The Dank Discoby Phumlani Pikoli / 28.01.2011
Born in 2009 the baby that was Sedge Warbler has turned into a toddler with tremendous athletic ability, by that I mean it started running before walking. With the teaming up of D-squared (DJ-Dank and Disco Izrael) it’s safe to say that one of South Africa’s most original music projects had emerged. Their debut album Welcome To The Universe is so unique that it would be futile to try and carry on describing it. The lyrics are so profoundly personal they border on nonsensical and the glitch-hop inspired, voyageristic beats make the duo’s escalating success a no brainer. Having dropped my favourite video of 2010 (see below) there was no way that I would pass up the opportunity to get them to share the where’s, why’s, when’s and how’s of the project. And with last year’s international internet release and this year’s overseas tour already scheduled, it’s hard to see them fading out any time soon.
Mahala: You did some stuff with Simon Wilson back in the day, the Dank Mr. Wilson, that was when I first heard of you, that was really dope stuff, but how do you feel about it now?
Dank: Well it’s cool, I mean jeez dude I listened to some of that stuff just the other day and it’s actually really cool, except for the production. The ideas behind it are rad… it’s a totally different style to what I’m doing now. But we had a lot of fun with it because he used to live across the road from me. Like I remember I used to record him rapping after we had got home while he was drunk, you can actually hear him slurring in his raps. I don’t know there was a lot of sampling back then, now it’s all about playing my own stuff. But it’s cool, I dig it still.
And so the name Dank?
Dank: That comes from my weed habit back in the day. Now I regret calling myself Dank, cause all these okes think that I’m like this fucking stoner and I’m not.
And Mr. Izrael cause everyone knows you as Disco, so how does Izrael fit into Disco?
Dank: This okes got like ten names.
Disco: It was actually just a joke that I came up with and then… this internet virus… ja… then everybody just told me that I should call myself that. Started out as a joke, as a kind of alter ego of mine. It started out as the internet hacker kinda thing. I’d like Facebook and all sorts of different shit under the alias Disco Izrael. Just fuck with people. Fucked with my friends.
And just in terms of your solo stuff, I mean as Dank do you intend to drop an album on your ace or anything?
Dank: Um… ja I think I’m gana start working on an EP pretty soon. But obviously I don’t wanna jump away from Sedge Warbler too soon before it starts. But in the background I’m making music that Disco doesn’t wanna rap on, “cause the leads are two cheesy.” So it’s cool, I’m gonna try work on something, but I give away all my music for free anyway. It’s just a vibe I believe in. Because no one pays for music anyway. If you give it away for free okes will listen to it and it will spread you know? It’s more about getting overseas and touring, than actually selling the music.
Which brings us to the UK release.
Dank: Oh yes, Sedge Warbler is not for free.
Disco: Well, when it started getting popular and we realised that…
Dank: Actually John from Mix ‘n Blend pushed it to Buddah Man, he thought they might dig it cause they released their “Get Crunk wit Jesus” song originally.
Disco: I don’t know. A lot of Sedge Warbler is me and Ross having a lot of shit in common. We’d always talk about how we’re getting tired of doing the same gigs. Being a part of the same line up. So a big thing for us was releasing this shit overseas. We want it to be bigger and more powerful there than here ever. The real challenge is to try and…
Dank: Get overseas.
Disco: We spoke to Sibot, we spoke to John about his connections. And then just kinda waited and hoped. Then these dudes listened to our stuff and they just dug it.
How was the local album drop?
Disco: Printing CD’s was something we just wanted to do for ourselves, to show that we’ve done it. We made a whole album off shit we love. It wasn’t a full on launch, the whole night wasn’t dedicated to us. But after that, surprisingly, a lot of people started noticing.
Dank: Well we played to a lot of people as well which was cool.
When doing tours overseas do you guys think that you’ll be able to push as far as you do here? Cause you always seem to kinda get shy. You’re always, “okay I’m sorry ladies.” And then you start singing, “bitches put your pussy’s in the air…”
Dank: I wrote that rap. Well at the beginning we tried to come all thug with that stuff, and then like after a few shows we saw how people just kinda stood still when it went down and we’d get all shy and shit, but now…
Yeah, all the guys are like chilling, waving their hands in the air…
Dank: Ja… that’s why we only have male fans.
Disco: We just sat in studio one day and thought, how could we make ourselves more thug than anybody in the universe? So that line is on the album just so that nobody can shut us down. Nobody can come and say these guys are more raw than you. Fuck you! I told people to put their pussy’s in the air! So it’s a kinda cameo appearance, cause it’s also making fun of that genre. But we’re not vulgar, I mean, we’re not very vulgar.
Um… I’m sorry there’s… um…
Disco: Well OK, it’s debatable.
Something about a “mother tap dancing on my dick again”?
Dank: Little girls sitting on a tape deck that’s fucking…
Disco: That’s not vulgar, that stuff’s rooted in the essence of the track. It’s like there’s some truth behind those lyrics. And as far as “bitches put your pussy’s in the air” goes, it’s just one of those things. But I think people receive it well. I don’t know. I think that people who dig it will dig it and not care. And people who don’t, I don’t know. In a way it’s cool, it creates a space for you to kinda get away with anything. There’s pretty much nothing I can say right now that would offend them. It’s more of a… let’s just say it’s a social experiment.
OK, let’s call it that. Since I forgot to press the record button earlier, can we get back to the inspiration behind the name Sedge Warbler that was stolen from MR. Wilson.
Dank: Simon’s dad spent like 10 years studying this bird called the Sedge Warbler.
Disco: He wrote his dissertation on the Sedge Warbler.
Dank: Oh there you go. I think he was telling me about this bird, it’s like a story he’s got where he was so cool cause Simon Wilson his initials match Sedge Warbler and all this sort of shit. And he was telling us this story and Disco sorta lent into my ear and was like dude. Cause we were still debating on what to call ourselves, and he was like “dude let’s call ourselves Sedge Warbler.” And I was like cool let’s do it. Simon was sorta bummed about it for a long time.
Disco: I think he’s still got a sorta deep rooted…
Dank:…hatred for us. Oh the bird never makes the same sound twice. So that was cool.
Disco: It’s not really, it doesn’t have to do much with the name. We’ve kinda taken the name and developed a whole story behind it. If you read our bio that’s basically it.
Dank: A lizard bird with wings…
Dank: A lizard human with wings.
That makes sense to the lizard sex and personal lyrics that have profound meanings.
Disco: They do, it’s deep.