South Africans are ‘Victims of Data’ according to Shameless
South Africans are ‘Victims of Data’ according to Soweto based band Shameless (Single & Video)
Shameless are a trio from Soweto, South Africa, where they are one of a few rock/alternative bands. Their music is influenced by the music they grew up with, they have dubbed their sound Nkabi Rock / I Rock Yase Kasi (Assassin Rock / Rock from The Township, in isiZulu).
They describe their sound as “an extension of rock” which fuses metal, blues, kwaito, mbaqanga, isigxaxa and a smattering of jazz. On the first of September they will release the first single from their upcoming album (to be officially announced soon).
Victim of Data begins with the hook & chorus line “I am a Victim of Data!” as the band explode into action at full tempo. The song is characterised by Musa’s screeching guitars, Thabang’s intricate and groove-filled bass, and Rock’s thundering drums.
It is a multi-genre song with its roots in punk & heavy-rock, complimented by a controlled breakdown in the middle of the song which acts as a mood-setter for a manic guitar. All this is made more impressive by the fact that the band recorded the song live in a single take.
The inspiration for Victim of Data came during the pandemic’s extended lockdowns in South Africa. When the world moved online, it became very clear that lower income communities were excluded because of the cost of data which results in low internet access rates.
According to Musa “We have the most expensive data plans in the whole of Africa so when we wrote the song, we really felt victimised by the cost of information.” The result is an undeniably political statement and song; to which Musa adds “Just like when the Sex Pistols sang “God Save the Queen”.
Similarly to their sound, the recording process was far from conventional. It was done at DiscovrTV’s studios in Johannesburg with owner Julian von Plato and his team filming the sessions, and producer Hugh Davidson recording the audio. All instrument were recorded together, live, which gives the song their massive energy.
While the band felt some pressure with the cameras in and the sweat from the South African summer pouring down their faces. The band thought they were doing a warm-up take – little did they know Hugh and Julian were rolling. And just like that, in one take the song was recorded. One and done, as they say.
At the end of the recording you can hear some laughter from the band as they found out that the practice take was not for practicing, and that the song was done. The footage (of this recording session and all others for the album) will be released in various projects, music videos and BTS clips as the release-cycle continues.
“We have come a long way as a band – from not believing one bit that what we do is unique or even good, to playing 78 shows in one year” – Musa Zwane
The single is accompanied by a music video, directed by Julian von Plato and shot at DiscovrTV’s studios, it is a frantic play-through styled video with visual glitches and spasms. These visual tropes make the viewer feel like they can’t quite see the full picture – not dissimilar to the feeling many South Africans get when they are excluded from the online world because of the price of data.
The band members (Thabang Khonje, Musa Zwane & Thabo Masina aka Rock Ruler Live) met on stage at a local, community jam session called Sawubona Music Jam where they instantly “knew they had fire and a musical connection like the holy trinity”.
They played their first shows without a name, but with their first batch of original songs. As the need for a name grew they looked at themselves and their surroundings; rock music is very rare in South Africa, especially in the so-called eKasi (townships) – segregated neighbourhoods where black people were forced to live under apartheid.
Full with the energy of their music they realised how shameless they are to be mixing two cultures – western rock music and African eKasi street culture. They are called Shameless Band on DSPs and Shameless Band SA on socials, you can call them Shameless.
Now in 2023, their 6th year as a band, they have achieved more than most rock bands could expect to in South Africa. From a Converse advert to the main stage at AfroPunk Festival and most notable stages & festivals in-between. They released their first EP “Impicabadala” in December 2021 with the lead single “4 x 4” that has since become something of a cult anthem in South African alternative communities.
Their electrifying live show has seen them play all over the country to audiences that never quite seem to get their fill, despite the encores, the fans want more. This has made shameless a darling of local promoters – who all know how to fill a room: simply book Shameless.