Die Antwoord: The Complete Interview Full transcript reveals Ninja explicitly declaring the end of the band
Published Sep 12, 2016On Wednesday, September 7, Exclaim! interviewed Die Antwoord founding member Ninja about their forthcoming album, Mount Ninji and Da Nice Time Kid, out September 16 on Zef/Sony. During the interview, Ninja told Exclaim! that, following a planned fifth album expected one year from now, Die Antwoord would disband.
On Friday, September 9, Exclaim! published a news story reporting the end of Die Antwoord, with quotes from Ninja, including the statement: "Die Antwoord dies on that day. It's all over." As the full transcript reveals, Ninja was even more explicit; when questioned if future projects might bear the Die Antwoord name, Ninja responds with "You weren't listening."
After publication of that report, both Ninja and co-founder Yolandi Visser took to Instagram to deny the news. Ninja states "we not never gon stop making music, and art and videos and moviez ever," while also going on to say "but only 5 classic muddafukn DA albumz gon get made in dis life time."
Visser, on the other hand, took a much more direct approach, claiming that we "totally twisted our words an took what we said completely out of context with his latest article."
What follows is a complete transcript of the hour-long conversation between Daryl Keating and Ninja on September 7, including very explicit statements about the future of Die Antwoord. We were listening.
Where are you right now?
I'm in L.A. We're in a gap of our tour. It feels like we're always touring, and then we make music, and then we tour again. It's cool and then it gets hectic, like it gets fokken intense. But then you miss it again. The flying is horrible, but when you're on a bus, it's kinda cool.
Oh fuck, and once we went on a private jet, which was just like "Jesus Christ!" We had this show in Spain and our booking agents said, "There's a show in Spain, in between your shows, and the way you're scheduled you can't go there with a normal flight, so if you want to do it, you have to take a private jet." Wowee, that was fucking the best. It's like a fucking freakout. I was drinking champagne and playing music loud and telling people not to sleep. I was like "Sleep in fucking coach! You're wasting money." It was our first time, so I was like "fuuuuuuuuuck." They say you know you've made it when you stop talking selfies of yourself on a private jet, but I obviously haven't made it yet, cos I was selfie-ing the shit out of everything on the airplane.
Ok, let's talk about the new album for a bit. What's the meaning behind the name Mount Ninji and Da Nice Time Kid?
Yolandi actually thought of that one. Well, I had written it on a wall in graffiti a long while ago. It's quite deep, the meaning. There's a light meaning and a deep meaning. The light meaning is that it sounds like this legend, like a cartoon or something, it just sounded cute and epic. I think that's what we liked about it.
Me and Yolandi have gone through so much stuff, personally. Die Antwoord, is kind of like me an Yolandi's adventures, and we've got other people like our DJ, GOD, the artist previously known as DJ Hi-Tek, and Muggs who we've done this album with, who calls himself the Black Goat now. They're part of our crew now and part of lives, cos whenever we make music, 99.9 percent of the time we need to get involved with them. Whenever we do stuff with Die Antwoord, it's kind of like... I made a lot of music before this group that I'm kind of bored of and forgot about, and everything with Die Antwoord I really love. It's the first time I've made music where even the first songs we made, I really adore all those songs and I'm proud of them.
So, we've gone through all these different experiences and we made this album now, we went through so many different things. Me and Yolandi came out of nothing together, like fighting and fighting, trying to escape from South Africa and have a bigger adventure with our music. In South Africa, we were like this bomb, me and Yolandi were like this bomb that didn't have a detonator and then all of sudden "Boooooom!" the internet was just this crazy way to connect to the fokken world in one like second, with all the stuff we had been building up. So many layers of music and videos and imagery, and then all of a sudden we exploded.
We were girlfriend and boyfriend at that point, and we had a baby before Die Antwoord, and while we were in the group, we've all been like super best friends and hung out every day, and when we blew up... the first album is called $O$ because we literally were like "If we don't make it now, we're fucked." It felt our last chance.
