Interview: The Nomadic Orchestra


Meeting lively Cape Town band, The Nomadic Orchestra, for an interview at 9am didn’t feel very rock ‘n roll, but it was the quietest time to ask a few questions over a snack at the very hip and happening bar bsistro The Power and the Glory on Kloof Nek. So over a few cups of coffee, and between mouthfuls of poached egg on rye toast, I got to chat to Joe who plays tuba in the band, and Gabriel (Gawie) who rocks the sax, about Nomadic Orchestra’s formation and some of their memorable moments as Cape Town’s popular Balkan Fusion Dance band.

You guys all come from different musical backgrounds and are multi-instrumentalists. Can you give some brief insight into The Nomadic Orchestra’s formation? How did you get to where you are now from starting out at a Balkanology Party in 2009?

G: Tim Hutchinson started the band originally, but he then wanted to do his own thing so he handed the band over to us, and trusted us to continue it without him. I replaced the original sax player, so after swapping different members we’ve been as we are now for about one and a half years.

J: Yes, everyone in the band studied completely different things. Also, everyone in the band listens to completely different music genres.

G: I like The Pixies, which you can’t stand (to Joe). I also play in another band called The Bone Collectors.

Do you feel that these differing tastes in music genres influence The Nomadic Orchestra’s music?

G: Yes, definitely. Especially with writing and also in our performance energy. We’re influenced by certain Rock or Hip Hop artists’ attitudes, so for example we don’t care what we say on stage.

As your name suggests, you guys are an orchestra. Can you name the different instruments that you use?

J: In making our debut album Move Your Things, we only used the instruments that we play live, namely trumpet, sax, tuba, drums and guitar. We didn’t add other instruments.

G: Well we did use some megaphone noise effects.

J: Also we had guest singers on some of the tracks.

G: Yes, we used a rap crew. We also had Gertjie from Mr Cat and the Jackal. Playing live we just use our own vocals.

You’re described as a Balkan Fusion Dance Band. Is there any particular reason why you draw your influence from the music of Eastern European countries like Macedonia and Romania?

J: I just love that music. I love the culture that surrounds that music, everyone just dances.

G: Also it’s just a fresh sound. But the primary reason is definitely because of the Balkanology parties.

How do you feel about the growing support for your music in Cape Town? Were you at all surprised by it?

G: We are always surprised by it, especially when you see people singing your songs to you. We always knew that we made people dance; we just didn’t know people remembered us.

J: We have played some amazing shows, and because of that we feel it’s growing more. Also, we don’t attract a specific crowd.

G: That’s right, we don’t exclude anyone with our music. Grandparents love us, kids love us. We played for my mom’s 50th birthday party.

J: Yeah, we played for my dad’s birthday too.

G: We’ve also played at corporate parties, such as a Ferrari Club meeting at the Mount Nelson. We’ve also played at Raymond Ackerman’s daughter’s birthday party.

You’ve been playing gigs in Cape Town almost every weekend in the last month or so. What are some of your favourite venues to play in Cape Town?

G: We played a great gig at Carnival Court, it was so intimate, and we were on the floor with the crowd.

J: We played at Kirstenbosch Gardens, we opened for Carols by Candle Light. It wasn’t an ideal line up, but unusual so therefore a cool gig. Another memorable show was at The Octopus Garden, which was amazing.

What would you say has been your most memorable show?

G: We played to 20 000 people at a fan park in 2010, no one knew who we were but it was a crazy show.

J: Also we did that Dirty Bounce show at Rocking the Daisies with Mr Cat and the Jackal, that was a massive crowd.

G: We had a huge crowd the day we played at UCT, on the Jammie steps.

J: We also played at White Mountain Festival on a large stage, the crowd all got off their chairs to watch us, and it was amazing.

You’re playing at Rocking the Daisies again this year. How have your previous experiences been when playing there?

G: This will be our first time where it’s just us playing on the main stage. We’ve got the 11am Saturday morning slot.

J: Yes, so we’ll need to bring high energy to our performance so people will want to start dancing at 11am.

G: Previously we’ve played night time slots on smaller stages. It will be interesting to play on a bigger stage this year.

You’ve played alongside acts like Goldfish… can you see yourselves, like them, reaching out to an overseas audience? Do you have any plans to?

G: Yes definitely, in the next year or two we want to take our music overseas.

J: I’d like to play festivals overseas.

G: We’ll try signing up with an overseas label. And we’re hoping to tour Europe, or Australia maybe.

What are your favourite places in Cape Town to hang out?

G: For me, Obs. I’ve had all my birthday parties in Observatory. Places like Roots back in the day.

J: Yeah the Obs Armchair is a good venue. There’s also cool jazz cafés like Mahogany Room, or The Crypt is very good for jazz gigs.

After the successful launch of your debut album, Move Your Things, what is next?

J: A music video, then to go international I guess.

G: Well we want to put out another album. But yes, definitely a music video, and probably for our song ‘FLB’ because the intro to it is useful visually. We’ve formed a good relationship with Kyknet who’ve just launched their own music channel.

G: We also have tour plans for other places in South Africa and we’re hoping to play the Grahamstown Festival next year.

J: I would love to play with PH Fat, I love them. So yes, also hoping to do some collaborations. I would also love to play other festivals too, like Earthdance again, or Origin. People don’t stop dancing at those festivals.

G: Yes, maybe we need to get more electro sounding (laughs).

Interview conducted by Cassandra Rowley

Listen to Move Your Things for free at

Move Your Things is also available on:
The Greek Merchant



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