London-based trio of producers LV are currently readying a much-anticipated album they’ve described as “South London meets South Africa”. The first video and track from the project 'Sebenza' (it means 'work'), featuring Dirty Paraffin's OKmalumkoolkat, has been shot by occasional Dazed collaborator Chris Saunders and features wild scenes of street racing, or ‘spinning’, on the roads of Johannesburg. You can see it first here, while we talk to LV, Saunders and Okmalumkoolkat about the track, the video and South Africa's spinning scene.
Chris Saunders - Director
Dazed Digital: What in the track inspired you, and where did the visual ideas come from?
Chris Saunders: Smiso and myself, Jamal Nxedlana who styled the video and features in it joined us a few occasions and gave a lot of insight into the Isikhotane and spinning culture. We wanted to portray what working class South Africans do when they relax. People here work really hard sometimes for very little, so when it comes to chill time its normally a lot more frenetic than expected. The video also shows a side of Township culture that is often overlooked – the aim was to portray a very organised and rich culture on the fringes of mainstream South Africa.
DD: Tell me about the street racing. It's also in the new Die Antwoord video, isn't it?
Chris Saunders: Interestingly enough, I had a conversation with Terence Neal the director of Die Antwoord’s new video and asked him where he found a white guy who could pull off those moves. I had always thought the actual stunts with climbing on top of the vehicles had been very contained to the townships, which are mainly black. He assured me this wasn't true. Street racing and cars are a big part of Johannesburg culture – with very little public transport and a huge city, our lives are centered around them, so in turn many cultures have emerged around the shrines that are our vehicles. If you go onto Youtube and search Gusheshe, you'll find many videos with guys doing insane tricks.
LV - Producers
Dazed Digital: Can you tell me a bit more about Sebenza?
LV: All the vocalists on the album are from South Africa and the music was produced in south London. The album features Okmalumkoolkat, a duo called Ruffest, and Spoek Mathambo. Even though the vocalists are from South Africa it wasn't where they came from that interested us particularly, it was their vocals. They are all very different artists who come from different musical backgrounds.
DD: Why did you want to work with OKmalumkoolkat again (after ‘Boomslang’)?
LV: Because he is a unique and amazing artist who makes us laugh and bowls us over. You've got to check out his blog (okmalume.blogspot). Dirty Paraffin are great. They've got a power to their music that you can't find anywhere else.
DD: What do you think of this video?
LV: Love it. It's amazing what the crew managed to do with it. On a technical and an artistic level, they have worked wonders. And it's nice to see some sunshine.
OKmalumkoolkat - Artist
Dazed Digital: What's this street racing all about then?
OKmalumkoolkat: Donuts or drifting is BIG in most townships in South Africa. I really don't know when it started, but I was in Primary school when I first saw it go down at a funeral in Umalzi, Durban. That's back in the early 90s. It used to be associated with gangsters but it has become a legit pastime. Busting tricks like leaving a brick on the accelerator while it spins, jump up out of it, light a cigarette, jump back in while it's moving. Cats are doing stuff that car manufacturers never thought was possible. It's kind of like skateboarding with an automobile. Cats like extreme radical stuff out here. The whole world surfs on oceans but we also train-surf too. Extreme!
DD: Can you teach us to do the taxi driver dance?
OKmalumkoolkat: The Taxi Driver can be learnt by watching this video over and over. It's basically coming up with all these movements that a South African taxi driver would pull. So, it's a lot of steering wheel movements, passing money to passengers behind you, winding windows up and down, almost having an accident (that's when you close your eyes with one hand and you still drive with the other).