Then, some miracle happened and we blew up, like really fast. I'd been rapping before that for so long and all of a sudden then shit just shhhhbooooom! And then we got a record deal and money, and we just kind of ignored the label and went back to Africa and pretended like nothing happened. Like, there was this weird tension from the fuckin' label, it felt like we were in school, having to answer to someone all the time. Then me and Yolandi were also having fights, so we ended up turning that tension and the tension between us into music and we called that album Ten$ion and we made it really quickly, compared to the first record.
Then, we were fighting so much in between these moments of greatness. Like, on Ten$ion, we made "Fatty Boom Boom" and "Baby's on Fire" and "I Fink U Freeky," and then with Donker Mag me and Yolandi broke up because we knew that if we didn't split up then the band was going to split up, so we had to choose. So, we called it Donker Mag, which is like Dark Force, and it was just this weird period that we went through.
All Die Antwoord music, on a weird level, is like relationship music. I don't know if that makes any sense, but it really is. All of our songs are like a soundtrack to our relationship in a way. On Donker Mag, although we had broken up — and it's a big thing to break up with your baby momma, who you love — we stayed really good friends but it was obviously still difficult.
Then we moved to Los Angeles after meeting Muggs from Cypress Hill. We wanted to try something different and I thought Sixteen would like school here. She's such a fuckin' genius, man. I mean, we're more South African, I don't feel rooted anywhere else, but Sixteen is very American. Every time she came here she'd like pwwwwuuuchhh blast off. She was so closed in South Africa, I think because it's so dangerous, and like my Dad got shot and my brother hung himself and everyone's dying all over the place and getting hijacked and whatever, so Sixteen would really freak out. So, when she got into a more first world environment, she really came out of her shell.
Also, we really wanted to sink into something while recording with Muggs so we went through a whole bunch of shit in the last two years. This album that's coming out now, we initially called it Rats Rule, cos Yolandi had this philosophy on rats, which I didn't understand at first, but she was like "You get the underdogs, and then you get the rats, that are even lower than the underdogs, but you can get rid of rats. They come from underneath and one day they're going to take over, so it's like us." So, the album is kind of playful and dark as well.
We made that song "We Have Candy," which was a skit actually, where Muggs had made this psycho beat. We were being ridiculous, like singing about coffee and weed and guns, and different stuff that we like, and made this short little mental skit, and Muggs was like "Wow, do another verse. I wanna hear more of this shit." So, we ended up doing this song that had this weird, mental release of, like, "Bohemian Rhapsody" — it had us being retarded and singing opera and just going mad with this really random song.
That almost became the mood of the album, we started making songs in that vein, and the song went from this sort of dark, mischievous call to this explosive, mental, fun, blast-off sort of shit. Then we carried on making songs and called the album We Have Candy for a while, but it doesn't sum up everything.
Then after a while we made more songs and Yolandi did some really vulnerable stuff, which she's never done before, and we did "Banana Brain" and "I Don't Care," which are these really sweet, almost romantic songs, which we've had elements of before like the "Enter the Ninja" chorus, but those two track were these unexpected, epic anthems. "Banana Brain" sounds like a bad rave song but the lyrics are sentimental. Like, when I finished both of verses on those songs — they're really heartfelt — and Yolandi cried after each one. I rapped them for her, I was like "Check this out," I kicked it for her, and I remember on both times when I got to the end, she started crying cos they're really cute and sincere tracks. Even though the chorus is a kind of poppy, silly chorus it has a super deep meaning.
We don't really pay attention to people but it's funny how like the people who dig us without thinking about it, just love the essence of what we do and they're like "Wow, this song's crazy" and other people are a bit jaded or having a bad day or on their period or whatever, would be like "Aww, you guys are fucked" or whatever. People say shit all the time, but we don't make music for people who love us and we don't make music for people who don't get it or hate us or whatever. All that stuff is super irrelevant and all that's relevant is us making this pure sound and songs that come from our soul and our heart.
