By: Sandy Nene
Deep breath is a band from Durban, South Africa. It is made up of Cebo (vocals), Joseh (keys) and Thato (drums). The arrangements are unique stylistically, borrowing from jazz, kwaito and dance music. Theirs is a journey, a fresh and brave foretaste into the future of African Music.
They recently launched 3 of their singles in Morningside, Durban and I got to chat to them about their musical journey and more.
How did the Group Deep Breath come about and how did you come up with the name? Deep breath is a movement that began way before the current band members. Thato had previously started the group with other members but unfortunately it did not work out. The movement though did not end as more music was still being produced.
In 2016, I met the guys at school while studying Music and Sound Engineering. I had received a call from the organizers of the Botanical Music at the Lake to open for Mafikizolo but had no band members. In a space of 2 weeks we put together a repertoire, rehearsal times and a solid 1 hour set for the show. We formally decided to start Deep Breath at the end of 2016 after the Mafikizolo gig. We booked a residency at Moyo restaurant where we wrote a lot of our music on stage and jelled together magically. We have never looked back since that day. As they say, the rest was history.
We were thinking about the last breath Christ took for us to have life. And also, how a person feels better, finds hope and solace when they take a deep breath. That’s the movement of hopeful, persevering and unrelenting generation we are raising up. To take a deep breath and try again.
“Don’t judge me by my success, but by the number of times of times I fell down and got back up again” Nelson Mandela
How did you meet? Thato and Joseph had previous encounters in the past during jam sessions with other musicians. When the three of us formally met, the names where familiar and the music just flowed.
Who are your major influences? The first a biggest influence in everything we do is Jesus Christ. Our family and close friends influence us a lot. We have also built relationships of the past 2 years or so with very influential people in our City and they’ve had a big impact in the direction that we’ve taken. People that we meet every single day who have seen us perform constantly are interested in assisting us whichever way they can in their fields of expertise also influence and motivate us greatly. We owe so much to the people.
What inspired you to make music together? We are inspired by different things at different times. Each one of us has a different and exciting background and we fuse these cultures and ideas together and magic begins to happen. We were inspired by how each one loves music, God and people. This drives us to continually be grounded and innovative in our craft.
Where have you performed? What are your favorite and least favorite venues? Do you have any upcoming shows? We have performed at Botanical Gardens Music at the Lake, Essence Festival, Emperors Palace in Johannesburg, Durban ICC but to name few. We have very few least favorite venues. All the venues we’ve played at have been fantastic such as Viewsat25, The Joint, Durban ICC and Joe Cools.
We’ve just finished a launch at Viewsat25 on the 2nd of June, what an incredible night that was. We’re currently Residency at The Joint playing every Thursday. We are also looking forward to launch in Johannesburg on the 30th of June 2018.
Who writes your songs? What are the main themes or topics for most of your songs? Do you think these topics will change over time? We all write the songs. One person may come with a melody and the rest build on that idea. And in some cases, we might be on stage and suddenly a groove takes over and everyone builds on that. Our creative process is very diverse.
We talk about love, life and God mostly in our music. These topics will not necessarily change but as we grow, we will be more enlightened and become more aware of the depth of each topic. Experience really is the best teacher in life. You think you know a subject until you are in it, been burnt by it and healed by it, then you come to a new knowledge and understanding about that subject.
Could you briefly describe the music-making process? I can describe how One in a Million was created.
We were playing our residency gig at Moyo restaurant one evening, we had finished playing a certain song and suddenly we all started to loop a specific section of that song for a good while. As soon as the right groove and harmony clicked together, Cebo jumped in without hesitation with the words and melody. Everyone that was watching the show that night stood up and started dancing. What a magical moment that is when we all connect to it.
What are your rehearsals generally like? Do you have a set time each week in which you practice or are rehearsals more spontaneous? We rehearse as much as we can mostly weekdays from 10h00 till late afternoon. We work on rearranging covers, tightening our own songs and building on songs that are unfinished.
How has your music evolved since you first began doing music together? It has become more melodic in our approach, we have increased how much Africanism and culture we bring to our composition. We are Africans first before we are musicians and we hope to liberate our people through song, like how the greats such as Hugh Masikela, Salif Keita and Mirriam Makeba to name a few, once did for us. This is very important to us.
What has been your biggest challenge as a band? Have you been able to overcome that challenge? If so, how? Having 3 of us in one band makes things 3 times easier and 3 times harder, and that’s probably the biggest challenge we will always have. In order to move forward we constantly have to remind ourselves the bigger picture, which is the success of all three of us, regardless of who’s decision or idea is considered. Other challenges are just gigs technical logistics to which we have learned how to anticipate and prepare for them prior to the gigs.
What’s your ultimate direction for your band? Are you seeking fame and fortune? Legacy! Making history. 50, 70 years from now Deep Breath will still be making music, relevant to generations of that time. Deep Breath is and will be touching lives and changing lives for a very long time, even when the current members of it today are no more then. Fame is looking for us. Fortune has already found us!
What advice do you have for people who want to form their own bands? Go for it. Prepare music. Find your sound and stick to it. Make sure everyone involved is happy with whatever agreement put forth. Get ready for the hustle though, because it is not easy at all. Know that this is, in every way, a business like any other. Then rock all your performances.
How can followers gain access to your music? Do you have a website with sample songs or a demo CD? Our followers can visit Deep Breath’s super cool website at www.deepbreathsa.com for an online shop for all the Deep breath goodies. We are also onall social media platforms as @ilovedeepbreath. Deep Breath is currently selling its music on branded USBs that also have enough space for everyday use for our fans.
Is there anyone you’d like to acknowledge for offering financial or emotional support? A big thank you to eThekwini Municipality, Kgolo Daguru, The Joint, Old Mutual. And to all our families and friends, a big shout out to y’all.
Any last words? It’s a new day! Get ready