Spaza improvises the soundtrack to an Uprize!

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In 1976, 6 Black women staged a protest in front of the Trust Bank building in an act of joyful defiance. (Photo: Independent Newspapers Archive/ Supplied)
In 1976, 6 Black women staged a protest in front of the Trust Bank building in an act of joyful defiance. (Photo: Independent Newspapers Archive/ Supplied)

Revolving music collective SPAZA release their latest album Uprize! on October 16th. The album takes its name from the documentary directed by Sifiso Khanyile and produced by his partner Tshego Khanyile which premiered in 2017.

The film takes a broader look at the events which brought on the Soweto June 1976 protests and the national protests that echoed afterward. Through the use of cut up archival footage, poetry and interviews the film decenters the narrative away from Soweto. For the soundtrack, the duo approached Joburg-based indie label, Mushroom Hour Half Hour to curate sounds for the film. The result was the creation of a band which included vocalist Nonku Phiri, bassist Ariel Zamonsky, percussion Gontse Makhene and Malcolm Jiyane on piano, trombone and vocals) under the name of SPAZA- whose members continuously change.

The ethos of Spaza lies always within an improvisational context and the music was created in label member Andrew Curnow’s apartment in Yeoville for a three-day free form session. Curnow worked with his label-mate Nhlanhla Mgnadi on chopping up the improvised recording into sound segments that could be slotted carefully onto the documentary’s timeline.

READ |Uprize! argues for a more nuanced telling of the '76 student uprisings

In January this year, the recording was revisited again by Curnow and sound engineer Dion Monti, who reworked the music in order to be assembled as an album. The result was a visual record, due to the interview clips from the film interspliced throughout which provide context to each track. Important figures who were not highlighted at the time, such as Xolile Mosi and Teboho "Tsietsi" Mashinini are immortalized through visuals and sound. Both the film and the album shed light on approaching the events of 1976 through stories told that further our education about history.

LISTEN |Sizwile by SPAZA

SPAZA - Uprize! drops on October 16th and will be available on vinyl and digitally through all major music platforms.

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