Feature Opinion

Ann Jangle: A rebel in her own right

It’s a salty, sunny morning when I roll up outside Ann Jangle’s Muizenberg home. “I live in a house full of musicians,” Jangle says by way of explanation as she opens the door to me, revealing a semi-organized jumble of instruments at the foot of the stairs. “By eight in the morning we’re usually jamming.”

It is two days away from the release of her latest single, ‘Rebel’, and she is due to hit the road to Port Alfred in the early hours of the coming morning. It is the second release off her upcoming solo EP, which is due to drop in late August, and it’s the first track in which she feels she has truly written anything emotionally inclined about a particular person.

“I think everybody gets to a place in their thirties where different things start mattering,” she explains over a cup of buchu tea as we settle down at her bedroom table. “Relationships start mattering – your health starts mattering, and I thought why not start speaking to people who want to channel their emotions.” In an age where social media has compromised people’s general approach to relationships, she feels many modern relationships suffer from the early stages.

“People don’t deal with things like they used to. People don’t talk about emotions, they don’t stick by somebody when they’re going through really hectic times,” she says with almost disappointed vehemence. “These days, where people fuck up a bit, people tend to just leave.” The track is largely centered around a long-term on-and-off relationship of her own, in which she was growing and the man in question remained somewhat stuck and unwilling to make an effort to shift. “Everyone’s got that little bad boy in their life – who keeps saying they’ll change. They don’t change,” she adds with firm finality.

The accompanying music video is a cinematic, black-and-white, simplistic offering, largely comprised of aerial nature footage, as Jangle serenades the ocean from a boulder. Shot by Dino Denton (“He’s very off-grid […] He’s like one of those mad scientists but with cameras,” laughs Jangle) on an early Noordhoek morning, and remains true to its simplicity due to the fact Jangle wants people to focus largely on the lyricism. “It’s real. I didn’t want it to be anything spectacular because I wanted people to listen to the words. I wanted it to be about the music.”

Her nine month old puppy, Kevin, makes regular appearances throughout the video too. “He’s such a diva.” She half rolls her eyes as he pushes the door open on cue, and she scoops him onto her lap. “I take him for walks on the beach early most mornings – stopped drinking recently,” she adds. “It’s come to point where I’ve been cutting down so much that the time that I do experience sober – where I wake up fresh in the morning and I write music – it feels so good that I don’t want to lose it anymore. I’m writing again, so much. It’s just flowing out,” she adds with a grin. “I want to show you something.”

She goes to her bookshelf and returns with a slim, palm-sized book – a collection of conversations with Tom Waits, her favourite musician. In it he refers to a hosepipe as a metaphor for musical inspiration and creativity and how alcohol in a cinch which blocks it.

Having been back in South Africa for a year now, since her return from a two year stint in Berlin – and several years touring Europe at large – she has kept the ball swiftly rolling. The end of this month will showcase Volume II of Her: an all-female event she has conceived with Daena Weeks, which will feature Lucy Kruger and Sannie Fox. “[South Africa’s] live music is phenomenal. It’s better than I’ve seen in any country – and I’ve been to a lot of countries,” she says, as we navigate the ins and outs of what time abroad has taught her about contrasting music scenes.

“I’ll show you my guitar case,” she grins, swinging open her cupboard and extracting a worn black case, covered in layers of stickers from around the globe – from I Heart Berlin to Nomadic Orchestra decals. She flips it open to reveal a partially smashed guitar. “This happened to it at a gig in Cape Town when I came back from my travels. A soundproof wall fell over and smacked my guitar which has seen over twenty countries. I cried.”

Initially having only come back to South Africa for a three month tour, Jangle’s decision to not return to Berlin came unplanned but not entirely unexpected in retrospect. “I was sitting on the beach on a wonderful sunny day and I Googled the weather in Berlin and it was minus five degrees,” she explained. “And I just felt in my heart I’d done all I needed to do there.”

Now, happily settled in Muizenberg with Kevin and house of musicians, has come the birth of her new project: a duo comprising of herself and Marco Wielander, her long-time guitarist who has played alongside the likes of Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry and Faithless, with which she is finally allowing herself to explore a far more delicate and psychedelic side to her sound.

“For many years the style of music which I listened to wasn’t really that which I was playing,” she admits. “I really love reggae and dub music, I’m a really big opera fan, I absolutely love weird instruments, and just singing. Playing with Marco has really allowed me to just go back to basics. He never falls into a rut with his music,” she adds. “I feel like a lot of guitarists get to a place where they’re just playing to please the people instead of thinking ‘fuck the people, this is my style, this is what I love – and if you like it you’ll love it’. And I really respect that – it’s taught me a lot.”

So with a reverb pedal at one foot and Marco’s eclectic psychedelic guitar skills at her side, they conceived their duo beneath the moniker of Pangolin Dream Surfers. Although with the primary aim simply to enjoy the process and see where the project takes them, she has also contacted organizations in Zimbabwe through which they can potentially donate money raised towards protecting the endangered pangolins.

Her new sound is going to be as eclectic as their name. “I’ve been told it sounds like shamanic opera from one person, and psychedelic diva music by another. We’re just going to have fun with it,” she concludes, with a wide grin emerging cheekily from beneath her wild blond hair.

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