We spoke to Bittereinder about their journey so far and their latest album, “Dans Tot Die Dood”.
You’re releasing a new album, “Dans Tot Die Dood”. Can you tell us about its development process and some of the themes in it?
We retreated into the mountains of Mpumalanga and spent a week entirely dedicated to making music together. It was amazing, the first time the three Bittereinder boys have managed to align our schedules like that in six and a half years. It was such a magical space, working from morning to night, picking up right where we left off every day, getting into the analog gear, synths and drums and dictionaries scattered everywhere. At the end of the week, we realised that it’s an album about death, and an album about dancing. It’s also about how dancing is the perfect counterargument for death, the most legitimate way to prove to yourself and other people that you’re not dead.
Can you mention some of your favourite songs off the album?
At the moment we’re loving all of them. Hartseer Gangster became an obvious first single, but Berge Brand, The Flood and Great Track are also getting a lot of love from everyone we’re playing the album to…
We know that some musicians make music to leave a legacy. Would you say legacy is a motivating factor for you?
To quote Mos Def (and in fact Jaco did quote this exact line on Doodsberig, a track on SKERM) – “don’t give a damn if any fan recall my legacy”. Quotes aside, it’s very hard to say why we make music. We make music because we have to, and we love it, and we hate it, and it consumes us, and we’d absolutely implode if we didn’t.
You guys are wildly popular! Was there a specific moment in time when you realized that you were gaining success; a moment where you thought, “Wow, this is really going somewhere and people are listening”, or was rising to prominence a subtle experience for you?
This wildly popular prominence thing that people sometimes associate us with is usually rather misinformed. Bittereinder has often been called the next big thing, but from day 1 we’ve been pretty content with being one of the better medium-sized things instead. Our music has never been (and most probably never will be) commercial enough to really gain that A-list status, and we’re quite happy about that. We’ve played amazing shows in South Africa, Namibia, Mozambique, Netherlands and Germany, and we are very satisfied with and proud of what we’ve achieved together. As long as we’re happy with the art that we’re producing, that’s our primary way of measuring success.
Who would you like to work with in terms of band collaborations? Name one South African act and one international one.
We’ve ticked a whole lot of those boxes already, especially on the first two albums. Basically Peach and Louis are always trying to restrain Jaco’s default collab-mode. But we’ve always got new collab ideas in the pipeline, don’t wanna give anything away too early… We’ve always answered this question with Bjork though. That’d be magic.
Who are some of your favourite international artists and acts? We’ve heard the more obscure they are the better but personally we’re having a thing for Massive Attack again.
Massive Attack can be pretty obscure. Again, our three personal tastes vary quite a bit, but there are artists that overlap for all three of us in terms of what we consider to be formative as inspiration for what we do as musicians, and we always name Bjork, Nine Inch Nails and Radiohead in that category.
What are your plans for the rest of the year?
Playing a whole bunch of launch shows for the new album, including Park Acoustics and the !Arcade Empire Halloween show, and then the second single’s video and more planning for the 2016 tours…