We started doing imagery for We Have Candy and we thought "This is just an element, it's not the core" and then when she said Mount Ninji and Da Nice Time Kid... In a nutshell, what Yolandi wants from me is to be like this fucking force that's stable and epic, and also the transition from Ninja to Ninji is like this cosy force, you know? This kind of mountain force. And what I want from her, if she can just be in a good mood and have a nice time, I'm happy.
There's also this South African gang called the Nice Time Kids, so she said she wanted to call herself Da Nice Time Kid, cos I had been rapping about the Nice Time Kids in the past. Even in the song "I Fink U Freeky" when she goes "Sexy boys, fancy boys, playboys, bad boys," those are all gang names from South Africa, and the Nice Time Kids are another street gang, which sounds like a cute name but, it's not really when you know about it. So, Mount Ninji is what Yolandi wants me to be and Da Nice Time Kid is what I want her to be, so when she said Mount Ninji and Da Nice Time Kid, I relaxed so much, I thought it was so epic and cute, and I thought it summed everything up perfectly.
There's this movie we're making called South African Ninja that we've been working on forever — literally like ten years — and we've just been finishing it off now. We actually finished writing it two days ago, and my best artist, who draws comics, Ashley Wood, he's turning it into a graphic novel. Then I wanna shoot the graphic novel like a storyboard, like Sin City kind of, how Rodriguez turned Frank Miller's book into a film. Me and Ashley are really inseparable now. He's someone I'm collaborating with all the time now. He's fucking amazing. The cover for Mount Ninji and Da Nice Time Kid album is like one of the last scenes from the film, so it all comes together.
We're busy with so many things as well. Like, this is our fourth album and the fifth album, we're releasing next year in September 2017 in a massive art exhibition, in Cape Town at the MOCAA (Museum of Contemporary Modern Art Africa), I actually found out that the first MOCA is from Canada. So, they're making a MOCAA museum in Cape Town and we're gonna do our final album — cos we've always said we're gonna do five albums only — but we're going to present everything as one big retrospect.
So, when you see the South African Ninja film — that's been our well that we've been drinking from and drawing stuff from since the beginning of Die Antwoord. We actually started writing it before Die Antwoord. So, it's been in the background for all of our ideas, which have all came from this film. It's a South African gangster film that has African ninjas in it. Everything in the film is fictitious, like a regular movie, but it's hard and raw, and everything in the film has some parallel to our lives, it's got a surreal connection to everything, it's really electric.
My favourite book in the world is Neuromancer by William Gibson. He's my hands-down, all-time fucking legend hero. I even got Ninja from Neuromancer. This rich family, they send a vat-grown ninja to go get a stolen artefact back in the book. They have a ninja in a vat that they just switch it on or whatever or take out now and again, to go run little errands for them and I was like, "Fuck, that's cool." The book is so beautifully written and everything, like ninja's are like... ninja's, whatever. And we were thinking like, what's the worst rap name out there, and we thought someone who thinks ninjas are still cool, like a grown man calling himself Ninja would be kind of ridiculous, so that's the name we went with.
We like unexpected shit, and often just what's funny to us. We're pretty much a combination of dark humour and insane skill, that's where we get our kick from. Like Chris Cunningham, the music video director, and Aphex Twin, they're a massive influence on us.
So, stuff like the "Come to Daddy" video?
Ya, Jesus. That felt like the first music video. Like, there were videos before that one and then there was "Come to Daddy." We often joke and say that was the first video ever made, like that changed it for us. Like, videos are cool when you check them out, but that video really fucks with you, you're like "What the fok! Jesus what just happened?!" It assaults your sense of reality.
It's really weird, cos music really fucks with your emotions, and like a little dose of a music video is like a really strange format. With a film, you can get into it and love it, with music you can listen to over and over again, but with music videos they're like this short little stab. What Chris did with his videos changed everything for us. That's hands-down the reason we make videos, cos we're on a level with videos and we know we are. We've shut down so many videos, expensive ones too. We went broke once, I think from doing "I Fink U Freeky," after we'd blown up. Well, not broke, but it was close. After we got our money we moved back to Africa for the first time in ages, we got a house and a car —which we'd never had before — and then we just carried on making music and just ignored everything that had happened. Then we just made "Fok Julle Naaiers" and sent it to Interscope, who were like "No, you can't use this."
