When we consider listening to music, there is a myriad of different ways in which we get to the point at which we decide whether we like it or not. However, the over-arching, even if subconscious, process would likely be summarised in a few questions: Does this resonate with me? Does this resonate with me because of how it sounds? Does it resonate with me because it feels like something I’ve never heard before?
Often, the point at which the answers to the two latter questions overlap is the sweet-spot. In the search for a sound which resonates with their audience, musicians have to craft their identity on a balance of accessibility and originality. When originality is compromised for the sake of accessibility, the criticism is often that it sounds too much like someone else or it feels lazy and when accessibility is compromised for originality it can become too unfamiliar or feel self-indulgent. Ultimately it comes down to what matters most to the musician and what they want from their music.
Considering all of this, Three Witches, an experimental pop duo from Cape Town has just released a 2-track EP titled Music For Dogs. The duo, comprising of Johnny Coutsoudis and Ciarán Slemon (the latter also known as Parabyl who is a solo producer and co-founder of Cape Town-based Stone Soup collective), established the project together in 2015 to create and explore the blurred line between electronic music and live instrumentation. This desire to explore this space, as well as considering themselves as experimental pop, brings an even more tangible element to the crafting of identity and balance mentioned previously which, when listening to their 8-track 2015 EP Prison Food, 2016 album Miscommunication Skills and today’s latest, Music For Dogs, is quite evident, yet never forced.
This is where Three Witches find themselves in that sweet-spot. There’s a substantial amount of accessibility, even more so now on Music For Dogs, from the infectious break beat on ‘Hieroglyph’ to the droney guitar on ‘Fornix’, but they also don’t shy away from what makes them feel different. There’s eeriness to the energy of the tracks which filters its way into the rest of the production, resulting in an intrinsically original EP which demands your attention. It’s not a sum of two parts accessible and original, but rather an authentic refining of influences, self-reflection and musicality.
“We simply want to understand our minds, without the pressure of boxes and boundaries that would forces us to dilute our authenticity” – Three Witches.
Considering this commitment, the fact that the leading track ‘Hieroglyph’ was premiered on 5FM last night on Das Kapital’s In Das We Trust – alongside names like Kid Fonque and Back Talk ft. Idris Elba – bodes extremely well for the duo from Cape Town as they shift their focus to their upcoming full-length album. This new body of work which will be created in collaboration with fellow Cape Town producer Tzara.
The true test of their journey to find that sweet spot and understand their minds, and the minds of their audience, will be how their live performance develops to compliment and aid their experimental values.
Listen to the EP above and follow Three Witches on Facebook to catch their next public outing.