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Saturday, April 21, 2018
HomeVinylMusic NewsShortstraw: The Music is All that Matters

Shortstraw: The Music is All that Matters

…how you release it is just a formality. This is what Shortstraw offered in response to questions on their latest project…Those Meddling Kids. The project is aimed at releasing a new song from the album each month, using the opportunity to expose the world to new designers, videographers and general SA talent that otherwise wouldn’t have the platform to shine. September has seen the release of Ignorance is Bliss from the collective…and it’s fantastic. As usual, Richard was on hand to ask all the irrelevant questions and some of the important ones too…ranging from Frank Ocean to South Park.

Richard Chemaly (RC): What’s going on okes? A decade ago, we’d have to wait each week for an episode but could get all the songs in under 80 minutes. Today, Netflix releases entire seasons in a single day and you’re making us wait a month for a song? Who’s controlling all the media, swapping audio and visual expectations and messing with our heads?

Shortstraw (S): We’re just kicking it old school, dawg! There are two reasons: First, it so often happens when a band releases an album in one go that people only focus on the singles and so many other songs just fall by the wayside, so this way, each song will get it’s time to shine and be heard. It also allows us to profile a new artist/designer and give them the attention that they deserve, as well as any videographers/filmmakers involved in the video for each song. We’re very proud of this new stuff, so we’re hoping everyone else appreciates each song as much as we do.
The second reason is that we haven’t finished writing this album yet. We’re only 6 songs deep, so we still need to get a few more songs out there, and releasing like this allows us to do this. Also, TV shows leave you with cliffhanger endings, so you have to watch the whole season in one sitting. We make music, and that hopefully can be appreciated in bits and pieces. At least we aren’t Frank Oceaning you.
RC: This project seems to follow a cool down period of the 90% local music requirements. Any chance you’ve been scoping out the scene and think this is the the way to maximize airtime under the new regulations?
S: Nope, we just didn’t have the time to get this done sooner. We love being in studio, so we haven’t waited on purpose. Also, we may be releasing a new track each month, but that doesn’t mean each track is going to be a single that gets playlisted.
RC: Your aspirations seem to be lekker in promoting the people behind the scenes with each single release. From producers to video directors. Are you intentionally going to scope out different okes and okettes for each single? Have you already completed the “album” or do you also work on a new song each month? What if you don’t complete one in time? It’s not like you can go full South Park and just live tweet through a repeat.
S: Yes, we’re doing a bunch of research so that each artist will speak to the song they’ve been given. Everything is being matched as closely as we can figure out. We’ve currently completed only two tracks, with 4 being mixed at the moment. So we have a bit of a head start, but we’ve still got a bunch to write and record. We haven’t set out an official number of songs we need done though, because we’d hate to put out anything sub par, so if we run out of shit to write about, that’ll be the end of the project! That being said, our goal is 12.
RC: Who worked on the video and what’s so special about it to you?
S: The video for Ignorance is Bliss was shot and directed by our friend, Brendan ‘Bugsy’ Barnes. Al and Bugs went to school together, played in bad cover bands together and now we share the stage with Bugs’ band, CrashCarBurn quite often. It’s like they’re high school sweethearts or something. Bugs also co-directed the video for Say Anything with Al, so we’re no strangers. When we were filming the Say Anything video, Bugs mentioned how much he loves performance videos and shooting them, so when it came down to deciding what we wanted to do for the Ignorance video, it seemed like a no brainer. The idea is just for us to perform the song in one of our parents garage’s with some kiff lights and high energy. It’s a throwback to how all of us spent our high school days – in a sweaty garage making music with our friends. There’s nothing complicated about the video, which rings true to our music and is why we feel it’s the perfect video for the start of Those Meddling Kids.
RC: In terms of design, South Africa tends to keep things unique with its musical artistry? Who’s the designer on this single and what was the highlight of working with them?

S: So we did a bunch of research on designers before choosing who would do each single, and when we came across Dani Eugenie O’Neill’s work, we immediately thought of Ignorance. Her style is so disconnected and jarring, playing with collage and interesting designs (to quote between 10and5: ‘Dani’s works are intimately incisive, but accessible on a larger ideological level’)- and the song is about choice and choosing whether or not to pay attention to certain things that the two work hand in hand. We can’t believe how young Dani is, for an artist with such a mature style and thinking process, we’re blown away. She was great to work with; she actually presented us with 4 options and we just chose the one we liked the best, even though they were all amazing!

RC: Now that you’ve engaged in the first step of this unique drive, have there been any regrets? Has Tom woken up one the couch one afternoon thinking, “What were we thinking?” yet?

S: Nope. Only positive feedback thus far.
RC: In all seriousness, it’s a pretty cool push you’re making and we’re keen to see how it turns out. Your experimentation essentially makes you the Varsity Cup of SA music. Unfortunately SA music still has many traditionalists and naysayers in the mix. What’s the worst criticism this idea has received and what will be your celebratory Facebook status when you prove them wrong?
S: We’ve literally only received positive feedback so far. We have loads of haters though, so I’m sure we’ll get a bunch of shit as soon as we start releasing the music which, in all honesty, is the only thing that actually matters – the way you release it is just a formality.
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Entrepreneur of Third Planet Digital, Joburgbrew and the editor of Milled.co.za. Speaker of craft beer and technology, ecommerce and social media and how they all come together.