They weren't happy with DJ Hi-Tek's part, right?
Ya, they didn't like that part. They didn't like anything. They said that we couldn't release it and that we couldn't say this and that and you can't say "faggot," but DJ Hi-Tek's gay and he said it; he can say what he wants. Even then they were like "No, even if he's gay, you can't say it," so we were just like "Fok you guys. We wanna break up with you. We hate you." And at the time, we had another 1.2 million bucks to make Ten$ion but we gave it all back to them, we wired it back, and left them forever. We've done everything on our own since then.
Then we tried to do "Freeky," we shot it a bunch of times and it just wasn't good. Like, it was ok, but it wasn't amazing and there was such a huge pressure because the song was so good. Then we ended up having like ten grand left and we spent it on the video, which was kind of cheap in comparison to some of them. Well like, "Enter the Ninja" was around $500, how funny is that? "Zef Side" was free, "Rich Bitch" was $30,000, but usually we spend like $30 to $50 thousand, which is so much money. Even if we have a certain amount of cash, we'll try make a video that costs ten times that much, like we always push. Then "Freeky" was one of our cheapest videos and one of the most beautiful, perfect things we've ever made. We're just on this level with videos, which pretty much comes from Chris Cunningham, straight up. He set the standard. And we're friends with him, which is fokken crazy.
Do you think you'll ever work with him?
I wish. I beg him all the time. He does stuff with us, but he's so insular, same with Aphex, who we're friends with too. They're such fokken geniuses, but they're so self-obsessed, like in a cool way. They're always doing stuff themselves. Chris is like a maniac who takes so long to do stuff. He'll tinker for ages. For instance, the "Ugly Boy" video we did, he did the Aphex mask for that, so we do stuff with him. Then that track has the Aphex sample too, that Richard said we could use.
In the video at the moment, Chris is doing a little secret something on, or this film that I'm making, the South African Ninja, I want Chris to do this one part of it. Not the whole thing, but a little section. So, we always chat about doing stuff together, but we're both of a similar breed, where we get flat-out absorbed with what we're doing and like collaborations for like fame-related things, like how fuckin' Drake does some shit with Rihanna or something, and it's more like you grab everyone's fans. We're not that kind of party, you know? It's more like another level of art. We make kind of pop music, really, but it's more like this weird high art kind of shit that lasts forever, not just a fad that will come and go.
Man, Chris is a fuckin' darling, and I wish I could work with him, but for now we just do little dibs and dabs here and there. He's a weirdo, he's so cool.
And I'm friends with friggin' William Gibson, I can't believe it. Our friend said he likes us and we were like "What?!" Now, every time I speak to him, I'm blown away. He's so stylish, even if he writes like an email, he just writes so cool. He'll write like four sentences and I'm like "Uhhhhhhhh." But he's so grim too, ole William. In an email, he sent me shit straight from the pages of Neuromancer and I was like "Ok, I can die now." It was like the nicest, coolest thing ever. I was like "Did he really say that? He didn't just say that. That's fokken insane."
Even when Chris said he liked our videos, I was like "Oh my god. That's impossible!" and when Aphex said he liked us we were like fokken shocked. When we first spoke to Chris, he said that the trippiest thing about the "Zef Side" video was that he couldn't tell if it was real or not and that it was fucking him up. In that video we're actually fucking around and joking on it, we weren't trying to make anything real or serious, we were just having fun, but with a high-level skill. It's totally from the school of Cunningham and Aphex Twin, they showed us that you can have insane level skill, insane music, and it can still be funny and sick and fokken cooler than anything in the world. So, we were like "We wanna do that," so we're massively influenced by them. And, of course, like '90s hip-hop and Yolandi loves rave. We're a real unusual blend of elements.
