A self-confessed foodie, SiR unfortunately did not get to experience true local cuisine, but fed the souls of many who came out on Friday night to see him perform at the Alchemy festival.
“I love to eat, so anywhere I go I always try to find the best food. Plus I smoke big trees, so anytime someone has some (when it’s safe) I partake,” says SiR speaking to Tha Bravado.
Due to his short stay in the country, he couldn’t really explore some of the country’s best food, admitting that he was subjected to some Porto Rican food the night before.
In a crimson room that would make a great makeshift Death Row recording studio, I sit with the singer, producer from Inglewood just before his performance, with his bodyguards stationed at the entrance.
He arrived in the country Thursday and was out Saturday. This being his first visit on the continent, like most tourists who come from distant lands where African people aren’t in the majority, SiR was pleasantly surprised by the ubiquity of black dominance. “It’s really good to see black people in power, working together with white people,” he said.
He’s signed under Top Dawg Entertainment, which is also home to Kendrick Lamar, Shoolboy Q, SZA and other stars. Ab-Soul and the latter have in the past spoken about their frustration with album delays at TDE, but SiR says he isn’t concerned by that. “Everything happens in its proper time. I’m patient. And I trust my team, we don’t have to rush what we do.”
His music is smooth as wine and quenches the soul’s thirst like glass of cold water, on a hot summer’s day. It’s mind bending that he initially rejected getting into music having grown up in a home where everyone is gifted in the art. His mother is a former backing vocalist for Michael Jackson, Yolanda Adams and Tina Turner and his brothers, Daniel and Davion Farris are songwriters who’ve been in the game for a minute. “I definitely had an appreciation for music early on. Growing up in the church taught me a lot about music, musicians and I’ve always had a place in my heart for Hip Hop,” he says.
His appreciation for Hip Hop is evident in the music he makes, no better than the song Jay-Z from his debut album Seven Sundays. “I was in studio with the fellas and wanted to tell that story that way. I’m from Inglewood California and when I talk about ‘head down Bird, make a left on Third…’ I’m talking about actual street names of where I’m from,” he says. During his performance on Friday night, he sang Jay-Z over Jigga’s Girls Girls Girls which had the audience tripping. It fit like glove in hand.
His introduction to the music was through sound engineering, but he worked on his song writing on the side, which led to him writing for some of the best musicians like Jill Scott and Tyrese. “I was very unsure of myself when I first started writing, but I had great mentors guiding me and I worked hard to overcome my insecurities,” he says.
He jumped on stage Friday night, with a show of humility greeting the eager screaming fans in Nguni, “Sawubona” he said. Wearing an oversized top with stripes,that looked like a rugby jersey, with a Chinese collar, he looked comfortable enthralling the audience with his array of soulful joints. The backdrop was the cover of his album, November which brought much needed visuals on the simple stage.
There were chants of ‘we want more’ at the end of his hour long set, after he performed the two leading singles from November, D’Evils and Summer In November. It was intimate while simultaneously being a jump. A telling sign of the kind of music he makes, which can be dubbed new age R&B in how it fuses sweet harmonies and melodies with thumping 808s. “I just know my sound is true to me. I’m still evolving as an artist as well. Who knows what my music will sound like in 10 years.”
You’d swear he was about to be knighted at the end of his set, kneeling in gratitude to the audience for giving him their time.
LIKE properly stored muffins in the fridge, The Muffinz band hasn’t lost its freshness despite not having released an album in nearly four years now.
2015’s Do What You Love was their last project, which was akin to their rebellious stage in how they experimented with their sound by simply doing what they love. “We’re growing and learning, but that comes from understanding you don’t know something until you’ve gone in and impacted a change in it…and we’re in making our change, but not as imagined, the force of being rebellious needs to be balanced out with wisdom to create love,” says the Muffinz’s Sifiso ‘Atomza’ Buthelezi.
The band released a single earlier this year, Where You Are, which is a love ditty with strong elements of Naija’s afro beat, together with the Muffinz’s soul carrying it. When the song came out, fans expected a project to follow it. “We’ve been working with younger artists and publishing their songs, we plan on releasing that mixtape before our own album, that’ll come whenever we decide,” Atomza tells me. The Muffinz now have their own publishing and entertainment company, Aural Sense.
They had the Where You Are tour this year which saw them hit various places. “Swaziland and KZN are always great, with us having four sold out shows in a single weekend. This shows the hunger for live music and change from the doof doof on the airwaves.” They also played at Wolf and Co in Tsakane.
