We hooked up with Brad Klynsmith from Gangs of Ballet before their performance at Parklife Gourmet Food and Music Festival on Sunday where they'll be sharing the stage with Modest Mouse and some other noteworthy local and international talent. 

So tell me, what’s the Durban music movement like these days?

It’s in an interesting place, a little quiet but on the flip side it may be because there are a few new acts coming out and preparing to set the place on fire.

I heard that the band’s name came from affectionately making fun of a ballerina and the ruthless world of ballet. If you had to make a movie about ballerina super heroes what would the basic plot be and who would be the villain?

It would be about a gang of ballerinas with blades in the tips of their shoes verses ninja tap dancers in the ultimate dance off…. To the death…

The South African music movement is really kicking ass at the moment. Why do you think that is?

The internet and readily available top notch gear had leveled the playing fields a bit in terms of the locals producing stuff that can now keep up internationally. I guess it’s just the guys that are willing to put in the cash and the effort that are succeeding because a lot of limitations have been lifted.

I listen to “Scatman’s World” if I need cheering up. What’s your happy pill music?

The sound of the ocean.

What do you think of live recordings in studio?

It’s super exposing, which I like. For the most part I won’t by a bands album before I’ve watched a live clip of them to see if they can actually play or if the studios done all the work for them.

Tell us a bit about the production process and the other people who contribute to the final product.

To this point we’ve pretty much self produced and worked with some great studios. We feel like we’ve hit a ceiling so the next album we’ll be investing in a great producer to push us. It’s flipping scary, it’s like handing over a child to get patented by a stranger.

If music was our religion, who would be the prophets?

Muse, The Beatles, Radiohead. All original and before their time.

Your albums are on iTunes. Would you say sales have increased?

Yeah for sure, the whole world is moving radically to almost entirely digital. Plus it has opened the sale of single songs.

Just for interest sake, have you guys been paid by Oppikoppi for last year’s performance?

That would be a no.

As a band, who would you take on your dream tour?

Geez! I reckon, maybe like a Gangs/Coldplay/Radiohead tour?

“Hurricane” is soaked in nostalgia and reflections, reminiscent strings, abandoned drones and heartbreak pianos. What’s your relationship with the past like?

I think it’s been super positive, I’ve got amazing parents and had a provided, loving upbringing to humbly boast about. But no one grows up without heart break or a few scars here and there. And if you escaped scars and heart break as a child beware of baggage when you grow older. A good process in any human is to at all costs keep yourself whole and free, keep short accounts with people around you, stay humble and forgive quickly. It’s the only way we survive.

“Warm Skies” has an adrenalized passion chorus. Where does that energy come from?

Belief that there is something bigger than us I guess. To love yourself is a sad existence.

I believe we all adopt songs and make them our own. They express our stories and remind us of our past and how we feel. What do you think?

As a song writer I keep in mind that we have the privilege of being the sound track to someone’s life. It’s such a powerful medium and that’s one of the reasons we are involved with it.

Enthusiasm seems to be a rolling theme across your albums. How do you nurse optimism?

It doesn’t take a genius to point out what’s wrong with the world. True genius lies in the desire to find a solution. I got no time for whiners.

Do you ever curb your enthusiasm?

Head in the clouds, feet on the ground.

How do you motivate a drive in sound?

Make music that propel sonically feel.

Among other things, I like musicians who are unhappy and tragic. A poetic catastrophe. What do you think of musicians like that?

If it’s honest, I like it.

Why do you think music is so important to people?

It’s hard to answer that. It might be because it is such a human medium that transcends race, age, situation and it speaks to a very deep part of the human soul. Places accessed by anything else on earth. It is a mystery and I love a mystery.

QUESTIONS | Ivan Serfontein
PHOTOS | Craig Scott