Ons het julle verlede week vertel dat iets absoluut befok en groot uit die pen van akteur en klaarblyklik nou ook topklas musikant, Neil Sandilands, se pen op pad was. Dis genuine nogal ‘n epic Arikaanse art piece om die minste te sê, so whatever ons gaan probeer toevoeg of toeken aan die music video, short movie, fliek of wat jy dit ookal wil noem, sal dit nie regtig volle justice doen nie. Daarom dat ons onder die video sommer Neil se eie woorde oor die aangeleentheid hier op Watkykjy verewig. Neil is in essence eintlik ‘n moerse storieverterller, so dis ‘n lekker poelang storie om te lees. Dis amazing wat mens kan vermag met tyd tot jou beskiking gedurende lockdown en about fokoal anders nie.
Wat ons wel kan doen is om so drie lede van ons geheime ondergrondse Facbeook beweging vir die waardering vir Afrikaanse musiek wat nie poeskak is nie, se quotes met julle te deel.
Geheime lid 1
Ek het gisteraand vd 1ste keer “Goue Graal” in my ore kon druk – dis die mees naakte, welkome & gatskoppende Afrikaans wat ek in ‘n LANG tyd gehoor het..
Dankie vir die briljante vibe, en dat Afr weer opwindend klink.
Musiek is nog altyd my herder, goddank vir klank!!!
Geheime lid 2
Ongelooflike goeie song. Dit laat my dink aan Dylan se “Hurricane” en Cave se “Murder ballads” en dis definitief op daardie vlak. Wel gedaan!
Geheime lid 3
Befok! Kry sommer hoendervleis op my baard!
Sand Castle. Melkbosstrand, South Africa. Saturday June 20th, 2020. Lockdown.
The phrase “Himmelhoch jauchzend, zu(m) Tode betrübt” (heavenly joy, deadly sorrow) by Goethe, from Klärchen’s song in the third act has become a proverb often quoted by European intellectuals as characteristic of the Romantic soul.
What can I tell you about this song? Assuming of course you’d like to know. The truth, I think, may be a good premise. I’ll transport you to December 2019, before the new decade. We didn’t know too much at the time. Of anything.
I’ve always wanted to be in a band. Vicariously, if only to play the triangle. Homage here to two fellas I admire: Arthur & Rudi Dennis. Two rough South African gems who formed a band called “Akkedis”. Lyzard, translated. Let it be said I deem them to be the only two fellas naughtier than myself. Naughty in a wholesome kinda way. We bonded over Irish Ditties one evening and I immediately accepted them as “clan”. If I had any say in the matter I’d kill Goliath to play along in this band. Graceful Ultra Violence.
December 26th to be exact, is where I’d place the seed of this particular piece you’re about to consume. I’m in Valley Village, Los Angeles. I receive a picture on “WhatsApp” from Arthur (included here). Let’s say Xmas themed. The conversation goes like this:
Me: Nou? (Now?)
Arthur: Our 07h00. Fly in.
Me: Don’t tempt me Infidels.
Arthur: Swernoot, Rampokker, Rammetjie Uitnek, Sondebok, Lieplapper, Niksnuts!
Me: Tarratees, Werfetter, Maaifoedie, Moegoe, Gomtor.
This goes on a while…word gunslinging. If you’re English, look it up.
Arthur: Let’s write a song together. “Bankrowers en Poese”. (Translation unavailable).
Me: Tienvier korporaal van die Noord-Transvaal. Frikkie was nie bang nie, hy’s ’n man van staal. Oppie agterseat is Dottie, sy’s ’n minx en skraal. Voorwaarts Mars! Ons soek die “Goue Graal”.
Arthur: Fuck you’re quick. I’m on the road. Best Intro ever.
Me: Dottie hettie tiete, maar haar blik neutraal. Frikkie het die wiele, hy onthou haar kaal. Gistraand by die stripclub om daai blink-blink paal, toe sy ontboesem oor die bose en die “Goue Graal”.
