Scottish alt-rap group Young Fathers perform in South Africa
Written by: Tamara Arden
Livity Africa hosted Scottish alternative rap collective Young Fathers for a meet and Greet session a few days before their Johannesburg gig. Welcoming the trio in with a hospitable and curious attitude, the crowd began to get a better feel of the group’s take on music, race, their roots and their beginnings.
Young Fathers were formed at a young age. The boys found each other in their early teens and were pulled into creating music together. The band’s name was created from a sentiment they all shared- they were all named after their fathers. They come across as genuine and supportive. When asked a series of questions, they put the right amount of thought and insight into their answers. They have not rehearsed their presentation and cannot be shaped up by a defined identity.
When asked about the details and influence of their sounds, they go back to their time growing up. Their tracks come together with time and a variety of stimulation. Rock, gospel and their environment has impacted the way they make music. Edinburgh plays a large role in their diversified tune selection. The country can often be dark and cold, and its mood often comes through in their tracks. They cannot categorise their music, and it’s refreshing. Not labelling or putting a genre to sound is more direct.
“If we tell you a genre, we would be lying. We give too much too quickly. Our attention span is short. We keep moving,” says Young Fathers.
Their latest album is called ‘White men are black men too.’ When asked to contextualise the meaning behind the name, they keep it light. They share their stories about racial prejudice and being engaged with differently because of their skin colour in their country. The crowd reacts by asking them what they know of South African history. When they put forward their situation into perspective, I realise that South Africa is not struggling alone. South Africa is still very new to a society with equal rights and people are sharing their voices and concerns more frequently. Once we have opened the dialogue about race, Young Fathers enlighten the crowd about the state of another country. They listen to the crowd talk about redefining your ‘blackness’ or owning your ‘whiteness’ in South Africa.
As the session comes to an end, the collective remind the creative people in their room to fuel their passions by working hard. The group don’t live lavish lives, but rather make a living from being musicians. The harder they work, the better their chances are of touring and spreading their music. They believe that being true to themselves and feeling free is essential to the music making process.
‘We make art to our absolute best,” adds the group.
With the assistance of British Council Connect ZA and okayafrica, as well as South African beats platform Weheartbeat and Cape Town’s Assembly Radio, Young Fathers are able to experience the local culture and perform in Johannesburg and Cape Town during their visit.
Young Fathers will be playing alongside at King Kong on 27 February and The Assembly on 28 February.
Follow @Youngfathers to keep up-to-date with Young Fathers’ experience in South Africa.