By Chelsea Haith
Go Barefoot sound like hot summer afternoons by the pool and late night conversations on the road. They are one of the fastest growing indie bands in South Africa and some of the guys in this five-piece outfit took a moment from packing up after a gig at Wits to chat about Britney Spears, Rocking the Daisies and wearing shoes.
Established two years ago the band has had incredible success for such a young group, playing on the main stage at Oppikoppi and looking forward to the Hemp Stage at Daisies in October. Studying while they build their repertoire, the band are rooted in both Johannesburg and Cape Town, and you can hear it in the jangly guitar, their kwela transitions and the happy-go-lucky beach sound that characterises a South African summer. Working hard and playing harder, vocalist and guitar player Jonathan Smith feels that they are reaping their just desserts. “Seeing the rewards come out, it’s the highlight of my life,” he said.
They’ve come a long way from doing instrumental jazz gigs at 44 Stanley, now writing for their own broader tastes. “If you’re writing music, you want to write music you want to listen to, music you think nobody else is making,” said keys man Noah Bamberger. Their EP Routes has put them on the map with the single I Won’t Back Down which you can listen to at the end of this article.
“We just don’t want to play slow music, we just want to dance.” – Clive Vickers, bassist
“Britney Spears is a big influence,” joked Smith. The band fuses kwela, Brit-pop, jazz and folk. “We all meet in the middle on African music, we love all kinds. And everyone gives equal input,” he said, explaining how they develop their sound. Bamberger added that they approach each song with the intension of trying new sounds and ideas. “Every single time we’ve written a song, we’ve tried to captivate a new fresh fusion of ideas,” Bamberger said.
The band’s name reflects their life attitude. “Go Barefoot has this ‘soles on the ground’, easy-going sort of feel to it. When do you go barefoot? When you’re in nature, or chilling with your friends or at home in your bed, or at Rocking the Daisies. That whole image might be a description of what our music sounds like,” explained Bamberger.
Go Barefoot is Saul Nossel on drums, Jonathan Smith and Michael Dawson on vocals and guitar, Clive Vickers on bass and Noah Bamberger on keys. You can read more about the band here and listen to them here: