Post Office Productions: stirring up change in South African music.

Post Office Productions is an indie production company with a whole lot of bells and whistles. P.O.P is run by a trio of top notch producers and designers who are constantly challenging the generally accepted mediocrity that governs the quality of music produced in South Africa. With many pieces of equipment which are firsts in the country and a head producer/CEO (Francis Müller) who has been trained by the best in the business from the world-renowned Berklee Music College in Boston, USA, this company is truly a force to be reckoned with.

P.O.P offers a wide range of facilities with two recording/practice studios, a graphic design studio, gym and a JimmiJagga sponsored chill area/gazebo. The business offering is pretty simple – this place is a home away from home for artists who are looking for productions of unprecedented quality. Some say that this set up is a reaction to the overly corporate environments of most studios in South Africa – which are not necessarily conducive to the creative process but rather all about the bottom line.

Not only can you write and record your album or practice with your band at this facility, but you can also get your album and promotional artwork custom designed by some of the most creative people in the business. In addition to all of this, the company is beginning to branch out into the events industry – organising massive events and putting their clients on these line-ups at every opportunity.

Overall, I am truly impressed with the nature of this business model – they are constantly releasing exceptional productions and offering a level of comfort that is not really found anywhere else in the country. The drive here is inspiring, as not many indie production companies can say that in just two years they have managed to build a client base of some of South Africa’s most well respected artists. I mean, these guys have worked with Camagwini; Da L.E.S; The Teargas/Cashtime Fam; L-Tido; The Soil; Spaza$hop!; MXO; Lira; Crash Car Burn; Pro Kid; and world renowned legend Tsepo Tshola. This is all seriously impressive given the company’s recent entry into the market. Visit the Post Office Productions website here, and follow them on Twitter (click here) and Facebook (click here).

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Loui Lvndn

I had the pleasure of meeting up  with one hella talented up and coming musician last weekend. So this weekend, Loui Lvndn came to hang and talk creativity with me at the studio. Currently, Loui is creating art in any and all ways possible. He does not only write lyrics for his music, he also writes short stories and poems, he is a graphic designer and painter and he has a keen interest in photography. However, the main focus of our chat was the single Loui is about to debut entitled “Funnily“.

The lyrical content of the song “Funnily” is closely related to the metaphor in one of Loui’s previously released tracked entitled “Breathe”. Loui tells me that in his messages in these songs he is telling his audience the story about his experience with a place called “elsewhere”. This place is a town where all of the people are contaminated with a sickness which Loui descirbes as “fear of self”. The “fear of self” disease renders the towns people fake and flashy as they cannot focus on their true selves and so they distract themselves with material possessions and generic lifestyles. In the songs the people of elsewhere look at Loui “funnily” as he tries to show them that they can use their imaginations and escape the terrible town to become more in touch with their true selves. Reminds me a bit of a Dr Suess story, no?

As much as I love these lyrically themed lessons found in art, I digress. Although Loui has the theme of elsewhere running through two of his songs, his most recently released track “OMFG” is more lighthearted. All of his music is definitely the type of sound we all want when we are partying – so regardless of message the music is consistently fun. In addition to this, Loui creates some interesting artwork, seemingly aiming to be the provocateur in this sense.

In terms of his creativity, Loui says that he is “unfiltered by expectations” and that this is his life’s motto. I like this, and it shows through some of his work that you can check out on his blog – the lvng rm, where he is entirely unfiltered and organic. I enjoy the style of the content in this blog, as it eminates the eclecticism of the man himself while remaining composed in it’s layout.

In terms of influences, Loui tries his best to be as unaffected as possible. He says he does not watch TV as it is worse than Hitler. I agree, but can’t say that I am living that life because I still get sucked in to the ludicris entertainment of TV today. Truth be told, I expect this artist to blow up here in South Africa and potentially abroad too. The vibe to his sound is just too catchy and his flow and lyrical content is definitely original and unfiltered. You can check out Loui’s music on reverbnation here.

