Skiet and Donner, but also as Oorlog Frankenstein, a somewhat confusing and shifting entity, defined on their Facebook page as a social experiment.
Okay, so the idea of a “social experiment” is kinda vague
Francois: That’s Peach’s experiment, I don’t know were he got it from, that shit, but it’s cool, I’ll be part of his experiment.
Peach: I started seeing the whole thing as a social experiment because we were all just working on the thing solely as a play, never being commercially released or doing shows, so when I found myself listening to a track that we’d done, y’know Francois Van Coke singing “Penis is my Lewe” over a solid electro beat, well I never thought I would have heard Francois Van Coke’s voice over electro and I never thought I’d hear him singing about his penis. So I started thinking that a lot of people look up to Francois as an idol. They’re big fans of Fokof and Van Coke, but is it genuinely the music? Which I’m sure it is for the most part. But I also wanted to see how far you can push those fans? That is if they hate electro. If Francois Van Coke is singing over electro, can you get them to loosen their standards and what they consider to be “cool”? So here’s Oorlog Frankenstein, absolutely no rules and no real concept. We’re not trying make rock n roll, just trying make whatever and to see if people get it and for what reasons they get it.
Okay, well, now, Francois, I’m sure you get that voice of a generation shit all the time, right? Is Oorlog a reaction to that in any way?
Francois: No, No, No, I think Oorlog is just something that happened by, I don’t know if it’s a mistake or destiny, maybe it’s a little bit of both, y’know. It doesn’t have any meaning whatsoever in the general scope of things. I think it was just a fun project.
And when you go out as Oorlog and people don’t expect you, you play to smaller crowds, do you feel any less pressure or any more freedom, than Fokof or Van Coke?
Francois: I skeem. I don’t know, Fokof at this stage is really easy to do it because it’s got this heavy strong cult following and people are knowing all the words and stuff like that. So it’s very easy to pull Fokof off. Van Coke is obviously a different energy cause it’s a different dynamic and all of that stuff, so I think that’s the most stressful one for me. And Oorlog is like, I don’t feel any pressure, I don’t need to practice because Peach is the whole band. So it’s easier and a good place to blow some steam off, like the first track we do live [Dans, Dans, Dans] is probably the hardest song, I mean it’s the heaviest vocals I’ve ever fucking done in my life. So it’s always good to scream at people.
The first part of ‘Dans Dans Dans’ is quite angsty. Y’know, like it’s a bit heavy and then it goes into this fun little bit, and then there’s that bit where you go “ek will fokken dans” and it feels more like a cry of pain than an actual need to dance.
Francois: The chorus kinda came out of us joking and we just kinda kept it, but the rest of the song, well it was the first one we wrote for that play and it was actually about experiences that me and Hunter had growing up, like painful memories and I think it’s completely the opposite of I wanna dance. Maybe dance is a metaphor for something there, but the chorus came out as a mistake and we thought, fuckit, lets keep it there. Obviously it’s a metaphor for something but I don’t want to act all deep.
Peach: The lyrical content is very arb and then quite heavy at times but that was because it was all written in part of the script for the play and it was all kinda stories like, “my ma, my mom hid in the closet for two weeks and a stranger came home and pinned her to the wall and lifted up her mini skirt and that got me angry”. He sings about how angry it got him and then he will just fokken dans. So dans could be a something for something else. Maybe it’s just you get so angry you just want to dance it off. I mean no one has ever thought about Anger Dance, dancing to vent. The lyric was especially weird because it was for the play, I reckon it would to be interesting to see what we start doing new, kinda writing something for Oorlog Frankenstein, what it would be about then but I think it was great that it turned out the way it did because now there aren’t any expectations and no one can really predict the next stage, we don’t have any thing to top, we can just go and push it.
So it’s a fun project with a serious edge to it…
Francois: Ja, ja ja, most definitely I skeem, like that Penis song, also has some seriousness although the chorus is a joke. What makes those two songs fun is that they’re very serious and then both the choruses happened by mistake and we just went with it. I think that’s what makes it lank cool, like those things after singing the words I would joke with the chorus and I think that um, what the fuck do you call it, ah fuck man I don’t know what the word is now, like something that happens on the spot but um….
Francois: No, fuck I don’t know.
Okay, something that happens on the spot let’s leave it at that.
Francois: Ja, okay cool. I think that gives it some kind of cool energy, y’know?
Ja, now, my Afrikaans is quite bad, so I’ve kinda sorta figured out the lyrics to Dans Dans, but Penis I’m still a little vague on but I get the feeling from the chorus “Penis is my lewe” that it’s a bit of a piss-take on jock culture. And so it was interesting at the last gig that that’s the song that that jock chose to get on stage.
He didn’t seem too terribly self-aware.
Francois: Ja, I think that’s awesome. Those guys were hectic though hey.
