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Freshlyground Answers Our Questions About 'Take Me To The Dance'

South African band Freshlyground answer our questions about their video for 'Take Me to the Dance'.


When we premiered Freshlyground's video for "Take Me to the Dance" last week, readers took to the comments to note that the video's look and tone departed from the band's usual style. Since questions were swirling about whether the band was drawing inspiration from Spoek Mathambo or even Die Antwoord, we figured it'd be best to talk influences with the band and Sam Coleman, the director behind the video. Read on for the reasons behind the darker and more mature look, insight into the influences behind the video, and the band's desire to create a more 'global sound'.

OKA: After dropping Freshly Ground's latest video for "Take Me to the Dance" OKA's social media crowd took notice of the shift in aesthetic from your previous works like "Pot Belly". What is the purpose for making this video a bit "darker" visually?

Sam Coleman: The tone of the video was inspired by the track which immediately struck me as a departure for Freshlyground's sound. It’s a dance floor track and I thought it had a hint of darkness and a heavy dose of magic.

Watch the full clip for "Take Me to the Dance" below:

[embed width="620"][/embed]

OKA: Why is the band experiencing a shift in sound and aesthetic?

Kyla-rose (violinist): Last year marked our ten-year anniversary, and while that has been an amazing achievement it left us in a place of uncertainty. Unsure of how we should continue or whether we even wanted to continue. But after a lot of discussion we decided that we wanted to make a 5th record and we wanted to take ourselves into a new creative space. So we turned our traditional method of creating and writing material on its head...split up into smaller, sometimes even singular groups to piece together the material for our new record, Take me To The Dance and we also collaborated with the wonderful Grammy award winning producer Steve Berlin. And the result is a record that all 7 of us are very proud of and feel embodies the diversity that is Freshlyground while venturing into a more global sound. I feel we have grown up and that shows in the songs on the new record and with it came a desire to present ourselves in a slightly new light. A little less safe. A little more edgy. I think we are in a position where we are secure enough not to have to play to people's expectation of us but rather show them a different side to Freshlyground because we are all varied and diverse individuals and things are not always happy and frivolous...there are darker times too. ;)

Freshlyground, "Take Me to the Dance"

Die Antwoord, "Fatty Boom Boom"

OKA: We see parallels between "Take Me to the Dance" and Spoek Mathambo's videos for "Let Them Talk" and "Control". Some might even argue that parallels can be drawn between the slick black characters in Die Antwoord's "Fatty Boom Boom" (above) and the young man marching down the road at the beginning of "TMTTD". Is it just us, or did you draw inspiration from these works? 

SC: I’m certainly inspired by these artists and they set the bar in terms of the fierceness and energy of their work but any visual parallels are unintentional. We tried to create a very distinct world for the video which I think we achieved. It’s about a journey through a dance floor. A night out which becomes a bit surreal or dream-like. On the kid, we wanted to make a kind of supernatural alter ego to be on the journey with Zolani [Mahola], inspired by the lyrics from the track: "I am a lady and not a child”. I always knew I wanted a kid for this but at first thought it would naturally be a girl but then Xabiso arrived at the casting and I knew it would be him. I thought of him as a kind of African super hero - androgynous but strong - so we created a supernatural character in post production at Black Ginger with particles of light falling through him like stars. The visual reference for him was actually Alan Moore’s Doctor Manhattan and also the Silver Surfer!

Spoek Mathambo, "Control"

OKA: How did you create the concept for "TMTTD"? 

SC: Initially Simon from the band had the idea of a shot with “Zolani close up but slowly pulling back to expose a dancefloor scene. She however remains static, staring straight to camera. She is surrounded by a heaving dancefloor…’ so that really became the essence of the treatment. Then it became about creating the atmosphere on the dancefloor. He also wanted the dance floor to be full of what he called “unlikely” characters and even suggested black & white which I wanted to do also.

So we knew it would be a dancefloor where anything goes, maybe a litte twisted at times but also somewhere you would have a great night out. I knew I wanted the characters on the dancefloor to be very eclectic and represent a good cross section of South Africa and I feel that this was absolutely delivered by the casting. I was blown away by the variety of people that showed up: Cape Carnival Minstrels, strippers, kids and their mama’s, androgynous types, cross dressers, roller girls, zombie shake dancers, booty dancers and everything else in between all showed up. You would never get a mix of people like that showing up to a casting in L.A or London. And they drove the result. The atmosphere on the dancefloor is real.

The idea also came from the narrative in the lyrics ... but at the same time the track has a dream-like quality. And a driving motion. It is firmly set in the night. The palette is dark. With the subjects lit "on camera flash style" coming out of the darkness. Black & white. It has a driving motion. The groove is infectious. The idea is that everybody who hears it lets loose all inhibitions as we see on the dancefloor. I wanted Zo to be part of it but also to be almost removed at the same time which gave it a dream-like quality.

Spoek Mathambo, "Let Them Talk"

OKA: What was one tossed away idea you had for the video? What concept will the world never see?

SC: There are actually no tossed away ideas just things which we ran out of time to shoot! We tried to do a 2 day shoot in one day but maybe managed to squeeze in 1.5 days in one long day! So we missed a whole scene on the road where she encounters the Carnival Minstrels and others we see later before even getting to the dance.

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Introducing OkayAfrica's 100 Women 2020 List

Celebrating African Women Laying the Groundwork for the Future

It would not be hyperbole to consider the individuals we're honoring for OkayAfrica's 100 Women 2020 list as architects of the future.

