Blk Jks Talk About Making Their New Album

Given that you’ve been playing together for so long, how do discussions around a song’s form happen? Does everyone kind of know how it’ll flow, or is there a sit-down beforehand to discuss the approach?

You know the story of the hard drives being stolen at Soweto Theatre. By the time we were recording those songs, all of what you’re talking about [had been] sorted out. The way it works, usually, is we just jam. We just start playing – somebody plays a note, somebody hits the drum, somebody slide that bass. And then every sound, every movement, every action, every facial expression, somebody shouting – it requires a response, or it inspires something in the next person. So we just follow that energy, and it builds, and it builds. And we take the corners, cut the corners sho’t left, we turn in the music; if we’re jamming in one direction for too long, somebody will pull us another way, and you’ll hear that he’s playing it in a different beat, so it’s not gelling, so I need to get in the gel

So that’s how we work out changes, and dynamics, and stuff like that – from hours and hours of jamming. And then what we’ll do is, we’ll have the songs either in our heads, or we’ll record on our phones or little tape recorders. And then when we listen back or think about it, we’ll have conversations as friends, hanging out like, remember that thing we were doing? It’d be nice if it did this, or if it did that. Then the next jam session, those things will implement themselves. 

By the time we were recording in Soweto, we had done all of that, and we had played most of those songs live at least once or twice as a test drive. Then we recorded them. Then the drives got stolen. Then we played a gig with Thandiswa [Mazwai]. We got paid, then we went to Downtown Studios for three days. Three six-hour sessions, nine songs, two hours a song, that’s basically how we did it. 

So what you get on the album is a really pure expression of the band’s, and of those songs. Even in the post-production phase, mixing/mastering, we tried to keep it one hundred, just like we did by recording for three days. There are imperfections for sure, and we just left them in there. As long as you know what the song is about, and where it’s going, and people can hear everything, we’re not gonna be out here finessing, that’s not what it’s about. 

That’s how we work, we like the punk element, keep it raw. In that sense, this album speaks to more to who we were before we recorded After Robots

  • The complete article is available here
  • Abantu/Before Humans is out now-now. Listen to the current single below…

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