Mabuta demonstrates the power of digital media

Mabuta demonstrates the power of digital media


As more and more artists break away from the outdated, restrictive, and sometimes exploitative model of record labels, the perpetual growth of digital media continues to empower musicians by giving them creative freedom and an opportunity to take control of their career path.

While there’s an abundance of freedom that comes with being an independent artist, it usually comes at a significant cost, the most notable of which is the limited access to funds needed to produce one’s art.

MABUTA – a South African jazz quintet formed by double bassist, Shane Cooper in March 2017 – had a body of new songs but were in dire need of funds to record their debut studio album. Taking advantage of the power of digital media and community, they launched a crowdfunding campaign to raise the money needed to cover the high costs of production, post-production, and printing. In exchange, contributors were promised awesome perks including the full-length album, remix EPs, t-shirts, and some premium packages like house concerts.

Cooper enlisted the help of Julia Ramsay to record the crowd-funding campaign video which includes excerpts from ‘Bamako Love Song” and sees the award-winning bassist playing a solo double bass set against a serene Cape Town backdrop.

The campaign was an astounding success, raising 102% of their $8000 USD target in just over a month. (That’s approximately R100 000 depending on whatever – or whoever – is dominating news headlines.) They immediately headed to the studio to record the much-anticipated Welcome To This World album with Cooper on bass, Bokani Dyer on keys, Sisonke Xonti on tenor sax, Robin Fassie-Kock on trumpet, and Marlon Witbooi on drums featuring special appearances by Shabaka Hutchings, Reza Khota, Buddy Wells and more.

The 10 track project highlights the unique energy that each band member brings, the palpable chemistry they share and their ability to draw influence from and seamlessly marry jazz and electronic music. As a renowned electronic dance music producer under the moniker Card On Spokes, the latter is something that Cooper is undeniably well-versed in.

A licensed piece by Toronto-based multi-disciplinary artist Rajni Perera, who uses her art to investigate diasporic dreamworlds,  serves as the album artwork. At the album launch,  live at The Orbit in Braamfonteinthis past weekend, Cooper shared that he wanted to work with her for a number of years and this was the perfect opportunity.

In an interview with Weekend Special, Cooper describes MABUTA (which means “eyelid” in Japanese) as a “colourful, lucid dream filled with unusual tastes and textures.”

“I started thinking about the significance of the eyelid, in being the doorway between waking and sleeping, reality and dreaming,” he says.

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