By: Nombuso Nkambule (@hrh_nombuso)
“We make music for music’s sake”
After a six month hiatus to focus on further studying (Itai has an honours degree in Sociology, and Pelonomi recently became the first black student to graduate from the the University of The Witwatersrand’s Bachelor of Biomedical Engineering), the Jozi ‘indie’ duo, 8 Bars Short, are back with what can only be described as a sweet-and-sour bang. I caught up with 8 Bars Short members, Itai Hakim and Pelonomi Moiloa, to talk about their music which the softly-spoken Moiloa describes as “lekker sh**”.
Available for streaming on 8 Bars Short Soundcloud, the duo’s music, which can loosely be described as ‘indigenous folk’, has a strong and distinctly African narrative. It sounds like the music I would choose to listen to in the background of a fading to black Jozi landscape, with my knees hugged to my chest while sitting around a wild fire. Theirs is a sound of soft vocals, guitar strumming (they are both self-taught guitarists) and if you listen carefully enough, some cool beat-boxing/trumpeting (just because). Moiloa does credit her musical training to the time she spent at her former high school, Jeppe High School for Girls in Johannesburg.
Both Hakim and Moiloa are Jozi natives, they met at three separate recitals and jam sessions before they decided to jam and form a doublet, because they’re one person short of a band. Think Mbuli meets Makeba, but the more delicate, uncut and untold Jozi version. What I love about these two is the authenticity of their music and of their characters which is backed up by the simple yet passionate declaration that “we make music for music’s sake”.
The candid nature of the interview and the shared diversity between the two of them is what I appreciated most about Moiloa and Hakim. Moiloa is of Caucasian and Setswana descent and Hakim comes from a Tsonga and Venda background. The two embrace the importance of heritage when they create beautiful rhymes and melodies on a song called ‘Kombela’, which Hakim described as “a sense of the retelling of your own roots for the sake of just knowing who you are”.
Very much about the importance of knowledge of self, they are also believers of creation by self. The multi-talented and multi-disciplined duo are also their own songwriters. To my relief, they don’t jot down ‘whatever comes to them’ on on the back of the receipt, the two write down their lyrics the good old fashioned way in the books that they carry around everywhere.
I always love to ask artists and people (Hakim and Moiloa describe themselves as “just people who make music”) about their most interesting experiences in the industry. Moiloa comically recalled how moments before a live performance, her car was broken into but nothing was stolen AND they still gave a killer performance.