This project is supported through the Confluences open call, aimed at supporting a shared space for collaboration, creation, and documentation of new work between musicians who have an existing creative relationship.
This musical activism project reunites friends and keen collaborators the BLK JKS and Zen Marie from South Africa with Berlin-based duo OY (Joy Frempong and Marcel Blatti aka Melodydreamer). The project aims to draw attention to the voices of young African, Asian and diasporadical climate activists through music and video art.
Joy explains, “I have been thinking for a long time that young climate activists of the Global South are not really internationally visible.” During a collaborative residency in Zurich from 30 June-17 July 2023, the artists plan to connect and interview young activists. BLK JKS and OY will collaborate to create new music and sound design using repurposed, rerecorded and remixed audio samples of selected quotes from the activists. This process will be documented by Zen Marie, along with additional video sampling and editing.
The audio-visual project will be presented to Swiss audiences, and released on both OY and BLK JKS’ discographies, with the view to exhibit the project as an installation in the future as part of the BLK JKS and Zen Marie’s ongoing video art project “Blaxis: Paradise Fallen”.
BLK JKS are a seminal force in the South African underground music scene. The maverick band’s current configuration includes founding members Mpumelelo Mcata (guitar) and Tshepang Ramoba (drums) together with Tebogo Seitei (trumpet) and Sibusiso “Spanish” Motsoeneng (bass). Founded in Johannesburg in 2000, the band gained international acclaim for their seamless mix of post-apocalyptic African funk rock, jazz, kwaito, folk, renegade dub, psych prog-rock, tv channel hopping, internet surfing, mbaqanga, soul and pretty much everything else in between. “This South African art-rock band traffics in complexity, cross-hatching not only rhythms and textures but also the signifiers of genre”, Nate Chinen wrote for The New York Times. After an extended hiatus, the BLK JKS released their new album “Abantu / Before Humans” in 2022 featuring a flurry of devilishly beguiling horns, transcendental drums and celestial guitars.
Zen Marie is an artist, filmmaker and educator working at the intersection of lens-based media, social practice and installation. Zen holds an MA in Cultural Analysis from the University of Amsterdam and is a graduate of the two-year residency program at De Ateliers in Amsterdam. Through a practice which spans film, photography, performance, drawing and writing, he investigates the relationships between power and place, and medium and meaning. His current and recent projects propose decolonial rereadings of the narratives that become entangled with nature via conquest and representation. The ocean recurs in his work as a site where the personal, the political and the social are refracted through the experience of the sublime. His current research extends this interest in the politics of the sublime to landscape. Zen’s studio practice is complemented by his position as a lecturer in Fine Art at the Wits School of Arts in Johannesburg, where he is also engaged in research towards a practice-led PhD.
OY is the avant-pop and genre-bending project of singer-musician Joy Frempong and producer-musician Melodydreamer. Through a transnational prism, OY’s music boldly blurs the notion of borders into blissful oblivion. Retro and modern sounds dance in harmony. Vocal loops sprinkle reflective notes on modern alienation while the bouncing beats, quirky samples, and electrifying synthesizers paint a cosmic dreamscape. Notorious for their vibrant scenic presence, their wondrous storytelling and somersaulting rhythms stretch the boundaries of music into uncharted realms. Their unique musical imprint is at the crossroads of many cultures and voices.