Widely regarded as the most innovative and gifted electronic artist to emerge from South Africa, Felix Laband continues his exploration of the outer edges of the music that he’s being creating for more than fifteen years.
That journey began in with Laband’s first record Thin Shoes In June, released by African Dope in 2001 as a flagbearer of the label’s independent sound, and greeted with global acclaim rarely afforded South African releases (Popmatters called it an “utterly world-class piece of electronica”). Since then Laband has written, recorded and performed a body of extraordinary music that’s as much about exposing his own vulnerability and emotions as it is about showing electronica’s vast possibilities – as both a hugely malleable music genre and as music capable of real social commentary.
Thin Shoes In June was followed by 4/4 Down The Stairs in 2002 and Dark Days Exit in 2005 – both of which confirmed that the genius of Laband’s debut was no one-off thing. The trio of albums helped Laband establish a global audience and set the scene for the unanimously excellent reception to Deaf Safari – a stunning nine-track album that was released in 2015.
Having played every major electronic festival in South Africa over the past few years, 2016 saw Laband undertake a tour of the EU tour with his creative partner, fine artist Kerry Chaloner, who plays an important role in expanding Laband’s on-stage visuals. Among their dates was Ortigia Sound System (Italy), Nachtdigital (Germany) Garbicz Festival (Poland) and Mukanda (Italy) with the shows providing a transcendent, emotional experience for audiences.
Working from his home studio in Cape Town, Laband’s restless creativity also saw him release Bag of Bones EP and the single “A True Friend Is Hard To Find” in 2016, as well as initiate the first in the Tikno Sessions, a planned series of podcasts and new music. The title track off Bag of Bones – which Laband describes as a “personal ballad to a life with the lights turned off” – is a minimalist masterpiece, featuring Laband on guitar and award-winning musician Shane Cooper (aka Card On Spokes) on double bass. Also included on the EP is a Luke Vibert Remix of “Righteous Red Berets”, a track off Deaf Safari, and his own “Kill The Boer” remix of his 2002 Kwaito Bass classic “Donkey Rattle”. The remix is based around an audio sample of a toyi-toyi dance, recorded during the apartheid struggle. “I used the sample as a way of speaking about the current ‘revolution’ with a different government but with the same despair,” says Laband of this creative decision.
Already, 2017 is bringing new horizons for Laband. His artwork is featured as part of Kalashnikovv Gallery’s group exhibition The Whole is Greater than the Sum of its Parts – finally bringing his visual collages and art making to a wider audience. With live dates lining up for the year, Laband remains focused on his quest to create “emotional music of relevance” for a truly global audience.