They were hardcore. They fucked up one of the City Bowl Mizers in the parking lot.
Francois: Oh my fuck! I stopped them from getting in a fight earlier at the bar.
That little moment for me, when that guy jumped up and didn’t know the words and didn’t really know what was going on, and then you pushed him off, that to me, seemed like the social experiment portion of the evening.
Francois: I think that maybe Peach got it right there.
Francois: Because we wrote these songs for a play, that play was a kinda experiment to test grounds, it was this weird abstract thing with not really a story line there’s two and no one actually knew what’s going on, so I think that stuff kinda carries through obviously in the songs, y’know. So maybe Peach is right.
Peach: You can argue, were those guys just there because they know Francois is in Oorlog? I was never sure when we decided to release this finally, is it going to make Francois Van Coke lose fans? Are people going to follow him? And that is largely the experiment. Can you bend the rules with the fans a bit? Do something out of the norm now that you have them in the palm of your hand, will they go with you or will they be like, no, I’m not down with this shit. So I think that guy who was dancing on stage, got up and thought, ja, this is my time, he heard it was a dance beat and thought ja, I’m gonna dance on stage with Francois Van Coke. I don’t think they’re the most, kinda metaphysical fans.
Do you think there is a danger that they just come for Francois and they ignore the music, so you don’t get them either way?
Peach: Live it might go over the tops of their heads, cause they can just be looking at Francois and screaming “Franna, Franna” and getting high fives. Or they could just be standing in front just to get high fives. But when they listen online or check out what Oorlog Frankenstein is, and they’re sitting in their room listening, I’m sure they’re not chanting “Francois” then. That’s the thing, I want people to be pushed. Do I like this? Can I bring myself to like this? Or maybe someone is like, I actually like this but I can’t really, I don’t feel comfortable being open about it, maybe I should go to a live show and check it out. It’s to push those kind of people and I think Francois is the ideal guy to front that whole thing and I think its awesome that he’s down with it and not like “No, No, I’m Francois, I make rock ‘n roll, my fans are gonna…” He trusts enough that they would see what’s going on and I reckon they’ll follow him, and the ones that doesn’t, they can like the other stuff, and if it really puts them off liking the other stuff, I suppose that’s just how life is.
How many songs were there in the play?
Francois: Three on the EP and Peach’s track that he still does in his set on the drums, was the first song we did, we put vocals to the whole, so that was an extra ten minutes. And the rest of the play was basically this chick performing these pieces that comes from the bible and like, weird shit.
So the play’s never going to happen again, right?
Francois: I don’t think so, I mean it was a bit of a weird crazy thing to do but obviously me and Peach went and did a lot of things that have come from there. We worked with a very cool director and it was kinda cool to do theatre for a little bit, you know what I mean?
Will there be more Oorlog tracks?
Francois: I skeem what will happen is the stuff that we don’t feel is Van Coke Cartel or I don’t want to contribute to Fokof, or Peach doesn’t think is Yesterday’s Pupil will go for Oorlog, so where other people have B sides, we have Oorlog Frankenstein.
Peach: I don’t feel we need to meet and sit together and say okay what now, y’know fiddle with guitar, If I’m producing stuff for Yesterday’s Pupil and it’s not quite right for the album, then I’ve got that music and I can call Francois and say, dude, I’ve got this outrageous thing, which I wanna make more outrageous and I think we should sit together and maybe write some outrageous lyrics and melody and lay it down. And then I’ll produce it with no limits in terms of the production and that keeps it fresh and interesting for us too, rather than to try and follow a traditional way of doing things or a traditional way of writing, it keeps it fresh and every song is a lucky packet, you don’t really know what you’re gonna get but you know it’s gonna be a plastic toy.
You call Oorlog “Theatrical Racing Music” and you produced the KIDOFDOOM album My Faith In War which they call “Deep Space Champion Pop”, to me those genre tags sound very similar.
Peach: I can honestly say I came up with Champion Pop and Theatrical Racing Music, because there have been so many genres created that its almost like a joke, post post pre rap funky deep whatever like, shit man, so I though okay, cool, if you wanna just make a genre an extravagant description then just do it. I once made a remix for KIDOFDOOM and that’s where the champion pop thing came, the remix starts off with a voice saying, “this songs goes out to South Africa’s prime champion pop”. They added the “deep space” although I still think they’re just “champion pop”. Theatrical Racing Music, well, I was busy mixing “Dans Dans Dans” and that first bit and then when the beat comes in I said to Francois, this sounds very theatrical, it’s almost like theatrical racing music, the kind of stuff you wanna blast in your street drag racing car when you’re about to go whip some sweet ass. So we set up the FB page that night, the genre without thinking about it, we were both like, yeah!
Check out Oorlog Frankenstein’s Facebook page.