Spoegwolf have achieved successes that few independent Afrikaans alt-rock bands have achieved, and their use of online distributor, TuneCore means that they’re able to take their hard-earned successes significantly further.
Spoegwolf became the first Afrikaans band in history to reach #1 on the Apple Music Album Charts with the release of their fourth album, Koma, in 2019. With the release of Wind (2020), an album they wrote during lockdown, and their most recent album Groen (2021) released on Valentine’s Day, the alternative rockers have shown no signs of slowing. Incidentally, Groen also debuted at #1 – not bad for a couple of Boland Boys.
All four founding members are sitting at Drum – a fine dining establishment owned by the Du Toit brothers, where Moskou (drummer) is also the head chef – when they greet me. Danie Du Toit (lead singer and guitarist) gives me some context saying, “It’s our place, so it’s just what we do, we just hang out here every day.”
Whether they’re headlining a show at the iconic Park Acoustics in Pretoria or the newer Daisy Jones Bar in Stellenbosch, if you’ve ever been to a Spoegwolf show you’ll know that their audience is completely engaged from the first to the last of Danie’s cleverly crafted lyrics, singing them back at him very enthusiastically and it’s a thing of magic.
Albert van der Merwe (bassist) takes me back to when they first felt the magic, “At that time, between Ysterkoei [their high school band] and Spoegwolf, Danie and Moskou and I were busking at restaurants in Stellenbosch a lot ‘cause we were very hungry to be in a band again after not being in a school band anymore, and when we came back [from a Transkei trip together] we decided this was not gonna be a joke anymore.”
Moskou relieves their first string of shows as Spoegwolf with a two-week run at KKNK that started off on a small bar in front of ten people a night and ended on The Platinum Stage in front of 10 000 people – their first big show – and Danie laughs, “And then Moskou decided to paint his face lumo green.”
Chris von Wielligh (guitarist and keyboardist) recalls the first time he felt famous, “I remember we played at Platteland once, and we didn’t market the show, and we were playing Pretoria so much that we were worried that we wouldn’t get people to the show, but we rocked up there and we quickly sold out 2000 seats.”
Moskou drives it home, laughing, “And then the brakes came loose from there, hey?”
I ask them what it means for an independent alternative Afrikaans band from conservative Paarl to make Apple Music history. Moskou interrupts cheekily saying, “And now it happened again!” before the whole band roars with laughter.
“It’s like a slap on the back, bragging rights. And it means people are listening,” Danie explains.
Moskou elaborates on the success of their music, “It’s because it’s real, you know? And authentic. We’re not trying to make pretentious music, or music to try and please people. We’re making music that we enjoy.”
Their association with TuneCore means that they are free to create without any creative or financial interference, while TuneCore offer focused online distribution support for their latest album, Groen, all without taking a cent more than their standard subscription fee.
“This is an album of new beginnings and greener pastures, and in a way, it’s an album that has far less layers. Much less like an onion and a lot more like a pumpkin or an egg,” Danie jokes before concluding, “But ja, this album is the most honest one we’ve done so far. There’s nothing hidden between the lines. No hidden agendas, just good old fashioned, mother fucking rock ‘n’ roll.”
Feature pic courtesy of Henry Engelbrecht.