Tidal Waves smash the barriers
By Robert Laing
Jacob 'Boogie Zakes' Wulana doesn't strike one as a stereotypical Rastaman. He has no long dreadlocks or "what u know 'bout Reggae man?" attitude.
But then avoiding being a stereotypical reggae band is what Tidal Waves is all about.
Zakes was a vegan, but as a full-time musician in Johannesburg couldn't afford soya dairy-product substitutes. His only day job is caretaker of a Yeoville flat-block.
Another Rastafarian trait Zakes adheres to is oneness. Our government may have abandoned the dream of a Rainbow Nation, but Tidal Waves remain standard bearers of Nelson Mandela's ideal with songs like Lekker Lekker Dans, a Zakes composition which founds Reggae-Boeremusik.
"We've been playing a lot of Afrikaans festivals, and we wanted a song to say we are in with the people — that we are South Africans and Afrikaans is one of our languages. We needed a happy song in Afrikaans, where people can just dance and jol.
"When we were in Holland and played this song, everyone went crazy and asked us 'U kan Nederlands spreken?' and we replied "Nee, ons is Afrikaans" but we hooked because it's so similar."
Tidal Waves are the proverbial prophets always held in honor except in their home town, Johannesburg. Zakes wrote the first track on Tidal Wave's third album Muzik and de Method as a thank you to the band's warm reception in New Zealand during a 2003 tour.
"Our welcome was amazing. We were treated like superstars. I was impressed with the way New Zealanders have kept their culture. The song is called Kia Ora which is thank you in Maori".
New Zealand radio stations loved the song and gave it extensive airplay, while true to form, South African radio DJs have never heard of Tidal Waves.
This Joburg reggae band will be resident performers at Belgium's Mano mundo festival every year until 2010. After playing Mano mundo in May, Tidal Waves has gigs lined up in Europe for the entire Northern hemisphere summer. The band is huge in Europe, but battles for bookings at home.
Tidal Waves' first album Hard Work released in 2000 looks destined to be a rare collectors' item. A Dutch indie label wants to make all three albums available in Europe, but the band hasn't been able to get the big record company it initially signed up with, Sony BMG, to hand over its Hard Work masters. Tidal Waves' last two albums were released independently.
Muzik and de Method's album notes have a picture of Tidal Waves' quartet standing on Klerksdorp's railway station. Zakes originally hails from Klerksdorp and his song-writing collaborator and percussionist Sam "Drumbo" Shoai lived in the next town along the track, Stillfontein.
"Sam and I grew put together, playing music."
Keyboardist Andile 'Toply' Faku and bassist Nhlnhla 'Lucky' Mthalane also hail from the Potchefstroom district.
Zakes clearly delights in mixing taale, and Muzik and de Method's 13 tracks contain a broad spectrum of South Africa's languages sung to "reggaenised" music genres ranging from Mbaqanga to blues and dub. He often titles songs after Afrikaans or English words which have been assimilated into Zulu, Xhosa and other members of the Nguni family. Examples include Egigini which means to gig and Basop A derived from passop.
"Tidal Waves breaks the rules. We didn't want to follow one genre as a reggae band or a jazz band or a blues band... everything has influenced us."
The only track on Muzik and de Method which is not a Zakes or Zakes and Sam composition is a reggae take of Koos Kombuis's Hartseerland.
"When we moved to Yeoville, Koos Kombuis was playing at the Tandoor which was our local. He inspired us. We picked a song about his life around Yeoville and Hillbrow."
Tidal Waves sang about their new home in Khoteyg ina YoVille on their debut album. Zakes still lives in Yeoville, but half the band has moved to other areas. Like most South Africans, Zakes gets glum about crime and grime — especially in Yeoville — and this is reflected in songs like Be Butle which is Sotho for cease fire. The song is a cry against violent crime.
"We picked the name Tidal Waves because waves have a rhythm like music. Angry songs have angry rhythms, and mellow songs mellow rhythms — like the ocean."
Author: Gerrit, 3 October 2010
Daar was so 'n baie oulike, stoute song met mango en tango in die chorus op die radio (Cape Talk), en toe ek die DJ SMS om te vra wat dit is, toe laat weet hy dis 'n song van die Tidal Waves? is dit julle?
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