Photo by Laura McCullagh for Texx and the City.
Getting Down and Dirty with Runaway Nuns
Runaway Nuns are one of Cape Town’s fastest up and coming bands. They’ve released a couple albums and most recently rocked the house at Endless Daze, a small boutique music festival held just outside Cape Town. We were fortunate enough to sit down with three fifths of the Runaway Nuns, namely Sihle Mkhize, PJ Franzsen and Desmond Kannemeyer just before their gig at Endless Daze. They gave us a little splurb on their history and how they felt about the music scene in South Africa.
“In December of 2015, we started writing, Sean, Sihle and myself. About Feb the next year, we had our first show… Haha, it took us like three months to get some kind of set list together. “We started from there and didn’t waste time curating stuff,”recounts Dez with the rest group bursting out in laughter.
Dez continues, saying “We just played show after show for our first year,” Sihle goes further, explaining the band dynamic when they started “You know two chords? Cool, join the band… We had a lot of three chord specials. It was kind of like, a fake it till you make it situation. Our chops have risen over the years though but those first couple of months were a bit rough.” Hinting at the tightness of this five-piece, Des picks up flawlessly: “We were pretty surprised by the response when we started out. We were like WTF are these people on about, the music was pretty trashy. However I think that’s why they liked it.” Sihle gives the Nuns a bit of credibility adding “ It was just simple music but done with a lot of passion.” “It was pretty feel-good in a way. People could see that we were just doing it for the fun of it.” Once the short-sweet history lesson was over, we decided it was nigh on time so we asked a question or two more.
We moved on saying “The first time we realised you guys were a thing was the EP release at Manilla.” ( https://runawaynuns.bandcamp.com/album/runaway-nuns-ep)
True to rock n’ roll, Sihle pipes up: “We actually didn’t even rehearse for that show! We were too busy doing deco. We decided to build a chapel, it was gnarly, lotsa hard work” While they’re jamming now, it hasn’t always been fun and games playing music. The Nuns have worked hard over time to get to where they are. Writing tracks, making music and even building their own sets. Des brings us back to Endless Daze saying “Beautiful day man… beautiful weekend.”
Left: The Chapel the Nuns built for their EP launch instead of Practicing. Right: Runaway Nuns pre-festival photo.
Snapping out of reminiscence, we find it fitting to ask “What are you guys opening with by the way?” – This is an interview after all. Des answers emphatically “People dude, People I Love. It’s one of the only old songs in the set. Its cool cause it’s the one we recorded here last year, kinda picking up where we left off.” With gusto, PJ – finally – interjects with “YA, it’s weird. Cause the last three songs of last year are the first three of this. Howsit! New KAK!” Again, group laughter, these boys really are onto some voodoo chemistry here. Not only here, but when they play, it can’t help but shine through. This naturally leads to the next question. “Any new songs over the past year?”
“Well, there’s a whole new album coming out in, February. Alright Now” answers Des. After which Sihle chimes in “And another album in the works too.” These boys have their ducks in a row it seems, making it obvious that this is not your usual sexy mirage of rock n’ roll. But believe you me, if we coulda left all the juice in this interview, it would not be up to question exactly how rock and roll these boys are. But they’re exercising some forward thinking, damn near to professionalism. Which, I am sure I needn’t explain that they’ll keep making music. At least two albums, Des confirms “Yeah we’re in the process of writing the next.” PJ chimes in, bringing his speaking count in the conversation all the way up to two. Apparently more of a quality than quantity man, PJ lays a bitta wisdom down saying “You just gotta keep releasing the singles. Just keep hype up the whole time, don’t drop a whole album one time.” “That’s something we learnt this album.” – Sihle admits in response. “Only the hardcore fans will listen to everything , so it helps to bring out singles, they’re more digestible.” This made us straight up ask “Is the art of the album dead?”
“Its definitely gone down, but it’s not non-existent. There still are people out there who will listen to a whole album. But they’re in the minority now, unfortunately.” – Sihle remarks. This spurs a “Frigging consumerist thing!” We asked them how they’d define their sound. They replied saying “Garage punk with psychedelic undertones.”
The sun is setting and it’s about that time that the band needs to start prepping for what is probably their biggest show to date. So we squeeze in one final formal question before the recorder clicks off. “What’s it like on stage hey?”
“F***ing insane dude, especially if we’re on it and there’s good monitoring, good sound. It’s groovy. There are so many of us that, a lot of the time, we end up getting cramped on stage. We struggle with small stages,” Sihle confesses. With that the recorder ticked off, we wished the Nuns the best of luck and they returned to their tents.
A few hours later, we watched them on stage and they flipping killed it. With all that energy, the stage still wasn’t big enough to contain them. So much so that the Nuns’ percussionist, Noah Kaplan, did a stage dive to one of their new songs Modern Hero. There we have it, three fifths of the Runaway Nuns. Boys and girls, next time you see them on a small stage, throw some love their way and be sure, they’ll reciprocate it with a multitude of madness.
Writer: Luke de Vries and Sebastian Daniels
For more of the dirt and grime check out saffari.co.za on what it was like from the eyes of media, and the ramshackle ramble of a time had.
To read more about Endless Daze, have a look at the piece we did on the social impact at Endless Daze.
If you’re interested in coffee, have a look at all the coffee shops we recommend in Cape Town.