Batuk, the supergroup from Southern Africa is embarking on their European tour.
This summer will see Aero Manyelo, Spoek Mathambo and Manteiga bring their electrifying brand of African house to France, Portugal, Italy, Spain, Germany and Switzerland.
I’ve known Manteiga (in the centre above) since we were both snot-nosed six-year-olds in a dusty small town convent we had the misfortune to be educated at. Now she’s one-third of a group producing banging house and visceral visuals from all over the continent. What an incredible journey to behold.
Batuk’s debut album, Musica da Terra is out soon and their new video, Puta, drops today! Puta relays an important message on empowerment and rebellion against female objectification.
I shared a pizza with my old friend and she shared their story with me.
I’ve researched various meanings for Batuk. Please help. How did the name come about?
Batuk comes from the Portuguese word ‘batouque’ meaning drum. We’ve just spelt it differently.
The lyrics for Puta are pertinent and poignant but the beat is unrelenting and celebratory. How would you describe the tone and message of the song?
I wouldn’t say the song is celebratory but it does mark a victory against bottom-feeders, bullies, trolls and chauvinists. I wrote it out of frustration and it is very cathartic to perform.
A directed missile to all the detractors, perverts and creeps.
It is a disinfectant and a pesticide. A directed missile to all the detractors, perverts and creeps that I have to deal with. We wanted to make something that had the energy of riot grrrl, a punk anthem for the hips. Who says that a song with a message can’t make you groove.
Puta was shot in Reiger Park. What was it like shooting in your old neighbourhood?
It was great. Very emotional for me because almost everyone knew me and made a point of letting me know how proud they are of me! The place is full of love, the media just won’t recognise it. They only acknowledge the negative. It was a huge honour for me… to show the streets where I grew up, to share the energy of the people. I loved it! I’ll do it again!
You guys are all established artists and performers in your right but with different mediums. Can you share what drew you into working together? And how your individual gifts are translated into the group?
It’s been quite a natural collaboration based on shared interests, mutual respect, love and hard work. We all have a lot of love for house music and are extremely proud of how SA is such a powerhouse in the field, we all bring this passion forward.
We’re all writers so we share our gifts.
In different ways, we’re all writers so we share our gifts in writing and composing and create fun sounds which represent our different backgrounds and cultures.
The wealth of sound and style offered by the continent is beautifully reflected in the music and the visuals in your performance. Where did you record?
We have been working on Batuk for the last year. We started recording in Aero Manyelo’s studio in Ivory Park, and since then we have travelled to Mozambique and Uganda to further develop and record our album. Every space we recorded in had its own flavour and uniqueness. We collaborated with various artists from each country and all of them have their own energy and spark.
Are there any particularly memorable places or special collaborators on the album?
Nandi Ndlovu is a constant feature in our album. We love her! She is a beautiful young South-African vocalist with a voice that cannot be compared. Grupo Zoré from Inhambane, Mozambique blew us away with their drums and percussion. Working with them felt as if the earth was shaking, very exciting and mind-blowing! Giovanni Keying, from Uganda, was also spectacular. He is a multi-instrumentalist and singer with a powerful energy and a great knack for improvisation.
Your family is from SA and Mozam. Can you describe a little of what it was like growing up between these two cultures and spaces? How do you compare growing up in each?
A border is an imaginary line. I never felt like I was in ‘different’ spaces. I suppose because I was with my family on either side. In Mozambique I grew up playing games in Tsonga, dancing a lot, climbing trees and eating fruits from trees. Mozambique has a lifestyle I enjoy and a warm energy that pumps my heart. Growing up there taught me how to love.
You can say that SA is a rough diamond; it gave me a roughness.
South Africa is super dynamic and I believe that anyone born there has magic powers of sorts. I grew up playing in the streets of a ‘so-called dangerous’ township, eating (bompi’s) ice-lollys, speaking Afrikaans and experimenting with cigarettes at early age. You can say that SA is a rough diamond; it gave me a roughness. But both cultures and countries are so rich! I’m blessed to have them in my veins.
Such a privilege to have been raised in these rich cultures. What are your top five favourite things and places about South Africa and Mozambique?
1. The weather; I love humidity.
2. The people, super warm and friendly.
3. The bread, my hips love it!
4. Mozambique Island; there is something super magical and mystical about that place.
5. My family, of course.
1. My grandmothers house.
2. Sunsets in Mpumalanga forests: breathtaking!
3. Kwaito music.
4. Mala mogodu.
5. My family, of course.
I’m asking for a friend but where can a person find Africa’s most beautiful men? 😉
South Africa has some incredibly handsome men. I can’t lie. The love of my life is South African and he is beeeaauuuutifuul! You’ve just gotta make sure the beauty outside matches the beauty inside because a lot of men I’ve met are rotten inside. I’ll keep an eye out for ‘your friend’. 😉
Batuk will be on tour in Europe from May 20. Check out dates below:
Check out more of Batuk’s music here