sonic slam chorus
What would life be like without the Artist? The one who bravely invite us into their private world each time their showcase their work on a public platform. What a privilege it is to be witness to the God given talent that surrounds us. The Artist, often marginalised in society, throughout the ages, is making a strong statement in the 21st century. People are sitting up and paying attention as the Artist stands up to be counted.
This month we are taking a look at a bunch of Artists who decided to join forces and combine their various areas of expertise, to form the group collectively known as Sonic Slam Chorus. Consisting of seven performers, Dikson Monroe, Cecilie Giskemo, Vee Mukarati, Prudence Katomeni Mbofana, Blessing Muparutsa, Asbjorn Lerheim and TJ Dema, Sonic Slam Chorus debuted at HIFA 2011, in what was one of the most stimulating and thought provoking performances I managed to attend at the festival. I was lucky enough to sit down and chat with three of the members, Dikson, Cecilie and Vee, in late May, before Dikson and Cecilie, left for tour in Europe for another project they have been working on.
The outdoor entertainment area, were we were sitting was a thatch roofed structure filled with cosy couches and tables. Romantic looking candles were serving as the electricity substitute (Yes this is Zimbabwe), and I got to know a little more about the plans for the future of this multi talented ensemble.
When did Sonic Slam form up?
Dikson: Theidea came to me when I was oversees in December last year. I had worked with Cecilie before and I thought it would be cool to do some sort of collaboration, so I spoke to her about it and she thought it was a great idea and wanted to be part of it. I came back end of January, early February and basically started to get the people we wanted to be part of the group, involved in what was going on. An idea in late January and it was a reality in April. It became a 9 track set that represented all of the artists.
How was your first performance?
Dikson:The first performance was amazing all things considered. There was the unfortunate incident of no power for the couple of poems and songs, plus the fact that we only ever all rehearsed together in the same room four days before the actual performance. We live all over, so a lot of the preparation was done via Skype and email. The audience reception was great, we spoke to about 8 to 10 people after the show and half of them said they cried and this was wonderful for us. Looking around and seeing how engaged they were and that they had invested themselves in it, it had the impact that we intended.
Vee: It was surreal, magical. It started off in darkness, the intro was very solid. When the lights came on it was at the climax of the song so it was this huge release. It was very cool, like a domino effect.
How was the experience of being a part of Sonic Slam Chorus?
Vee:It’s been a very good experimental fusion. It’s always intriguing, you don’t know what to expect until you get together. There was a dynamic when we started to rehearse together and when the other guys came from their homelands it exploded into something beautiful, which we never expected.
Cecilie: It has been a work in progress. We’ve now learnt and we want to expand, see what works and what doesn’t.
What’s your take on the material?
Cecilie: In music words you evoke emotions. Normally people don’t listen to the words, with poetry people listen to the words. Each individual poem has strong messages. Its life, it doesn’t have to be coherent.
Dikson: The album, the music just stands alone; it feels so natural to put the poetry to the score. It just gels so well.
Who are your influences?
Dikson: Buddie Wakefield is my favourite poet.
Cecilie:Compositionally I am inspired by Meredith Monk, Stina Nordenstrom, Miles David, David Sylvian and Bobby Mcferrin.
What are the future plans for Sonic Slam Chorus?
Dikson: I have a friend in Europe who is our manager for all the European gigs, so we hope to lots of stuff around there next year. We’d also like to approach donors and embassies to help sponsor a regional tour in Africa towards the end of the year.
So there you have it, Sonic Slam Chorus, a talented fusion group that we can look forward to seeing on our radar for years to come. Go out there and support the artists you know and even the ones you don’t know. Chances are, if they’ve perfected their craft, you’ll have a really good time doing so and seeing a performance is a great story to tell friends, cos it shows how interested and interesting you are.
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