Groovy kind of love

2011-04-15 00:00

Mango Groove recently released its first stage performance DVD. RYAN CALDER caught up with Claire Johnston to chat about the band’s latest project

RC: What are the key things about the Mango Groove concert in this DVD that you think audiences will respond to?

CJ: Mango Groove’s live performance has always been central to the group’s identity. We started in the early club years as a live “thrash” act, and in a way Mango Groove really makes sense when you see us live. Capturing this live energy was our central aim with the DVD — the show as it happened, on the night. While a huge amount of time and work went into the editing and mixing of the Mango Groove Live in Concert DVD, at the same time it has in our view captured and retained the energy, the fun and the chaos of the show on the night.

Is shooting a live-concert DVD considered business-as-usual by the band? If not, what’s the difference and what do you do differently?

This was far from business-as-usual for us. With it being our first ever commercially available live-concert DVD, we took every aspect of it incredibly seriously — months of preparation, lots of planning and lots of rehearsals. We also had a really great crew and a fantastic team around us, and this made all the difference.

What special features are there on the DVD?

Quite a few, actually — a couple of very recent videos, a feature on the making of the Bang the Drum album, and a couple of photo galleries that we put together. In particular, we are really chuffed with the photo gallery we did in collaboration with the Endangered Wildlife Trust. I am an ambassador for their amazing Dare to Care initiative [the Mango Groove song Belong has been tied into the radio and TV campaign], and it gave us a lot of pleasure to combine their amazing images with our own music.

Is there any early footage of Mango Groove on the road from the earlier days (80s and 90s)?

You know, we’ve filmed and recorded so many of our concerts in the past (Standard Bank Arena, Sun City Superbowl, The Kloofendal Symphony Orchestra shows, and so on), that we are seriously looking at a more comprehensive compilation of these in the future. We consciously didn’t focus on these for this project, as the show itself, while being a celebration of our history, is equally very much a celebration of where we are now.

Since Mango Groove’s return to the local music scene, are audiences different now to what they were in South Africa 15 to 20 years ago?

Given how global markets have changed, given today’s Internet culture, and given how much South Africa as a country has opened itself up to the world, on the one hand you could say that audiences are a bit different. They are used to seeing all sorts of artists from all around the world, they are very well informed, and they know what they want. At the same time, however, and far more importantly, music is music — it’s about what moves you, its about your memories, your identity, your sense of belonging. With our recent touring, we have been so blown away by the audience’s response — all ages, all South Africans, and such a sense of celebration. With so much choice facing us all, and so much information everywhere, perhaps that so many people have chosen to come to the shows makes the compliment even greater.

Tangentially, perhaps, I’m not sure that the term “local” is always a helpful one for South Africans — often well meant but also too parochial, and maybe too often rooted in low self-esteem. Again, music is music, and it’s about what moves us, wherever it is from.

What are the goals and the focus of Mango Groove currently?

Lots of promotion work to do on the new DVD, some nice international shows in the pipeline, a couple of great long-term projects — who knows? We are simply enjoying being back on the touring circuit and have felt so gratfied by the love and warmth of the audiences: a true privilege for us.

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