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GoldFish’s Dominic Peters talks jazz versus EDM, playing the world’s most beautiful stages, and their upcoming NYE gigs

6000 km away and 5 hours behind South Africa, Dominic Peters — double bassist, keyboardist, groove box, and producer for Goldfish — answers my call. He’s in São Paulo, Brazil, where Goldfish are in the middle of their biggest ever Brazilian tour. 

Finally! It had been about three weeks of missed calls and miscommunication, hang ups or (birthday) hangovers… 

The last time we attempted to have a chat, the reception at Endless Daze Festival made it impossible for me to get through to him. I explain that the Rugby World Cup final was screened at the beach bar and ask if he caught any of it, having been all the way in San Diego, California at the time. 

Proudly he says, “I actually woke up at like 3am and watched like the last 20 minutes on my phone. And then I had to wake up my girlfriend, who is also South African, to be like, ‘We won, we won!” He continues, “Actually funnily enough, my [American] manager who lives in New York was watching it as well, in solidarity with us.” 

We dive into his musical background, and he explains how he walked straight out of high school onto stage. At 18, he was already making a living performing private functions with his then jazz band, while studying jazz at the University of Cape Town. Incidentally, that’s where he met David Poole (saxophonist, sampler, and mixing engineer) the other half of the electro-jazz dance duo. 

Dom and Dave started GoldFish and it changed the course of their musical careers. “Literally the first song we made, Dave gave to one of his friends and [the friend] said, ‘Dude, I played [the song] and everyone went mental at the house party last night. You got any more of these?’ And Dave was like, ‘I think we should be doing this, rather.'” 

Fourteen years later, they haven’t looked back. 

Their music is a combination of EDM and live jazz instruments and I wonder how, coming from a jazz mentality, a purist mentality, the combination of genres works so well. 

He’s ready for this question and his answer couldn’t be more perfect, “I feel like we’re a chef who understands that people want hamburgers. But it’s like, cool, we’re gonna give you your cheeseburger, but we’re gonna make you the best one you can ever have. We’ll sneak in some camembert and some foie gras and people are like, ‘Wow, what was that?’ And we’re like, ‘Doesn’t matter, you don’t have to know what that was’. And that’s us sneaking in the jazz. People don’t know that they want it until you give it to them.”

With GoldFish as internationally popular as they are, I wonder about the size of their team. He thinks for a while, “Gees, well we have 1, 2, 3… we’ve got 9 people working for us, but that’s not counting record label. That’s just related to management and our agents.” 

Their team is spread across the world — New York, Cape Town, Los Angeles and Europe. With all that bandmin across all those time zones, I picture and very quickly exit what I imagine being the world’s busiest WhatsApp group. 

Their releases feature many collaborations but there is one particular person whom Dom and I share in common, musically: Emily Bruce. They studied together and, years later, Emily was my vocal coach, subsequently rewiring my vocal cords and teaching me a thing or ten. 

We agree that Emily Bruce is one of the most talented, most powerful and versatile vocalists on the planet. 

He talks about her with great admiration, “You know, she’s able to bring like different colours and flavours to the music that I haven’t actually experienced with other artists we’ve worked with. I think we’ve done the most songs with Emily actually. She’s just incredibly talented but also she’s just an awesome person, which is not always the case with talented people,” he laughs. 

We talk about how South Africa has been doing incredibly well on 2019’s international charts and I want to know what their 2019 highlight has been thus far. 

With residencies at world-class parties like ADE (10 years) and Ibiza (7 years) he needs a bit of time, “I’d say the top highlight was playing Red Rocks. I can honestly say that I think it’s the world’s best venue. It’s up there with Kirstenbosch, which is obviously our first love.” 

What he loves most about Kirstenbosch is the unspoilt nature and innocence. “Red Rocks is on par with that feeling, but it’s 10 000 people. It looks like someone took a meat cleaver to Ayers Rock or Uluru Rock in Australia and stuck a music venue in the middle of it,” he describes. 

I ask how powerful it must feel to be able to control a crowd of 10 000 people in front of the world’s most beautiful venue, “Sometimes when you’ve been doing something for such a long time it’s harder for that feeling to reach you. But you know what’s funny is that it did hit me at Red Rocks,” he says, very humbled by that moment.

He continues, “We played “Moonwalk Away” and I could hear the sound on the rocks reflecting back at us, you know the slap back, and it was like, ‘Holy shit, we’re actually playing this venue. This is actually happening. And the crowd’s going nuts over this song we made in our tiny little studio in Cape Town. There was this up-welling, and I was like woah woah, don’t cry now Dom, keep it together.”

A few weeks ago, I spoke to Goodluck about their New Year’s Eve show, a show that GoldFish will essentially be playing with them — two cities, two bands, and four performances in total over one night, NYE.

“Obviously Ben [Peters] from Goodluck is my brother so these two gigs are quite personal. It’s really cool for both bands to be playing together on New Year’s, ‘cause I actually get to spend it with my brother, which never happens, so it’s gonna be quite a special thing. And we’re not in the country for long, so it’s as good an excuse to hang out as any,” he concludes.

It’s being billed as the “New Year’s Eve lineup of the decade” and you’re gonna want to get your tickets sooner rather than later. Tickets available through Howler. 

If you can’t catch their electro-jazz stylings over NY, you can still catch them at one of the Submerged shows at Shimmy Beach Club.