Okay so let’s clear this up once and for all – Popsicle Studios no longer exists!
Well, not in the way that they used to, anyway. “I will be taking Popsicle Studios forward as a content production company for artists and events, but we’ve decided to let go of the studio aspect of our business,” elaborates Ryk Otto, former owner.
It was acquired, midway through 2019, by Kevin Ramage and Jon Shaban, and now operates under the name Sit The Folk Down Studios, a name you’d recognize if you’ve spent ten minutes on Cape Town’s music scene.
I sat down with Kevin Ramage, operations manager (among other things), and Jon Shaban, sound engineer (among other things), to get the low down on exactly who Sit The Folk Down are and exactly what it is that they do.
Ramage and Shaban met a couple of years, “Five years to the month,” Ramage notes proudly, when Shaban was playing an intimate acoustic show at one Ramage’s events. The two got to chatting. “We chatted about how these environments were rare, where acoustic musicians can play intimate shows to people, and people wanna sit and just listen intently,” Shaban explains.
They approached these events from opposite angles – Ramage came from a 15-year career in the corporate world, coming at it from a passionate fan’s perspective. Shaban, (The Shabs, and Captain Stu & the Llamas) coming at it from a musician’s perspective. They realised that they wanted the same thing, and so the incredibly aptly-named Sit The Folk Down brand was born.
It started out as a series of pop-up events held in gorgeous homes that could provide that intimate, cozy atmosphere that they were after, to residencies in restaurants with a similar energy.
The next step in STFD’s evolution was management, “Hatchetman was one of the bands we worked with a lot and they kind of approached us to manage them, Kevin specifically, and that led to us thinking maybe we have something here, maybe we can do some more stuff with STFD other than just gigs so we started managing Hatchetman. Myself and The Shabs kind of fell naturally under the umbrella, and then Nomadic Orchestra approached us as well,” Shaban explains.
He continues, “And because of all of my touring and stuff as a musician and just crossing paths with people, we saw an opportunity to start booking tours, locally for international guys, and locally for guys from Joburg and Durban. And we just started getting involved with as much music stuff as possible.”
A little under five years down the line, Sit The Folk Down have built a very good reputation for themselves as hardworking industry cats who get shit done, and professionally at that.
I ask Shaban to break down STFD’s offerings, “Now we’re sitting in a position where we’re dabbling in management, bookings, music facilitation for restaurants, weddings, birthdays and private events, and running a recording studio. I still wake up some days and think what the fuck are we doing here but we’re here,” he laughs in disbelief.
Both Shaban and Ramage admit that, while they aren’t in a position to employ anyone full-time, this whole operation wouldn’t be possible without a lot of help from their friends.
“It’s this kind of little network that keeps us motivated, firstly, and secondly we need help with design, digital marketing, the studio especially, Ryk Otto [previous owner of Popsicle Studio and producer for Popsicle TV] is helping us with the video stuff,” Ramage chimes in, “It’s a community, helping each other out. When we need help they help us out, and it works both ways, and that’s really what it’s all about. That’s what we’ve built up until this point.”
I can and will vouch for these guys, having worked alongside them everywhere from tiny restaurant gigs to studio. To build up a portfolio of solid STFD content, they approached a couple of bands to track live sessions at their studio. Ramage elaborates, “The initial idea was, with the whole takeover, Ryk approached us right at the beginning and said to us that the biggest marketing tool that they used as then Popsicle Studios were the sessions that they put out, that video content is king, and that we needed to get on it.”
They released their first Sit The Folk Down Sessions video with Albany Lore and his band two weeks ago, and they’re scheduled to release a new video every second Wednesay, at 09:00am.That means they dropped one today. And would you look at that, a stripped down version of my band, Androgenius’ unreleased track, “Sorry”.