Skermunkil Designs

I recently visited a store in Melville called Superella. This was a great experience because the store had a totally unique vibe which was a mash-up of retro and modern, traditional and funky, organic and original. The one brand they stock which particularly caught my attention is Skermunkil.

As soon as I got home I did my research and this is what I found on the Skermunkil page. “Skermunkil Design Studio is a small jewellery design and manufacturing company based in Muizenberg, Cape Town. Our studio and shop is located in Muizenberg and is open to the public from 9 til 4 every week day. Everybody is welcome to come and see where we work, how we work and what we make. You are also most welcome to buy some lovely things… or just come for tea. Done deal.”

The notion of being open in this way really impressed me, as obviously these guys realise that their work is awesome and that people should get to see them in action. Next time I am down in the mother city I will be sure to visit the studio. I have never seen anything like this before, so I thought it important for me to share this beautiful brand. I sourced some pics from the Skermunkil blog, so check them out below and click through to visit the Skermunkil page.



Freedom of Movement

CARGO KILTS ARE A FRESH ARTISAN COMPANY THAT DOESN’T JUST OFFER KILTS, THEY OFFER FREEDOM OF MOVEMENT…

There are times when I find myself straying away from the university library and out of the gates into marvelous Melville in search of a little adventure. This little suburb is Johannesburg‘s bohemia – a little village of cafe culture and boutique shopping, where one will find the most interesting characters. I feel that my trips to Melville are sort of like mini-adventures, because everytime I go there I end up spending time with people who take me on a journey through the stories of their colorful lives.

Enter Sean McClymont – a kind, bearded South African Scottsman who plays the bagpipes and rocks the kilt. As I was scouting for interesting encounters, I came across a store which seemed to have evaded time. Cargo Kilts has no glitzy, digital, 21st century elements – it’s all pure old school, analogue and tradition. The lure of this time-warp was what drew me into the store, where I struck up a coversation with manager Sean. Innitially, I assumed that the kilt is for men who play bagpipes….but Sean soon showed me how wrong I was.

Sean explained to me that the whole concept of the kilt revolves around freedom of movement. It is about being functional and comfortable, as well as making a statement. I was right about the bagpipe players though – they are indeed a big part of the cargo kilt customer market, but there are many other cultures which have embraced the kilt. Farmers and non-city folk, homosexuals and activists, rockers and hippies all buy kilts from Sean. The mini kilt is a kilt made for ladies (can’t wait to get my own) so there goes my misguided perception of kilts being for men only. Sean had me try on a couple of the kilts he had in stock, so that I could get a feel for the freedom of movement concept – as he insisted that the only way to understand the concept is to feel it. I can say from experience now that the concept of freedom of movement really is the only way to describe the feeling of wearing a kilt.

So, naturally, my first query was “what is the dirffernece between a kilt and a skirt?” Well, Sean showed me that the kilt has pleating at the back, and is fastened with three small buckles whereas skirts are not made in this way. The kilt also has a number of spacious pockets, a few attachments to hook keys onto, and belt loops – which all ladies know are rarely features on a skirt. Obviously, the traditional history of the kilt is also a major difference, as kilts have had an interesting hisory – having origins in Europe, going through a period of being banned by English royalty and making a statement on rugby fields for generations.

Tartan kilts have been iconic in Mc families as the various clans had specific tartans which represent their lineage. The tartans at Cargo Kilts are all handmade by the company and are not imported (as I would have thought). This artisan craft is beautiful and incredible, as the fabrics are truly top quality and the some fifteen varieties are strikingly impressive. The kilts are made to measurements, so if you buy one you are getting a one-of-a-kind tailored masterpiece. The most impressive tartan that these guys make is the only one of it’s kind in the world – the South African tartan (which Sean is pointing to in the above photograph). The store also stocks jacobite shirts, sporrans (hide pouches), flat caps (cheesecutters),  Tam O’Shanter hats, traditional Irish dancing shoes and (my personal favourite) drinking horns.

