By Ajidagba Olanrewaju
The history of alternative music can be traced to the emergence of alternative rock in the early 1970s. It became primarily known as “Alternative” because of its divergence from mainstream rock or pop music. Although this musical genre supposedly got its start from mainstream rock, Alternative music has since spread beyond the western music scene to different parts of the globe. The ingenuity and originality attached to this brand of music has been a refreshing “alternative” to songs that are made to fit into an already oversaturated mainstream space.
Alternative music performers are often known to produce music that are original, experimental, challenging and overall, mind-blowing. They are real musicians in a sense, as they are able to play real instruments and create unique sounds that fiercely deviate from the average number you might hear on the radio. While foreign Alternative bands like green day and panic! at the disco could rival some mainstream acts in terms of popularity and reception, most Alternative groups in Africa are still relatively underground.
Ikati Esengxoweni, an isiXhosa sentence that roughly means ” cat out of the sack ” is the name of a South African alternative music band made up of two powerhouse females; Anam manyati and Lark Wantu, whose music fuses Afro-futurism with isiXhosa and English folk.
The duo met for the first time while performing separately at an event. Upon their establishment in 2016, Ikati Esengxoweni performed for the first time after being selected by IMEXSA; Independent Music Exporters South Africa, to perform, network and attend business conferences specifically at Primavera and Midem, France.
Anam manyati is the brand’s lead vocalist and guitarist while Lark Wantu plays the lead and percussion. The duo in an interview with Red bull South Africa, described how the concept behind their name; Ikati Esengxoweni is related to the myth associated with cats having nine lives, which to them means that no matter the adversity life brings, they are fully confident of living another day to face it.
During an exclusive interview with exposafrica via phone call, the pair described the struggle of having to bring their brand of music to the mainstream after the inception of their band four years ago.
“It hasn’t been easy…” Anam manyati, the band’s lead vocalist divulged,
” We’ve been doing this for ten years now, both individually and as a group, and we’ve put in a lot of hard work to get to this stage…”
The pair also talked about how harder it is for females to gain substantial recognition, not just in the music industry but in all areas of life especially when they are up against their male counterparts.
In 2018, Ikati Esengxoweni was specially requested by Primavera to perform again in Barcelona.
The official primavera newsletter described Ikati Esengxoweni’s as ” two of the most productive talents to come out of South Africa of late. Accompanied by electronic sounds influenced by several elements including indigenous instruments like violin, bass, guitar and drums, the voices of Wantu and Manyati open a torrent of sounds and rhythms that proudly wear the DNA of their continent”
Ikati’s inextricable connection to the African roots that birthed their talent is evident in all areas associated with their craft.
In December 2018, Ikati emerged as winner in the highly publicized Afro Punk Battle of the bands competition and were selected on the main stage at the APF in Johannesburg, alongside international artists like Thundercat, The Internet and Flying Lotus. While some of Ikati’s songs have been featured in 2017,2018, 2019 & 2020 by South African National Television channel, Dstv Mzansi Magic on Channel 161’s hit drama series, LOCKDOWN.
11 December 2020 is the date the Alternative music pair have chosen to release their debut single, titled “The Cradle Of Humankind”
They’ve opted for “The Cradle Of Humankind” to be their introduction to the daunting music industry. Composed in trying times with lyrics that speak an authentic & universal language about the perseverance of timeless music. The Cradle Of Humankind’s true meaning lies in the birthplace of humanity.
The song’s story telling style takes every listener on a journey of self-discovery via a torrent of African languages, such as IsiXhosa, Bamba and Swahili. The music pair announced today to their excited followers on their Facebook (Ikati Esengxoweni), Instagram (@ikati_esengxoweni) and Twitter (Ikati_SA) , that their much anticipated content will soon be playing on national radio.
The single will also be available on Apple Music, ITunes, Spotify and ALL Digital Platforms worldwide, from 11 December 2020. In addition, this offering will also be available as a CallerTune, as well as on Huawei Music, MTN Music Time, Vodacom MyMuse and JOOX.”
For anyone hoping to expand their mind as well as their playlist. “The Cradle Of Humankind” by Ikati Esengxoweni is definitely worth giving a listen. As this fearless band takes their first step in world domination, We at Exposafrica declare our undying allegiance to two epitomes of female ingenuity.