Cape Town electro-jazz duo Goldfish have earned an unprecedented eight nominations for the upcoming South African music awards – but local and international success has not gone to the two UCT Music College graduates’ heads.
This column originally appeared in the Cape Argus ‘Tonight; section on 25/26 April 2009.
Eyes grew wider and wider, and mouths dropped ever further agape as the South African Music Awards were announced – and Cape Town duo Goldfish stepped away with eight nominations for their second album. Entitled “Perceptions of Pacha”, it was recorded and produced locally, but enjoyed international release on the record label wing of global dance and clubbing group Pacha – and gave them launches in Ibiza and the USA, sets alongside Pete Tong and Fatboy Slim and gigs in locales as diverse as Japan, Malawi, the United Arab Emirates and France.
“I think everyone was surprised that there were eight nominations off one album, not even counting the fact that it was. Of course we think the fact that it was us is brilliant,” grins David Poole from his home in Cape Town. “It’s a nice validation from the industry about what we’ve done but, to be honest, we were just stoked to have made the album in the first place. For us, making it and seeing it released was the main happiness, and if we win anything, then that is just the cherry on the cake.” “Perceptions of Pacha” was nominated for Album of the Year, Best Duo/Group, Best Dance Album, Best Music Video (once for “Soundtracks And Come Backs”; once for “This Is How It Goes”), Best Producer, Best Engineer and the publicly-voted MTN Record of the Year.
Poole’s easygoing comment is characteristic of the band, and the Goldfish press-packs trump the pair up as down-to-earth, guys-next-door surfers. As anyone who has dealt with them will attest, this is largely true, although this “could be anybody” sheen glosses over the fact that they’re both jazz-degree graduates with a rigourous work ethic and a determined dedication to keep on making their albums, shows and music both more appealing and better.
Poole’s also glossing over the fact that, in many ways, these are another two musicians who were building international success like record deals, Ibiza residencies and international tours even as the South African music machinery almost passed them by. Fortunately, the SAMA gong has come a long way since it’s checkered past and it is a a credit to the ongoing improvements in the national music awards ceremony that 2009 sees the spotlight falling on talent that is on the up, rather than just bestowing Lifetime Achievement Award on artists for too long neglected. Hopefully, this represents a maturing of our local audiences too.
“The nomination for ‘Album Of The Year’ is the most gratifying,” says Poole, quickly adding that they were surprised to receive the technical nods they did (Best Engineer, Best Producer). “To be nominated alongside guys like Richard Mitchell; serious old campaigners who’ve recorded the likes of Johnny Clegg… that’s quite something.”
Happily, too, the unequivocal thumbs up from the institution that is the SAMAs is not just a flash in the local and industry pans. “The press has take a huge interest in ‘Perceptions of Pacha’ now,” explains Poole. “They use it as a clue, especially maybe some of the places where they don’t have their ears to the ground and, because the press are sticking their heads up, that makes other people notice. Overseas, it was fairly big for us – Pacha sent it out in their mailer which goes to about 200 000 people. Not that anyone knows what a ‘SAMA’ is in the middle of Spain, but when they explain, then people are impressed.”
The band’s international reach is growing – on the back of hard work and a demanding tour schedule. They left for their first foray into South America late last week, and will return from Rio, Sao Paulo and Belo Horizonte on the day of the SAMA ceremony at Sun City – and news recently broke that the band have been confirmed to play the Glastonbury Festival. Shortly after the SAMAs, they play their first London show and then go straight to Ibiza where they play a weekly residency at Pacha Ibiza.
“Pacha has started a new thing every Wednesday when Eric Morillo headlines the club. It’s called Pacha Live and it’s no as though it’s because of us but, in a way, we were the catalyst for it,” says Poole. “A brand like Pacha is always looking for what will inject some excitement into their clubs and that’s why they were quick to like what we were doing.” He pauses and laughs: “We all do one another favours, I guess – they give us a place to play and we help them look interesting.”
Despite all of their international success, Poole and Peters still regard South Africa – and Cape Town specifically – as home. “Last year we had a few fans from South Africa we saw us in Ibiza, but this year it’s great – we’re already getting email from guys saying that they’re coming through to see us. It’s a very cool thing to read something like that,” he says. “It’s also amazing to feel that we’re on the cusp of a South African cultural renaissance. Like the idea, overseas, that there are elephants running around on the streets in South Africa, there are similar misconception when it comes to music. The international audiences are starting to see that African music is not just bongo drums and leopard-skin or loin-cloths, and it’s great to see that changing.”
The South African Music Awards winners are announced on Saturday 2 May. Goldfish play their final South African show for the season on Saturday 9 May at the Sun Coast Casino. The new Goldfish video, “Cruising Through”, is available on their website, YouTube.com/GoldfishLive.