This is to say that these women are building infrastructure, both literally and metaphorically, for future generations in Africa and in the Diaspora. And they are doing so intentionally, reaching back, laterally, and forward to bridge gaps and make sure the steps they built—and not without hard work, mines of microaggressions, and challenges—are sturdy enough for the next ascent.

In short, the women on this year's list are laying the groundwork for other women to follow. It's what late author and American novelist Toni Morrison would call your "real job."

"I tell my students, 'When you get these jobs that you have been so brilliantly trained for, just remember that your real job is that if you are free, you need to free somebody else. If you have some power, then your job is to empower somebody else."

And that's what inspired us in the curation of this year's list. Our honorees use various mediums to get the job done—DJ's, fashion designers, historians, anthropologists, and even venture capitalists—but each with the mission to clear the road ahead for generations to come. Incredible African women like Eden Ghebreselassie, a marketing lead at ESPN who created a non-profit to fight energy poverty in Eritrea; or Baratang Miya, who is quite literally building technology clubs for disadvantaged youth in South Africa.

There are the builds that aren't physically tangible—movements that inspire women to show up confidently in their skin, like Enam Asiama's quest to normalize plus-sized bodies and Frédérique (Freddie) Harrel's push for Black and African women to embrace the kink and curl of their hair.

And then there are those who use their words to build power, to take control of the narrative, and to usher in true inclusion and equity. Journalists, (sisters Nikki and Lola Ogunnaike), a novelist (Oyinkan Braithwaite), a media maven (Yolisa Phahle), and a number of historians (Nana Oforiatta Ayim, Leïla Sy) to name a few.

In a time of uncertainty in the world, there's assuredness in the mission to bring up our people. We know this moment of global challenge won't last. It is why we are moving forward to share this labor of love with you, our trusted and loyal audience. We hope that this list serves as a beacon for you during this moment—insurance that future generations will be alright. And we have our honorees to thank for securing that future.

EXPERIENCE 100 WOMEN 2020

The annual OkayAfrica 100 Women List is our effort to acknowledge and uplift African women, not only as a resource that has and will continue to enrich the world we live in, but as a group that deserves to be recognized, reinforced and treasured on a global scale. In the spirit of building infrastructure, this year's list will go beyond the month of March (Women's History Month in America) and close in September during Women's Month in South Africa.

100 women 2020

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Burna Boy 'African Giant' money cover art by Sajjad.

The 20 Essential Burna Boy Songs

We comb through the Nigerian star's hit-filled discography to select 20 essential songs from the African Giant.

Since bursting onto the scene in 2012 with his chart-topping single, "Like to Party," and the subsequent release of his debut album, L.I.F.E - Leaving an Impact for eternity, Burna Boy has continued to prove time and again that he is a force to be reckoned with.

The African Giant has, over the years, built a remarkable musical identity around the ardent blend of dancehall, hip-hop, reggae, R&B, and afropop to create a game-changing genre he calls afro-fusion. The result has been top tier singles, phenomenal collaborations, and global stardom—with several accolades under his belt which include a Grammy nomination and African Giant earning a spot on many publications' best albums of 2019.

We thought to delve into his hit-filled discography to bring you The 20 Essential Burna Boy Songs.

This list is in no particular order.

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Lueking Photos. Courtesy of emPawa Africa.

Interview: GuiltyBeatz Proves He's Truly 'Different'

The Ghanaian producer talks to us about his debut EP, Different, the massive success of "Akwaaba," producing for Beyoncé and more.

GuiltyBeatz isn't a new name in the Ghanaian music scene. A casual music fan's first introduction to him would've likely been years ago on "Sample You," one of Mr Eazi's early breakout hits. However, he had scored his first major hit two years before that, in the Nigerian music space on Jesse Jagz' and Wizkid's 2013 hit "Bad Girl." In the years to come, the producer has gone on to craft productions for some of Ghana's most talented artists.

In the years to come, the producer has gone on to craft productions for some of Ghana's most talented artists, having worked with the likes of Efya, Pappy Kojo, Sarkodie, R2Bees, Stonebwoy, Bisa Kdei, Wande Coal, Moelogo and many more over the last decade. The biggest break of the talented producer's career, however, came with the arrival of his own single "Akwaaba".

In 2018, GuiltyBeatz shared "Akwaaba" under Mr Eazi's Banku Music imprint, shortly afterwards the song and its accompanying dance went viral. The track and dance graced party floors, music & dance videos, and even church auditoriums all around the world, instantly making him one of Africa's most influential producers. Awards, nominations, and festival bookings followed the huge success of "Akwaaba." Then, exactly a year later, the biggest highlight of his career so far would arrive: three production credits on Beyoncé's album The Lion King: The Gift.

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Image via Wikimedia Commons

Nollywood Actress, Funke Akindele, Arrested for Throwing Party During Coronavirus Lockdown

Naira Marley, who was also in attendance, has also turned himself in according to local reports.

Star Nigerian actress, Funke Akindele, and her husband, rapper JJC Skillz, were arrested on Monday after hosting a party at their home which violated Lagos' coronavirus lockdown order.

The actress came under fire over the weekend, when footage of a party she threw for her husband's birthday began circulating on social media. The clips showed several people, including fellow Nollywood actress Eniola Badmus and Nigerian rapper Naira Marley, gathered inside of Akindele's Lagos home. According to a report from Pulse Nigeria, Marley also turned himself in on Monday for attending the function and will be arraigned.

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