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Written byIndio Friedmann

 It felt as if I was sensually experiencing what I saw and just like William in Almost Famous, I got to follow Hey Imagine through the intricacies of their day leading up to their performance.

On the 3rd of February, I snuck into bed with an outrageously pink toy that was accompanying Jono from Hey Imagine. Although I have to admit, this was then followed with an invite to join him for his pre-performance power shower. Naturally, I accepted (how could you not?) and joined in on the artist prep… Well okay at least it really felt like I did and it really felt like I was there. And that’s it, where I felt the little touch of magic making its way through our covid-centric industry and connecting us back to being in the present, being live and being quite literally, in the flesh.

I want you to think as comedic as The Office and as raw as Almost Famous. The pilot episode of CAYA Creative Productions’ ‘Chasing Stages’ was an entirely unique action packed performative experience. It felt as if I was sensually experiencing what I saw and just like William in Almost Famous, I got to follow Hey Imagine through the intricacies of their day leading up to their performance at The Daisy Jones Bar.

As Director & Executive Producer of Chasing Stages and Founder of CAYA Creative Studios & CAYA Creative Productions Brad Farrell describes “’Chasing Stages,’ as a web series that will follow some of the biggest names, and the most exciting newcomers in the South African music scene for the day of a major performance.”  In asking how such a truly unique concept developed, it was evident that Brad, Lorcan Berg (Director of Photography and Lead Editor) and Durand Pelser (Producer & Additional Camera Operator) all have an experienced and well versed background within the creative industry. Amongst others, this would include the live music industry, the shooting of events, live sound and also Durand being a musician himself. 

I want you to think as comedic as The Office and as raw as Almost Famous.

Brad describes where the inspiration for this concept came from, “With the last few years having very few events due to covid restrictions, I saw the damage that was felt by the live music and events industry. So as it started to slowly open up again, I really wanted to do something and put together this show. Why? Well to help promote and reignite the passion and love for these industries who have been hit so hard and really have not gotten any support from the government. Also, with exception of the Joburg Hip Hop scene, there is a real lack of coverage on musicians in South Africa, specifically of their personalities. Unlike the rest of the world, we are missing this and it seriously contributes to the lack of growth within South Africa’s music industry. Where is the coverage of the personalities behind the personas we see on stage? Who are the people that make the music that we all love? Because as a consumer, as an audience member and as a fan – you don’t fall in love with what someone does but rather who they are. So with the opportunities provided by the internet age, artists can develop a following world-wide, there really is nothing to stop that happening anymore. Ultimately, ‘Chasing Stages’ is an attempt to show off the incredible people we know and love from being in the industry and showing these people off to those who may not know of the incredible variety of talent we have.”

In this way, CAYA’s ‘Chasing Stages’ provides not only a tangible, visual and auditory experience but by throwing us head first into BEING part of the band, the experience becomes wholly visceral. With a platform combining so many different modes of creativity, it gives all those involved a chance to reignite the spirit of live performance but this time, making it personal and intentional. As Brad said, we don’t love people for what they do, we love people for who they are and really, the rest will follow. Besides, getting a personal slice of the artists’ life also makes you feel incredibly special. Elaborating on this, Brad uses Hey Imagine to explain that essentially music documents our lives. “I don’t love Jono, Hugo or Greg for the way that they play the bass, guitar, and drums but I love who they are and that really is the case all over the scene. There are plenty of times with music where it’s really great but then when it becomes personalised, the music’s value is drastically enhanced by having context to the people behind it. Like the kind of person they are, why they are there, the issues that they deal with, the things passionate about, which all add so much to the objective value of music. Music is about connecting and this is just another way for music to help connect people.” 

I then turned over to Lorcan to gain his insight into Chasing Stages. “The concept of Chasing Stages was still just an idea when I joined the team but it was one of the first things I sort of started to move towards when I joined last year. When Brad offered an opportunity to be a part of it, I instantly said yes. Listen, a lot of people have said it (the Chasing Stages’ concept) since, but we haven’t really seen it here. It’s a detailed insight into the other side of the music industry. The music industry here is overflowing with young talent that hasn’t been discovered yet and unfortunately doesn’t know how to be discovered. They are sitting here with all this incredible talent with no way to show the world. So that’s why I think this idea is such an important way to move forward and to grow the industry together.”

