For some years, we, Stru, Pano and Gabriel, found ourselves orbiting the same sun that went by the name of SOL GEMS. Sadly, that time has come to an end as we are each now on our own quest to find a new sun to orbit. The gravitational pull of SOL GEMS has come to end.
Similar to many young people, we were seeking for something to hold onto, something to explain the extraordinary strangeness and arbitrary nature of everyday life. For a time, we found this in SOL GEMS and we are incredibly grateful to have shared this time with you. But the sun is now setting on SOL GEMS. Sunsets are beautiful things and full of nostalgia; they are also sad too as they mark the end of a day, the end of a time together, time-shared. We feel both sides of this.
There will be many thanks you’s to follow – this was hardly something we did alone, many people helped us – so this won’t be the last you hear from us, and so until then (and long after hopefully) we’ll be right there with you, standing with the sun.
But what we ask is that while the sun sets on SOL GEMS, remember to enjoy the view and hang onto the beauty and the nostalgia. We will be playing one last show at Mieliepop Festival – so, to borrow some words from Temples, come and be “born into the sunset” with us one last time.
Much love from all of us,
Interview: SOL GEMS
- Hi guys…its awesome to be chatting to you guys 😀 How is everyone doing today?
Very well, thank you. And you?
- Before we get started, can you please introduce us to the members of SOL GEMS? Also, please tell us where in SA do you guys come from?
Sol Gems comprises of Gabriel on the drums and backup pipes, Pano on the boomin’ bass guitar and Stru on the main pipes and guitars. We also have Jenny of LUMA on keys and backup pipes for our live performances.
Behind the scenes all of the members do a lot more in terms of writing, running merch, design for posters and the likes. Being an independent band, especially in South Africa requires a lot more work than pitching up at a show and playing.
We’re based in Johannesburg, and perform all over South Africa.
- How/Where did you guys meet up to form this formidable partnership?
Pano and Stru have played together since their earlier teenage years. After the ending of The Stella’s, a rock n roll band they were involved in, they formed Sol Gems. Stru and Gabe met at art school and after a couple of jams the rest is history.
- Can you give us a short background on the name SOL GEMS?
Gifts from the sun!
- Where do you guys take inspiration from in your “sound”?
It’s quite difficult to pin-point exactly as we are all inspired by so many things, both visually and sonically. And these influences are ever changing. We are inspired from everything from Fela Kuti to Connan Mockasin to Isaac Hayes and beyond! Our ‘sound’ is aesthetically psych rock one could say, with an emphasis on the exploration of sounds and human connection.
- What have been some of your highlights as a band?
Definitely pressing our debut album on vinyl, working with an amaizng team of friends and artists. Jethro Harris, probably the best young live and studio engineer flew up to JHB, and sailed the ship for us, recording in the SABC studios. Niall Bingham, the past fine-arts print lecturer at WITS helped us produce the artwork for the album and Merch. That artwork has unintentionally become a strong way of us finding an identity as a band. Elio the Illustrator helped us translate this into a beautifully laid out record sleeve, and Roastin’ Records jumped on to do what they do best – support local music! It was a fascinating DIY experience for all involved, and showed us that when you work hard on something you love, the final product can be better than one’s wildest dreams. In addition to this, having the opportunity to open for a number of international bands, performing at a NPR World Cafe live session and also being invited to perform abroad have been notable highlights for us!
- What are your thoughts on our local music scene at the moment and if there is anything you wish to see happen differently?
So much talent, although not enough spaces and support from the punters. Having people complain about entrance to live shows but happily spend many times that fee at the bar is a serious downer. Pay a bit of entrance if you want to see a good show! To the bands; know your worth – you can turn down clubs and promoters who want to pay you in beer! But also remember that not everyone gets to be on the stage, take time and care over each at every show, no matter how small or big.
- Are there any local acts that you think need a special mention?
Too many! Leaving some out and in no specific order: Medicine Boy, Retro Dizzy, The Psaaalms, Femi Koya, LUMA, Twin Weaver.
- You guys are playing at Mieliepop this year… What can you say about this festival? Are you guys excited to be playing at this awesome event?
So we are! Definitely one of the most beautifully-set festivals. We are going to be swimming – come join. We are excited and we hope the people who come are too. Through much deliberation we have decided to send the Gems back to their rightful place in the sun, from whence they came, so this will also be our last show. So naturally we want to give it all we have, and if you want to see our last performance – you should definitely be at Mieliepop this year!
- Anything that you guys are currently working on that we would be interested in hearing about?
While SOL GEMS might be born into the sunset – to steal some lyrics from a good Temples song – the members are not. So watch out for each member’s further musical efforts – it’s unlikely they’ll be quiet for very long.