Arts + Culture

Interview: Cape Town Creatives 'naas' Drop Botswana Beat-Genius Video + Fun Toy EP

Okayafrica speaks with Cape Town-based creative powerhouse media company naas and its co-founders Thor Rixon and Ian McNair.

A hydra of a creative force, South African media company naas is a multidisciplinary group of individuals intent on exploiting the many benefits of collaboration. The brainchild of Cape Town based uber-creatives Ian McNair, Thor Rixon, Matt Rightford and Imraan Christian, naas will cater to any a creative need — whether it be in the medium of cinematography, music production, furniture and clothing design, sound engineering and radio shows — pristinely prepped and packaged with a cheeky and fresh attitude like no other. This past week has been one of their busiest, with some smashing new releases, including well loved Botswana beat-genius O’ltak’s first ever music video entitled "Stars (Lemonade)," and Daniel Breiter aka Fun Toy’s self-titled debut EP. Okayafrica got in touch with co-founders Rixon and McNair, along with Breiter to talk music, selling one’s soul to the media, and some of naas’ other fun new toys.

Shiba for OKA: Greets! So let’s get acquainted. What, who, where and why is naas?

naas: naas is a Cape Town-based creative collaborative agency. Instead of being inward-looking on our own skills and passions, we look outward and involve different people on each project we do. We would be nothing without Patrick Visser, Tourmaline Berg, Angela Weickl or any of the other amazing creative souls that we’ve worked with on any of our projects. We consist of naasFILMS, naasMUSIC, naasEVENTS, naasDESIGN, naasPHOTOGRAPHY, naasMONDAYS and naasCOLLABS (for now…). We started the collaborative because we saw the beautiful, rich and important work being done by the people we were surrounded by and there was no space for everyone to be freelance (which is a costly and risky exercise) as well as belong to a greater family/organisation (which can amount to selling your soul to make somebody else rich).

OKA: From all the disciplines you guys dabble in, what would you say separates naas from any other creative company?

naas: What separates us is the ‘why.' We feel collectively, that the only way to be relevant or to do anything important is to support the people we work with and create a culture of working together to build the different creative industries we engage in. We believe in building a platform that people can contribute to and benefit from. The reason we want to do this is to be a positive contribution to the growth of Cape Town’s current rising interaction with the world. We’re at an important time where authentic Cape Townian creative output is being noticed and celebrated worldwide.

OKA: Clearly you all have been very busy of late; let’s start off with O'ltak’s "Stars." It’s playful, dynamic, and the track is killer, as many have come to expect from him. What inspired the use of the objects in the video? Can you walk us through the process of creating it?

naas: In the spirit of collaboration, Thor, as head of naasFILMS, approached two talented and exciting individuals, Kent Andreasen and Johnno Mellish, to create a music video for O’ltak, a seriously skilled and cutting edge producer from Botswana. After the three of them spitballed a whole bunch of ideas, it came to the point where they wanted to demonstrate that inanimate objects can interact with each other in fun and intriguing ways. The only human elements present in the video are highly dehumanised objects, like the painted hand and the girl bouncing around the frame like a Windows 95 screensaver. For the VFX, the team approached Ben Rausch to put his glorious touch on the video. He was more than happy to be involved and, in our opinion, really made the project become richer and multidimensional.

OKA: The Fun Toy EP has also just dropped under naasMUSIC. Tell us what it was like working with Daniel.

naas: Daniel has never sat in one position for more than 6 minutes, as far as we can tell. He’s nuts, but that’s what we like about him. His EP is some ground-breaking production, or as Dank put it, ‘This shit is future.’ We like to release artists who show some kind of boundary-pushing, such as Throwing Shade’s ‘lovestep’ style of re-imagining of R&B themes, or Life Magic’s beyond-his-years production style, or RVWR’s straight-up-and-down TRVP genius, or even our very own Thor Rixon’s collaborative part-album, Shared Folder, which features many of Cape Town’s shining young lights of music.

OKA: Shining young lights, you say?

naas: Definitely. In terms of what has impressed us in the last year, we have been particularly taken by electronic artists who have chosen to perform their productions live and also those who have tried to push the boundaries of rhythm and sampled melodies, such as Dank, O’ltak, Fun Toy, Card On Spokes, and most impressively, SLABOFMISUSE.

OKA: Daniel has released numerous tracks over time but never something he could pull together with pride as one solid contribution-- until now. Fun Toy EP is a collection of delicious tracks that are warm and refreshing, and each track is accompanied by JNN KPN’s paper art with an individual image for each track.

