The Mixtape Vol. 41

Spoek’s new supergroup Batuk have dropped a hypnotic EP

The central function of Batuk is to use house music as a vehicle to connect the African diaspora based on shared and exchanged rhythm culture and language. So far the collective comprising Aero Manyelo, Spoek Mathambo and Carla Fonseca has done multi-disciplinary collaborations in South Africa, Mozambique and Uganda.

The group recently released their debut EP 'Daniel', featuring frequent collaborator Nandi Ndlovu, which was accompanied by a beautiful music video shot in Impaputo, Mozambique by director Kent Andreasen.

Batuk is currently completing work on their debut album, set for mid-2016 release. On their brave genre-defying debut album, the collective has collaborated with artists such as Grupo Zore and Grupo Makarita (Mozambique); Giovanni Kiyingi, Annet Nandujja, and Nilotica (Uganda).

We caught up with the band just before they left for shows in Germany and Switzerland.  

Who is Batuk and what does each member bring to the collective?

Carla: Batuk is me, Aero and Spoek, along with an extended international family of musicians and artists. For the most part, Aero and Spoek work on the production, along with featured instrumentalists and I write lyrics and sing and rap.   

Why did you feel the need to form Batuk?

Carla: We always say our goal is to unite people through shared rhythm culture; we've been traveling through SA, Mozambique, Uganda, and Kenya making music and linking with artists from Germany, Angola and Portugal, to make that a reality. SA's been marred as being very xenophobic; we want to destroy those kinds of sentiments by sharing music and art. 

Aero: There's a really great Afrohouse movement around the world linking different African cultures, where artists from Angola are sampling South African languages and styles, while SA dancefloors are getting down to Angolan beats and sounds, there's equitorial house. And it all extends through the diaspora to places like Portugal, UK, USA, Brazil... so it's a really interesting time. 

Spoek:  I first met Aero when making the Future Sound of Mzansi documentary, but was a big fan of his sound before that. I've always known that collaborating with him would give an incredible result. I'd seen some of Carla's art and theatre work and was blown away, when she told me she wrote poetry, I knew it would translate to lyrics really well.

Batuk is the name of a drum, which after listening to the ep is evident, but why Daniel? 

Carla: Daniel is a lyric in the song. The name just came to us while making the beat and we decided to make that the theme. My brother's name is Daniel, and maybe subconsciously I was writing to him. 

What languages and cultures are present on Daniel? Is that Portuguese I’m hearing? 

Spoek: 'Daniel' and 'Reya Congo' have Portuguese, Shangaan and Zulu in them. We generally write to communicate and relate to many African countries and cultures. In the 25 songs we've recorded, there are tons of different languages from tons of different places. 

What's the provenance of the Batuk sound?

Aero: We've been working on Batuk for the last year, it all started in Johannesburg, but since then we've been writing and recording in different places. The first songs were done in my studio in Ivory Park, then some in Tofinho and Inhambane, Mozambique, and some in Kampala, Uganda. 

Where can we watch Batuk perform this year?

Carla: We're playing in Zurich, Geneva and Berlin this week. Hopefully something in Cape Town in March. April we're in the US and May we have a French tour. Stay tuned to our Facebook/Instagram, we'll update our tour schedule as dates come in.  

How important is it for you as a musician to push African rhythms and culture to the world?

Spoek: We just do what is natural to us as proud Africans. 

So you’ve dropped the EP, am I being cheeky asking when we get the album?

Carla: The album should drop in the 3rd quarter of 2016, before that we have a lot more bangin' singles, EPs and mixes for you. Woza!