Interview: Raptorbaby pre-Arts Expo chat

Raptorbaby, 2015 press

Pretoria, South Africa: the much anticipated ninth edition of Emalyth‘s Arts Expo – this year tag-titled Nine Lives – looms near. Emalyth coordinated with M4A to highlight a number of the bands selected to appear at this year’s weekend festivities where underground art and music are encouraged to throb to the same primal beat at Wolmer Bush Lounge between 27-29 January. In today’s spotlight we find the progressive metallers from Raptorbaby discussing the band’s current state of affairs in 2017. Interview conducted by Kimberleigh Fae Chaye on behalf of Emalyth and M4A. ~ from the editor

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Raptorbaby, a band soon to enter it’s seventh year on the scene, has made it’s mark in Gauteng as a progressively inclined metal band with members who share a love for their craft. Instrumentally, and vocally, the band breaks the mold of traditional metal and bring in a lot of outlandish elements to their sound and, contextually, boast some thought provoking and catchy lyrics.

With it’s debut full-length album Citadel released in October last year, and a number of single releases to follow it’s 2013 The Hatchling EP, Raptorbaby enjoys a familiar following and ensure not to disappoint on stage.

“We pride ourselves on playing as tight and as clinically as possible. People have used their hard-earned cash to come and watch a show, so they deserve a theatrical performance as well as a good execution of the songs. For us, putting on a good show and letting people enjoy themselves is what we strive for.” ~ Vincent Van Niekerk (vocals, Raptorbaby)

From a visually artistic point of view, Raptorbaby has long held our eye; with interesting art pieces emerging to accompany releases, and visually pleasing videos. In chatting with Vince about what he feels makes the Arts Expo event series unique and appealing, it is easy to get the sense that the members know a thing or two about aesthetics.

“Definitely the Art for me. It’s so mesmerizing to see how people from an alternative background express themselves on canvas. Arts Expo has proven itself to be a great festival year after year. Spending hours on perfecting the line up as well as finding talented artists for a visual feast; the combination of both really lets the Arts Expo stand out as a unique and intriguing festival.” ~ Vincent Van Niekerk

Of course, the guys in Raptorbaby – as the name might suggest – are not only about the geeky things in life or aspiring only towards expressive sophistication. They enjoy having a ton of fun too, maximizing on the joys of rock n roll.

“It’s also the first fest of 2017, which allows for a great catch-up session and a massive party!” ~ Vincent Van Niekerk

He also speaks fondly of the band’s recent first leg of the Citadel album launch tour visiting Cape Town, bringing into perspective not only the electrifying crowd responses, but also the opportunity to soak in the sights and enjoy some epic meals.

“It was a great trip fueled by beer and delicious food. Win!” ~ Vincent Van Niekerk

In getting back to the more serious business, we wanted to know about some of the band’s inspirations – both local and from abroad – which have kept them ticking and reaching for the stars. Names which popped up were local heroes of yesteryear such as Pestroy and Marlowe, plus those from overseas including the likes of Sikth, Protest The Hero and Dillenger Escape Plan. But reaching for those aspirations are tough for anybody. In spite of hardships of South African isolation from the touring routes of the rest of the world and it’s limited local market, Raptorbaby keep a positive attitude about doing what they love and sharing it with those who best appreciate it.

“There is already such a small percentage of South Africans who listen to metal here, and then that small percentage gets divided further by genre elitism. The other problem is that there are so few venues left to play in, especially for metal bands. In saying that… The true supporters of the metal genre in South Africa are some of the most loyal and die hard fans you could ever wish to meet. The scene is definitely growing with more and more promoters taking time to reach out to the youth. We all have day jobs, so keeping a band together has it’s tricky moments. The important thing we’ve realized is that starting a band with the hope of ‘making it’ is rather far fetched, but that shouldn’t stop bands from playing with passion and allowing themselves to express themselves through music.” ~ Vincent Van Niekerk

With that and in closing, we asked what the absolute best thing about being a part of the local metal scene is for the band members.

“I would have to say the feeling of it being a family, hey. We stick together through thick and thin. The bands and fans look out for each other.” ~ Vincent Van Niekerk

Catch Raptorbaby live on stage in Gauteng at the Arts Expo: Nine Lives on Saturday 28 January at 19h00.

For full Arts Expo: Nine Lives event details, visit the official facebook event page.

Interview by Kimberleigh Fae Chaye; co-authored by Patrick Davidson
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