Stiff Pap, comprised of vocalists and producers Jakinda and Ayema, are at the very forefront of electronic music coming out of South Africa. After graduating from the Red Bull Academy in Berlin and meeting in their university halls, the charismatic duo began experimenting with weird and wonderful sounds, creating their own genre that reflects the music and colours of Johannesburg with the grungry bass music of Berlin.
Now, following the release of their huge single ‘Ngomso’ featuring Moonchild Sanelly ( famed from her role of ‘Mozambique’ by Ghetts), they are on a non stop rise to international aclaim. We spoke to Jakinda & Ayema about their latest project, graduating from the Red Bull Academy and their favourite spots in Jo-berg.
2&6 INTERVIEWS: STIFF PAP
What was the experience like of working with Moonchild Sanelly on Ngomso? Were you guys both fans of her work before you got the chance to work with her? What was the goal going into make this track?
We’ve known Moonchild for a few years now, so making a song together has always been something we were interested in doing. We’ve had a few studio sessions before but most of them didn’t turn into complete tracks. Ngomso is quite an old song we held onto, because we wanted to be in a better position to give the song a proper release.
You guys are without a doubt at the forefront of African electronic music innovation, but who is it that you guys draw inspiration from?
There are quite a few people we are inspired by both locally and internationally. Some of our early influences include DJ Lag, Christian Tiger School, Kanye West and Dirty Parrafin. We listen to a lot of different genres and that inspires our eclectic sound.
How did you guys come to meet & work with eachother?
We met each other in University, we were staying in the same student residence and somehow came across each other on soundcloud around the same time. Since we were staying in the same building, we started hanging out and eventually we became quite close and started collaborating.
Jakinda, as a graduate from the Red Bull Academy, how did they help you in your evolution as a musician? Is there a core lesson that you took away from your time there ?
I learnt so much there, but the most important thing that I learnt from my experience there is that I’m not an imposter. For a group of people to listen to the music I made in my bedroom in South Africa, to decide I’m worth flying over to the heart of electronic music (Berlin) and give me all the resources I needed to grow as an artist, it showed me that what I was doing had real value.
I don’t even own any instruments, I make most of our beats on a laptop and a midi keyboard, so it can be quite intimidating being surrounded by “real musicians”. At RBMA, none of that mattered, some people could play instruments, some people used laptops just like me. It showed me that the resources don’t make the artist. So that motivated me to keep working and push boundaries even further.
We always like to ask one non music related question: If someone came to your home town and wanted to find some great food, some great music and somewhere to see some beautiful art, where would you take them?
If they want to see some great art, then we’d recommend going to a gallery called the Kalishnikov Gallery in Braamfontein, Johannesburg. Braamfontein is one of the cultural hubs of the city, so a lot of the most innovative musicians and artists are always hanging around there.
There’s a popular bar called Kitcheners that usually has some great music, it’s hosted some of our most internationally recognized local musicians. I wouldn’t stick around there for food though ,there aren’t many great options because artists don’t spend a lot of money.
If you’re a fan of meat there’s a place called “Kwa Mai Mai” and they do a traditional open fire braai (aka barbeque), if you want an authentic South African food experience. It’s loved by the locals, it’s not very touristy which is great.
What plans have you got coming up in the future? Is there an album on the horizon?
We have a new EP dropping in the first quarter of 2021 called “TUFF TIME$”. We’re about 90% done with it and it’s easily our best work, without a doubt. It’ll be dropping via London based record label Cotch International.