South Africa: Tune Me What - Caravan of Sound

1 October 2014
ThinkAfricaPress
opinion

There was an urban legend going around in the South African musical fraternity that Lloyd Ross, the founder of Shifty records, had managed to fund his alternative record label with the money he earned writing the theme music to the popular Afrikaans TV drama series 'Vyfster'.

It's a great story, but alas not entirely true, as he tells Koos Kombuis in an interview for the SA edition of Rolling Stone magazine:

I did indeed write 'Vyfster'. But no, I had to make a helluva lot more money than that to lose while I recorded and released Shifty records part-time. I worked in the film industry for that money. And later the Swedes gave enough money so that I could lose it for a couple of years full-time.

Regardless, the story of Shifty Records is fascinating and as Tune Me What joins other fans of the label in celebrating 'Shifty September' - marking 30 years since the label was founded - we end our trilogy of Shifty-themed shows joined in our 'virtual studio' by Lloyd Ross himself.

The conversation is punctuated with some of the key records from Shifty's history, from their first LP by Sankomota to their final releases with Van der Want/Letcher.

There's a huge variety for such a small label too; we hear the a cappella singing of the FOSATU Worker's Choir to the electronic experiment of the Kalahari Surfers.

Most of all, we hear from Lloyd Ross as he talks about Shifty's mission to challenge the old regime, their battle with censorship, their role in the new South Africa and why eventually they had to call it a day, leaving the rich musical legacy we're celebrating 30 years later.

Also mentioned in the programme is Michael Drewett's documentary about Roger Lucey, which is well worth watching. Also, read Roger's book!

Tune Me What? is a podcast and blog by Brett Lock and Leon Lazarus that highlights South African music and artists at home and around the world. For more information, visit tunemewhat.com or facebook.com/TuneMeWhat.

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