VIDEO: Interview with Mango Groove's Claire Johnston

CLAIRE Johnston of Mango Groove fame was at Gateway the other week promoting her band’s latest album Bang the Drum. The album is great – a little different in pace to what Mango Groove fans are familiar with but is still in vibey and Proudly South African Mango Groove style. A colleague and I caught up with Claire Johnston for an interview. The video supplement and article follows:

Interview with Claire Johnston
[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MogcOuM1JDo[/youtube]

Ryan Calder

IT’S 9 am on Monday morning, and my colleague Galen Schultz and I make our way to the food court of Gateway Shopping Centre, carrying video cameras and dictaphones. Claire Johnston of Mango Groove is instantly recognisable.

Wearing a funky tartan cap, the famous blonde singer is sitting with her EMI rep Kevin at a coffee table in the food court as we approach. They stand to greet us and I immediately note her black and white jersey, which I refrain from mentioning, given the poor run of form of the Sharks in recent weeks. Still, I like that she’s thought about it. When in Rome...

We find the quietest corner of the busiest shopping centre in Umhlanga and get to the interview, which has come about after the release of Mango Groove’s latest studio album, Bang the Drum. The album is the band’s first in 14 years.

“Very good question, why now?” Claire Johnston reflects. “Mango Groove never split up, but we all took a break to pursue various projects which we had all wanted to do for a while. You get to a point where you love what you do, but probably don’t appreciate it as much as you should, and that’s a good time to take a break and explore different things.”

Johnston was 17 when she joined the group 25 years ago, and after Mango Groove’s success went on to pursue a solo career which saw the birth of three albums. “But slowly, over the past seven years, we had each started feeling those stirrings again, which was nice. It was nice to know that we were ready.”

Claire highlights the launch of the band’s website as a catalytic point in deciding to record again. “It was amazing once the website was up, we got responses from people asking where we’ve been and what we’ve been doing.

“We did some shows in Gauteng and people went crazy for songs like Hometalk and Special Star, and we knew the magic was still there. That’s why we’re in this industry: it’s a feel-good industry as much as it is a business industry.”

Claire Johnston knows the hardships of making a career as a musician, having recorded Fearless, a solo album in the UK, which she admits was very different from Mango Groove and “refreshing on a personal level”, but which wasn’t received well in South Africa. She then recorded Africa Blue, a collection of songs “which have influenced me and which I am fond of” which were closer to the sound of Mango Groove.

“I like to think of my solo career as running parallel with Mango. It can be done, you just have to be savvy about it.”

For now, however, Johnston’s focus is clearly on Bang the Drum, Mango Groove’s new 16-track offering which clocks in at close to 70 minutes. Recording the album “was like coming home,” Claire Johnston reflects, “because it was in the same studio where we recorded our first album. They’d changed some of the wallpaper and some of the technology was new, but it really felt familiar.”

Out of the studio has come an album that is typically Mango Groove. “People ask us who our target market is. I just say ‘well, everyone’. Perhaps I’m naive, but I like to think that music can do that, that it can stretch across all sorts of boundaires.” - www.witness.co.za

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VIDEO: Interview with Watershed and clips from their Pmb performance

SOUTH African band Watershed trudged their way through KZN's spring snow to perform in front of a Pietermaritzburg crowd on Saturday night. The temperature was low but energy levels were high, and after hearing the band's performance I have gained new-found respect for Watershed. They really are one of SA's top bands.

Watershed band video:
[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tfz4FI7pqoc]

The band discusses the evolution of Watershed, what they're all about, and what life as a touring band is like. (I apologise for the poor quality of this video – my camera really isn't suited to filming at night and I've been out of practice for a while and am hence a little rusty!)

Interview with Watershed:
[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EGAfP31mvtc]

I'm off to the White Mountain Folk Festival later this week and will be bringing back video footage of that whole scene in the near future.

Until then,
Keep warm

Related: White Mountain videos

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MAGNA CARTA: Videos of their live performance in Pietermaritzburg

ONE of the longest-running acoustic rock bands in the world, Magna Carta were a massive hit in the 1970s. They have played all over the world alongside music legends such as The Beatles, Cat Stevens & Dire Straits, and have even rubbed shoulders with royalty.

Their final concert tour brought them to South Africa where they captivated a Pietermaritzburg audience at the Hillside Concert. They were truly inspiring and have given me a new appreciation for 70s and 80s music!

Magna Carta live at the Hillside Concert
[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EKMFFlQhH-o]

Interview with Magna Carta after the concert
[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KJxcHyUnGfs]

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MUSIC: Guy Buttery shows his skills on the sitar

Guy Buttery is a true guru when it comes to playing instrumental music. He has been playing stringed instruments since he was ten, and his fantastic talent is evident in this video of him showing his skills on the sitar. I also made use of the YouTube annotations in this video that I mentioned in an earlier blog post.

Guy Buttery on Sitar
[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jvLzLpjXC68]

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