Who is Jitsvinger?
International award-winning performing artist from Mitchell’s Plain, Cape Town. Social commentator, traveler, cultural enthusiast, word-architect, rapper, musician, composer and songwriter.
Please tell us about your musical journey.
I was born with a musical ear which my father sponsored through paying for my piano lessons and buying me keyboards since I was four years old. My late brother influenced me through playing a lot of rap music in the early nineties. I formed my first rap group in ’96 in high school and changed my name to Jitsvinger in 2000 after deciding to rap in vernacular Afrikaans (which I call Afrikaaps). After going through many ensembles and crews, performing at matinees and competitions, recording demos and getting it played on campus radio stations I recorded and released my debut album in 2005 through an independent record label based in Woodstock. Opportunities to travel, rub shoulders with the likes of Fokofpolisiekar, Godessa, BVK (Brasse Vannie Kaap), Tumi and the Volume, David Kramer, Antjie Krog, and international talents led to a new perspective on what I’m supposed to do as an artist.
Grasshoppers seem to be your favourite shoes. Can you tell us why?
It’s comfortable, simplistic and elegant. I had my first pair when I went to high school.
You release so much music and tour/perform so much that it seems you never take days off. What do you do when you’re not working?
I binge on series and try out new recipes. I also watch a lot of documentaries and interviews of people I find interesting, dead or alive.
How has your music changed since you started out?
My writing changed from just having fun with the language to being more introspective in relation to the everyday struggles as I grow older. My “diet” is made up of conversations, interviews, watching documentaries and reading the newspaper. Listening to and working with different artists, musicians, writers and producers helped me develop my technique when approaching music.
What is your least favourite thing about the Cape Town music scene?
Not enough venues where multiple disciplinaries share the same audience. The art-forms must come together more often.
Who is your biggest inspiration?
Jitsvinger is almost synonymous with an Afro and Afro-pick. How long have you been growing it?
I can’t remember! I think since 2005 or thereabouts.
Professionally, what is your goal?
To be able to influence the economy around the arts and to be a new business model for musicians and artists who are pursuing an independent career.
Name three artists you would like to work with.
Can’t name three, but basically anyone who inspires me to be a better artist, who pushes my abilities and further my craft.
Do you think it is easy for artists to get radio play on Cape Town commercial stations?
I think it’s easy to get your music out there once you make the effort to polish your tracks, knowing what your message is and contacting the right people at the radio stations that will secure interviews on the appropriate shows. You can’t expect to get somewhere if you’re not observing the scene to make the right moves.
If you could change one thing about Cape Town, what would it be?
To have a live scene (24/7) with licensed venues, where you’ll find midnight street markets, safe public transport systems connecting to all parts of the country and beyond, artists having access to public spaces…
In your opinion, what roles do artists have in society?
Art is the mirror that reflects society to itself therefore artists carry the load of being that uncensored voice that attacks all our notions of safety, health, comforts and assumptions. The artist has to make her/his society question everything!
Which themes do you like to pursue through your music?
Identity, language, health, attraction, power, history, etc the list still continues!
We spoke about you touring a lot. Does it ever get lonely? How do you deal with that?
Aweh*, it doesn’t take long before I miss my malva pudding, koesiesters** and my wife turning the music volume down when she gets home from work. To cope I video-chat with her for hours, follow the local news and use the few local recipes I know just to calm my soul.
A South African slang word used to acknowledge something or greet someone.
-“Oh aweh man!”
**A koeksister is a traditional Afrikaner confectionery made of fried dough infused in syrup
What would be your dream project?
Making real the stories of our people regardless of production size and critical acclaim is always a dream come true for me. Every day I hear different parts of the world who don’t know or get to hear or experience our worldview. Afrikaaps was one such project in which we got to share the history about Afrikaans without having to subvert it to a standard just to make it “appeal to the masses”. Let me also add that it garnered a few awards both locally and internationally!
What can we expect from Jitsvinger in 2018?
Since I’ve been away for most of 2017 I am refocusing my aim to find new breakthroughs in the music industry utilizing most of what I’ve learned on my journey.
New music, of course!
Do you have a favourite producer to work with or favourite studio to record at?
Arsenic has been my fellow studio ninja for the past decade at the Metalloid Lab. All the vocals and post-productions for my latest offering, Jitsologie were done there.
You’ve done many collaborating projects. Who was your favourite artist to work with and why?
I find the process to be the best part of the collaboration. One such experience was with Melanie Scholtz during the recording of her album, Our Time. Work-ethic was on point, respect for the work-space, ego-less productivity and all-round sincerity towards her team was nothing but admirable.
Where do you see yourself in 3 years?
I see myself living and working abroad and on my return injecting new influences that will improve the live performance experience of South Africa.
What advice would you give to a young artist?
Allow yourself to make mistakes. Learn through the mistakes of others. The most important opinion you can rely on is the opinion you have of yourself.