The Mixtape Vol. 94

The Muffinz and music as a journey

The Muffinz are a five-piece “man band” whose eclectic soulful sound takes listeners on a journey, and in the same way they stress that they’re not a “boy band”, this journey part is important to them, too, as it’s ultimately what they want their music to do.

Their own musical journey starts when five guys with very different musical backgrounds met at the University of Johannesburg, started jamming together and then founded a campus music society. Taking their various influences, which included jazz, gospel, 90s-era UK bands and reggae, they created a unique sound that is responsible for three albums, 6 SAMA nods, a MetroFM Music Award and international tours.

The band recently performed at The Old Mutual Music Run, which combined a music festival with urban running via techno-connectivity. If you’re scratching your head then you’re in good company, but not to worry, we asked the dudes to explain the concept to us in the interview we did with them, which you can read after the jump.

So what’s a music run?
For most people who run, music is a very common companion. Its a natural union, running and music, that are both rooted in rhythm. The concept is great because people will be able to run without earphones but still be connected to the music.

If this music run isn’t the strangest event you’ve ever played, then what was and why?
The strangest was probably this one festival in the Congo. Not so much the idea of the festival, but more how the audiences communicated with the performers – in a coordinated silence and almost perfectly synchronised hand gestures.

You're in your late 20s now, living a different life than when you first met at UJ. How have new experiences influenced your music?
The influence has always stayed constant. The life situations in which we find ourselves and our environment – that's been at the heart of our music. What will continue to evolve, however, is our interpretation of the very same world. Getting older does that, and it's not a bad thing for music to mature with time as well.

Your genre can be best described as world music, how important is it to you to put South Africa on that world music map?
The world music is a genre, which by right, should encompass all the music of the world. Our music has many elements to it, and we have been put in many boxes, but the one thing we want our music to be known for is the message within. It's a message we want to spread through Africa, more importantly, as we want to inspire the future of this great continent and carry its beauty to the world.

Why do you think it is that so many different people can relate to your music?
We think our music relates to a diverse audience because our musical influences range from pop to gospel, reggae to jazz, West African music and blends of vocal music. So this tray of Muffinz has a flavour for everyone.

Your sound is more traditionally South African than what dominates radio play today. Do you ever worry about local music, your music, getting lost in the noise of international chart toppers?
We worry most that the sound of our time, the sound of freedom, is largely being moulded not by our local artists, but by the oversupply and over exposure to largely American music and pop culture. We worry that this will lead the future of our music away from how it is truly meant to sound. Our music needs to tell a tale of an Africa as seen through the eyes of those who shelter beneath its sky.