The Cape Creative Collective could not echo this sentiment more, we are always stronger together. This sort of musical memoir can give a lot of meaning to the artists and who they are behind the scenes. As Lorcan explains the dichotomy of musicians, “you meet musicians but often it is in or around a gig. They have to then be a certain way, be a certain person, look a certain way or maybe they don’t, but you don’t actually see them the whole day. That’s why I really loved this because you get to see the different nuances of performance art.”

I thought I would get this straight from the horses’ mouth, well more-so out of Frontman Jono’s mouth. “Well, there’s not really much hiding you can do in something like this, I mean they are filming you from the beginning of the day and the preparation so whatever character or persona you have, you aren’t really thinking about it when you are packing the stage, when you are going from place to place. You just are yourself. So, I think as an audience member watching an artist can give so much insight into what they are actually like, which is what people want to know. They want to watch these documentaries because yes, they get the persona, all the things you post, your music, your message but like you don’t get how does this person deal with a stressful day… And you can’t really be a persona when dealing with a stressful day, you just have to be yourself which is just so cool. It was honestly just so fun, we weren’t hiding or acting, it was just comfortable and natural. One of the things we kept saying, especially after seeing it, was that we’re going to watch this with our kids one day. This is like documenting the best time of our life. It’s something our parents don’t have, very few people have this kind of thing. I think there is so much retrospective value from something like this just like personally for the artist themselves.”

“Music is about connecting and this is just another way for music to help connect people.” Brad Farrell

As the Producer and Additional Camera Operator, I shifted the focus to Durand to ask what it was like filming. He explained that with the process of shooting, “People always have one of two responses behind camera, either they are super quiet and reclusive or super into it. It was also a lot of fun when you could just point the camera at every single thing happens. I always find it is so important to try create a comfortable communicative environment when shooting and Lorcan, who has a pure and raw talent for communicating, definitely embodied this.” Not knowing he is being praised and actually just forgetting that his video camera was even on, Lorcan continues vaping through the compliments. “I mean there are hours of footage where you have to choose the best bits so it is so hard to get it chiseled down into its final form. In the fast paced 15 minutes, it really is necessary to tell the story properly.” Drummer Hugo Janssens, admits the process of getting ready for the show is something that he loves , even throughout the stress (unlike Jono, apparently). He has been described by Lorcan as being able to brighten up even the darkest of moments with just his energy, so much so that he may even end up saving us from our loadshedding problems. 

Being just the pilot episode of this exciting new web series, Brad explains that the concept behind Chasing Stages is definitely something that CAYA will continue to work on. Getting the inside scoop, the next step will see brand sponsorship and also being on in-house streaming distribution platforms. “I genuinely haven’t seen anything like this in the music scene, or at least not for a very long time where people are so personally invested in the industry and being produced to the quality it has. For these reasons, Chasing Stages shows conceptual innovation that I could not have imagined in the beginning. It shows skill set, work ethic and passion which is super hard to rival.

In concluding our interview with the CAYA team, I wanted to know what their underlying drive and passion for their creation is. Explained by Brad; going forward in general, the idea is that we have been so disconnected from each other with a lack of live events and shows and especially for our age group, this is everything to us. People want to connect with one another, to be on the same page. The concept of the show speaks to just that, we want to tell stories and make people feel a connection to that story. Because that is what music is and that is what we want to do, to connect people.

Join CAYA Studios in chasing the magic of being here, being present and being personal. As bassist Greg Dixon explains, “The Magic is… you don’t know until you experience it. There’s nothing like seeing a show live.”

Besides, where else are you going to see Jono in the shower…

Our gratitude goes out to all the following who made the show possible:
@heyimagineofficial :
@jono.greyling as himself.
@hugojanssens as himself.
@gregdixon21 as himself.
Director & Executive Producer – @brad.farrell
Director of Photography & Lead Editor – @ihatelorcan
B Camera Operator & Assistant Editor – @addisongrace_photography
Producer & Additional Camera Operator – @doerie.die.loerie
Assistant Producer & C Camera Operator – @gina_alpert_
Score Composer – @jono.greyling
Venue – @thedaisyjonesbar_omg @strabconrad @jessmeissner
Produced by – @cayacreativeproductions