Feature

Stone Jets talk playing Glastonbury 2024 and keeping a level head

Thirteen thousand kilometres. That’s the pilgrimage-like distance between Cape Town and Glastonbury. It takes seven and half days by car, 14 hours flying direct or if you happen to be the Stone Jets, it’s just a simple matter coming out on top against 1300 other artists to land a spot at the 2024 edition of the legendary festival.

This achievement comes five years after the Cape Town duo relocated to the UK and crowns an impressive calendar for 2024. In June they’ll be heading to Toronto to perform at the NXNE Festival, with a tour across Czech Republic, Germany and Italy scheduled for late April.

All of this while planning to release three new singles before the malls start defrosting Mariah Carey or Michael Bublé. They’re busy as hell.

Even as I greet them at the start of our call, The Stone Jets – Given Nkanyane and Manfred Klose – are two hours away from playing at an auction house in Soho. It’s another perk of recently becoming Yamaha Ambassadors and jokingly they can neither confirm nor deny whether they’ll be walking away from the gig with a Banksy in their pocket.

“The whole thing feels a lot less real now,” says Given about how the band has been digesting the news and planning for the festival. “With Glastonbury announcing the main headliners you kind of have this moment where you don’t really believe you’ll be performing as well.” It’s a modest approach to the news, but with the Stone Jets it seems to be a fully intended philosophy.

“Glasto can’t be do or die for us,” says Given. “We’ve always focussed on making our next show better than the last, so it’ll just be a bigger platform to do the same and get our message out.”

A message that shouts authenticity and which clearly caught the attention of the judges panel which included Glastonbury co-creator Sir Michael Eavies.

“We want our music to be accessible and to be a celebration,” adds Manfred. “From what Given talks about between songs to the energy of the songs we choose to play, it’s a constant reminder of our experiences that have brought us where we are.”

London, in fact, has been a sort of gauntlet for the band since touching down. From understanding the industry ecosystem, to just generally finding their feet in a foreign country all months before the outbreak of the pandemic that the band has affectionately dubbed, “Coco”.

“The roadmap has had to be adapted a few times,” says Given with a smile. “With Coco we were forced to stop the momentum of live shows, but it allowed us to really focus on our musicality and our material… it was a rebirth we couldn’t control but learned to work within.”

“We decided to really play with this new depth we were finding and came up with the idea of recording a live set in a church,” adds Manfred citing their Live in West Hampstead EP released in 2022.

The EP would later open the door which led to the collaboration with Yamaha, but most importantly it marks a sort of graduation for the band into a reflective and intimate style of writing which welcomes the warmth and charm of Given’s voice giving it room to play.

“We want to reach new heights in quality, but still remain very much accessible,” says Given about the direction of the band’s new offerings. Offerings in the form of three New singles which will be spearheaded in production by Brett Shaw who has worked with the likes of Florence and the Machine, and Foals.

“We’ve always known there were elements missing,” says Manfred about the shift from self-producing to handing over the so-called reigns to Shaw. “Brett identified those elements immediately.”

“It’s definitely time for another rebirth,” adds Given.

At the end of our call, I ask the pair if there’s anything they would go back in time to tell themselves at the start of this journey.

Their answers are well measured and perhaps they resemble more of a wish for the future than advice for the past, “No more fear… and remember where you come from.”