Arthur: Got, jy gaan dit klaarmaak voor ek briek trap! (God, you’re going to complete it before I hit the brake). Now Chorus!!
Me: Kom sit hier by die vuur dat ons plan beraam. Oor ’n visie vir die toekoms en die kind se naam. Oppaai paal wil ek nie bly nie, ek kry te fokken skaam. Frikkie vryf sy 9 mill, sluk droog, beaam.
Daar’s hun afdraai oppie Highway
Die dice bestem dit so
Waar jy net met jouself stry, so het Frik & Dot geglo
Maar as jy vetgee en bo bly, sallie Gode dit bepaal
Dat jy daai one-time shot kry oppie “Goue Graal”
The Akkedisse were on their way to some music festival somewhere and lost cellular connectivity. Needless to say the song was done by the time they arrived at their destination.
It came out in a single sitting, in my backyard in Los Angeles. I did curate it somewhat since, but essentially the idea was somewhere in the ether and on the 26th of December I simply became the transformative agent. Truth. It’s on my phone.
Asterix: “Cacophonix said its a message from the gods, he doesn’t know what its about and he doesn’t know how to do it again”
Obelix: “I’ll throw him in the tree.”
Fast Forward to February. I figured The Akkedisse would do something with it, but life’s a thing. I get a call my Grandad is critical. It still puzzles me how I made that decision so quickly and effectively. My lease expired, spoke to Jeff my landlord and within 4 days I was on a plane back to my native soil. South Africa. Belongings in storage, taxes done, representatives informed.
I’m going to leave family details out for a second, but let it suffice I did get to see my Grandpa Chon. Dapper. I guess I wanted to tell him to put in a good word for me, I might need it. The thought was conveyed without words. He left me with a quote from Hamlet, notably the advice proffered by Polonius to Laertes before his visit to France. Grandads know stuff.
I get to see The Akkedisse at Anton Goosen’s birthday in “The Strand”, Western Cape. Pieter van Zyl, journalist from “Huisgenoot” dropped this transient off. I get around. Lovely reunion of fellow clansmen, the parting of The General, Piet Botha, still fresh in our minds. Last time I saw the man, I had the rare privilege of plucking a mandolin, with Piet on piano and Riku Lätti on accordion. Exactly there at Soul Cafe, Strand a year-and-a-half ago.
I enquire loosely about “Goue Graal”. It appears it hasn’t evolved far from WhatsApp Words. Bummer. I was looking forward to playing the Auld Triangle.
Then this pestilence came about. Yes, that one. This proved to be very opportune for a fella like me who carries perceived skills in no more than a bag that can fit into overhead luggage compartments. The translation to stay in South Africa for the circus was a no brainer. I was built for this. This is my Motherland. Riku Lätti offers me his el cheapo nylon guitar, should I seek companionship. My guitar skills are rudimentary at best, but in the back of my mind I figured I’d try composing the lyrics. Last time I composed anything was “Breinskade” for the television series ORION. In the meantime I also had two number one SA Itunes hits in collaboration with Karen Zoid. These really were very much Karen’s indaba, I was just at the right place, right time. We did a song with Early B the day before lockdown titled “Toe die wêreld stil gaan staan”. Yay! I get a co-author credit.
That other intellectual, Chris du Plessis prompted me to get going with it, he rather liked the lyrics. In Riviersonderend, next to the Sonderend River, in the bush, I started strumming and lalalalaing. Liquid weeks went by. Each time Cyril announced continuation of lockdown, I secretively yawped “yippee” on the inside. From a psychological, philosophical, anthropological perspective lockdown is sheer gold if you want to study human behavior. I’m starting to hear a song.
Then came the “levels” initiative. Some truly genius stuff. In practical terms it gave me the opportunity to travel from Western Cape to Garies, Namakwaland for a change of scenery. Nietzsche reckons dry air and vistas supports good writing. You ain’t seen shit Friedrich. In a kitchen, late one evening in Mari Nieuwoudt’s house “Casa La Luna La Liiza La Mié”, I finally got the song down on guitar. At the time I thought, lovely little party trick. I sent it to Chris.
