Q&A with South Africa’s The Brother Moves On

South Africa has seen a rise in the Indie Music scene, peculiar sounds are being created by a generation of young people born in a time of extreme cultural diversity. One of the most intriguing bands I’ve come across is the Brother Moves On. Popular culture in Johannesburg tends to become repetitive. I’m a diehard alternative music fan and I often love to see what’s new (and good) out there. So, I decided to go and check The Brother Moves On out. They have been around for a while but Jozi recently latched on to these guys, most people think they’re a new band but they’ve been around for a good two years or so. I watched these fellas for the first time two years ago; two years later I decide to go and check them out at a popular hipster club, Kitcheners Cavery Bar. I have never seen anything like it. I enjoyed their performance until my ears gave up. I decided to hook up with the band for a Q & A:

The Brother Moves On

The Brother Moves On


Who is The Brother?

Mr Gold is the rural brother who travelled to the City of Gold [Johannesburg] to mine his dreams yet ends up on the pavements that are laced with gold. Alongside him on this road to finding his gold are Facecontrol and Makongela, who direct the music of this troupe. The visual artistry and the command of your imagination are in the hands of Burnslow and SnyMalema, who are the boom – boom room of a brother moving on. On bass we have LL Cool Tito, Ladies Love Cool Tito, who is the newest member of The Brother Moves On. Simphiwe is on drums; he is the youngest member of the gang and is probably the one blessed with the most natural talent.

Is the band’s name inspired by a bad break up?

The band’s name is inspired by a break up of an old band, Orangutang Bitch. Burnslow suggested we start up again man. At the time we were watching David Simons’ The Wire and the episode was about a very stylish assassin, named The Brother Moves On. The Brother is a fictional masculine character, the brown man with a gift on the low.

I remember seeing The Brother some years ago and the sound was different, the band members where different (I think) and vibe was quite intense, almost serious. Listening to you guys again felt like the evolution of that idea, more playful and experimental but a bit dark. Would you say the music is dark?

The music is playful and deals with the context it finds itself in. No member of The Brother is permanent, not even our diva front man. So, the sound evolves with the change in personnel. The current sound deals with the idea that, for some reason, we are perceived as a new, up and coming band forever and not for what we are, which is a performance art crew with a dope sound. I’d say it’s angry rather than dark but anger is the seed for compassion and that’s our reason for doing what we do. Compassion for the time and space we find ourselves in.

I notice people were sitting around in a circle at your recent performance, is that what your audience normally does?

We love it when people are real to what we are doing. When they sit in a circle it’s great as long as they came to that decision and it wasn’t sold to them as what is done at our shows. We had a seated audience at the Bioscope but it was so unnatural, made us really uneasy, whereas the audience at Kitcheners either fetched chairs or just chilled on the floor. But they weren’t stagnant they got up, danced when the music had them and chanted with us.

What genre would you say it is?

We are Post Genre and hate being called Tribal rock, Afrospiritual funk, Afro-floyd, Xhosa funk…we have a name, and it’s The Brother Moves On. If you have to put us in a box, let it be a big box with lots of windows and a door we can walk out of.

Have your parents seen those outfits? Besides that, what/who is the fashion sense inspired by?

Our parents have been very supportive – the tights are a critique on the Indie Illovo kids dress sense with a twist, we are superheroes on our day off who are hyper-real Independents. (Editor’s Note: Illovo is a Johannesburg suburb, where the scene is growing. A popular club known as The Wolves is situated there and a lot of South African indie bands are often invited to play at the venue.)

Jo’burg music scene in three words.

Dynamic, Ignored, Passionate…

Where is The Brother going?

The Brother is a transient space. The Brother has left, is leaving and must still leave. The Brother is the migrant worker, the casual worker, the call centre cat with mad talent but no means, the young mother waiting for her child to grow so she can start chasing that dream again, the cat who has left home with no plan, The Brother is the brown person with the gift on the low. We are making music that deals with where we find ourselves and this generation, an unemployed generation who have to fight for their dreams. The Brother speaks to those who have been tasked with evolving Mandela’s dream into a real space rather than a gesture.

What message does The Brother have for all peculiar beings out there?

Positive Energy Activates Constant Elevation – PEACE