South African pop rock band Bonfire Buffalo consists of Ivy Ann van Rooyen, Ewoud van Rooyen and Carl Dedekind.
They formed in 2016 and draw influence from a wide range of music genres; from Pink Floyd to Mumford & Sons.
The band teamed up with producers Greg Carlin and Mike Wright of Zebra & Giraffe fame, and have just released their second single ‘Good In Another Life’, following the success of their debut single ‘Back in School’.
The Hustle’s Shabzi Madallion has added his unique rap verse to the bridge, which showcases the versatile direction of this new band.
What sparked the idea to form the band?
“We’ve all been playing music for years. Ivy and Ewoud are brother and sister and we meet, and then we started playing together and it just happened.”
You are trying to reinvent music in this country and that you don’t want to define your sound – how are you going to do this, explain it to me?
“We are going to record different types of songs, like we did in our previous EP, where we had 6 very different songs, that are not defined by one genre of music. We are trying to accommodate different people who like different genres of music.”
So when you approach a festival, they always want to know where do you fit, how do you answer that?
“We are a rock band, it’s bass, guitars, drums…”
“That’s our starting point, but when we collaborate with other artists, we listen to what is going on around us, and we try to incorporate all those different elements into our songs – that’s important to us.”
“And if Ivy writes a ballad that is more funk, we won’t dismiss it just because we are a rock band.”
Is there a common thread in your music? You still want people to be able to identify you?
“It comes from the vocals and the lyrics. People can hear that it is us. There is a certain sound in there, even if it is a ballad or up beat song, there is a common thing that is Bonfire Buffalo.”
Bonfire Buffalo – where does the name come from?
“It’s from my son actually. We went to a gig in Cullinan and he was with us, and when we were driving back we were playing a game in the car where you had to put a word in front of an animal. First there was bad tortoise. Then he said Bonfire Buffalo, and boom that became the name.”
“Tyler is 6 years old and he is the band manager.”
Songwriting – there are different processes but how do you go about yours?
“Ivy is the main song writer, I like the production side of things, putting the song together – Carl as well. He has a very good ear for music. Ivy starts off with her magic and we just follow up with what she needs.”
“For us, what we like to do, is to put as much pre- production together before we go into studio. We want everything to be right. We don’t want to think that we have missed anything.”
Why did you choose ‘Back In School’ as your first single?
“Greg from Zebra and Giraffe, who produced the single, had a liking for the song and it was mainly his idea. We believe it was the right choice. But it was the guidance from Greg.”
Second single – Good in Another Life – this is very different to your first single – why did you decide to change the sound for this single?
“The music community in South Africa is quite small. It is nice to collaborate with other musicians especially from other styles of music. It brings the community together.”
“We are friends with the Hustle and we like listening to different styles of music and we really liked Shabzi. We emailed him and asked him if he would be interested in collaborating with us, and he got on board straight away.”
“The very next day he sent us his lyrics. He just loved the song. It just worked.”
Any moment that has stood out for you over this short perios as a band?
“Our first recording as Bonfire Buffalo with Greg.”
“The first radio play we got on Jacaranda FM, getting on the Top 20.”
Anyone you would love to collaborate with or work with?
Carl: “Mumford and Sons.”
Ivy: “Beatenberg and Bongiziwe – we would like to do an album with him.”