Thus began an investigative period of “inquiry”. I like, in matters of this nature, to defer to people who know way more than I do. Some gratuitous namedropping to follow: Deon Maas, Dirk Jordaan, Chris du Plessis, Guy de Lancey, Albert du Plessis. I consider these gentlemen very learned in music in general. Their bona fides need no validation.There are two other individuals, both of whom I have an almost God like respect for: David Kramer & Anton Goosen. Sending the little cell phone recording to them was something that filled me with great trepidation and anxiety. Alongside the departed Chris Blignaut, I consider them “The Goue Graal” of this particular kind of ultra violence. Story telling. Their response, which I’ll keep entre nous, is a thing of great affirmation to my little narrative. Say if it was an old hand written letter, I’d keep it in a safe place, envelope and stamp, for well…posterity.
Now, all the while I had The Akkedisse in mind to perform the song. Also sent it to Valiant Swart, since he has done similar work with “Die Mystic Boer”. I thought he’d be very well suited. Never heard back, which I’m sure can be blamed on “lockdown”. This left me with the curious consideration of actually performing it myself, bar a few practical hurdles like Garies, inter-provincial travel prohibition, permitted work and echoes of The Gulag Archipelago, now much more clear to the observant eye. Not to mention the great fortitude I had when purchasing 15 bags of Boxer Twak in Riviersonderend, not knowing twak’d feature somewhere down the line. Phone calls were made.
It became a little community drive. Clan. I couldn’t believe the good fortune I had. The police themselves arranged safe passage, friends supplied working permits and more importantly, all the artists I wanted to collaborate with were keen to be involved and go figure, available. Some more gratuitous name dropping: Theo Crous (Belville Studios), Marius Brouwer (Musical director & Mixing), Kevin Gibson (God, drums), Schalk Joubert (Infidel, Double Bass), Albert Frost (Warlock, guitars), Wynand Davel (Devil himself, Fiddle), Lee Thomson (Trumpet, The Devil’s Instrument), Landi Lu (Boervrou, Banjo). Now, these names do not elicit ethusiastic response from the unbaptized, but if you’re in the know, my amazement and childlike enthusiasm as manifested, could be very well justified. Testify! Niel van Deventer offered to record visuals for said sinful synthesis.
Wednesday May 27th, we committed ultra violence. I have proof. It will exist as artifact B in the world, some time in future. Probably still during Lockdown. Which level are we in now in any event? When finally we lay our 9 mills down the eve of May 28th, we had goeters. Stuff. It was now up to Marius Brouwer to make sense of it. The suggestion for a music video came from Albert Frost:
“Personally I think a well directed, uber stylish video would be amazing but ja, not cheap…! It would draw the whole tale together”.
So now I’m stuck in The Cape Peninsula. Crossing the border back to Garies may have logistical conundrums. I have to wait for the mix. Should I attempt a music vid? I couch hop, rekindle old friendships, braai a lot. This may seem cavalier, given the pestilence, but I’d like to reason I have my good sensibility about me. For some this may not be enough, in which case I’d simply say I’ve had my own metaphysical dialogue. I got a memo which said “It’s gonna be ok”. Can of worms. Divert. Back to the story.
My Mom lives in Wellington. Helluva thing to visit one’s Mom whilst the pestilence hitch-hikes. No hugs, no kisses. I tentatively play her the studio bounce (before anything’s mixed). Was that a hop in her step I detected? She’s waving a flag for her boy. This comes as a surprise because the song is naughty and I say fuck a few times. It occurs to me during this time that Wellington lies right on the other side of Bains Kloof. Is this serendipity at work?
