Music Interview: Out Cry – Where We Began, Or Songs United

December 3, 2020

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By BRUCE DENNILL

Out Cry release their single Butterfly from their debut album Where We Began recently. It was recorded in Bellville Studios with producer Theo Crous. Butterfly features rapper “V”, who conceptualised the track as a conversation between two people.
After a crowdfunding campaign was set up to record a music video with producer Kyle White, a fan in the UK donated a considerable amount towards the project. In return for her generosity, the band requested a situational theme from her on which to base the video. Conceptualised around a tumultuous relationship between a teenager daughter and her mother, the emotive music video came together beautifully.

Out Cry are a passionate group of musicians who blend Afro-pop, rock, rap and indie styles. The band comprises Ryan Mandy (South Africa) on vocals and lead guitar; Lusekelo Kalelemba (Zambia) on drums; rapper Wandile “V” Bhengu (Swaziland); John Flemming on bass (South Africa); Velicia Malinga (Swaziland) on guitar and Chelsea Mandy (South Africa) on synths. The band formed in 2008 and are now based in Swaziland. Out Cry have toured
to Hyderabad twice, to London and to Nashville, Tennessee. They are festival regulars, having performed at Splashy Fen, MTB Bushfire Festival, Innibos and Sauti za Busara in Zanzibar.

Ryan discusses their music…

 

“Influence” is a loaded, often misunderstood concept. An artist may sound similar to another but have no knowledge of them, or be a super-fan of someone whose output is completely different to their own. Who or what was the artist, album, song, era or scene that initially mapped out the road to you becoming a musician?

My first connection with music was through Hillsong United. When the group started, they pioneered energetic, rock-style praise and worship music that a younger generation could connect with and get behind. The first song that got me inspired about music, in terms of the construction, dynamics, feeling and rhythms was Mighty To Save. I even remember sitting in my parents’ car as a young boy in the car park of our local supermarket singing at the top of my lungs.

 

Has that changed over the years? If so, how and why, and what are you currently exploring?

Out Cry was originally a Christian band when we started playing music as kids back in 2009, inspired by the music of Hillsong United, Casting Crowns, Kutless and Skillet. What we found over the following years in South Africa and Swaziland is that you get typecast in terms of venues and gigs and in doing so, limit the people who can interact with the music you create. It was at this point that I began to be inspired and connected to a band called Switchfoot, who actively blur the lines between Christian and mainstream music. They are able to do this by writing songs that with all the core Christian principles of love, acceptance, resilience, struggle and hope without directly mentioning Jesus. In doing so, an opportunity is created for people who would otherwise be closed off to hear and connect with something special.

 

Name one song you wish you’d written or one you’d like to be known as the definitive interpreter of. What makes that song so important?

I wish I had written Dare You To Move by Switchfoot. It’s a song that challenges us to do more than we thought possible and to pick youself up when you get knocked down. It also got used in a number of films, so it can’t be too bad!

 

In production and arrangement terms, what are facets of your music and the music you love most by others that you feel are crucially important in terms of creating the mood you’re after or supporting the message of your song?

I believe that in anything creative, there needs to be an emotion that is evoked. Otherwise why create it to begin with? Each song is a story, with each instrument adding to detail and character to the tale. I personally love the creative and refining process in recording a project. Usually by the point of recording at a studio, the song structure, sounds and arrangement are complete, but it then undergoes a process refining each sound to a point of perfection, creating clarity and distinction in the tones. By the end, there usually remains something beautiful.

 

Which aspects of your music do you prioritise? For you, would you rather have that your lyrics, your melodies, or your vocals or instrumental work are the are the most memorable parts of your songs?

I believe there needs to be an equal value placed on melodic sounds and lyrics. I don’t even listen to a song if I can’t hear the lyrics. We put a lot of time and thought into writing original lyrics that tell stories so I hope that people don’t only listen to our music for the catchy sounds only! Hook the listener’s attention with the melody, but keep them for the depth in the lyrics.

 

What’s your favourite piece of gear?

The piece of gear that most influenced my ability offstage was a wireless guitar receiver. I remember the first show I played with one; the freedom that I gained no longer being wired to the stage – I could literally jump off the stage and run through the crowd.

 

What is the story behind Where We Began – the genesis of the song, the people involved, the muse behind its creation?

Our latest release is an album called Where We Began. Everything from the artwork to the lyrics reflect a little piece of the people who make up this amazing group and the journey we have come on this far.

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