back in town”
And they most definitely ‘liked to party…’
A week or 2 ago, Dale– owner and founder of DK EXPRESSIONS®- had asked ‘Time Traveller’ Lauren Carr and I if we could cover the upcomings Vengaboys event- a live performance which was to be held at Carnival City’s Big Top Arena in Johannesburg, South Africa on the 12th and 13th of December 2014, when they will officially kickoff their world tour that they’re currently undertaking as part of reviewing their latest album: ‘Xmas Party ALBUM’.
Immediately, while nodding my head to show my approval, I got lost in my own little world- taking a trip down memory lane, reminiscing about my childhood years with vivid memories involuntarily popping into my mind….
As a 9year old back in 2000– yes, that’s more than a decade ago– I had already discovered my taste in music and Vengaboys was most definitely one of my favourite bands as well as very popular amongst the pupil in my primary school.
I still remember it like yesterday- I had one of those old school type of radios- those ones that gave you the options of either listening to radio stations or playing a tape. CD’s was still quite a new concept to most, especially to the people that came from Despatch, my hometown, a very small town situated in the Eastern Cape.
Every day after arriving home from school, I had lunch and then I’d head straight over to the radio, rewind my Vengaboys tape right to the beginning, I’d hit the play button to get lost in the music whilst doing my homework that was due the following day. Occassionally I’d get distracted, jumping up from behind my books and I’d pull out the very best of my ‘not-so-groovy’ dancing skills whilst jamming to their music, jumping onto my bed whenever the chorus of each song started- singing along with them into my so called microphone,making sure I stick with them at the top of my lungs. Those were the days!
Vengaboys hit the world almost instantaneously when they released the single ‘Up and Down’ in . followed by ‘We Like to Party (The Vengabus)’ in 1998 which was shortly trailed by the full length ‘the Party Album’ which featured the song ‘Boom Boom Boom’ that had fans all over the world singing along. They were on the top of the charts, bringing in a fresh side to music and adding to the pop genre by producing provocative grooves and sexy lyrics that reminds me of the summer-holiday vibes, with beats that hardly had anyone standing still. Today 14years later the group after all these years still have their loyal fan base around the globe and they still acquire new fans as time passes.
Yes, there was no question about it that Lauren and I were overly ecstatic about the opportunity of covering The Vengaboys live in Johannesburg. Over the next few days the excitement grew, both of us thrilled about covering the opening show as well as the potential chance of meeting them.
Two nights prior to the first show scheduled on the 12th of December, I decided to read up and do a bit of research on the group, just for interest sake. I emailed Dale the day prior to the performance asking if we would be able to interview them. He made the request by emailing the organisers and got the go-ahead a few hours before the actual performance. I immediately went into a panicking mode, rummaging the net for more info on them, trying to come up with at least 5 questions that weren’t dull and common. Luckily, with the extra input of Lauren and Dale we quickly had a list of interesting and adequate questions.
By 4pm I was running around like a headless chicken- in between doing my hair, finding clothes to wear and dressing up, I was also getting the gear and everything needed for the night ready whilst in a panic state. I then thought to myself, well Lauren, who works as journalist for #DKEXP, could handle the interview with them and I could take the photographs and record everything (seeing that I stumble over my very own words when I get nervous). I sent her a message, only to hear that she was working and that her shift only ended at 5pm, after which she then still would have to go home to get ready, as well as face the traffic during rush hour, driving to Johannesburg all the way from Pretoria, which meant she would not be able to make it in time for our interview that according to the email was scheduled for 18:30. That left me with two choices, either my friend, Rohan- who I had invited with- had to conduct the interview with the band whilst I record and shoot (which I preferred), or vice versa.
Around 5pm, Rohan picked me up after having to make vast arrangements at work, seeing as we had to leave earlier than intended, and we set off to our destination- Carnival City. We arrived around 18:10, and headed towards the Big Top Arena and Computicket, to get our Media passes and the extra tickets for Rohan and Lauren’s +1.