Aside from "Banana Brain" and a bit on "I Don't Care," there isn't really any rave tracks on the album like your previous records. Is there any reason you've decided to sound more like North American hip-hop?
It's funny, you said the same thing as the record label. The label said before that "There's not much rave on there," but on Ten$ion we had "Baby's On Fire" and "I Fink U Freeky," just two rave songs, and then on the first album we had "Wat Kyk Jy?" and "Beat Boy," two rave songs, and then on Donker Mag it was like "Pitbull" and "Happy Go Sucky Fucky," two rave songs. We dig rave, but then I love trap. We like all kinds of music. We also like experimental stuff. The only problem that we have is that we can be a bit schizo. Sometimes I'd like if we could find one zone and fuck with it, but it feels impossible.
To not be so schizo, we're gonna do other projects, and before we do the last Antwoord album, like at the same time, in a more singular way. I wanna try fuck with a solo album. We're doing a few things: Muggs is doing a solo album, and I'm doing this other thing. We're doing a few solo things, like side projects, well they're not side, we'll go fully into them, but they're singular sounds instead of all this crazy shit at once, you know? Die Antwoord is like a rap group, but there's elements of rave and trap.
So, what's the last album gonna sound like?
I'm not gonna tell you. I don't even know myself. Well actually I do know, but it's a surprise.
What about these side projects. Tell me about those.
I actually broke a promise: I said I wasn't gonna say anything about them and I ended up just talking about it cos I'm writing songs for it. We just want to like not say anything and then it'll just appear. We don't wanna advertise it or even fucking say that it's us. It'll just come out of the blue at some point. A whole bunch of shit will just drop, booooooooomsccccch.
I thought this album was a lot darker than your previous ones. Were you guys going through some dark times when you recorded it?
Ya. That's why the name of the album is kind of light, like a cute little epic triumph. We just make music about our lives, so obviously in two years we've gone through like weird shit. We moved to a new place to record, which was fokken weird. I don't really connect with any sort of reality here [in L.A.] other than the studio. America is so fokken organized, just like Canada, and I'm not used to it. It's almost like being in a fokken zen buddhist retreat the whole time.
At first it was difficult, but I turned around what was seemingly negative, cos all our music and all the art we make comes from a dysfunctional place and how do you operate in a place that's so functional? We'd go between South Africa and here, cos we have a house there and a little adopted family there, so we're kind of nomadic in a weird way cos we're either touring or we're recording here at Muggs' studio or we're shooting videos or whatever.
You go through a lot of things in two years, sometimes dark. At the end it came out of these dark places that you sometimes fall into in life.
There are themes of childhood and growing up throughout the album too. Was that intentional?
Ya, that's basically Yolandi being pretty open and vulnerable, which was really pretty. It was like this really precious thing.
I thought Jack Black was a strange person to see on there. How did that come about?
He came to our show once, in 2012. It was a Halloween show in Austin, TX. I think he was dressed as Popeye and someone said Jack Black and Jessica Alba wanna come to the show and was like "Who's Jessica Alba?" and they were like "It's the chick from Sin City" and I'm like "Oh shit. Ya, cool." So, then we finished the show and we saw them next to the stage and we were like stunned. So him and his wife came and spoke to us and they were just fuckin' sweethearts and we've just been homies since.
Then Yolandi wanted to do a soundtrack for her rat theme, that I didn't really understand at the beginning, but then it sunk in after a while. I also related to what she meant, heavily. Then she wanted to do this rat anthem, and then we started writing this thing, like a little musical, but like a trap musical. We really dig trap. Some trap songs I really like but sometimes it's boring and they regurgitate the same shit. You'll notice the people who tune in heavily to our music, we'll take existing stuff, that's even sometimes bad, or whatever bad means to you, and then flip it up and make it unusual.
Jack always comes to our shows, and we chill at his house and everything. He's really how you'd think he is. Sometimes you meet some famous people and they're not like how they are, but Jack is like Kung Fu Panda, he's like exactly the same. He's sweet and awesome and funny and dark and silly. So, we went to his house while we were writing the rat anthem and I was like "Why don't we get Jack to sing that?" and she was like "Oh, fuck ya."
