The Mixtape Vol. 71

Warming up for the Headspaza Stage with Card on Spokes

This one time at band camp, Shane Cooper progressed from jamming electric guitar with his drummer brother, joined the school band and migrated to jazz and slapping the bass. Then he dropped out of school to focus on music, later graduating from the South African College of Music at the University of Cape Town in 2008 with a degree in jazz performance. A bass player and composer, Cooper has collaborated with everyone from Louis Moholo-Moholo to groups like Babu with Kesivan Naidoo, Restless Natives and Closet Snare. He has been playing and touring with Kyle Shepherd's trio for seven years and visited New York as part of the late Zim Ngqawana’s Zimology Quartet. Then, Cooper also does sound design and music production for television, theatre and film, and produced the recording of the film score by Kyle Shepherd for the new feature film 'Noem My Skollie'. Along the way he’s been a SAMA winner and a Standard Bank artist of the year. Hell, he even did today's album art, an acrylic piece titled, 'Textures are People Too'. And if all this wasn't enough, Cooper’s alias Card on Spokes creates left-field electronic and hip-hop sounds, and was invited to play the Boiler Room, enjoyed a number 1 YFM track with Okmalumkoolkat and Nonku Phiri, has opened for artists such as Daedelus (Brainfeeder), Young Fathers, Little Dragon, Clap! Clap!, Nozinja, and Black Coffee, and this year you can catch the excellently unpredictable musician at Rocking The Daisies’ Headspaza stage.

So you’re playing Superbalist is Rocking the Daisies on the Saturday at the Headspaza stage. Have you played this festival before, what are your thoughts on music festivals in general, and what can you tell us about Headspaza and the lineup you’ll be a part of?
I've played Daisies a few times, as CoS and as a bassist with some bands. I love playing festivals cause everyone gets a little weird and transforms themselves into playdough, so I get to create a set for a playdough world. Last year I played at Headspaza and it was such a great energy, a specific vibe that can only be found there. The curators of the Headspaza stage have put together a rad line up this year. I'm amped to hear Behr, Selfir, Thor Rixon, and many more.

Which shows/bands/acts will we find you at the front of the stage for?

I'm looking forward to BCUC (they were amazing at Oppi last year), Trancemicsoul, Christian Tiger School, DJ Lag, Fever Trails, Hadedah, Lance Herman, The City, Vukazithathe, Sibot & Toyota, and those artists at Headspaza.

You’re performing as Card on Spokes, and what some people may not know is that you’re also a classically trained and award-winning jazz musician. Can you tell us a little bit more about your eclectic musical life.

Well, I'm also a double bassist with a focus on instrumental music with three bands: the Kyle Shepherd Trio, the Reza Khota Quartet, and collab group Skyjack. They're usually labelled as jazz but I'm super bored of the way jazz is marketed in a silky smooth velvety way, with suits and whiskey, so I avoid the word if I can. I just encourage people to come to the show and experience the music, forget preconceptions about jazz and that jazz fancy-dress bullshit.

How different is it performing jazz compared to the CoS stuff and what do you get out of each of these disciplines?
As CoS I get to spend ages alone in a studio creating music and nerding out, eventually performing it for bodies dancing and sweating in a loud club. As a double bassist I get to make music with bands for people sitting down in fairly quiet environments, allowing the musicians and I to explore bending silence and using huge dynamic range from super quiet to super loud. In this world things are flipped and the band are the ones being intensely physical, using any means to draw new sounds from the instruments. These tick all the boxes for me.

You played Boiler Room earlier this year, can you tell us about that experience.

It was a milestone moment for me. As an electronic artist it was a dream-like experience to play on Boiler Room, a pretty surreal feeling.

How did the collaboration with Nonku and Koolkat come about and will you do more hip hop collabs with local rappers?
I met Smi at a Red Bull Basscamp in Jozi, and Nonku and I had been wanting to do something as well. The puzzle pieces were aligned. Yeah I'd love to do some more hip hop stuff, hip hop is at the core of a lot of what I do.

Your new single Impala Parlour / Journey To Life dropped Friday 26 Aug, and your new EP 'As We Surface' drops late Sept. Tell us what's gone into these independent releases and why did you keep pushing the release out?
Impala Parlour / Journey To Life was a song that took months to finish, and was a beautiful journey for me to create it. I worked with some local percussionists playing a variety of African percussion and Latin percussion creating a lot of layers that were my starting point. You can hear a doubled-up talking drum pattern in the intro. One of the best things about writing electronic music is the point at which you discover the heart of a song, and you can trip out on it for hours in your room, while carving the world around it. I see electronic music as animation, and acoustic music as theatre. I also believe songs already exist, and if you discover the heart of a song and you listen to it, it guides you to the top of the mountain. I write music for the journey this process takes me on, it's highly addictive. Then if people enjoy the music after you put it out, that's super uplifting to know someone else gets a journey from it too. I kept pushing the EP release out cause I started to get new ideas in the final stages, which is a pattern in my previous projects. Got to grab that energy and tame the wild horse that it is. The EP has six tracks, and features some beautiful musicians like Bonj Mpanza, Marcus Wyatt, Siya Makuzeni, Jonno Sweetman, Shabaka Hutchings and more.

What’s in the mix you made us?

Some of my songs, as well as music by some of my favourite artists from Fever Trails to Carlo Mombelli. I had fun putting it together.

You talk about venues closing, why is this happening and how can it be fixed?
I think it's the natural pendulum swing that happens every few years with venues. It totally sucks, but necessity is always the mother of invention, so we'll bounce back harder. Still sad when it happens though.

You do a good job speaking over the tracks, which is a first for our Monday Mixtapes, should DJ Fresh be nervous?
Haha, no DJ Fresh is the boss. I just wanted to let people know what's being played cause there's a lot of stuff in the mix most people wouldn't have heard, and I know they'll listen while working or browsing etc.