Grassy Spark's unique sound captures the essence of Cape Town

Published: 05 August 2014 | by Janine Dube
Grassy Spark's unique sound captures the essence of Cape Town
Photograph by Tash Montlake
South African band, Grassy Spark, has a type of music that is unique, ever evolving and very representative of Cape Town's creative and vibrant essence.

Band members include Yanick Bathfield, Josh Riley, Simon Ackermann, Chad Hendricks, Kevin Kok, Lawrence Jaeger and Murray Buitendag.

Grassy Spark performing Waste Of Time

The band does not only bring something new and fun to music with every release, Grassy Spark also actively promotes an environmentally friendly message.

They recently headlined Greenpop's Earth Fest 2014 to promote reforestation in Zambia.

Grassy Spark performing at Greenpop's Earth Fest 2014 - Sarah Isaacs Photography

In an exclusive interview with Grassy Spark's Josh Riley, OneVybe got a hint of what drives the band.

OV: How did you all meet and how did you come up with the name Grassy Spark?

Josh: Myself, Yanick, and Lawrence are the original 3 members of Grassy and we met years ago as well as playing in a metal band before forming Grassy.  

After 2 years of gigging, touring and writing, Grassy Spark consists of Kevin Kok on Bass, Simon Ackermann on Keys and Sax, Chad Hendricks on trumpet and Murray Buitendag on trombone.

Kevin's been with us since the beginning as he was introduced to us by two previous members Nick and Matt Hurworth (who have just been replaced by Simon Ackermann, who's been a great friend for years, and Chad Hendricks a contact we've all known for many years, both packing intense heat).

After much debate and contemplation Yanick came up with a clever use of words which we adopted as our name.

He thought that a message of consciousness and full-fledged creativity should be expressed through a name which represents and captures Cape Town's culture, as well as something that could possible get caught in people's heads, hence the name Grassy Spark.

Grassy Spark on on live radio in Zambia - Photo by Tash Montlake

OV: How would you describe your kind of music and what inspired you to go for it?

Josh: Best words to describe our newer material, would be infinitely limitlessly limiting, as what we are trying to gauge with every piece of new material we are releasing is a kind of melting pot effect.

Where we take our original skeletal ideas of the songs and incorporate the most authentic ideas we can think of while operating in the genre's of ska and reggae, the goal is to create the Grassy sound and to continue to develop it.

The music itself should not only serve as a communicative tie between us and our audience, but also between and within ourselves (DEEP haha).

At the end of the day we're playing with 4th dimensional concepts, which all of us find divinely stimulating, so I reckon it's that mind-set that inspires us and has inspired us to do it.

We seek to channel a sense of consciousness as a band, by all bringing different beautiful things to the unified sound, every idea counts, and every member's idea is important in successfully communicating what we strive to.

Grassy Spark performing Magical Portion

OV: What have been the most significant influences thus far?

Josh: Rx Bandits, Sublime, The Cat Empire, 7th Son, Rudimentals, The Nomadic Orchestra, Fat Freddy's drop, MOST IMPORTANTLY EACH OTHER AND OUR ENVIRONMENT!

OV: What has the reception been like for Grassy Spark's music?

Josh: It's difficult to re-establish a genre that has already been established and had its time within the South African music industry.

Alas, every ska/reggae head we've played to has given us the greatest of responses, so the goal is to extend the stretch to every kind of person.

Again it's all about communicating a consciousness which embodies love, freedom, and creativity, you could call us modern hippies I suppose.

Grassy Spark's joker Josh Riley - Photo by Tash Montlake

OV: In your videos and photos you guys appear to be full of mischief. Is that a fair assessment?

Josh: Pretty fair assessment, we take our music very seriously but off stage we're fun-loving crazy cats.

OV: Who is the joker in the band and what sort of things does he do?

Josh: I suppose it's not bragging, but I'd have to say I am.

I do many many crazy things, enjoy acting so impersonation is a vibe for me, also just generally infecting everyone in my vicinity with a sense of insanity is the best vibe.

Laughter is key in living a good life, so I guess the sorts of things that get people smiling are high on the agenda, but I can't take all the credit.

We're all jokers in our own way and I think many of the Greenpop folk got to experience that.

OV: What is the most memorable moment on stage?

Josh: Yanick breaking and falling into the stage at Earth Fest 2014

Grassy Spark's Yanick Bathfield performing - Photo by Georgina Warner

OV: Any cringe worthy moments?

Josh: Not really.

OV: You recently headlined at Greenpop's Earth Fest. How was that?

Josh: Incredible!! Highlights were:
Yanick breaking and falling through the stage, being adopted (actually targeted as the weak point of getting an opportunity to take over the mic) by a group of rastas who facilitated the drum circle on the Friday night #ALWAYSREMEMBERDUNCAN, getting to feature in Jeremy Loops' set as well as him featuring on ours, collabs are ultra vibey.

EVERYONE who supported, partied, we go to know. GREENPOP AND EARTH FEST ARE AWESOME.

OV: How did you get involved with Greenpop?

Josh: We got asked to play at the reforestation fest in Gansbaai, and the amazing thing about Greenpop is they aren't there to just use you, they recognize your talents and they put you in a position where those talents can grow and shine for what they are, for this we're eternally grateful. Zambia was unreal!

Grassy Spark during Earth Fest 2014 in Livingstone, Zambia - Photo by Tash Montlake

OV: Which musicians have you worked with in the past and who ranks high on your wish list of future collaborations?

Josh: The Nomadic Orchestra, Jeremy Loops. Also looking forward to releasing some content we did with Jeremy in Zambia so that's a rad wish coming true. Open to collaborating with anyone who is down and brings the goods really.

OV: What are you currently working on and do you have a tour coming up?

Josh: Currently recording and tracking a new E.P, as well as the amazing Tash Montlake from ifnotwhynot media putting together a music video for the first single.

We are leaving for Oppikoppi next Wednesday and then we have another Gauteng tour mid-September so life is pretty exciting.

We are performing at Rocking the Daisies' and Greenpop's Hemp Stage
We're aiming at Europe next year, but nothing's been confirmed.

For more information on Grassy Spark visit:
- OneVybe,GrassySpark

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