I hope you, dear reader, has followed thus far. I’m going to attempt to wrap it up now. As with the song, which runs 7 mins 33 seconds, one could say I’m rather long-winded. I like story telling though and often the only sensible way is to go and find the pith of it, or as the Afrikaners would say “op ’n lang lyn”. I spoke to some gear people and techsperts in the Cape and tried piecing a video together. This proved to be such a pain in the ass because of permits, insurances, police, lockdown and atrophy, I just had to find a way simpler solution. Hence I introduce a little sub-narrative I’m rather proud of.
I call my sister. I instruct my mom. I have to find a Mustang. There will be an Artifact A. The video at the bottom (ondergrond) of this writing.
Through social media I connect with a fella in Paarl who’s got a 66 Mustang, but its in for repairs. Jaco Swanepoel; he does cash-in-transit operations. Ordinary life in South Africa is dangerous, cash-in-transit is Doc Holiday-ish. I arrange a call time of 7am with him and inspire an awful amount of trust. I ask my Mom, Vicky, to shave my head and write the lines of the song on my skull. Rae-Dawn my sister, who is a dancer and in super physical condition gets my directorial prep talk. She’ll be camera operator. With my cell phone. My crew is my Mom & Sister. It all seems to make sense. On a cold misty morning, we shoot the music video up top of Bains Kloof pass. Three takes before the sun makes continued production impossible. I’ll make it work.
Still in the Cape, this time in Melkbos with my friend Ivan Zimmerman & lovely partner Nadia Valvekens (local celebs), I edit the video. My aim was to go for a single shot approach. Keep it as simple as possible. But as with this entire project, the edit chose itself, it became apparent, I just had to get out of the way. It took me less than a day. The first mix Marius sent suffered a little bit from what I can simply call “sophistication”. It is a delicate undertaking to share creative ideas and still allow shared ownership. I wanted it as raw and unapologetic as possible. I wanted my voice reduced so it had to find its own way amidst the incredible wealth of talent between these musicians. I wanted it to resemble me. Ou Vuiljas. For the time being. I may choose being a politician next.
Once I added sound to picture I knew it needed no interpretation or justification. You don’t get an idea, the idea gets you. Which brings me to you, dear reader. Obviously, it remains uncertain whether the broadcasters or radio stations would play the content. That doesn’t bother me in the slightest, I didn’t make it for these reasons, nor was I in the market for following prescription. Mood’s a better choice of word. Nor was I in the mood.
In between the lines you’ll also find it’s a piece about the ultimate philosophical question being suicide, identity politics and my own personal view regarding metaphysics and Covid#19. In a cheerful and benevolent way I announce:
I self identify as a bona fide Celestial Afrikaans African American Transgender White Male, from Randfontein, with Celtic roots. Neil Joseph William Sandilands is my name. “Wit Willem” for short.
Ouch I hear you say.
Whether there’d be any engagement from the public I can not say. Time for it to be “unleashed” and find its rightful place. I do hope you take interest and view it as tongue-in-cheeck fun directed at convention and old idols with legs of clay.
To quote my buddy Friedrich:
“The last thing I would promise is to improve humanity, I do not set up any new ideals. No, let the old ones learn what it means to have legs of clay. Toppling idols (my word for ideals). That’s more my kind of handiwork.”
It would be lovely if we could synchronize some cross-pollination in pursuit of shared mutual interest. Besides, I’m having way too much fun on my own. I’m looking for a posse of outlaws. Rumor has it you are perfectly poised for such graceful ultra violence. Besides, it beats the news.
Attached is an image of my skull with my Mom’s artwork as well as the picture of Arthur on December 26th, 2019.
During this time I did receive a letter from Tom Hanks. Typed on his vintage typewriter.
“Just last week I saw a feet on film – our News of the World- but not nearly enough. I hope it and we, you and I, shine like pole stars whenever that is, whenever that will be.”
I am down to my last three bags of Boxer Twak. The link and password for the video of course. I’ll be in communicado as to the exact time of “Wit Willem’s” birth. Looking forward to hearing from you.
Covid Stats South Africa Day 86:
Total: 87715 (+3825)
Deaths: 1831 (+94)
Watkykjy staan op 1,662,793 post views in totaal sedert 1 November, 2019.