Music is the message

By Tegan Bedser and Nina Oosthuizen

South African music loving festivalgoers were transported from a dusty bushveld onto a wave of sound at this year's Oppikoppi music festival held in Northam, Limpopo.

An estimated 20 000 music lovers attended the long-running Oppikoppi music festival's 22nd year at the weekend. Its theme, For the lovely young taken to THE UNSEA, drew its inspiration from a Gert Vlok Nel song.

This year’s line-up boasted top local artists such as Sannie Fox and Petite Noir as well as international acts that included August Burns Red and Yelawolf. 

SABC Digital News captured not only the sights and sounds of the music festival, but also spoke to some of the performing artists on how there's much more to being a musician than entertainment. 

The artists

Left to right: Natalie Poppy, Ella G, Kaihl Thomas Meades and Tinus Lottering.

The Dandies

In spite of an unforgiving tour schedule and suffering a setback earlier this year with gear valued at over R80 000 stolen from their vehicle at a festival, rock powerhouse duo, The Dandies, remain buoyant with a second album set for release in September.

The Dandies put their belief into practice that music is a powerful tool that can be used for positive change - if it used with good intention.

"With the new songs, now I feel like even if you play to a thousand people or we play to one person ... if we can impact one life positively on that night, then we’ve achieved something... If you’re not making an impact you are really just floating through life unnecessarily. So what’s really important to us is doing some good while here," says lead vocalist and guitarist Kaihl Thomas Meades.

"Music is such a powerful tool. You can reach so many people and the fact that you can do so much good and that good isn’t really done a lot of the time is a wasted opportunity. We played a charity event last year for Rocking for Logan. He’s got microcephaly... If you’re playing twenty shows a month, do one show for a cause, for a reason. A lot of venues you’re not going to make money anyway. So, if you can do something where you can help make a child’s life better... He hasn’t heard your music, he doesn’t care, but his whole life could be changed by you playing a couple of songs." 

"I'd encourage anyone involved in the music industry to do whatever you can. Do your 30 shows, pay your bills and do one for a good reason," says Meades.

Ella G

Former researcher at Good Governance Africa, Ella G, holds a honours degree in International Relations from WITS University. She is also an up-and-coming drum and bass DJ performing at Oppikoppi for the first time this year. 

Although recognition of female drum and bass DJs is important to her, she doesn't want preferential treatment just because of gender.

"There's only about three female drum and bass DJs, but I don’t think we get special preference. I don’t want special preference. I want to be treated like any other person." 

While there may only be about three South African female drum and bass DJs at the moment, this is set to change as Ella G is helping to grow interest in the genre by teaching young women how to DJ.

"Other girls see me DJ and they want to DJ too ... I actually taught my little sister to mix the other day." 

"We have open sessions [at parties] where any girls can come through and we give free lessons - which is really cool - so we’re empowering our fellow females," says Ella G.

Natalie Poppy

Starting out as a musician is no easy gig as musicians usually have a full-time or a string of part-time jobs to help them pay the bills as singer, songwriter, logistics co-ordinator and project manager Natalie Poppy explains.

"I do know that a lot of my friends who are musicians have their full-time jobs. I have about five different jobs. I mean, everyone is keeping their days busy with that, but at the end of the day, if you love something enough you're going to pour your heart and soul into it... You’re going to spend late nights working with your band and you’re going to work on something that means something to you. In any profession, in any industry you don’t mind pouring yourself into something with your whole heart because it means everything to you."

"There's a couple of jobs where you get to jol, but being a musician is definitely a whole lot of fun; being able to share something that’s personal with a whole lot of strangers and connect with them all individually... At the same time, that’s an experience that I don’t really know how else you’d be able to experience ... it’s very special."

With demanding schedules, endless hours of perfecting craft and navigating the music industry waters, there is something special about musicians who work tirelessly to connect with their audiences and beyond to create a ripple of positivity.

Watch the video for more on Oppikoppi            

Sound and stage

From left: August Burns Red, Riky Rick, Jack Parow and Petite Noir.

Listen to a few of the artists who performed at Oppikoppi and view the picture gallery below.

Riky Rick

Petite Noir


                                  Picture gallery