Two Capetonians who are doing EXTREMELY well for themselves are Dominic Peters and David Poole of electronic jazz duo Goldfish. WhatsoninCapeTown caught up with them just after they’d signed to major international label, EMI.
People are always amazed at just how many instruments you can play. Can you run us through them?
Dom: Piano, double bass, electric bass, drums, guitar (not very well)
Dave: Sax (tenor and soprano), flute, clarinet (of which I think I own three for some reason – the clarinet is an evil mistress), guitar, very bad piano. I love the piano though. We’re busy renovating our house purely so I can get a piano in there.
Dom: We’ve found between the two of us that that list gets us pretty far.
When did you know you were about to hit the big time?
Dave: From inception I knew we were on to something different. And there was an instant demand for our sound. Before that we’d had to hand out fliers and phone people to ask them to come to our gigs. But within a year of Goldfish the phone didn’t stop ringing… people we hadn’t heard from for years. There’s a lot of luck involved too. For one of our first gigs in Ibiza we were due to play before Pete Tong. Up until about 10 minutes before we started there was a good chance that we weren’t going to play at all because they didn’t have the one cable that we needed. I was at the back frantically rummaging through a box of millions of assorted cables all tangled up with each other… it was 35 degrees and I was sweating…
Dom: Then luckily Dave found the cable and we played for twenty minutes and our lives changed. That was the turning point for us as far as our career overseas goes. When you get your break you’ve got to be ready for it.
But how come you were in Ibiza in the first place?
Dom: We were actually in Cannes performing for the Cape Town Film Commission’s party at the Lions Awards. They host a legendary party there every year. So we thought since we were there we ought to go to Ibiza! Then we found the flights were stupidly expensive but we went anyway. We had a friend who was running a German tourist resort for teenagers. He’d said we could stay with him for free so long as we played in the hotel club for one night for free. We were like, ‘”Done!”
Have you ever been back to that hotel club in Ibiza?
Dave: Hell no! It was like Plett Rage for Germans. They were having the time of their lives and we had a great gig there… but it wasn’t really a career move, it was just a place to stay. Dom’s accommodation was next door to these 18 year old Germans who came back at 4am (starts giggling and Dom has to take over)
Dom: We were staying basically in little huts and these German teenagers were sitting about a metre away from where I was trying to sleep, and they were having this massive party. I asked them to keep it down and they said (adopts sombre German accent) “We’re really sorry – it’s so hard for us you know”.
You’ve shared a line up with some big names. Are there any of them you could call on to ask gardening tips?
Dom: Maxi Jazz from Faithless is a mate, but 9 times out of 10 we don’t get to see the others. We’re like ships that pass in the night.
Dave: I shook David Guetta’s hand last week! I’d literally just announced him to the crowd. We’ve been playing ‘his night’ now for two years but that’s the closest I’ve ever got to the guy. We play at different times of the night and he can’t physically be in the club before he plays because he is literally that popular that people lose their minds. When he walks into the DJ booth it’s like some kind of religious deity has arrived. It’s crazy.
Do you ever get mobbed?
Dave: Dom gets mobbed in Spain because everyone thinks he’s Guti, the Madrid soccer player.
Dom: Yeah… it’s very useful for getting into clubs! I smile and wave and pretend I’m him but I don’t say anything – my Spanish is rubbish. But maybe he can pretend to be me when he comes to Cape Town.
Clearly jazz is a massive inspiration to you. But do you enjoy other genres?
Dave: Classical music is great. We love the Kronos string quartet. In fact the only kind of music we’re allergic to is smooth jazz. It’s hard to listen to… it’s too shiny.
Dom: I love Andrea Bocelli…. Honestly, it can be anything. But music is like food. As Ray Charles said ‘imagine eating peanut butter sandwiches all day’. We have a smorgasbord available to us!
Who would you like to collaborate with?
Dom: Miles Davis, Miriam Makeba… we often think of this and find that most of the people are dead! But the Kronos Quartet would be amazing.
What about if someone like Andrew Lloyd Webber asked you to work on something with him?
Dom: Hmmm… we’ve got huge respect for Andrew Lloyd Webber, he’s an amazing musician. Musical theatre is a huge part of jazz ironically. All the old jazz that we listen to is based on musical theatre stuff: Gershwin and such like.
You have a fabulous goldfish mascot who dances on stage at some of your gigs. Who is that?
Dave: It’s Dave Scott from The Kiffness – a fantastic band. He’s got some great moves and he happens to be the brother of the animator on all our videos. But check out The Kifness.
Of all your lyrics, which are your favourite?
Dave: The chorus of ‘Woman’s a Devil’ is fun. And the Crunchy Joe Lyrics are quite abstract.
Where did they come from?
Dave: That would be telling!
You’ve recently signed with EMI and have released a new ‘overview’ album simply entitled Goldfish. Did the tracks you’ve chosen for this album make the cut because they’re your personal favourites or because they have been your best sellers or because they work well together?
Dave: All of the above. There are two new songs on there of course: ‘Washing over Me’ and ‘Woman’s a Devil and then 16 songs from our previous albums Get Busy Living, Perceptions of Pacha and Caught in the Loop. Some of them had to be on simply because this new album is an overview of Goldfish. We wanted people to have the full experience of Goldfish from the ‘Soundtracks and Comebacks’ to the more obscure stuff like ‘My Rainbow’ and ‘Big Bad Wolf’ and the more poppy successful tunes like ‘Fort Knox’ and ‘Get Busy Living’. It’s the ultimate Goldfish album. So far. It’s also an opportunity for EMI to take something and run with it, and overcome the problems that we’ve had so far of certain songs doing well in certain areas.
Is it true you have fans all over the world?
Dave: It’s true! The advent of the internet has been the biggest boon for niche music. You can be producing some strange sound in the bottom of Africa and someone in Iceland could be listening to you. We used to do that a lot. But obviously having a major label with people on the ground in every country helps a lot!
Dom: We had another long email from Mexico today. People in Mexico love us – we must go there one day… but there are just too many places and not enough time.
Goldfish is being released on double vinyl – why this choice?
Dom: Vinyl is the ultimate way to experience music. And vinyl is like a ritual – it demands more effort, more respect, more concentration. It’s a unique experience that’s kind of been lost in experiencing music.
What do you think of Ibiza?
Dom: It’s become a second home for us. It’s an amazing place. There’s a special energy to that island. When you land there you can feel it. It’s no coincidence that it became the party capital of the world.
Dave: We stay on the quiet side though – it’s super chilled there. San Antonio is a great place to go party but otherwise we steer clear. I love the fact that every year a handful of South Africans come through to Ibiza.
What’s your favourite venue to play in Cape Town?
In unison: Kirstenbosch (laugh)
Dave: Indoor venues are OK… The Assembly, St Yves… but there’s nothing like playing outside. The Cape Town Electronic Music Festival was amazing – we’d like to do that again. Hopefully that goes from strength to strength.
Dom: We’d like to do a residency again but it’s getting harder and harder to do what with the demand from overseas. We can’t pass up on those opportunities.
When you are away on tour, what do you look forward to seeing or doing when you get back?
Dom: Surfing. Obviously seeing our family and friends but… the problem with Ibiza is there’s no surf.
Dave: Running up the mountain here in CT on a great day in the middle of December is awesome.
Dom: Cape Town is one of the most amazing cities to live in, from a lifestyle perspective.