”Written byGulshan Stodel
Richard Liefeldt says that when they started off on his farm, “the spark was that it was fun and, to be honest, that’s the main spark to this day. The moment it isn’t fun, well then fuck that.”
There’s an unfortunate number of souls unaware of the punk/psych-rock scene that seems to be bubbling over in Cape Town, and our more prominent media outlets aren’t feeding those who are aware enough of it. Yes, that was a jab at our radio stations. But luckily it’s never too late to start enjoying something, especially new genres of music. And what better way to introduce Cape Town’s psych-rock scene to you than to chat with RetroDizzy, one of the longest-standing bands in this field. Their brand new song “Manipulator” finally broke a three-year release silence at their launch party on Friday the 24th of February at our local dive bar, Surfa Rosa, and one of the best gig spots in town, District. With accompanying acts, Black Math and Moskitos.
Retro Dizzy originally started as a three-piece band in 2014 and since then they’ve shared lineups with acts like The Black Lips and Allah Las as well as opened for Incubus at Greenpoint Stadium. Here they are today, nine years later as a four-man act. Frontman Richard Liefeldt on vocals and guitar, Nicolaas Rossouw on drums, Le Roux Hofmeyer on bass, and finally Desmond Kannemeyer on Guitar. This band has stood steadfast in the rock scene of Cape Town for many years and without a doubt will continue for many more. Liefeldt says that when they started off on his farm, “the spark was that it was fun and, to be honest, that’s the main spark to this day. The moment it isn’t fun, well then fuck that.” And personally, I couldn’t agree more.
“We are here to witness and be part of the rock rebirth, to see it thrive and enjoy it. This mission would be a lost cause without groups like Moskitos, Black Math, Retro Dizzy, and the many more bands in our country that keep rock alive. We hear you, and we couldn’t be prouder.” ~ Gulshan Stodel.
Their process of creating songs typically involves a demo being made and then getting thrown around the lads in the band, taken into a rehearsal room where it gets fleshed out and decided if it’s terrible or not. And as the band puts it, so far there’s been more good than bad. And I’m sure we can all attest to that. As quite a mood-driven band, they record between Soundcast Studios and LuvBuzz, trying to meet their technical approach with what’s being felt at that time. Their songs are almost exclusively recorded with Warren Fisher and tend to follow a simple approach. Drums start them off and slowly the different layers are added. And boom! Pure magic is born, much like their new song “Manipulator.”
“Manipulator” along with many other great songs was inspired by a bad relationship. Liefeldt explained that the first few lines of the song, ‘I cut my hair, I changed my name for you’. Is actually a word-for-word recount of a conversation he had with his ex. It’s heavy stuff but as he put it “I like how through music I get to deal with these situations.” And isn’t that what all artistic creation boils down to? Because at the end of the day we as people are left with so much emotion to try and sort through that many of us turn to creativity as a way to process and express what we otherwise can’t. And that’s what the band hopes to bring to us all with “Manipulator”. A release of emotion, whatever those emotions are.
Liefeldt had sat with the demo of the song for quite a while but once he felt ready to share it, and the band had gone through a member transition, it was all systems go. After everyone added their spice to the track their trusted recording and mixing engineer, and friend Warren Fisher entered the rehearsal room and they began working on structure and tones. They recorded the drums at Bermuda Studios while the rest was recorded in Fisher’s house. “It was so relaxed and informal which we like. When I recorded the vocals I barely had any clothes on. It was terrific.” says Liefeldt.
“Manipulator” certainly fulfills its role to provide an emotional outlet. Whatever you’re going through good or bad it’s going to be the driving force behind your headbanging. The song invites you in, makes you comfortable, and then in the best way possible throws you across the room and into a brick wall. That may sound brutal but it’s actually quite profound for a song to invoke such a feeling. The drums and the bass line work to keep you grounded, the guitar gets you to let loose a little and the vocals are your lifeline to hold on to. And then at the 02:10 mark, you get that massive push and suddenly you’re like I said before, picking yourself up off the floor with remnants of the brick wall stuck to your face. The song is wild and beautiful, and the passion that it was made with is practically tangible.
The “Manipulator” launch party on Friday night was nothing short of fantastic. The night started off with the usual pre-party boogie down at Surfa-Rosa while the tech, lighting, and barmen readied themselves up at District for the masses. Moskitos opened up the show on Friday and were very warmly welcomed. Their three-piece band packs a mean punch and is certainly one of Cape Town’s emerging punk rock groups to keep your eyes on.
They were followed by the long-standing legends, Black Math. Who, needless to say, supplied us with all the chaotic ingredients for one hell of a mosh-pit. Screaming, guitar solos, and insane drumming. Black Math hasn’t been around this long coincidentally, they made their mark as one of the best bands in this genre of punk/psych-rock in the country a long time ago. And they’ve never failed us on that accord.
Finally, the climax of the evening, Retro Dizzy. Their supporters are loyal and boy do they come in numbers. The floor was packed, crawling with individuals waiting to rock out with the band and listen to their brand-new single, “Manipulator”. The crowd was like a sponge to the phenomenal live performance Retro Dizzy gave us. Their passion and happiness was at the forefront and as an audience that was incredible to witness. From the center of the mosh-pit during the live debut of “Manipulator,” the sense of pride that was shared equally between the supporters, for seeing this band come so far, and the band themselves for how far they’ve come was truly special.
With a roaring ovation, the gig came to an end, but this is only the beginning of something so much bigger. We are here to witness and be part of the rock rebirth, to see it thrive and enjoy it. This mission would be a lost cause without groups like Moskitos, Black Math, Retro Dizzy, and the many more bands in our country that keep rock alive. We hear you, and we couldn’t be prouder.
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