Music is not something that can be placed in a box. It was never meant to be labelled or categorized, but rather to be enjoyed and experienced. Music, especially in the main stream, tries to be too generic and often loses something on an emotional level as a result. That is why Donkey, a band of Wits musicians and lecturers, is so refreshing.
Consisting of Janus van der Merwe on saxophone, Roger Hobbs on bass, Johnathan Crossley on guitar and Justin Badenhorst behind the drums, this band views the boundaries that separate genres as a challenge.
“We’re not a jazz band, nor are we a hip-hop band, or a rock band, or a drum and bass band,” explains Van der Merwe. “We incorporate all elements in our music, but first and foremost we’re an improve band, an experimental band.”
According to Badenhorst, improvisation doesn’t necessarily mean that there are no rules or structure. What it does mean however is that there is more freedom when expressing their music.
“There are more solos, more spontaneity,” Badenhorst says. “We just go with it, the same way someone opening up about their emotions without too much thought would. We use our instruments to portray what we are feeling at that particular time, and when one member solos, the others respond and support him. It works the same way as a spontaneous conversation that has emotion.”
However, this spontaneity and merging of genres can alienate the audience and can often lead to a band developing a taste that has to be acquired. This suits the band just fine.
“People who listen to our music, and any other band that is trying to push the boundaries is reaching a level that requires thought,” says Badenhorst. “We try and challenge the audience and shake their foundations. Our aim is to create a connection that can get lost sometimes.”
This is art for art’s sake.
Donkey are performing tonight (20 May) at Tanz Café in Fourwyas alongside Isochronos and Wrestlerish.