Having been greeted by very friendly staff who was offered helpful service at Carnival City– as well as from the organisers of the event– we had received the correct access cards and tickets which was needed for the evening. We were set to go, and ase thanked them and took off, they instructed us to be in the ‘Rio Room’ by 7pm for the media function.
Rohan and I headed over the cash bar for a drink, and then we went outside for a breather. That’s when I took the opportunity to ask him if he could possibly conduct the interview, but alas, he refused, telling me that it’s my first interview and it would be the perfect opportunity to break the ice for myself ensuring me in the same breath that everything will be okay, that after the first the introduction and first question or 2, things will only get better and I would do just fine.
Just before 7pm we headed up to the location where the function was to be held and went inside. While Rohan was busy getting us some snacks to eat that were available to all the invited guests, I got us a table and anxiously waited for the guests of honour to make their appearance, unsure what the agenda is and when my interview will be taking place, quitely reciting the prepared questions for the interview to myself, my heart pounding out my chest.
Just before Vengaboys came in, one of the organisers Frans Swart, Chef Executive officer of Lefra Productions came up to us, stating that Dale had requested an interview, and that we should come to him after the event. I broke out in a cold, nervous sweat, but Rohan kept assuring me that everything will turn out okay.
All of a sudden the members of the Vengaboys band appeared, and the crowd gave them a loud round of applause, it was clear that everyone was excited to have the Vengaboys ‘back in town’
After welcoming and introducing the band and thanking everyone involved, CEO Frans Swart handed over the mic to Kim Sasabone (vocalist since 1997).
She welcomed and thanked everyone, and ended off her short speech by saying: “It’s great to be back in South Africa, and I must add, LOCAL IS LEKKER!”
Frans afterwards introduced them to their super fan and the group posed for a quick photo with her.
After this, the invited guests were given the opportunity to take a photo with the band members in groups of 10, seeing as they were running on a tight schedule and didn’t have much time left to prepare for the actual show. The photo sessions with the over eager crowd finally concluded at which point the Vengaboys greeted everyone and told them to enjoy the show and left the room.
The time had come for me to now interview them, and with an overdose of adrenaline pumping through my veins, all shaky, with sweaty hands I looked for Frans between the crowds of people and followed them out for the interview.
#DKEXP were the only media company that was privileged enough to get the chance to interview the band members, and with people that also attended the function crowding around us, snapping away, Frans Swart and their manager introduced me to each of them. Whilst shaking their hands and introducing myself, I thought I’d take the opportunity to warn them that this is my very first interview that I’m conducting, just in case I may look like a moron, and to my surprise they responded with a surprised, friendly and comforting smile
‘Wow, is this really your first one?’
Whilst preparing to start I took a deep breath and tried to pace myself, the almost drowning noise of the crowd roaring with excitement and small talk around me made me even more nervous, feeling quite lost and unsure as to what I should do next, Donny asked me: “Uh, shall we sit, or shall we stand?” I smilingly waved me hand towards the couch and they all took a seat, and as they did Donny instructed me to take a seat on the coffee table infront of them which I had to decline as the tabletop was made from glass. Frans, the CEO of Lefra Productions moved a single seater couch closer to the couch they were sitting on so I can take a seat too, and as I took my seat, Kim and Denice waved me closer, so I stood up and they pulled the chair closer for me, but asI took in my seat Kim stood up and said: “You know what, let us stand, we’ve got lots of energy” by which Donny exclaimed “We’ll stand” with an excited tone in his voice. With a nervous giggle I stood up and fired away with the first question:
- Me: “Welcome to SA! Correct me if I’m wrong, but this is your second tour that you’re doing and SA is included?”
The group responded with “Thank you!” and a cheerful “Yeah, it’s our second time” while nodding their heads. Kim followed that up by saying: “It’s great to be back after all this time at exactly the same place and same venue.”
