A staple of the South African music scene and warrior for what is right, The Kiffness is an act deeply entrenched in our lives one way or another. With a new album, Soul Safari, recently out, it’s obvious that a catch up was in order so I did just that. We discuss the album, his sincerity and authenticity, Oppikoppi and when a cow gives birth to a fire, why it should lick that fire.
Richard Chemaly (RC): So you recently spoke at Business of Design on the subject of content creation and going viral, something you do really well. Is it something you’ve been able to teach successfully?
Kiffness (K): Going viral is something I believe you can’t really teach, it’s more an intuitive thing – having the right ideas at the right time. All I can do is talk from my experience of creating content that has gone viral in the past.
RC: Have you ever solved the mystery of how a cow gives birth to a fire and then licks that fire?
K: I think so. My understanding is that if something is your own creation, you will look after it – regardless of whether it’s good or bad.
RC: Let’s touch on Oppi and your relationship there a bit. Earlier this year you took them on in a big way, and rightly so for not paying artists. We were pretty shocked to see you were invited back but then they clashed your set with one of the headliners (I watched you by the way). Has the disagreement turned to a bit of friendly banter now?
K: Well, firstly I would like to thank you for choosing to watch a live electronic act over a “live” DJ *cough cough*. I’m yet to meet the guy responsible for paying the artists, but it seems like the air has been cleared & I wish Oppi all the best in their future endeavors.
RC: Congrats on the new album which seems to be doing really well. When you release new music like this, besides sales, what are you trying to elicit from your audience?
K: First and foremost, I’m trying to write music that I enjoy. The creation process is the most important thing to me, and anything that comes after that is just a byproduct.
As soon as an artist writes something which is only made to elicit a desired response, I believe it loses it’s authenticity.
RC: I remember way back when, that song TV Games got a lot of airtime and you largely went away for awhile after that then, BOOM, Kiffness is back. Where did you went?
K: Ah man – the good old MK days. I was studying at Cape Audio College, so that took up a lot of my time. I spent a great deal of time honing my new found sound engineering skills, writing new music & figuring out how to put a live show together. I think the next big songs after TV Games were “Voetsek” & “Where Are You Going”, which were the first songs that were good enough to be playlisted on radio stations.
RC: You tend to deal with a lot of social issues in your music and social media presence which, at times, must get depressing. How do you cope?
K: I think I have a strong foundation in my marriage, so if everything else crumbles around me I have peace in knowing that my wife is there for me.
RC: With all the industries you’ve taken on and fights you’ve fought, what has been your most significant victory?
K: I’d say the internal battles are the most significant, because they determine your outlook & trajectory in life. I think being able to break my addiction to pornography has had the most significant impact on the way I live & see things.
RC: Finally, what is the ambition with the new album and what do you hope to see it launching you into in 2018?
K: The creation of the album is the prize itself. Anything that happens now is just a distraction.