Acoustic duo Rocketeers, who hail from Johannesburg, have been making quite the name for themselves on the local live music and function music scene with their unique marriage of famous covers, acoustic guitar, double bass, smooth jazzy vocals with some live percussion looping.
Douglas Bean and Lionel Naidoo have created a strong musical force that appeals to pretty much anyone who wants to take a break from the “computer” based music that dominates the music world today.
Their musical style puts a modern acoustic twist on solid gold hits and jazz favourites, along with some of the best songs of the contemporary pop charts.
On a regular performance night you’ll find them jamming tunes all the way from Simon & Garfunkel and Nina Simone to Jack Johnson, Sam Smith and George Ezra.
You may also hear a couple of singles from their debut album Something Else which have been playlisted on various radio stations around the country.
We sat down with the duo and asked them to tell us more about their sound and how it all began. Here’s what they had to say:
How did the Rocketeers form?
Back in 2009 we started performing acoustic covers as a duo. It was at a slightly dodgy but very charming place called Gin that people came to wash away the Mondays. Eventually attendance grew out of control and so we decided to continue working together.
How would you describe your sound and aesthetic?
Well the first thing everyone says is that our sound is laid back. Which it is.
We embrace the natural and a life that is disconnected from the rat race. Our aesthetic involves loads of greenery and beautiful, lush South African weather. Possibly a beach somewhere…
What are some of the most interesting places you’ve performed at since you’ve formed a duo?
We have played on the beach with the tide coming in rapidly which was quite stressful!
Another time we performed on a hillside in Cape Town in 38 degree summer heat with no shelter.
Last year we enjoyed performing at Dinner en Blanc which was at the Johannesburg War Memorial to a large crowd of thousands of diners, definitely the ultimate restaurant gig!
What have been the challenges in this industry?
The main challenge is to be as professional as possible at all times, to stay on top of the business side of things and to keep growing and refining what we do.
You guys breathe new life into covers, how do you go about re-imagining a cover and making it your own?
Covering songs has become a genre within itself. Just look on YouTube and you can find a plethora of covers of your favourite songs. The hardest part I think it selecting the right song to work with in terms of your strengths as a musician. Also it has to be a song that people can recognise and sing along to. It is also fun to take a song that was originally electronic and re-work it on acoustic instruments, we do quite a bit of that. It really helps being in a duo because we work off each other’s ideas and through constant performance we fine tune things.
What inspired the sound and content of your debut album?
In terms of sound we wanted an organic sounding album with predominantly acoustic instrumentation because that is very much our style. In terms of content we drew on mostly hopeful and uplifting themes, we try and be as relaxed and positive about life as possible and this reflects in the content of the album.