The first time I heard Revolution’s Teka Munike, I saw it, too. The video was being aired on Channel O. There was this hot, hot girl, singing in Portuguese. Her superstar “it” factor was immediately apparent.
There is no way this woman could be South African, agreed the Tonight staff as we were spellbound by her cheeky, seductive dancing, her cat-like eyes flirting outrageously with the camera. She has that European je ne sais quoi. I just had to know who she was.
And then I caught a glimpse of the Revolution twins and realised it was their music video, and that the singer was Rubygold, who is from Joburg and has Mozambiquan roots.
That was some months back and Teka Munike’s popularity has been growing and growing.
The song comes from what could be called Revolution’s comeback album, Meropa (drums). It is their 12th album and, as with their previous offering, is best described as experimental tribal house.
It also features a track with the legendary Themba Mkhize, while the opening track features Relo and her sublime, yet powerful voice.
“Relo is one of the most profess- ional people we have worked with,” said the twins over lunch in Newtown.
Listening to George and Joseph Mothiba, it is clear they spend a lot of time together. They speak almost as one. (It was also a fantastic feeling walking in Newtown with two big, strong – and hot – men on either side of me.)
“We don’t like working with prima donnas. We have a team of colleagues and friends who keep us grounded. We could have been really messed up over the years,” they said.
“But people like Selimathunzi’s Baby Joe and Ghetto Ruff’s Lance Stehr taught us all those years back that this industry is not about the glitz and the glamour, that we are part of a bigger culture. That culture is South African music.”
The twins, who’ve sold more than 1 000 000 units over the years, confess it was difficult to get Mkhize to play on the album: “He is the hippest old man we know.”
They met him when they offered to help him set up a new studio after his previous studio was stolen.
“He is a jazz cat and really didn’t want to be on a house album in the beginning. When we recorded him, we made sure we didn’t dilute him on the album.”
As for Rubygold, the house producers and DJs first encountered her when she sang on Monotone’s hit Invitation to Dance, which was released a few years ago.
“We saw immediately she had the ‘it’ factor. When she came to our studio to record for this album, she was recording a different song. As she walked out the booth, she heard the beats for this track and said she wanted to record on that song.
“It was the last song we recorded for Meropa. We finished at 3am, dropped her at home at 4am and the song was on radio by 8am.”
The music video was also directed by Revolution.
“Investing in a video in SA is an expensive gamble, so we decided to buy the equipment and make our own videos,” said the twins.
Because they are such gadget freaks, methinks they were also driven by the desire to play with new supertoys.
“We went and pulled favours with everyone we knew to learn how to do this before we started buying equip- ment. We learnt early on that it is important to be involved in all aspects of your career. We are involved in the business side as well as the music side, which is difficult. The business side says there are too many instruments on that track, or that we’re taking too long on the track because in the industry, it is important to release at the right time. Meanwhile, the artistic side is saying to write the perfect song.”
Their business side includes Revolution Sounds and Film with TV actress Maduvha and Bongi Mtombeni of Idols in their stable.
George and Joseph believe that to stay afloat and relevant in the ever-changing industry also includes staying cutting-edge.
“We are always hunting for the latest thing as styles change so rapidly. The street helps us keep in touch, as does deejaying around the SADC region as much as we do.
“Recently, we played in a stadium in Mpumalanga. Dhzinginisa Nloko by Super House comes on. We’d never heard it before, but suddenly the entire stadium gets up and starts singing to it. It is going to be huge, but the radio stations haven’t even heard of it.”
Their travel talk moves on to a bizarre request to play in Upington.
“We got this call from an Afrikaans guy in Upington who asked us to play at his club. We don’t even know how he got to hear about us. He told us his club held 5 000 people. We were a bit doubtful, but we agreed,” they said.
“We were in Newcastle on the day of his gig and logistically wouldn’t have been able to make it. So he chartered a jet and flew us to Upington from Newcastle.
“When we arrived, there were big men in bow ties who chauffeured us to the club. And there actually were 5 000 people dancing to us, people of all colours.”
Revolution now play up to eight gigs a weekend. This will also include the MTN Bushfire Festival in Swaziland in June. However, they are taking time out to attend the annual Miami Music Conference.
“Nowadays, South African house producers are the worldwide leaders of house,” said the twins.
With tracks like Teka Munike coming out of SA, it’s no wonder.