DB: I wanted to create something that would say "This is Fun Toy, and this what I do." I tried to hold back from producing a bit over the last few months. I didn’t want to just create out of habit. I wanted to write something with intent, and a more meaning than 'Just another song'. Now that I that I’ve said that, I feel more comfortable exploring stranger, different directions, and creating with more purpose... Jnn Kpn is a good friend of mine (and great DJ). She's a full time graphic designer, and had done some work I loved in the past. So we got together on the Saturday before my release, and spent the night thinking up scenarios to throw the hamster in, and went for it. It was super quick and fun. She's got amazing sensibilities. It was a pleasure. I really dig "Triangulength" and "To Rebuild a Home." I really love the emotive quality of both of them, which is really what I'm all about. Pretty, emotive music. If I can manage that, I’m happy. Thats kinda what I love about sampling and remixing. The original song was important to you in some way, and invoked some sort of feeling in you. I love taking that feeling, and placing it in a new, different context. Ross Finck (Dank) also really brought the tracks to life with his mastering, and wouldn’t feel the same without his touch. As for what the original actually means to me, I really just think it's a beautiful song. Simple and deeply emotive.

Keep up to date with naas’ dealings on facebooktwitter, and tumblr.

Image courtesy of Lula Ali Ismaïl

'Dhalinyaro' Is the Female Coming-of-Age Story Bringing Djibouti's Film Industry to Life

The must-watch film, from Lula Ali Ismaïl, paints a novel picture of Djibouti's capital city through the story of three friends.

If you're having a tough time recalling the last movie you watched from Djibouti, it's likely because you have never watched one before. With an almost non-existent film industry in the country, Lula Ali Ismaïl, tells a beautiful coming of age story of three young female Djiboutian teenagers at the cusp of womanhood. Dhalinyaro offers a never-before-seen view of Djibouti City as a stunning, dynamic city that blends modernity and tradition—a city in which the youth, like all youth everywhere, struggle to decide what their futures will look like. It's a beautiful story of friendship, family, dreams and love from a female filmmaker who wants to tell a "universal story of youth," but set in the country she loves—Djibouti.

The story revolves around the lives of three young friends from different socio-economic backgrounds, with completely varied attitudes towards life, but bound by a deep friendship. There is Asma, the conservative academic genius who dreams of going to medical school and hails from a modest family. Hibo, a rebellious, liberal, spoiled girl from a very wealthy family who learns to be a better friend as the film evolves and finally Deka. Deka is the binding force in the friendship, a brilliant though sometimes naïve teen who finds herself torn between her divorced mother's ambitions to give her a better life having saved up all her life for her to go to university abroad, and her own conviction that she wants to study and succeed in her own country.

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Spotlight: Adekunle Adeleke Creates Digital Surrealist Paintings That Celebrate African Beauty

Get familiar with the work of Nigerian visual artist Adekunle Adeleke.

In our 'Spotlight' series, we highlight the work of photographers, visual artists, multimedia artists and more who are producing vibrant, original work. In our latest piece, we spotlight Adekunle Adeleke, a Nigerian visual artist, using digital mediums to paint dream-like portraits of Africans. Read more about the inspirations behind his work below, and check out some of his stunning paintings underneath. Be sure to keep up with the artist on Instagram and Facebook.

Can you tell us more about your background and when you first started painting?

I am a self taught artist. I started drawing from when I was really young. I mostly used graphite pencils and paper. But about six years ago, I think it was 2014, I wanted to start getting into color. I was a university student at the time and I lived in a hostel with three other people, so I couldn't go traditional so [instead], I started making paintings digitally, first on my iPad and then on my laptop with a Wacom. I have been painting ever since.

What would you say are the central themes in your work?

I personally think my work celebrates beauty (African beauty to be precise) and occasionally absurd things. I really just want to make paintings that are beautiful.

How do you decide who or what you're going to paint?
I do not have an exact process. I do use a lot of references though. Sometimes, I had an idea of how exactly the painting would look, others I just make it up as i go along.

Can you talk about a particular moment or turning point in your life that made you want to pursue art or a creative path?

I am not sure–I did not actively pursue art in a sense. I was just doing it because it was fun and I wanted to. Then people all of a sudden wanted to put me on projects and offer to pay for my hobby. I have thankfully been able to make art and also work in a separate field—which I also enjoy–by day.

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Stogie T just shared a deluxe version of his 2019 EP The Empire of Sheep titled EP The Empire of Sheep (Deluxe Unmasked). The project comes with three new songs. "All You Do Is Talk" features fellow South African rappers Nasty C, Boity and Nadia Nakai. New York lyricist appears on "Bad Luck" while one of Stogie T's favorite collaborators Ziyon appears on "The Making."

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"Kata" single cover.

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Nigerian artist Tekno is back with his second single of the year, "Kata."

The heavyweight artist and producer delivers a melodic track that sees him singing about his devotion to his lover over drum-filled production from Phantom. The track features subdued vocals from. the artist, and a beat that's easy to move along to. The song follows the track 'Beh Beh' which he released earlier this year.

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