Today they’ll be in Tembisa’s Lekaneng Lifestyle Market. This isn’t part of the tour, since that was wrapped up in Nelspruit at the Casambo lodge. This will be the Muffinz’s first performance in Tembisa, despite Atomza saying they played Busy Corner in the past- the latter is technically not in Tembisa, but falls under Midrand.
“Hosting the Muffinz for the first time in Tembisa is part of a pioneering ideas that we have,” says co-owner of Tembisa’s Lekaneng Lifestyle Market, Shibombi Baloyi. “The Muffinz have a fresh perspective on life through their music. We believe they are a breath of fresh air Tembisa needs right now.”
About a year ago the band held a farewell ceremony for their bassist, Karabo ‘Skabz’ Moeketse who decided to leave the group. They’ve had to adjust to life without the quiet Skabz, but have roped in a bassist for their recordings and performances, not a replacement. “The integrity of the music is what concerns us most. Our current bassist received lessons from Skabz and thus in a way, the mantle and power was transferred in the esoteric sense,” Atomza.
DUE to his talents being slept on, not a lot of people know about Los Angeles soul singer SiR, who performs in Joburg tonight.
The TDE musician is in the country for his performance at this year’s Alchemy festival. This is the same festival that brought Mick Jenkins, Tom Misch, Anderson.Paak and Low End Theory in previous years. But unlike the aforementioned kats which have been on the Alchemy stage, very little is known of real name SiR Darryl Farris. He got recognition on the scene with his critically acclaimed Seven Sundays album in 2015, following that with an EPs, Her and Her Too.
It was through the EPs that he got signed to Top Dawg Entertainment, home to Kendrick Lamar, Jay Rock, SZA and other talents. But he had been a constant feature on songs of TDE artist prior to that. Earlier this year he released his album November which has produced the popular singles D’evils and Something Foreign featuring Schoolboy Q and has been mentioned as a likely Grammy nominee for R&B album of the year.
Here are just five interesting facts about the Inglewood lad:
HE IS A FORMER GYM MANGER
It explains why he’s quite buff uh? Because he comes from a musical family, SiR was surrounded by harmonies and compositions from a young age. This made him want to carve out his own path in life, doing something totally different from what he was exposed to. But his tenure as manger didn’t last that long thankfully, because we wouldn’t be exposed to his soulful sounds.
SiR IS ACTUALLY HIS REAL NAME
Bestowed by his Louisiana grandmother, the singer once said that his gran gave him that name because she wanted people to be respectful of his grandson when addressing him.
HIS BROTHERS ARE GENIUS SONG WRITERS
Daniel and Davion Farris are SiR’s older brothers who embraced their music genes long before SiR even considered getting into the business. The two siblings have separately written songs for Mary J. Blige, Joe, Jaheim, Trey Songz and Jill Scott among their long list.
HE’S A PK WHOSE MOTHER WAS A BACKING SINGER FOR POP STARS
After spending a decade in prison, SiR’s father got into the ministry thus making SiR a preacher’s kid. While his mother use to singing backing vocals for Michael Jackson, Tina Turner and also worked with Gospel artists like Yolanda Adams and Fred Hammond.
HE’S AN ENGINEER AND HAS WRITTEN SONGS FOR OTHER SINGERS
After giving in to the music, he began doing sound engineering. But while doing that, he was also creating some music on the side, which received positive responses from a number of people. He wrote Jill Scott’s Prepared which is on her 2015 album, Woman and co-wrote two songs on Tyrese’s Black Rose album. He’s worked with Anita Baker, Stevie Wonder and Melanie Pheona.
He performs tonight at Victoria Yards and will be supported by local talent such as Rouge & the Brass Cartel, Thabsie, Uncle Party Time & Capital; P Kuttah, Akio and DJ Vigilante.
INNOVATION comes from the music producer. Period. They sit there, fiddling with their gadgets and witness an idea become an actuality that stirs up ingoma inside an artist.
The process of making a beat may seem simple from the outside looking in but a lot goes into music production. A listener with a good ear, might know that something’s off with a particular track but not comprehend why- it could be that the sampling is atrocious, the mixing terribly done or just badly mastered.
These are things which some artists don’t completely understand too, hence workshops such as the Beat Makers Market (BMM), are important in educating listeners and those who interact with music on a professional level. “The event is an innovative networking event geared towards artists and music producers to build successful business relationships,” says event founder Enzo Slaghuis.
