Thursday, July 7, 2011

NORWAY meets ZIMBABWE meets UK meets BOTSWANA

Dkson is a young Zimbabwean slam poet currently on tour in Europe alongside the acclaimed all woman collective WoCalling. I caught him between gigs to ask him to speak in his capacity as artistic director of the Sonic Slam Chorus ensemble (of which, in an attempt at diffussing any bias I should point out, I am a part)

TJ: What is Sonic Slam Chorus? How would you describe it?

Sonic Slam Chorus is a fusion of spoken word, jazz and electroacoustic soundscapes to put it as simply as possible. It is a dynamic ensemble of artists who are passionate about their art, regardless of the diverse artistic and other, backgrounds they come from.

TJ: How did it come about

In late 2010 I had the idea of collaborating with a certain TJ Dema after sharing a few spoken word events. From this basic idea a sprawling and eclectic group of artists was born. I mentioned to Cecilie Giskemo (composer and vocalist from Norway) that I wanted her to join the collaboration with myself and TJ. We then toyed with the idea of bringing a guitarist on board and she was adamant that it had to be her fellow countryman Asbjoern Lerheim. That is the trend that the ensemble followed, a snowball picking up talented artists as it grew ranging from the young Zimbabwean talent V Mukarati on sax to sound engineer and producer AER (UK).

TJ: Whats different about this 'collective' of artists

SSC is undoubtedly unique. The original and continuing notion of giving spoken word a powerful and moving platform is something that we hold dear as an ensemble. All the while the sound stands alone so powerfully it makes me truly honoured to be part of a cast of such skilled and dedicated musicians. The direction that the group is heading in is very exciting. With the inclusion of AER (UK) we will expand upon our current product and bring in live elements of dubstep, drum and bass and ambient electronic effects. Eclectic is the word!

TJ: Where have you performed together

We performed at the Harare International Festival of the Arts (HIFA) this year for the first time and the press release the day after our first ever show describes the experience better than I could:

‘’In this sometimes pressurised city we live in, when the sordidness of the mundane everyday, strives to turn your mind to dust, Sonic Slam Chorus storms in full blast blowing away the cobwebs that threaten to settle. The best way to describe this talented ensemble is perhaps as, an intense romance.
The visual they present , from the stage set up, down to the wardrobe all works to sustain this image of the romantic, not to mention the words spoken, whose content and emotion run so deep, you are forced to evaluate yourself. A piece of your past comes into full display in your mind and you reflect on the days where innocence was second nature and not a daily sacrifice.’’ Natalie Kombe (HIFAlutin)

TJ: Who are the members that make up this collective

A really nice, kind-hearted slam poet called Dikson ;-), Cecilie Giskemo, composer and vocalist (Norway), Asbjoern Lerheim, guitar/vox (Norway), V Mukarati, sax/clarinet/vox (Norway), Prudence Katomene, vox (Zim), James Duff, bass (UK), Thom Durrant, drums (UK), AER, DJ (UK), and of course TJ Dema, spoken word (Bots)!!!


TJ: What plans do you have for the future

We are focussing on 2 projects. If all goes well and funding comes through then SSC will tour Southern Africa in Oct/Nov of this year. We are waiting on a few big replies so fingers crossed! If anyone wants to help out then visit http://www.gofundme.com/sonicslamchorussatour2011. We hope to hit Zim, Bots and SA. The next big plans are for next summer in Europe. We have begun applying for festivals and hope to do as much as possible in the region.

TJ: How practical is it to have a bicontinental, multi-country collective

Depending on how you look at it it can be both practical and impractical. For us it is no real hindrance. I might be idealistic but I want SSC to be as big as it deserves to be and I believe in it. With internet these days the musicians can be on the same page easily and then all we need is rehearsal time together to get into it. If we are looking to tour SA or Europe then having artists based in both places actually helps in terms of costs too. We don’t have to fly everyone over from 1 place. Sure we can’t do gigs on a regular which is a shame.

TJ: Do you feel that your different backgrounds add to the product or are you all children of the universe who just happen to be from different countries

I love it. Hehehe. A bit of both I suppose. We all get on really well and I am as bad as you are when it comes to the topic of music! From a poet’s (layman’s) perspective they all bring their influences and backgrounds into the mix. Cecilie, being the composer and musical visionary, is a great example of where the sound meets. She is from Norway, trained as a Jazz vocalist, plays the Mbira (Zim) and is all the while a lover of the words we write.

TJ: Where can one listen to SSC online

www.myspace.com/sonicslamchorus

TJ: When can we expect an album

We have a 9 track promo album that has just been finished. However we will be adding in new elements and tracks. You can expect a tidy version over the next year!

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