An interview with Ruff Majik
This year has been a big one for Ruff Majik. Hailing from Pretoria, South Africa, the band released their new album Tårn in May after signing with Dutch Label, Lay Bare Recordings. Known for their explosive live performances, they have also been booked for some major shows across Europe, and have a couple of big ones still coming up, including Swamp Fest in September in France and Keep it Low in Germany.
Ruff Majik has an enormous future in front of them. And looking at how hard they’ve been working at it, it’s obvious that they’ll make a massive success of it.
I caught up with vocalist, Johni Holiday, to chat about the new album, their move to Europe and their future plans.
You have some big things coming up later this year. Tell me about your plans and some of the highlights of the first few months of this year.
Yeah, this year is headed in a good direction. We’ve got Keep It Low Festival and Desertfest Belgium coming up, as well as some touring in the fall, which we’re really excited for. Other than that, we’re finalising our move to Germany and getting settled in.
I’d say the main highlight of this year, so far, was playing at Rock In Bourlon, and getting to meet and hang out with Corrosion Of Conformity – those guys are amazing.
Wow, you guys are doing great! Let’s talk about those big shows lined up in Europe. How were you booked for these? I mean, how did the opportunity arise?
Well, we sent out a boatload of emails! Hahaha. Finally, we got picked up by the amazing people over at Sound Of Liberation, and they’ve been helping us out.
That’s really cool. So, tell me about your new offering, ‘Tårn’. How has this album been doing? And, for those who haven’t listened to it yet, in your own words, how would you describe this album?
I think so far it’s exceeded our expectations. Lots of good reviews and compliments have been coming in. But it’s hard to describe. I reckon it’s a fusion somewhere between stoner rock, grunge and doom, with some speed metal and southern rock influences.
And is there a central theme running through it?
Yeah, it’s all about sudden change, and the adjustments you have to make to deal with it.
It’s been said that your sound is “very hard to categorise”. Why is that and what would you say your sound should be called if anything?
I guess it’s because we like to experiment. We play what we want, whether it is metal, or funk, or blues, or whatever. If we like the sound, we’ll do it. As far as a name for it, I don’t know. We’ve been called Sludge ‘n Roll, which we’ve been using as a tagline for a while. But I’m not sure that’s exactly right. Maybe “rubber” would be better.
You’ve also recently signed with Lay Bare Recordings. How did this come about and what does this mean for Ruff Majik when it comes to new music, tours, etc.
Well, it’s mostly thanks to Warren at Plug Music Agency. He contacted them and asked if they’d be interested. Luckily, the owner of the label also caught us live in Germany, so she was quite keen to sign us up. Music wise, it’s only a one-album deal for vinyl releases, but it does inspire hope for future endeavours.
Amazing! So, you’ve also made a move to Europe. Where about specifically and why the move?
We’re living in a little town called Cottbus (close to Berlin) on the border of Germany and Poland. Basically, we’ve realised that the majority of our fan base and touring opportunities are in Germany and Europe, and living there just decreases our travel time.
That’s awesome! So, tell me about the music industry on that side. Is it easier to book bigger shows? And how does the live music scene differ from what’s happening in South Africa?
Well, the scene is vibrant, thanks to infrastructure that has been in place for a very long time. So, a general Monday night show in South Africa wouldn’t be attended (or not well at least), where a Monday show in Europe tends to be full or sold out – kind of mind boggling, to be honest. As far as bigger shows go, yeah, we get them – although I reckon the reasoning for it is that we’re “exotic”, hahaha.
Hah! Finally, where can we catch you live next?
In South Africa, there’s one more chance this year on 7 September at Railways Café. Our buddies at Dystopia have curated a marvellous event featuring us, Mad God, Pollinator, Caution Boy and Smokey Mercle. Then after that, it’s back to Europe for touring and festivals.
Ruff Majik Music
Photos by: Christelle Duvenage Photography