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).

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.

SpazaShop Boyz : SAs latest greatest rap duo

HIP-HOP FANS, EAT YOUR HEARTS OUT FOR NU-RAP…

Signed under Sony/ATV Music Publishing with Jay Savage (Die Antwoord‘s main man), the SpazaShop Boyz are a rule-breaking, genre-bending pair of South African hip-hop musicians with a flare for the unusual. The group consists of Johnny Joburg and Charlie Mac – straight up balls-to-the-walls, energetic musicians who are true game changers in the SA urban music scene. On stage the SpazaShop Boyz don’t stop moving, hyping up audiences with their glowing persona’s, lyrical craftsmanship and unique sound. The magic happens at Post Office Productions – an up-and-coming indie music and graphics studio – with producers Francis Muller, Marc Woods and guest producer Six in a style completely original and daring. Culminating influences from a variety of genres including hip-hop, rock and roll and electronic dance music the SpazaShop Boyz will be releasing their highly anticipated debut album ‘Popular Science’ at the end of July 2012.

Working with their producers on unrelated business, I have been one of few fortunate enough to hear the album pre-release, so I can vouch for these guys – this music is HOT. Their debut single ‘Rehab Tony’ was released earlier this year, with an impressive music video directed by Ollie Nhlabatsi that propelled them into the spot-light on MTV Base and in Rolling Stone Magazine SA – with chart topping reviews. The black and white music video features scenes including: a sangoma (African witch doctor) throwing bones to read their future; a strung out Charlie Mac in a hospital gown clenching a giant bag of pills and hanging onto a drip; a chorus performed from inside a pair of coffins; Johnny Joburg in an army get-up parading around weaponry; and the pair hanging out in a Zulu-styled throne room kitted out with a stuffed lion and animal hides to boot. The eclecticism and confidence of their style is inspirational; as it is clear that these guys have created something totally new and are working hard to get to where they want to be in the industry.

The album features songs which range lyrically from story-telling, to affirmations, to bragging rights that any note-worthy rappers are entirely entitled to. My personal favourite line has to be “I killed a Saber Tooth Tiger, I got Saber Tooth fiber/black and white my stripes are/Gucci boots I slide up/I’m hot all year, 365 degrees – I light up” from the song entitled “Light Up”. This song makes me want to jump – the beat is enchanting and the lyrics are pure fun, making it a sure fire party starter. The rest of the album is just as exciting, but tracks like “Obey” and “More Money” get a little bit more sinister sounding with a different type of energy (which reminds me of those 3am club moments where remaining party-goers decide it’s best to revive the vibe by head-banging into the dawning sunlight). The energy and momentarily surprising genre twists throughout the album are incredibly interesting to listen to, and one cannot help but get pulled in to the aura of the music – which seems to pulsate in a magnetic sort of way. Johnny Joburg recently teamed up with renowned photographer Leroy Jason for a shoot in the theme of “Messenger from above”. Besides showing off the skill of the photographer himself, the shoot displays a side of the artist which is not particularly in the foreground of the group’s musical expression. These photographs show that art is central to his personal identity, which is great to report on from the standing-point that this blog is all for creators of any kind.

This musical outfit is definitely a must-see live, and I strongly suggest keeping an eye out for the release of Popular Science later this month – trust me, you don’t want to miss this. To listen to a mix of their tracks on Sound Cloud click here. You can also catch the SpazaShop Boyz on Facebook (click here) or Twitter (click here). I am personally very excited to see what becomes of this creative team.

SA Tweets for Sweets

SOUTH AFRICAN MARKETERS DIVE INTO SOCIAL MEDIA REWARDS CAMPAIGNS

Guerilla marketing has been on the up and up in South Africa in 2012, especially when it comes to reward-based social media strategies. We have seen this with campaigns like the Bos Ice TeaTweet for Tea’ product sample vending machine installation (by Cow Africa, Thingking and RAAK) at the Cape Town Design Indaba, or the Exclusive Books social media driven discount rewards campaign. ‘Tweet for Tea’ involves the tweeter receiving a product sample from the machine as soon as they tweet using the hash-tag for the product. Exclusives ‘Stickers’ are handed out as discount rewards for rating their products and sharing on Twitter and Facebook.

Most recently, Toyota has launched it’s new model, the Etios, with the pay-off line “Here to make you smile”. To stick true to this brand promise, advertising agency DraftFCB and Thingking created a tweet-triggered gum-ball machine pop-up installation which truly makes people smile. The tweeter tweets using the product hash-tag and a unique pin and the machine is sprung into action – and by action, I mean serious action. The gumball is released and taken through a series of wacky obstacles for about a minute before reaching the smiling tweeter. As a result, the consumer is completely captivated by the brand for a bit more than a fleeting moment – experiencing something totally novel and memorable.

These campaigns are brilliant, in my opinion. The integration of digital and mechanical, the guerilla tactics, the customer engagement, the sheer creative genius and the pure fun of it all makes these campaigns mouth-watering ideas in the eyes of a strategist – and definitely brings a smile to customers. The only question now is what will competitors and other brands do to trump these ideas? Will we be seeing cheap imitations or sparks of unique creativity?

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