It was so funny, I called him, drove to his house, phoned GOD and said can we come record some shit. Then we just wrote it in his kitchen and then we went into the living room and GOD came with some raw bedroom recording shit and then we did it right there. It was kinda like a sketch, so Jack came into the studio later to redo it and it was just nowhere close to how sick the living room recording was, so we just ended up using the original version. Then we did the rap stuff afterwards.
I kept redoing my shit. Yolandi raps so fokken well on that song and I had nothing, which I felt happened a lot of times on the album. Often we'll write stuff and Yolandi kicks her verse and I'm like "Aww, Jesus." I have to redo my shit cos she burns me. On this album it happened a lot, and her voice is so cutting, it's so amazing, it's like my favourite voice in rap. I really love Yolandi's voice, so it's hard to sit next to her, cos she's such a spectacular presence.
On this album, I wanted to use my own voice rather than fucking with characters and I leaned more into how I would normally speak and rap, instead of messing around with different accents and being all silly. Well sometimes I'm coming from a serious space, but my delivery is sometimes ridiculous. With this album, I kind of relaxed more into it. We were playing the album for this one chick, our publicist, who's really like a rap nerd, but she was like "Oh, who's this?" talking about "Daddy," cos she just assumed it was a guest spot, and I was like "That's me" and she was totally confused, but I thought it was cool cos it's really my own voice on this album.
Also, what happened on Donker Mag... it was so weird. On the first two albums me and Yolandi's voices while we were together, as a couple, at no one time would you ever hear our two voices together. It's so weird. Then when we broke up on Donker Mag, we suddenly did a whole bunch of songs where our voices would go together. And on this album there's a lot of stuff where our voices have practically merged. They go together easier when we're not together, it's the weirdest thing. While we were together, our voices never worked together, and then when we're apart they sit beautifully together.
It's strange how that works.
Ya. Like, I dig new stuff. I wasn't really into anything new for ages and the first part of 2010, the tens or whatever. But some stuff that has come out recently I really like. I like Drake's stuff, I thought he was different from what he is. I first heard "Started From the Bottom" in a club in Paris, and I was like "What the fokkkkk! Who the fok is this?" and everyone was like "This is Drake," and I couldn't believe it, I thought he was all about this soft R&B shit, but that song and the one that goes "Motherfucker" [ed note: our guess is he's talking about "Worst Behaviour"], so then I thought Drake was super ill.
Even the way that he beat Meek Mill in that battle, that was amazing. I mean, I've heard battle rhymes before, but I've never heard a battle rhyme that goes on high rotation, played every single day on the radio in Los Angeles, it's so funny. It's quite an amazing thing, I was like "Jesus, that is the ultimate fokken dis track," where your shit is on heavy rotation all the time, everywhere. So, I like that aspect. Although when I saw him live I thought it was boring as fuck, you know? It's not ill. Like, I dig ill shit. Something that's like sick, kind of hardcore and twisted and just like raw and no brains, that kind of stuff.
But then I get shocked sometimes, you know? Like, the Weeknd, who's also Canadian, I fokking looooove that shit. I like when he gets nasty, like "Often" and "The Hills" and "Earned It." The Weeknd's music, his beats, fokken hell, they fuck me up man.
Just the other day when we were driving with one of our dancers and she was playing this track, I only recently just heard it so I'm not even sure of the guy's name, it's Tory Lane or something.
Jesus. I was like "What the fok is this?" Then I listened to it again yesterday with Yolandi, and I thought the production sounded a lot like the Weeknd actually. The production and the beats are like this dark, sexy, surreal, trippy kind of R&B shit, but motherfuckin' that guy is iiiiiiilllll. I love that shit.
I feel so happy when I find something new that I can fuck with. So, how you do you say his name?
It's Tory Lanez.
Tory Lanez, he's a Canadian also, right?
Ya, that's right.