The BMM will be a gathering of people who wear various hats in the music business such as independent artists, movie supervisors, A&Rs, music executives and songwriters. “The concept was launched in 2017 at Slaghuis Studios in Diepkloof. The purpose of the last event was to launch the idea to beat makers and consult with the artists on how and what they would want from the Beat Makers Market event,” says Enzo.
This is the same man responsible for the legendary Slaghuis Hip Hop movement that gave the world guys likes of Pro (Kid), Pitch Black Afro and Siya Shezi among the long list of lyrical beasts from the South Western Township.
The event will have a panel discussion with some of South Africa’s celebrated Hip Hop producers. It will feature Dome, PH, Battlekat and Omen where they’ll explain, among other things, the recipe of a hit song and how the model for producers has been redefined. While the day’s beat maker competition will have the winner walk away with prizes comprising of M-Audio studio equipment, SAE Institution Music Business short course, AKAI MPK Mini, Monkey Banana Studio Monitors and a case of Redbull Energy.
At the time of writing this, there were 147 beat makers who had already entered the anticipated rivalry. Nyambz, Omen and Dome will have adjudicating responsibilities on the day. “We are also hosting the 30 minute beat challenge where interested beat makers will be challenged to create a beat on the spot using provided sound packs and a sample,” Enzo tells me.
The event takes place on the first Sunday of November at Newtown’s Good Luck Bar in Johannesburg. There will also be live performances by rappers Rouge, TLT, Makwa Beats, drummer J Star, Jed Nery and Morgan the Beat boxer.
In the past few seasons, many fashion designers have proven that being narrow minded makes it hard to continue producing breath-taking collections. This comes after Hedi Slimane’s Celine debut collection, which needless to say, received so many backlashes. Leading fashion journalists and fashion critics didn’t have anything good to say about Slimane’s work and his take on Celine, a feminist brand, which has given a lot of women power and encouraged them to experiment with fashion.
The industry is still stuck up on the European fantasy world, forcing the same kinds of stereotypes to their customers. They also borrow from Africa and appropriate a lot of our cultural references. This is simple; we need to see more Black African designers to be at the helm of these brands.
Executives of these brands are very quick to quote Africa as their main inspiration, but they are shutting us out and take everything that is ours. The Loius Vuitton appointment of Virgil Abloh definitely made history; it spoke to the changes happening in the industry.
Virgil’s story is one of many; his debut collection had details of his personal experiences. It would be game changing to see an African leading a brand such as Celine etc. because they will be bringing something new, something that people can relate to, begin new ways of seeing Africa, attract new customers and reinvigorate the aesthetics of fashion.
The Business of fashion reports that “within a fashion industry, that touts itself as celebratory of difference, diversity and inclusion. Black design talent consistently remain, at best, marginalised and all too often plagued by systematic employment discrimination.”
If the conglomerates companies such as Kering and LVMH want to be inclusive and diverse, they need to look at our shorelines when they want to hire a new creative director to lead one of their brands. A lot of the big brands are booming in our retail industry and many of our consumers are buying because of the “hype” and wanting to be counted amongst the cool kids of fashion. But our fashion designers are not that supported when they release their collections, simply because they are not the Dior or Gucci standards.
For The Business of fashion “timing is everything, and the time has come for the industry to remedy the systematic marginalisation of black design talent”. If these designers were given a chance to have other options, they would change the fashion game. It so sad that fashion is still undermining Africa’s capabilities to be at their “level”.
The late Alexander McQueen became more successful after he was given a chance to creative direct for Givenchy, from his college days; he was supported and given a chance. Isabella Blow really believed in McQueen, she saw something that most people weren’t seeing. She dedicated her time to get McQueen to the right people; this attracted the fashion press to look at McQueen with a different eye.
Nowadays you don’t need to be French to design for a French House, you don’t need to be British to design for a British brand. Riccardo Tisci is a good example of this; he became a designer for Burberry, a very rooted British brand. Combined with his perfect eye for silhouettes, craftsmanship and subculture, he managed to build on where Christopher Bailey had left off.
These kinds of conversations are often avoided by the industry leaders; however, for fashion to continue growing, changing, diversifying and inclusive, certain things need to be addressed. People of colour deserve to be recognised in fashion, they deserve to be given the same opportunities.
If the fashion industry is struggling to see a way forward when it comes to things they can easily fix, then we may need to go back to the drawing board and demand the industry executives’ attention. They need to relook at their take on fashion, the industry is growing, and there are millions of young people waiting to see someone who looks like them to represent what they stand for and someone who will give them an opportunity to buy into their culture and inspiration.