[interview] Deon Bakkes & The Stolen Horses – Catching them live at Park Acoustics

[interview] Deon Bakkes & The Stolen Horses - Catching them live at Park Acoustics: Photo cred Marne Coetzee

 Photo cred Marne Coetzee

This weekend at Park Acoustics, you can catch the Dirty Gypsy Swing meets Rock ‘n Roll band Deon Bakkes & The Stolen Horses, who will be brining their brand of Rock n Roll to the party. Here is a little chat we did with the homies..


A German idiom for romance, and the traditional gypsy lifestyle which relied upon the service of magnificent steeds – sometimes indeed stolen. Deon Bakkes and the Stolen Horses bring a new light to Gypsy Jazz that incorporates the classic blend of European gypsy melody and 1930’s swing, with a modern attitude rooted in Hard Bop Jazz, Punk and Rock ‘n Roll.

The Stolen Horses began in early 2016 when Deon Bakkes brought his love of Django Reinhardt-style Gypsy Jazz and improvisational music into his own personal musical conception. The horses recorded their debut album in late 2016 entitled “Neither Here nor There” featuring a mix of original songs such as “Stealing Horses” and “The Reaper’s Got Kids To Feed Too’ as well as a number of re-invigorated and fired up jazz standards such as “It Don’t Mean A Thing” and “Minor Swing”.

The band has played numerous live shows around Pretoria and Johannesburg with two notable appearances at the both Mexican Tequila Festivals in 2016, and at OppiKoppi 2017. The horses are set to record an EP in early December 2017.

Interview: Deon Bakkes & The Stolen Horses

[interview] Deon Bakkes & The Stolen Horses - Catching them live at Park Acoustics: Photo cred Towerjas Tobias Coetsee
Photo cred Towerjas Tobias Coetsee

MA: Hey guys, great to be chatting to you… everyone doing well? 

It’s great to be chatting! We’re doing swell. Still coming off the high from Oppikoppi.

MA: Before we get started, can you please introduce us to the members of Deon Bakkes & The Stolen Horses, as well as telling us where in SA you come from? 

So we are based in Pretoria/Centurion and the Stolen Horses are Stephen Kosterman, ‘Speedy Hooves’ guitar extraordinaire, Raziela Kosterman ‘Razzberry Juice’ on violin and vocals, Karin Groenewald ‘Zoots Queen’ on the beastaphone baritone, Lehlohonolo Ntsoko ‘El Nino’ screaming on the tenor saxophone, Leroux ‘Slack Liner’ Minnaar on basslines, Adriaan Cruywagen ‘Skin Tricks’ on drums and Mr Deon Bakkes ‘Horse Whips’ on guitar, kazoo, vocals, dancing in the crowd and mango punch-making. I gave all my horses nicknames for fun to try capture an element of their stage personality. Nolo already had his own nickname however.

MA: Where/How did you guys meet to form the band?

So I started the band with Razz and Stephen after seeing their String Therapy duo. I could tell they could play, and so I figured I’d arrange a jam session to improvise over a few jazz standards to see how they do. It went well. After that we rotated through a few bass players and drummers – with the drummer on brushes at the time. Later we added Karin on saxophones and clarinet. We played a few small shows that focused on improvising over jazz standards and calling arrangements as we played. We had Ronnie and Rynier from Georgetown for a while, but they eventually became too bogged down with Georgetown commitments. Good for them! So we then managed to find Adriaan and Leroux, who had been friends of the band. After some time, we got Adriaan drumming with sticks instead of brushes, which got the sound much bigger and much more fun. Basically, the name ‘Stolen Horses’ refers to this process of ‘stealing’ band members from around the scene.

MA: Who/What are your musical inspirations?

Mainly, it would be Django Reinhardt, the legendary gypsy jazz guitar player from 1930’s Europe that incorporated European gypsy music with swing jazz, but on strings. That was the idea initially. But since we developed the band, our natural rock ‘n roll and punk roots came out and made the music faster and louder – still keeping the finesse and improvisation of jazz playing of course. This makes the music we play a diversity of sounds we call ‘Gypsy Jazzpunk’. Bands that influence our sound and writing would be stuff like Squirrel Nut Zippers, Freak Fandango Orchestra and Gogol Bordello on the gypsy punk side, with Romane, Angelo Debarre and Django on the jazz side. I also love Motorhead and old school rock ‘n roll, and many bebop jazz players like John Coltrane get into the mix too. Lyrically, I like to write lyrics with a fun and tongue-in-cheek edge with always with some kind of deeper message whether it be about the ironies of a fiery romance of the burden of life’s responsibilities.

MA: What are your thoughts on our local music scene at the moment and if there is anything you wish to see happen differently?

We feel the local music scene has been growing in a healthy way over the last few years. Of course, venues have been dwindling sadly. But new bands are working hard and making really good quality music that feels original and diverse. Perhaps millennials aren’t all bad in the end? Hahaha… We also feel that the audience is getting more interested in the authenticity of live music. So hopefully just upwards from here…

MA: Are there any local acts that you think need a special mention?

At the moment, Pollinator is one of our top favourite local acts. They keep the energy and passion high, and always pull out awesome surprises in their music. Beyond that, Mr. Cat and the Jackal opened up something of a new niche in local music that brought in diversity and humour. That is certainly worth a mention. Other bands have also built that up with their own flavour. Nomadic Orchestra, Bombshelter Beast and Crimson House are some of our favourites that are doing really interesting things. Also… Strait Jackal for bringing Dank Funk back!


MA: You are playing at Park Acoustics this month… Are you excited for the gig? What can we expect from your performance?

Naturally we are very excited! It’s a great crowd and always a party.. You guys can expect a fat load of gypsy jazzpunk to spunk up your day drunk! Complete with lots of improvised solos, upbeat swing with a punk attitude ….and GEES!

MA: Anything that you guys are currently working on that we would be interested in hearing about?

We are working on a live video with Dizzy Khaki from our recent Railways show on Spring Day. It was a super magical show and we are really excited to share the footage with our audience. That will be out in early November. We will also be recording an EP in early December at Audio Nebula Studios that will begin to explore our new sound with the full 7-piece band and drummer on sticks. One new song is about the members of the band – how grateful I am to be able to jam with them, but also how much of a pain managing them can be! Hahaha

MA: Where can we follow you on Social media?

We are on Facebook and Instagram. But otherwise, our music is available for streaming on Apple Music and Deezer. We really love Deezer!

MA: Thanks for your time guys…!!

And for your love. See you all at Park Acoustics for a fat-ass party!

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