Mad, man. So, when you say North American hip-hop, that's where I come from basically. Like, where I'm from culturally, my culture is rap music. I've been rapping forever now. I'm from Africa staying in America, I'm in between the two, I'm an African American hip hop freak. I'm like super influenced by North American hip hop, always have been. I just wanna inject another accent and another style into it.
So, does the Weeknd and Drake and Tory Lanez sound Canadian? Is that like Canadian hip-hop?
I think it sounds pretty North American in general. I mean, certainly West coast American hip-hop sounds different, but a lot of the East coast stuff sounds similar to that.
The Weeknd's stuff for me, like his earlier stuff was kind of like Michael Jackson and all "La la la, love love love" and when he started doing nasty shit mixed with that style, I was like "Fokkkk." Those are literally some of the most beautiful beats I've ever heard in my life. And this Tory Lanez stuff is from the same kind of school or something. Kind of erotic, narcotic, fuckin' sexy R&B, that's also nasty. Sometimes R&B is nastier than rap music.
That's my favourite kind of shit man, when stuff is catchy and dark. I love weird pop, that's my favourite type of shit. When shit's like fucking strange and super catchy at the same time. Not like shit pop. The theme of pop for a while now has just been to inbreed and everyone copies everyone. Queen didn't copy anyone, ABBA didn't copy anyone and they're pop as fuck. Did the Beatles copy anyone?
I think they did.
They're probably influenced by people. Like, who do the Beatles sound like?
I'm not sure exactly, but I feel like they did copy someone at some point.
I mean, you can't really say the Beatles sound like a particular act or whatever. It's cool when influence is like slick. Do you know Daniel Johnston?
Ya, I do. He's a strange man.
He's fucking amazing. Like, Kurt Cobain was influenced by him, which is so weird. And Daniel Johnston is super influenced by the Beatles, but that's where the shit's like fucking dope. From the Beatles to Daniel Johnston to Kurt Cobain, that's cool, that's a dope influence. So, obviously we get influenced by shit, but the influence is invisible. We've always been influenced by North American hip-hop and now they're influenced by us [laughs].
Who is Lil Tommy Terror by the way?
I don't know if I can say. If his grandmother finds out who he is, she'll have a heart attack. Tommy Terror's dad said we can't say anything. It has to be like the biggest secret. He's only six years old.
Oh, he's only six? I thought he was at least 12.
I think he might be seven now, but he was six when we recorded that.
Did he write "Wings on My Penis"?
He did. He just draws penises on everything, dude. So, then I just turned that into a rap. He draws penises on menus and everything. Tommy's got a sick voice. So, I sat with him and wrote the song, and then we just did it line for line. I made him loop off my voice, so I'd be like "Yeah, motherfucker. Lil Tommy Terror" and then he'd do the same, "Yeah, motherfucker. Lil Tommy Terror," and we stuck it together, like how they did with Eazy-E. And then I was like "Awwww, this is sick." It's like the illest shit ever. But, ya, he's six.
You've experimented with characters in the past, like Max Normal, but do you think that because Die Antwoord is so big that you're now in this Ninja character that you'll be stuck with forever?
It started off with a character, like fucking with it, and next year is gonna be our final album, but Ninja was like this strange thing, like the way Ol' Dirty Bastard was a character or Slim Shady was a character or like Marilyn Manson was a character. Then a weird thing happens, cos it's a character but psychologically it's a part of your mind that you're too scared to be. People have their normal self and they have their secret self, like some kind of super self. Some people will grow a beard and put a turban on and change their to Harbajan or whatever. Elton John wasn't born Elton John and Marilyn Monroe wasn't born with her name. Max Normal was more like a look than a character, it was really just me rapping with a suit on.
But with the whole Ninja thing, it was a character I was fucking around with and I found so much release in it and then I just noticed... if people are perceptive, there's no Ninja character anymore. I don't rap with a voice or anything, it's just Ninja, like my Mom calls me Ninja.
