An Interview with Zebraman
Today sees the release of Zebraman’s debut self-titled EP. The EP comes after the release of their debut single, ‘Green & Lovin’ in September this year.
Zebraman is four-piece indie pop dance offering straight from the popular student town of Potchefstroom and consists of Johan Viljoen on Vocals & Guitar, Jan-Meyer Verhoef on Keyboard, Wouter Möller on Drums and Franzua ‘Zua’ van den Heever on Bass. Zebraman is half zebra, half man and makes music you can dance to, drive to and vibe to: A celebration of the many different styles and textures they find around the world and in South Africa while addressing everyday topics such as freedom, love and sacrifice.
I caught up with the band to find out more about their debut EP:
First, tell me, what have you guy been up to during the lockdown and how have you experienced this year so far?
We’ve been doing what everyone else was doing: brewing pineapple beer! Otherwise, we think the lockdown was one of the best things to happen to artists. Yes, it has caused many burdens, but it has forced us to stop what we are doing and just taking some time for ourselves. Life tends to be so busy, and once we get caught up in it, we often end up neglecting what we love. Our EP is a direct result of the lockdown, where we could sit down, and just be lone musicians in our own space for a while. A lot of hours and days went by where nothing worked, but because we had some time on our side we could really sit and figure things out until we were happy with what we heard.
You are releasing your debut EP today. Tell me a bit about the process of putting this new offering together?
We wrote most of the songs before lockdown, and because we had time on our side we could finally record it in our studio. Johan has a studio he uses to record and produce other artists, so we were fortunate enough to have the studio for ourselves the entire time. We sort of figured out our own sound while recording and producing the EP, as the songs unfolded themselves one by one to what we have to offer now.
Awesome! So, what is this EP about?
The EP is about breaking away from toxic comfort zones. It starts with Green & Lovin’ which is exactly about that. It is about breaking away from toxic utopias we tend to create for ourselves. The song is followed a by another break-away song called Cold Feet. This song is about how we don’t want to be alone, so we keep on procrastinating until we hopefully figure things out. The third song is called Medicinal Criminal, which is about sinister charismatic leaders who try to steal your freedom by selling you their own philosophies. We tend believe everything we hear, as long as it can give us a quick “answer to life” when it is supposed to be an exciting journey where you can choose your own path. Children in Disguise is about how we clothe ourselves with fancy words, clothing, degrees etc. but deep down we are still children, looking for answers. The last song, Blindsided, is a fiery love song about holding on to love that is authentic and real, even when it might be a tall order.
You address everyday topics such as freedom, love and sacrifice. Who wrote the lyrics?
Luan von Brandis wrote most of the lyrics, and Johan Viljoen wrote the music and some lyrics. Luan is a writer and a poet.
Cool! You describe your sound as music you can dance to, drive to and vibe to. But who or what are your influences?
We are definitely influenced by many great artists such as Paul Simon (especially his Graceland album) and Johnny Clegg. Other influences include Milky Chance, Foster the People and The Kooks.
And what do you hope people will take from your debut album?
We hope people would enjoy the music, dance to it and drive to it, but it is also important to read into it. To make it part of yourself and your own life. Music has the ability to empower people to think freely and for themselves, and we believe that these are songs that can do just that.
Can we expect a music video? Or some shows in the coming months?
We are currently working with a very talented producer and editor, Ruan Meinhardt at ENCO Creative, on a music video for Green & Lovin and some other songs. We played our first show in our backyard a few days ago to break the ice. We will be playing as many shows as possible from now!
Finally, with just over two months left of 2020, what are your hopes, goals and plans for 2021?
We hope to record many more songs, reach more people and grow even more as a community. We are just a bunch of friends making music and doing what we love, and we are going to keep on doing just that.
Photos by August Photography