Meet SNAPBVCK, the New Durban Electronic Duo You Need to Know

Durban production outfit SNAPBVCK premiere “Noise,” the first single off their forthcoming debut LP, 'Forget the Name'

Durban production duo SNAPBVCK describe their own sound as “Electronic bliss,” “Noisy electronic music,” “Happiness.” What they mean by these descriptors is anyone’s guess (what could happiness possibly sound like?), but what is certain is that this duo refuse to take themselves entirely seriously. This doesn’t mean, however, that they aren’t serious artists.

Formed in 2015, and having gone through a series of lineup changes, the surviving pair of Ryan James and Rhys Fataar (aka Nomadik) have been working tirelessly to produce an album that South Africa (and hopefully the world) can fall in love with. They pull no punches when it comes to their sound, though. James describes himself as “kind of a dick” when it comes to making sure everything is perfect. Away from the studio, however, the two are just a couple of nice guys cracking jokes over beers and the odd hand of poker. They’re the kind of boys your mom might ask to stay for dinner, and that your sibling would insist spend the night.

Ryan James and Rhys Fataar. Photo by Russell Grant.

Niceness and humility are undervalued commodities in a Durban electronic scene saturated with egos and hype. The SNAP boys would rather let their music make the most noise. It’s a strategy which has worked for them so far. By simply being rad guys they’ve seduced the likes of Refi Sings, Red Robyn, Nidaalxo, Erick Rush, DUX and Thabiso Lavish to feature on their debut album, Forget the Name. It's a title which belies their own nonchalance about their image, but which lays down a challenge to listeners, one which I doubt most people could accomplish.

The first single, "Noise," has a funny backstory. They sent the track to Red Robyn aka Ash De Gee, with the name of the file being “Noise.” To the boys it was a joke, again reflective of their own self-deprecating tendencies. Red interpreted it literally, and turned it into the powerful break-up ode it has become. The song has a forthrightness and solidity that demands attention, and will very likely achieve widespread airplay.

Don’t be fooled by what James and Fataar might tell you. I doubt anyone will be forgetting their name anytime soon.

Listen to Okayafrica’s premiere of “Noise” above. SNAPBVCK’s debut album, Forget the Name, is out at the end of September. Watch their EPK below.

Russell Grant is on Twitter at @Rusool.


6 Samples From 'Éthiopiques' in Hip-Hop

A brief history of Ethio-jazz cultural exchange featuring songs by Nas & Damian Marley, K'naan, Madlib and more.

This article was originally published on OkayAfrica in March, 2017. We're republishing it here for our Crossroads series.

It's 2000 something. I'm holed up in my bedroom searching for samples to chop up on Fruity Loops. While deep into the free-market jungle of Amazon's suggested music section, I stumble across a compilation of Ethiopian music with faded pictures of nine guys jamming in white suit jackets. I press play on the 30 second sample.

My mind races with the opportunities these breakbeats offered a budding beat maker. Catchy organs, swinging horns, funky guitar riffs, soulful melodies and grainy and pained vocalists swoon over love lost and gained. Sung in my mother tongue—Amharic—this was a far cry from the corny synthesizer music of the 1990s that my parents played on Saturday mornings. I could actually sample this shit.

The next day, I burn a CD and pop it into my dad's car. His eyes light up when the first notes ooze out of the speakers. “Where did you get this?" He asks puzzlingly. “The internet," I respond smiling.

In the 1970s my dad was one of thousands of high school students in Addis Ababa protesting the monarchy. The protests eventually created instability which lead to a coup d'état. The monarchy was overthrown and a Marxist styled military junta composed of low ranking officers called the Derg came to power. The new regime subsequently banned music they deemed to be counter revolutionary. When the Derg came into power, Amha Eshete, a pioneering record producer and founder of Ahma Records, fled to the US and the master recordings of his label's tracks somehow ended up in a warehouse in Greece.

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