Another great thing I spotted in the store is the African Celtic Jewellery. These beautifully crafted rings, earrings, broaches, tiaras and necklaces are unique and attractive. There are also a number of interesting functional display items including a gramophone, an original singer sewing machine, a whiskey cabinet, a Gestetner printing press, and a large jeweler’s magnifying glass for customers to use when checking out the jewellery.

Visit the store on Melville’s popular 7th Street, or see their website (click here). You could also find out more from the Cargo Kilts Facebook page (click here).

The Heat is On

THE STREET CONCEPT STORE HOSTED AN ECONO-HEAT DESIGNER HEATER EXHIBITION…

Last night I popped into Greenside to check out the heater exhibition at The Street – a trendy concept store/boutique for fashionable and quirky street-ware. The exhibition was in collaboration with Econo-Heat wall heaters (you know, the simple looking panels that keep us all nice and toasty in winter).

The Street’s marketing pro, Melissa Griesel, had a great idea to use these panels as canvases. They got Econo-Heat on board and hooked up with some of South Africa’s best artists. There was free gluwhein and Jimmy Jagga were handing out free wine spritzers at their mobile photo booth, which were great crowd pleasers.

Here are the photographs I took, so you can see what I’m talking about when I say that these heaters are a must-have. (Excuse the low quality images – I used my cellphone to snap these shots, but you will still get the idea.)

Ivana Raguz
“Cold Feet, Warm Boots”

Mzwandile Buthelezi
“Untitled”

Bruce Mackay
“Campfire”

Adrian Jansen van Vuuren
“4 Down”

Justus Kotze
“Winter Blues”

Mr Alpha
“Hot Property”

Marija van Rensburg
“Hedgehog Love”

Innocent Mukheli
“Mulilo” or “Fire” in Venda

Justice Mukheli
“1955 Citroen DS”

Senyol
“Heaterbird”

Jade Klara Apteker
“Cold Blood”

Jason Bronkhorst
“Lie To Me”

Kevin Love
“Contrary to Popular Belief”

The exhibition runs until 2 August, so get to The Street before then. The artistic heaters are selling at R1500 a piece – which I think is great value for money, seeing as a heater is a winter essential and these heaters are exceptionally well designed. I am a big fan of functional artwork, so I love the idea of having a beautiful creation which doubles as an eco-friendly heater in the winter months. I also found it a thoughtful initiative that Adam Lowery (owner of The Street) and Melissa Griesel invited the guests to bring along some clothes and blankets to donate to the needy.

To find out more about the exhibition and The Street concept store click here to visit The Street’s Facebook page. To find out more about Econo-Heat – world leaders in energy efficient heating – click here.

RUBY Lingerie and Accessories

FAIR-TRADE AND JOB CREATION INITIATIVES BY SOUTH AFRICAN DESIGNERS.

Robyn Lidsky is a South African designer who is responsible for creating the well-known brand RUBY – a specialist, independent lingerie and jewellery label. Currently, RUBY’s signature includes fashion-forward lingerie and hand-crafted accessories.

 RUBY accessories and lingerie are designed and hand-made in Cape Town, where the expert hands of the RUBY Beading Circle are combined with the work of a talented in-house engraver and goldsmith. The RUBY Beading Circle is a fair-trade and job creation initiative that has been running for ten years and employs up to 35 women from the impoverished area of Khayelitsha, Cape Town.

RUBY lingerie ranges from comfy cottons for everyday use, to the most decadent pieces made with imported lace, velvet, silk and stretched satin. Besides lingerie and accessories, RUBY also brings us gorgeous sleep-ware, street-ware, men’s ware (MEN UNITED), shoes (STILETTO) and unique printed hosiery (in collaboration with Falke).

