By Nadim Nyker
Deep afro soul combined with rock and RnB is what defines the sound of Acoustiq Assassins – a group of local musicians who began their musical journey together by chance.
The group were together early last year still learning how to play guitar at the iThembalethu Academy for Performing Arts, when they met someone who asked if they were a band. Lying, they said yes, and were then asked to perform at a wedding. They had two days to come up with something to play.
Siphesihle Bhengu, Gugu Mdlala, Siphiwe Mazibuko Jnr and Noma Khumalo worked hard. Despite getting thrown into the deep end, the band is determined to leave an impact in not only the South African music industry, but globally too.
Their aim is to make music that “speaks more to the ears than the eyes and create music people like to listen to, music that lives longer,” says Bhengu, comparing their sound to the timeous music produced in popular work.
Bhengu regards himself as a perfectionist and is the driving force behind the group’s work ethic. They dream of the limelight after experiencing the World Jam Music Festival and Talent Search held at Moses Mabida late last year, becoming finalists at the event.
Bhengu takes a deep breath and puts the group’s aspirations into perspective. “[We aim] pretty far hey, I don’t see us staying in Pietermaritzburg. Three years from now we should be known overseas and in other parts of Africa.”
Their music caters for a cosmopolitan audience with songs in Zulu and English. The group only perform original works and are inspired by the likes of Boys II Men and The Script, allowing for a multifaceted and versatile performance. Acoustiq Assassins only use two acoustic guitars to perform, creating room for acapella. The group also incorporates poetry into their performance.
Despite their talent and work ethic, the Pietermaritzburg music scene has been hard to break into and the band are in need of financial support. Their hardest struggles are time and finances in this stage of their lives; balancing work, studies and music, they try to rehearse at least twice a week.
The various characters of the band allow their creativity to stand out. “[Noma] is bubbly but shy when she’s on stage, she has a really powerful voice,” says Bhengu, “Junior is a ladies man but he doesn’t let that phase him, he’s the most humble of the four, and Gugu is the most outspoken, his confidence can be taken for cockiness but it’s a good thing.”
Acoustiq Assassins are scheduled to perform at the Hexagon on Friday evening and three shows at The Vic Hotel at the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown.