South Africa is home to our most recent Evensound featured artist, Lunatic Wolf. Longtime friends and band mates Gavin van den Berg and Richard Oldfield make for a magically dynamic songwriting duo whose chemistry exudes warm familiarity.
Like your favorite Fleetwood Mac or Ryan Adams record, Lunatic Wolf’s music is organic and eclectic enough to achieve a natural timelessness. Their beautifully arranged songs showcase rich lyrics and harmonies over lush sonic landscapes that transport you to your favorite musical memories. The recordings themselves are given top notch treatment and would still feel contemporary while either spinning on a turntable or streaming over the internet.
The band’s YouTube channel features a series of live videos performed at High Seas Studios with their 6 member live band along with mini-documentary about the recording of their new album, To The Adventure. The beautifully shot and edited videos do a fantastic job articulating their process as well as how the band evolved into its full 6 member shape. Their live delivery of these dynamically abundant songs is impeccable.
Although the only pop culture references to South Africa recently in the United States have been the recent movie Chappie and the film’s cameo from South African rap duo Die Antwoord, that’s not to say there isn’t a thriving indie music scene that deserves our attention. The size and geographic location of the country give it a very distinct artistic output. Rich in culture, history, and economic disparity, its no surprise that there is a large creative indie heart to the country.
Gavin van den Berg was gracious enough to take some time to answer some of Evensound’s questions about their journey so far and what their aspirations are with the new record To The Adventure currently on Spotify and iTunes.
You and Richard being the principle songwriters, how collaborative is the recording process with the entire group?
We share a similar vision when it comes to songwriting and our debut album To the Adventure was actually written in a garage over the course of two years. We tackled the final production stages at High Seas studios in Johannesburg with the help of our good friends Jacques du Plessis (who now plays keyboard and percussion in the band) and Gavin Flaks (who now plays drums).
Congratulations on the Radioplay Valentines day song win with “Roses”. What is the inspiration behind the song? Did you know that it would have the impact that it has had so far?
Thank you. We were very excited to hear this news! Roses was one of the first songs that Rich and I wrote from start to finish. We were asked to write a song for my sister’s wedding and Roses was the outcome of that. The lyrics definitely parallel our own relationship experiences though. We never expected it to make it on the album but we’re happy it did.
What kind of music did you and Richard experiment with in High School and what lead you to this conclusion of style and aesthetic? What are your influences?
Richard and I were big into the late 90’s pop-punk scene at that time. I think that genre really cemented our love for melody and simplicity in arrangement. That has definitely stayed with us and we’ve carried that through into the music that we play today.
What is the South African Music scene like?
We can’t really speak for the South African music scene as a whole but the South African Rock music scene has always been supportive and welcoming. The scene is minuscule compared to many other industries worldwide but we’re aware of the opportunities that that may present in itself. It’s also incestuous to a degree, but that makes it kind of cool. We’ve made many friends-for-life here and are very grateful for that.
Any plans for embarking to the U.S. ?
A trip to the States would be amazing. We’re holding thumbs!
How did Grammy nominated engineer, Emily Lazar end up mastering your record at The Lodge ?
Emily had mastered many of the classic records that we grew up listening to including Say Anything’s “…is a Real Boy”, The Shins “Wincing the Night Away” and Margot & The Nuclear So and So’s “The Dust of Retreat”. We loved the sonic complexity of Emily’s mixes and thought that she could do well for our album. We contacted her directly and she was totally cool with working with an independent band. The rest is history.