Above is a picture of RUBY at South African Fashion Week. For more information, product photographs and contacts click here to visit the RUBY website. To buy RUBY products you can visit YDE stores nation-wide. Follow YDE on Facebook (click here) for the latest updates on new stock and cutting-edge South African fashion.

Paul’s Homemade Ice Cream

DECADENT CREATIVITY.

Paul Ballen is a psychology graduate, keen photographer, traveler and food enthusiast who has been making and selling designer ice cream for about a year now, under the radar and out of his own home. Paul has taken an ordinary thing like ice cream and turned it into something great, using the most creative flavour combinations and top quality ingredients. I was fortunate enough to interview the ice cream king about this exciting avenue of creativity.

It all started when Paul’s sister bought her boyfriend an ice cream machine as a birthday gift. Being a lover of fine foods and artisan confectionery, Paul just had to get his hands on a machine like that – so he got himself an ice cream maker. Playing mad scientist in the kitchen is a fun pass-time for any foodie, but Paul took it to another level by sourcing the finest ingredients for his new hobby. As the ingredients got more exotic, the ice cream got more expensive to make – and Paul (being a gym fanatic) realised that he couldn’t eat all of his produce, so he opened up shop online. As an avid traveler, Paul has experienced the cafe culture which is not common on this continent, but is a way of life in Europe and the US. In South Africa people aren’t walking from cafe to cafe on cobbled streets, so the ice cream in this country is all mass produced and sold in supermarkets – and not related to any outdoorsy societal culture like it is overseas. This was another reason why Paul decided to start selling ice cream, as he aptly said “You just don’t get that here.”

The word-of-mouth advertising route was the only way for Paul – as he knows his way around Twitter and social media, and was realistic about his market being very niche. All of his ice cream is made at home on his ace, taking over an hour to make one liter. His process is involved, and he was kind enough to share with me some of the details. Firstly, he goes on a shopping spree to find the highest quality spices and fresh produce to use in his process. He then cooks his own custard using these A grade ingredients. Once the custard is at the right consistency and flavoured to perfection, Paul gets to work with the ice cream machine – taking 40 minutes to churn the liquid deliciousness into the final product. After this, the machine takes a while to cool down before Paul can package his goodies. His packaging speaks to the homemade aspect of his product. It is simple, stylish and leaves one with the feeling of “This product was handmade just for me.”

Paul started hosting sampling events and waffle days to turn the online hype about his product into actual sales. These events have been popular, so look out for the next one! On the menu are some tantalizing classic custard ice cream flavours:

-Chocolate Nutella and Oreo
-Pistachio
-White Chocolate
Maple Syrup and Caramalised Pecan
-Chocolate
-Madagascan Vanilla
-Green Tea
-Green Tea and White Chocolate
-Lemon Curd
-Roasted Coconut
-Roasted Banana
-Vietnamese Coffee
-Stem Ginger
Dulche de Leche
-Guinness and Chocolate
-Cookies and Cream
Peanut Butter and Banana
-Peanut Butter
-Chai Tea
-Mocha
-Banana Coconut
-Coffee Chocolate

In addition to this list of flavours, Paul’s sheer creativity makes for some periodic limited edition ice cream flavours – and he also makes designer ice creams for people who ask him to go all out. If you want to design your own flavours you can ask him for that too, but just remember that all orders take up to three days for delivery. If you think that R150 per liter is expensive, just think again – this product is handmade using top quality ingredients and can be specified to your liking, whereas other ice creams are all mass produced in factories which use ingredient fillers and other nasty things to cut corners and lower prices. If you want an amazing product you will be looking for quality, and with Paul’s ice cream that’s exactly what you will be paying for.

I can’t think of a better gift to give a loved one than a beautifully packaged, fresh batch of personalised flavoured top quality ice cream! To get your hands on some, you can catch Paul on Twitter (click here) or access his order form from Wufoo (click here). Make sure to keep an eye out for the waffle day events and the limited edition flavours which pop up every now and then.

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