Harmonic Angel on Folklore jazz revival

Harmonic Angels sharing stage with Ndingo Johwa. PIC: KEOAGILE BONANG
Harmonic Angels sharing stage with Ndingo Johwa. PIC: KEOAGILE BONANG

When God says yes, no one can say no! God had wanted a band called Harmonic Angel to be formed and despite the many obstacles, which threatened its formation, at the end it materialised and now looks set to conquer the world.

The idea was the brainchild of Teacoboy Seitshiro, a male third of the three-member band. After meeting Mimi Moje at a poetry event, the young man was certain that he had found just the right person to lead the band on vocals. But he was made to wait a bit, as Moje was not as enthusiastic as he was about the project.

“Teacoboy approached me about this idea and I was not really keen. It took some time before I agreed,” Moje told Arts&Culture.

Ironically the formation of the band was fateful because Seitshiro managed to re-unite lost friends.


He had identified Bojosi Ntseane as the third member who would play the lead guitar and then taught her how to play the instrument.

“He told me to meet the other person he was recruiting for the band and I was pleasantly surprised to find that it was my childhood friend Bojosi who I also did not know could play a guitar,” Moje said.

Once the three youngsters had all agreed to the idea of forming a band they sat down and a few names were bandied around, finally settling for Harmonic Angel as their stage identity.

“We wanted a thought provoking name and Harmonic Angel fits that very well. When playing a guitar, harmonics pop up at different points and that is what we are about,” Seitshiro chipped in.

The next step was to decided what type of music they wanted to do and it came almost natural that they chose Folklore jazz as the trio are big fans of this African music.

“We wanted to do the kind of music that will provide that connection between the young and the old. Folklore jazz appeals to both generations,” he said.

Shortly after Harmonic Angel was formed, they were invited to play at a First National Bank cooperate event and like many bands in their formative days, they could only play cover songs. 

Seitshiro had known Moje could sing but was stunned by the young woman’s vocal ability.

“I think before this event I had underestimated her real value and talent. It was at that event that I realised what a germ she was,” he waxed lyrical.

Realising that they had good potential the band decided to start working on their own compositions and their first song was Tswana Sare and many others songs followed shortly after.

Those who would watch them at various events were immensely impressed and soon bookings were flocking in.

Against their expectations, Harmonic Angel was chosen to perform at the 2013 Fete de la Musique where they proved a real revelation.

They were back to woo the fans during the 2014 edition. Among other high profile events that the trio featured last year was the Domboshaba cultural festival. Seitshiro, who plays the rhythm guitar, remains the backbone of the band though during their performances most of the attention is focused on the two female members.

While Moje’s powerful voice and traditional dance moves often get audiences cheering at the loudest, Ntseane’s mesmerising guitar skills has left many in awe.

The young band has acknowledged that they were still learning and that mistakes were bound to happen in some of their performances.

Ntseane, who is the quitter of the three, says, “I enjoy playing the guitar but often when we go on stage I am scared of making mistakes.”

“Mistakes are an artist’s creativity and we try not to worry much about them. We often watch our DVDs and laugh at those mistakes. Initially Bojosi was playing a rhythm guitar but I later advised her to change to lead and she has adapted like a duck to water,” Seitshiro adds. To avoid putting herself under pressure, lead vocalist Moje says she just does what her heart tells her and the rest just follows.

 Their success so far has provided motivation to aim higher but they are quick to point out that unlike many of their colleagues in the industry they are not on a rush to fame and fortune hence they are not in a hurry to release a debut album. The band is still in the process of putting together a good sound system that will enable them to perfect their sound before going into studio.

“Our aim is to take Botswana Folklore jazz to the world and we are not going to take any shortcuts. We want to create music with real class like Jimmy Dludlu, Freshly Ground and Bob Dillian, we really want to make a universal mark,” Moje said.

Seitshiro added, “People do not realise that when you practice using low quality sound it because difficult once you go into a fully equipped studio and we do not want that. We have plenty songs that could make two albums but the time is not right to record them”.

Just two years into the industry the young band has already experienced some frustrations mostly at the hands of other people. They have been shunned by some promoters, who they allege also tried to make them change their stuff.

 

“It is unfortunate that people look at you and not your talent. We have been told by some to add some keyboards in our music if we want gigs but we are not going to change to accommodate their vague opinions. Someone turned us down for a big event but was surprised to find us there, we have to thank Alliance Francaise for giving us our first big break,” said Moje, who has quit her Physical Education studies at the University of Botswana to study music at Kingdom Arts school.

 

Because the group also wants to maintain a certain standard they disclosed that they were picky when it comes to accepting offers.

 

“We consider the crowd before agreeing any terms because that is important to us. You will surprised that we would choose an offer with less money because we anticipate a decent crowd at the gig as opposed to a high paying show with some rowdy audience,” she said.

 

With the harmony that seems to be prevailing between the band members and the amount of talent that each member possesses Harmonic Angel looks God-sent to save Folklore jazz. Whether they will scale the challenges to reach the same level as Freshly Ground, only time will tell. But as their slogan goes, Gatwe erile, we expect them to tell more stories and write a rich story of their own.

Editor's Comment
What about employees in private sector?

How can this be achieved when there already is little care about the working conditions of those within the private sector employ?For a long time, private sector employees have been neglected by their employers, not because they cannot do better to care for them, but because they take advantage of government's laxity when it comes to protecting and advocating for public sector employees, giving the cue to employers within the private sector...

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