With their 202nd scheduled release dropping in the next week, The south African Duo, Stones & Bones have been integral in the shaping and growth of the African Electronic Music genre since 2010.
Following their recent release of “Ancestral Praise’ on Abracadabra Records and their 16 track album ‘The 12 year saga”, Their timeless hit, ‘Amahloni’ recently hit 4.5 million streams and is still charting in numerous global locations. The Ambassadors of Afro House have a busy future ahead and are aiming for the moon with their ambitious release schedule, tour plans and collaborations in the coming months.
We sat down with Stones & Bones in advance of their next release ‘Ukuthanda Wena’ to discuss collaborations, motivation and track inspiration.
WWD: Hi KG & Casper, Thanks for speaking with When We Dip. Where are you right now?
Hey guys. Pleasure to meet. We are in our home town of Pretoria, South Africa right now. Enjoying the African summer and rocking all the celebratory parties after our team won the rugby World Cup. We arrived back from a European summer tour a few weeks ago. Always chasing summer.
WWD: Where did the name Stones & Bones come from?
It’s a good question with an interesting answer. Casper’s surname is Afrikaans – Steenkamp. In English it roughly translates to Stones. KG was really skinny when we met in 2010. So everyone from his township called him “Bones”. Hence the name Stones & Bones.
WWD: What’s your background in music? where did you learn your craft?
Casper studied music theory as well as saxophone and guitar in the High school day. KG started DJing way back in high school, back in the vinyl days. We both studied music production and sound engineering at a college where we met. Soon after, we got together in studio and because vocalists were in short supply, we both had to try our hand at singing. Turns out we are pretty good at it.
WWD: What would you describe as your signature sound? Stones & Bones:
Whenever we lay down our own vocals on a track the sound is unmistakeable. Two notes and you will know it’s us. In terms of production, you can always expect a more melodic driven sound with acoustic instruments like saxophone, guitar and flutes. There are certain go to synths and sounds that we use too but those will remain our little secret. Our signature sound is the quality of song writing and vocal production. That is why everyone wants to remix our stuff. We’ve refined our offering into a distinctive sound that can’t be replicated elsewhere, it’s the Stones & Bones way.
WWD: You have a really impressive release catalogue, over 200 now! what are you favourite tracks and why?
Obviously, number one is and always will be Amahloni. It’s a house classic with a spiritual quality that is timeless. It is the kind of track that is truly bigger than the sum of its parts. Then of course there are others. We have an unreleased track called “The One” that we open our sets with. The track is so special to us that we have not released it yet – like a child who you don’t want to grow up or leave the house. Clips of it are all over the internet but we are still the only people who have the original besides Bedouin. Then there is a track called Somebody. It was our first release and the first song we ever wrote. Abicah Soul remixed it and it achieved success beyond what we could have imagined. That song was the start of the journey for us.
WWD: Where do you draw your inspiration from?
From our family mostly. They have supported us for more than 13 years of ups and downs, sweat tears and blood in this industry. If it were not for them, we would have given up many times. Musically we are inspired by acts who have remained authentic and crafted unique niches in the dance industry. People like WhoMadeWho, Monolink, Satori, Louie Vega, Manoo, Maphorisa, Bongeziwe Mabandla.
When it comes to the business side of things there is only one King. Black Coffee.
WWD: When making music, what are your aims? Stones & Bones:
The aim is always to create art. Art is an expression and reflection of the state of society both on a macro and micro level. The best way for us is to first get together and just vibe. Exchange ideas and go back and forth until we are in a flow state. When you are in flow, music and art comes easily.
WWD: You’ve certainly had a very busy year; touring in Europe & Africa, releasing on big labels, what has been the highlight so far?
The highlight was being able to tour again, spending two months in Europe. We are very proud of this as up until recently, we have been completely independent. We now have a great team who go to the ends of the earth for us. Shout out to Lee and the Never Shutting Down team. Our collab with Cameron Jack called “Ancestral Praise” was released on Abracadabra and it was supporting by so many amazing DJs. Definitely a highlight.
WWD: You are soon to release ‘UKUTHANDA WENA”, on FOMP Records. Please can you tell us about the track?
The inspiration behind the song is rooted in the complexities of passionate love, where decisions shape the fate of a relationship. The song is sung in Xhosa, one of the traditional South African Languages. The lyrics capture the transient essence of the affection, with the subject’s presence fading in and out, posing the dilemma of holding on or letting go. We’re releasing it as a 3 track single with 2 Remixes by DIEPHUIS and TSOS. It’s on SoundCloud if you want to listen.
WWD: You’ve had some really strong support in advance of the release, who’s supporting it?
We’re had a great response from key tastemakers that have supported this release. We’re grateful for everyone’s support and want to say a special thankyou to the team at RINSE FM, Themba, Jamiie, Robin M, Sammi Ferrer, Kitty Amor, Sef Kombo, FNX Omar, Cleido.
WWD: How do you decide the elements in a track like this?
We normally sculpt some beats that are based on drums and a chord progression. Then we start recording and writing vocal hooks. Once the vocal is captured the real work starts. The track is stripped down again and rebuilt around the vocal. It has to groove with 4 elements. Drums, bass, vocal, synth/chords. If that happens then we are good to fill it in with other melodic instruments like the acoustic stuff.
WWD: What other releases do you have lined up for the rest of the year?
We have a really exciting release coming up on Robin M’s ULU Records, Abo Malume hits hard. Then we have some exciting collabs coming up with some good friends of ours who are well known on the scene.
WWD: What do you consider your greatest achievement in music?
Making a song that will outlive us. Whenever we get to a new country to play, people come up to us and say that Amahloni is their favourite song or their ringtone or that they listened to it every day for months. They will tell us what they think the song is about. It’s one of those tracks that every dj will have a copy of on their USB. The spiritual nature of that work transcends culture and language. Moments like that remind you that making music is bigger than you.
WWD: What else do you have cooking that you can share?
We are cooking up a live set that will be entirely made up of our own works. We are working on performing it with Ableton Live, using all our instruments with live looping and doing the vocals ourselves. It’s hard work and will still take a while but it will take the musical experience to the next level.
WWD: Who would you most like to collaborate with and why?
Sade. Is she even human? Imagine working with a spirit like that…who wouldn’t want to?….
WWD: What is next for Stones & Bones?
We have taken a small break from touring internationally to spend some time with our family. Around December/Jan we will be on the road again. We have had many new requests from countries that we’ve never dreamed of visiting. Next year is looking very busy for touring and releases.
Stones & Bones’ Ukuthanda Wena is available on Spotify & Beatport November 17th, Everywhere else December 1st. Pre Save / Pre Order Here.