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9 South African Musicians You Need To Know

South Africa has a flourishing music scene, with diverse local talent, beneath the political brouhaha and natural beauty. We look at 9 South African bands and artists, all different to one another, who you may or may not have heard of.

Inge Beckmann

Inge Beckmann began her career in the South African music industry with Lark, an experimental IDM crossover group at the cutting edge of the country’s music.

Her Soundcloud page describes their music as “glitch opera,” with soaring vocals and filthy electronic beats similar to Crystal Castles’ distorted and chaotic sounds.

Miriam Makeba

She is undoubtedly the matriarch of South African music, a late beauty with the healing songs to cure any bitterness you may be feeling. 

The relaxing embrace of ‘Pata Pata,’ her most well-known song, softly captures your hips and gently draws you into the guiding voice of this former luminary in South African music.

Das Kapital

Yes, like Karl Marx’s piece of work. One of South Africa’s best EDM DJs is Kyle Brinkmann, better known as Das Kapital. Big names such as Hardwell and Rob Zombie have called him up for remixes and features in various venues, including Mondo Head Sex on Sirius XM. 

Brinkmann is now a fixture on the scene, not just as a DJ but also as the owner of his own record label, Do Work Records. He’s certainly not a one-hit wonder; he’s an important element of South Africa’s EDM industry, having started his own record label, Do Work Records. 

Das Kapital eclectic house set in The Lab Johannesburg

Tidal Waves

The Tidal Waves are a reggae band from South Africa that does not disappoint. This multicultural and soulful quintet has traveled through the world of music for over 12 years, delighting fans with five albums. 

The Tidal Waves have not only played in foreign countries in the United States, Europe, and China, but they’ve also impressed reggae fans in Africa.

Al Bairre

Al Bairre is a young five-piece band that provides a breath of fresh air in the local music scene, with its self-described “aggressively unfancy band.” The ‘defiantly unfancy band’ are getting the mother city dancing to what they term “classic indie finger pop,” according to their website. 

The indie and orchestral music are incredibly contagious, attempting to get you up on your feet. One of South Africa’s major music festivals, Rocking the Daisies, featured a true depiction of their electric live performance, drawing people from all corners of the festival grounds.

Alice Phoebe Lou

Alice isn’t your average independent artist; she’s the physical manifestation of independent music. She has turned down numerous major label contracts, arguing that being easily purchasable and branded by their hidebound idea of popularity does not comport with her vision or moral principles.

From busking in Berlin to going viral after performing at a TEDx Talk, this wisecracking wayfarer has the vocal and instrumental skills to alter our perception of “making it” in the music business. Alice’s music is wise and truthful far beyond her years, and she has only been performing for a few years. Her live show now has a different energy thanks to the inclusion of Matteo, an Italian multi-instrumentalist.

Sol Gems

The New York band were formed in 2014, and now have a number of top-rated songs. They’ve already made a name for themselves, despite the fact that they’re new on the block. 

Three months after their first live performance, they had landed a spot opening for the Allah-Las (a California-based psych rock band). Most bands would regard this as a miracle, and if their two songs, just released, are any indication, they’re definitely worth keeping an eye on.

Spoek Mathambo

Spoek Mathambo is the Prince of Township Tech, and he’s at the forefront of South African electronic dance music. The result is an exciting new genre in South Africa’s music scene, mixed on none other than your average home computer.

Amalgamating various electro genres such as UK grime, dubstep, and punk and incorporating a local variation of house music. Mathambo gained worldwide renown and infamy after performing a cover of Joy Division’s “She’s Lost Control.”

Francois van Coke

Francois van Coke (real name Francois Badenhorst) made his debut in the alternative-rock band Fokofpolisiekar (FPK) in 2003, with lyrics that referred to the social displacement of Afrikaners in the new South Africa. The band’s melodic phrasing was rife with motifs of how apathetic the Afrikaner youth had become and how they didn’t fit in the Calvinist, Dutch-reformed pattern of Protestantism.

 At the pinnacle of FPK’s musical and commercial success, a controversial incident occurred, and the group was put on a semi-permanent break. After FPK, Van Coke went on to create successful businesses that have made him an indelible part of South Africa’s rock folklore.

By: Charles Vallena is the author, and editor-in-chief of TheGuitarJunky.com