PHFat & JungFreud On 'Lights Out'

Okayafrica caught up with South Africa's PHFat and JungFreud to talk their 'Lights Out' collaboration.

PHFat are back at it with what they refer to as their "best work yet." One tends to think that carrying on an act past the exit of a key member after so long and so much success means moving at a slower pace than before... If their new body of work is anything to go by, such has not held true for PHFat after the departure of Disco. With the introduction of Nonku Phiri as JungFreud on their new single “Lights Out,” “Smooth Mike” Zietsman and Narch are heading fast in the right direction with the kind of optimism evident in our discussion about their latest track and an extended South African, Australian and European tour to come...

Shiba for OKA: I think we can all agree that this is the most dynamic, the most flavoursome, the most addictive track PHFat has embarked on. Give us the grit on what the actual creation of the track was like.

Smooth Mike: Yeah it was awesome. We started hanging with Nonku with the intention of trying to make some music and ended up just like... straight up becoming homies. And we just ended up hanging out quite a bit and not actually making music so much as listening to it and talking about it. Anyways, one of the days we were chilling flipping through some of Narch's sketches and Nonku hummed the first couple notes of the chorus and in my brain I heard the entire melody and flow for the rest of it. In about fifteen minutes I had a sketch recorded (which actually ended up in the song) and we knew that we had a dope track on our hands. That was literally in like October or November. So as easy as the writing the chorus was, the rest of the track was quite hectic. We pained over it because we knew it was an important track. It's funny how some of the most difficult decisions involve taking stuff away instead of adding stuff you know? Complexity kept getting in the way with this one. I almost lost my mind mixing it too. We also got it mastered and re-mastered overseas but it just wasn't coming back how we wanted and we ended up doing it ourselves like we always have.

JungFreud: Creating the track was a fairly organic process, since the guys and I had already been working on something for Rocking the Daisies. We basically spent a lot of time hanging out and jamming; "Lights Out" happened in between sessions and took us quite a while to finish because the hook was sooooo freaking tight and we knew we had to kill it.

OKA: Will you be bringing Nonku as JungFreud on board for more tracks? What’s the story from here?

Smooth Mike: I think Nonku just wanted a different name for her rap persona. A lot of our discussions were about psychology and psychologists cos I was obsessed with Freud and his impact on advertising when we started hanging out. Nonku was a fuckin trooper. She had literally like... never rapped before and I treated her as if she were any other rapper when we were tracking cos I knew it was an important track for us you know? She just fuckin brunged it man. Endless energy. Literally got every single nuance that I pained over and didn't want to give up on the days that it wasn't working. I don't think it's ever really happened that another rapper was looking at me like 'Stop getting tired, we have shit to finish!” It was amazing, she really communicates and receives ideas amazingly… But yeah, as long as we still hanging out on the regular I'm sure we'll be making tracks when they happen.

OKA: You guys have always been resourceful with the way you make your music. What prompted you guys to step outside of your comfort zones this time and try switching up the roles?

Smooth Mike: I dunno man. Different people bring out different things in other people when they hang out in different groups. We stood on each others toes a lot and the track really wouldn't have worked if we didn't all have input on each others roles. It was just the nature of that track I think. I think that always has to be the rule. The track comes first. We made the decisions we had to in order for that to happen. Which meant we switched up roles a lot this time.

OKA: How does creating music on your own, with your band and working with electronic producers like Crazy White Boy and PHFat differ for you?

JungFreud: To be totally honest most of my collaborations happen organically. I’ve been blessed to work with artists who happened to be freaking amazing human beings.

OKA: You guys have a massive amount of touring ahead of you. What are some of the things you’re looking forward to experiencing?

Smooth Mike: The thing I'm most excited about is playing to a completely new audience in Australia. No one knows who we are there. It almost feels like going back to high school you know? You get like... a second chance to make a first impression, even if we aren't going to be playing to the same size audiences we do here. Some of our coolest shows have been to fifty people.... I'm fuckin amped man…

Pictures courtesy of Maeva Heim

Maeva Heim is the Founder the Beauty Industry Has Been Waiting on

The 31-year-old founder of Bread Beauty Supply is changing the conversation around haircare for textured hair.

It's nearing 9 p.m. in Australia, and Maeva Heim is dimly lit from behind and smiling warmly at her computer screen, ready to talk shop. We're here to discuss hair care, namely her brand Bread Beauty Supply, and how black beauty has made the globe smaller.

The 31-year-old is the founder of Bread Beauty Supply, a haircare line that encourages all textures and curl patterns to come as they are. "We don't want to tell you what to do with your hair. Enough people do that already," Heim says of Bread's brand philosophy. "We are just here to provide really good products for whatever you want to do with your hair at any point and not dictate to you how things should be. We're just women making the good products. You're making the good hair, and that's it. We're not here to define the rules."

But it's impossible to talk about recent strides in beauty products for textured hair without talking about the summer of 2020. In the weeks following the murder of George Floyd in the United States, a crescendo of cries rallied through global streets asking for not just equality but equity. The world watched with scrutiny as black boxes filled social feeds and brands made pledges to diversity. Those calls pinged from executive boards to the shelves of some of the world's largest beauty retailers. Meanwhile, after years of formulation, fundraising, and perfecting formulas and ingredients during a global pandemic, Maeva Heim introduced Bread beauty to the world in a perfect storm of timing and execution. The July 2020 launch filled a wide gap for Black beauty between homemade beauty products and behemoth beauty brands as Heim focused on an often under-explored direct-to-consumer middle.

Lauded on social media for their innovative packaging and nostalgic scents (the brand's award-winning hair oil smells like Froot Loops), Bread is a brand that makes hair care basics for not-so-basic hair. Typically, women with textured hair have not been included in the conversations around the idea of "'lazy girl hair" with minimal and effortless maintenance and styling - something Heim wanted to change. Part of Bread's mission is deleting category terms from the brand language – e.g. 'anti-frizz — that the brand feels unnecessarily demonizes characteristics that are natural to textured hair.

Photo courtesy of Bread Beauty

Born and raised in Peth, Western Australia, to an Ivorian mother and a French father, Heim grew up as one of the few Black kids in her neighborhood. Her days weaved between school and helping her mother run her braiding salon, one of the only of its kind in 1990's Australia. From sweeping floors, answering phones, and assisting with product orders, Heim's introduction to the world of beauty was rooted in the practice of doing.

Heim would go on to study business and law at Edith Cowan University in Western Australia, before working in marketing at L'Oréal, followed by an internship at Procter & Gamble in Singapore. But it wasn't until her relaxer exploded in her luggage during a flight between New York and Chicago that she began to think seriously about not only her personal hair journey but also about the beauty industry's gaps.

After ditching chemical hair-relaxer and returning to her natural texture, she pitched her idea to Sephora and, in 2019, was selected as one of the first-ever Australian participants in the Sephora Accelerate program, securing a launch deal for both in-store and online.

But what's most striking about Heim, aside from her penchant for focusing on the brand and the consumer, is her focus on the innovation gaps for Black beauty products. Uniquely shy on social media but poignantly focused on every nuance of her brand and serving Bread's prior overlooked customer base, Maeva is the founder the beauty world has been waiting for.

*This interview has been condensed and edited for length and clarity

Keep reading... Show less

get okayafrica in your inbox


Sudan Declares State of Emergency, As Military Dissolves Transitional Government

As the North African country edged closer to democracy, Sudan's military has seized power.