Whenever South Africa is spoken about in a heavy metal context, the first band to spring to mind usually is Seether, regardless of the burgeoning scene this country has... yet bands like Wildernessking and Crow Black Sky have been leading the next wave onto the international stage. On a wider scope, African Metal has been discovering it's feet in the past few years and has seen success in the likes of South Africa, Botswana, Tunisia, etc to name but a few.
However refocusing back on the South African Metal scene and arguably one of the biggest success stories is that of Post Metal quartet Constellatia signing with French record label Season Of Mist. GMA spoke to the group (conceived by Gideon Lamprecht and Keenan Oakes of Crow Black Sky and Wildernessking fame respectively); Keenan took on the duties.
"We would absolutely love to play other parts in Africa, potentially Botswana, Mozambique, Egypt and Morocco."
Hi guys, for those who do not know who Constellatia are, please could you tell us how you came together as members from Crow Black Sky and Wildernessking?
"Crow Black Sky released 'Sidereal Light Vol. I' in 2018 after Wildernessking's dissolution at the tail end of 2017. I really liked the record and reached out to Gideon in July 2018 because I wanted to make heavy, visceral music again and thought that we would work well together. We had a meeting in August at a cafe in Kalk Bay and discussed our intentions for this potential new project. Gideon sent me two chord recordings a day or so later, and after a week of listening to it and coming up with some ideas for the song (what would later become "All Nights Belong To You"), we met up and had our first writing session together."
Growing up in South Africa, can you tell us about how metal came to arrive in South Africa? How did you get into metal?
"Metal has been here for a pretty long time. Napalm Death came here in the 90's, long before we were even teenagers, so I am not sure that we are the most appropriate people to ask. I guess what we are saying is that it predates us, obviously, so it's hard to answer and say exactly when or how it came to arrive here. Carcass have played here, Iron Maiden, Entombed and a slew of other extreme bands. How does metal get anywhere? Tape trading, magazines, TV, radio and eventually the internet."
Signing to Season Of Mist must be the highlight for the band thus far, but also for the wider South African Metal scene?
"A highlight definitely. It's a real honour to sign with a label we respect so much."
What are the day-to-day challenges South African Metal bands have to face? Is Witchdoctor Records still going? What about metal festivals?
"That could be reframed as the day-to-day challenges for any truly alternative or fringe music. Lack of venues, infrastructure, consistent support. Witchdoctor Records went bankrupt we think? There are like one or two festivals, but things weren't so dire a few years ago."
It would seem African Metal is picking up the pace in producing bands; have you had bands from other African countries come play in S.A.?
"There have been some other bands from other parts of Africa who have come to play here, but it is uncommon. It's important to note that South Africa is not like other African countries. We live in a very Westernized society, although dangerous in places, we have access to almost anything that European or American bands will have access to... The challenges include touring and the things we mentioned earlier."
What can fans expect from your debut album? Surely you will do a tour in promotion of the album, aside from the usual places in Europe, the USA, etc, are there any African countries you would like to play in?
"A romantic and nostalgic musical trip. We are hoping to tour Europe this summer and the USA in 2021. We would absolutely love to play other parts in Africa, potentially Botswana, Mozambique, Egypt and Morocco."
What do your friends and family think of your music? What were their perceptions of metal at first?
"The ones who listen to this kind of music like it, and our families don't understand it. But that's like asking a European metal musician what their parents think of their music. I don't think Dark Funeral's vocalist's parents are fans of their music."
Aside from the album release (and possible tour), what plans do you have for 2020? Are there any greetings you wish to send out?
"Tour, a new record and tour again. Lots of videos too. Thanks to everyone who has supported our band so far."
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