Johannesburg, South Africa: The announcement of South Africa’s participation again in the international Wacken Metal Battle for 2017 has been released today, although with a bit of a twist and an underlying message. Following three cycles of managing the Wacken Metal Battle South African edition, and having successfully established the battle concept in South Africa, Louis Du Pisani has announced his retirement from the competition and handed over to Sashquita Northey of Emalyth.
Louis has already served as a well-known figure in the local industry for his work on the successful Seasons Wither music festival concept during the 2000s, his own bands Knave during the 2000s and The Drift which emerged during the 2010s, and the creation of the TV show MK Ondergrond. We’ve known of his planned retirement from the concept since earlier in 2016, and he shared some of his mind over the matter with us.
“You know how it goes. Is it really goodbye? You never know what the future might hold but, for me, I feel like it’s a good time to hand over the Wacken Metal Battle South Africa. I just don’t really want to be the face of it any more.” ~ Louis Du Pisani
As with any competitive concept, the South African Wacken Metal Battle has seen it’s fair share of embattled moments where elements within the public opinion sought to discredit the results. However, with three successful cycles, local representatives sent over to the international finals in Germany have always delivered above expectations and in 2016 even delivered an overall winner. This success in 2016 has validated the years of work put in by all involved.
“I don’t really want to linger on the negative aspects of the scene. Life is good, music is good, having your own little subculture is good. I do think now is a good time to hand over. We’ve actively been in the competition for three years and South Africa has produced a global winner. That also has a lot to do with the current head space of the scene in general.” ~ Louis Du Pisani
Louis refers to 2014 when Red Helen, who won the South African heats of that year, were the focus of some ire by a faction within the local scene; in spite of the band having earned the honour to represent South Africa abroad by the same means as the previous year’s Infanteria and the consequent 2016 winners, Zombies Ate My Girlfriend.
“We decided to take a year off in 2015 so that people could put the pitchforks away. That space allowed for a clean competition this year and in large, people were very much behind Zombies Ate My Girlfriend when they went to play in the international finals. ‘Zom’ may have fared very differently if they won back in 2013 – due to how people perceived success and where the band was at at the time. Now that we’re on a high it’s time to change pilots. Sash will do a great job and she has buy-in from the people in the scene. Evie will continue as our international tour manager and has always been a bloody pleasure to work with.” ~ Louis Du Pisani
Louis retires to focus more energy into matters of his personal life, career, and creative spirit with his own musical endeavours. We also caught up with Sashquita Northey, referred to by many as Gauteng’s “Metal Mom” for her delivery of the annual Emalyth Arts Expo and other scene activities.
“Having worked closely behind the scenes with South Africa’s Wacken Metal Battle since it started, I am both excited and anxious to take over the reigns from Louis. He’s done a great job at building the battle in this country, and I hope I make him and our country proud. We’ve come off a big year, having brought the trophy home in 2016, so the bar has been set high for 2017.” ~ Sashquita Northey
Sashquita had in fact already served as the manager for all of the non-Gauteng battle heats in 2016 and is thus most suitably equipped to the task. We wish her, all future participating bands, and South Africa as whole all the best in the years of Wacken Metal Battle to come.