EMERGER – Round We Go

This might come as a surprise to some but I take my ‘art’ seriously. Publishing a blogpost every day could be perceived as a tendency towards quantity over quality though I still have standards to maintain. If I’m not happy with the content of an article, I will start again. I can’t say that I’m ever up all night poring over my words to get the tone just right but there’s more teeth grinding and general grunt-work going into these short daily outbursts than the average Joe might think. 

I’m sure that Emma and Gerry, the emerging South African duo of EMERGER, would understand. Indeed, their wonderful latest offering ‘Round We Go’ is all about that creative process we go through to come up with our end-produce. “We wrote this song for all the creators out there.“, says Gerry. “The song chronicles the creative process and all of its intricacies. Everything involved with the creation of a work of art has so many layers of complexities, which we feel a lot of people have taken for granted.

Admittedly, when the song is as fine as ‘Round We Go’, it’s quite a challenge to take it for granted. Synth-based and drawing influence from the 80’s, Emma’s vocal comes to  the fore from the off before a big, bold chorus gets into your head. A word of warning – it’ll be one that goes round and round in your head after a listen or two. The lyrics of the opening verses especially , taut and neat, deftly describe those initial creative flurries as if it’s the first throes of a romantic relationship. 

Starts off with one idea, Tame at first, But then it evolves to, One million thoughts for every hour, Spinning ‘round no turning back from here. So much there is to say, The smokescreen fades, And colours come into play, I’m lost in conversation, With my word constellations.” 

I take the opportunity to ask Emma and Gerry how things have been in South Africa seeing as we hear lots about the potential Covid variants in our news broadcasts. “Yeah, things are going okay-ish over here.“, they say. “Happy that we have more time to create during the pandemic, but yeah the loss of income due to no gigs/touring have been a massive blow. The South African variant is definitely a real thing. The first batch of vaccines our government ordered proved to be ineffective against the mutated strain. So it was a huge fail and put a massive delay on the vaccination process. Things have started returning more and more to normal. There are isolated instances of gigs that are starting to take place again. But there’s some serious predictions of a third wave that’s still to come, because our government can’t vaccinate enough people soon enough.

That does sound serious. Clearly, world leaders need to bash their heads together and ensure that vaccination rates are more equitable across the globe. The triumphant xenophobia evident in the Daily Express (‘our vaccine deployment is better than yours’)  is no way to fight a global pandemic. But that’s probably a blog post for another day. 

For now, let’s all allow our creative juices to flow with the sweet sounds of EMERGER. 

 

Liesl – Driveway Bruises

I tell people who feign interest that Sonic Breakfast is all about the discovery of new music. I suppose that this is in part true. A more complete answer though would be that Sonic Breakfast highlights new music to unlock fading memories. “There are places I remember“, as Lennon and The Beatles very neatly once put it.

When I was eight years old, my family moved from Prestwood in Buckinghamshire to Dorchester in Dorset. For most eight year olds, I’m sure such a transition would hardly have registered on the anxiety scale. But, I didn’t find the change very easy at all. I hated my new school and I’m pretty sure that the teachers and other pupils weren’t that keen on my histrionics. I had a very real sense that this was a backward move for me (not that I could do anything about it aged eight). In my head, Prestwood equalled glamour and excitement whereas Dorchester was a dull sludge of a place. I can see now that my assessment of place wasn’t entirely accurate though it didn’t stop the young Sean crying himself to sleep most nights.

I do sometimes wonder if my struggle to now truly settle in one place is in any way informed by that formative experience. In an effort to not experience the desperate sadness I felt back then, I keep moving. And try not to become too connected with a place because it’ll only lead to feelings of ambiguous loss when the inevitable happens. Sonic Breakfast is simply a tool I use to moderate over the memories.

It seems that Liesl’s on the same page as I am with her evocative track ‘Driveway Bruises’. Liesl’s move was much grander than mine; a cross-continent trek as a teenager from a small South African town to the buzzing hive of activity that is Berlin. This tune, and the soon-to be released EP ‘Unfamiliar’, is largely inspired by the feelings of loss, estrangement and a search for belonging that the move provoked.

Berlin is definitely a world away from where I grew up in South Africa – which was a much smaller town with different people, culture and beliefs,”, says Liesl when I ask her about the differences. “I love the open-mindedness, independence and creative freedom I have here in Berlin, but I miss the beautiful South-African nature, the familiarity, and the feeling of being grounded somewhere. I’ve been thinking a lot about the term “ambiguous loss”, which is essentially what the song talks about. Although the physical place still exists, the idea of it being a home only exists in my memory.”

There’s a cracking video that goes hand in hand with ‘Driveway Bruises’. Liesl made it herself with old film footage found in the family archives. By her own acknowledgment this is an effort to ‘visually represent the idea of memories receding into the past.’ The cover artwork (added above), also self-produced, draws focus  on ‘something beautiful that is desiccating, decaying, causing it to become confusing and unfamiliar.’

The music and video chime and tug at my core. I can’t entirely put my finger on how something quite uncluttered can draw upon such emotion. I feel overwhelmed but also acknowledge a sense of release when listening to the simple piano and vocal effects within. See if it does the same for you? 

 

 

And then, as an added Saturday bonus, you can also listen to the second single from the EP, Fish Net, that was released just yesterday. It’s another cracker from a deep-thinking new talent.