Brit-pop, Americana, even Germany’s infamous electronic scene. Some styles of music are synonymous with certain countries. Yet, mention South Africa and many music-lovers are quick to jump to Paul Simon’s 1986 record ‘Graceland’.
Now, although this is an undeniably timeless album, it is an unfair outlook on what is (in my opinion) the world’s most underrated music-making nation.
In recent years, South African has produced some of the world’s most interesting artists and revolutionary records. The likes of Jeremy Loops, Desmond and the Tutus, Shortstraw, Gangs of Ballet and (the sadly split) Al Bairre have produced more than enough fun, intuitive alt-pop to soundtrack the coming summer.
In March this year, streaming superpower Spotify finally recognised the nation’s infinite and untapped potential, officially launching in the country.
South African singer-songwriter Matthew Mole epitomises this musical renaissance, describing his sound as “somewhere in the Pop vicinity, with a bit of electronic influence in the mix.”
“I think a lot of South African bands have very specific sounds that are very recognisable. I have noticed that when South African bands embrace even just a small amount of the South African flavour then listeners from other parts of the world get drawn to the different flavour they have to offer.”
South African tracks have a humility and integrity that cuts through the arrogance and meandering metaphors often found in modern music. If the artist is in love, the song will be about love, if they feel happy, the song will be happy. There’s an absence of ambiguity that gives the songs an endlessly endearing relatability.
“The market here is not very big, but there is so much going on. So many different platforms to showcase your music to the country and so many types of shows and festivals to be involved with.”
He also praised the country’s live music scene, and the many opportunities acts are given to get on stage.
“There are plenty of amazing festivals and shows to perform at here in South Africa. Each of the major cities have annual festivals with huge attendances. It’s a bit of a smaller scale than the really big world markets, but in South Africa they are a huge deal.”
Perhaps Spotify is the catalyst that can catapult the country’s music towards the global audience it so thoroughly deserves.
Matthew mused on the impact the organisation would have on South African music, saying:
“I think it will have a hugely positive affect on music listeners and even on the labels. It’s another platform that makes it that much easier for listeners to access music.”
He considered the effect Spotify’s introduction would have on his own music.
“There are some amazing algorithms incorporated into Spotify. If I manage to get into the right playlists and release new material in the right way then I definitely think Spotify can help spread it far.”
Matthew Mole continues the South African surge to a global audience with his upcoming European summer tour, ‘Run’.
“I couldn’t be more excited to get back to Europe. I learnt a lot from the first trip over there in February, so I can’t wait to learn even more this time around. I have been working hard on an energetic and interactive live set, so I’m going to try and get audiences as involved as I can.”
Find out more about Matthew Mole from his official website.