- Me: “It’s been 14years since you released your last album. You’ve got an excited crowd out there at a great venue. Your fans have stayed loyal over all these years. How does that make you feel?”
Donny responded: “Awesome, amazing” and the others nodded in agreemant. All over the world but especially in South Africa, it’s good to know that when we’re coming somewhere, the fans are always there.”
- Me: “How has the trip been so far, since this is your first show?”
Kim: Awesome, it’s been perfect.”
- Me: “If each of you could be a superhero/ -villain, who would you choose to be?”
“That’s a good question!” Donny exclaimed. Kim was the first to answer with “Superwoman” on which Donny responded with “No, I wanna be Superwoman”. I laughed and asked: “So both of you are going to be Superwoman?” on which he replied: “No, I’ll be Psychedelic.” I looked at Denice and she chose Catwoman. “Wise choice!” I said playfully. Robin was the last one to reply with: “Spiderman, I’d be Spiderman.” as I smiled.
- My next question to them was: “Do you as a band have any rituals that you do before going onstage, or maybe individually have a lucky charm which you always bring on stage with you?”
For a second there was silence, until Kim responded and quite seriously said: “Yes,Group sex”, with gleaming eyes and with a teasing, playful look she gave me a giggle as I uncomfortably responded with an uncertain “Cool, okay”
- I proceeded with a smile and asked the next question: “Are you planning to collaborate with any artist soon?
“Beyonce” Kim said. I responded with “That could be interesting” , trying to imagine the whole scenario and tracks that would come from it, until Kim said “We’re joking.”
I quickly went on with: “So if you’re about to go onstage, and one of the band members should spontaneously disappear, vanish off the face of the earth, and you could choose absolutely anyone in the music industry to join up, who would it be?”
Kim once again exclaimed: “Beyonce” and I laughed. Donny said: “Maybe Madonna. Or Lady Gaga!”
Having run out of question and still having some time left, i thought about the statement that Lauren had jokingly made earlier: ” All I really want to know is how long it took Kim to take out the braids she had in the music video ‘Boom Boom Boom Boom’ “. I thought that to be a good question, so I slipped it in into my list. Kim said that it took her a day and a half to put them in and that on the flight home it was quite quick to take them out.
I thanked each of them and wished them luck for the show, after which I bid them my farewells. They congratulated me on my first interview and took off with fans squirming around them to get their signatures. I searched for Rohan between the crowds of people and headed towards him. “Shame, you were so nervous” he said, “but that was great.” “You really think so?” I asked my hands still shaky and lost in my own worlds he smiled as we headed downstairs to go outside for a cigarette, a much needed one or 3 by this time!
After catching a breather we set off to the Arena. I went backstage and met the opening act for the Vengaboys, South African artist Alwyn Oberholzer which sang tracks like ‘Blue jeans’, ‘The Gambler’ and ‘Sweet Caroline’ entertaining the crowd. He had all of them singing and dancing along for a half an hour prior to the show.” He added that it’s a very BIG honour for him to open the show for the Vengaboys.
I went around and took shots from different angles while Rohan went to take a seat and enjoy the show for a bit.
At 9pm, it was time for the Vengaboys to come onstage, I went backstage to take a few shots, and gave them the thumbs up. The crowd once again was roaring with excitement. By the 3rd song, Donny had made a special announcement: “We’re no longer only 4 members in the group.”He pointed to Denice’s stomach. “Denice is pregnant!”
Lauren had arrived by this time and after the first song I had returned to the front of the stage, pushing my way through the crowd to take some more photos. They had the crowd, and me dancing and screaming along to every song, interacting and demonstrating some moves requesting that everyone join in.
I’d like to thank everyone involved, especially each member of the Vengaboys, for the friendly service and their amazing hospitality. My experience was top notch and this event was definitely one for the books. It has been an absolute pleasure working with them, not forgetting, most definitely an honour and privallige to get the oppertunity that I had. Looking forward to another 14years of pure entertainment!