It's almost like I put this suit on. Like, you know those Japanese mechs that you climb into? Those suits? It was like I bought the Ninja mech, and I was like "Fok, this is cool. I wanna ride around in this thing" and I climbed into this thing and I did the first album in it. Then I did the second album in it, and then I started thinking "I don't wanna rap in this suit anymore." Like, it's fucking awesome but I wondered what it would be like without it. Then on Donker Mag, I took it off, and then it's still off for Mount Ninji and Da Nice Time Kid and I had changed inside the suit, it was one of those suits that fuses with your DNA.
So, then when I took the suit off I wasn't the man I was before Die Antwoord and I'm not the Ninja I was during it, I'm another thing altogether... maybe Ninji now, like Mount Ninji is the guy that emerges from the suit. There's like my secret self, my hidden self, my fantasy self, your shadow self as it's called in different psychologies, or like yoga people would call it your super self or hyper self, in entertainment it's like your stage name.
The big word here is "become," which is a weird word for starters. The Dali Lama had this weird quote that was like "Everything you think, you become," and like, I thought of Ninja and somehow I was much more attracted to that than myself, but then I got instantly bored. I thought "I'm more this guy, who I'm writing about, than me," so I started wondering what the fuck I'd been doing all this time. I started experimenting with this Ninja thing and then became fucking Ninja.
But you don't feel like you're Ninja anymore? Not the Ninja you started with at least.
It was like the Ninja suit, now I'm just Ninja. Like, my birth name is Waddy, well it was actually Watkin. My momma called my Waddy, but my dad was Watkin. So, people would call me Waddy and then I started school and my teacher said "No your name is Watkin, like it said on my I.D." And I was like "My name's Waddy" but they were like "No, it says here that you're Watkin" and everyone laughed at me, like "Watkin, what a dumb fuckin' name" and I was crying and shit. Then I told my mom, so my mom went and changed my I.D. to Waddy. Now even if I hear the name Waddy or people refer to me as that, I don't really know who that is anymore. I only have this weird connection to the name, it sounds like this other person from some other world.
Like I was in this normal world and I was too scared to head out into the adventure, and then suddenly I got the call to adventure and I was like 'Fuck this, I'm going, I'm just gonna leave myself.' So, I left the normal world behind and headed into this unknown zone with all its trials and tribulations and dangers and rewards and everything. Once you're in there you can fucking lose your mind or you can win big time, but it's more dangerous than staying in the normal world. I left the normal world behind and I will return in September 2017.
So, do you think you lost your mind or won?
Oh, both. Dark side shit's weird, y'know. It's the reasons why me an Yolandi broke up, but it's also the reason why we made all this music and we're still super excited to see each other.
When I say side projects they're more like alternative universes, they're not really side projects, they're like other bombs that we're constructing. It's quite special and beautiful that Die Antwoord is like this limited edition experience for us, so it stays precious. Ten years, we started it in 2007 and in 2017 it will be ten years, which is fokken amazing. Then we'll present it as a giant, sick project.
We're collaborating with Roger Ballen on it. The art exhibition asked us to do it ourselves, and feature Roger Ballen in it, and we said that we didn't want to do that. We want Roger Ballen to present us, cos of all the influences we have, he's pretty much hands-down number one. The one who spawned us.
He's responsible for your style, right?
We are literally like his disciples, his visual disciples. We make music, he does visuals. We're his children. He's like our art master. He took the first ever photograph of us. He had little sketches on the walls in his drawings, and I drew them big on a piece of cardboard. His art is like his drawings mixed with children's drawings mixed with retarded people's drawing mixed with criminal art, and I started drawing them on our bodies and on clothing and on walls. he hadn't thought of putting his drawings on to people and clothes and doing it big. It was always like little details in the background.
Roger Ballen is pretty much a member of Die Antwoord, it would be safe to say. He's in our group. We're super close friends and we're always collaborating with him and it's all climaxing. That's why when I said we want to show a retrospect of our life's work, it has to be presented by him. We told the gallery, otherwise we won't do it.
So, it all ends on September 2017. Then what happens?
Secrets, secrets, secrets, I'm not telling you. We're doing South African Ninja right after that and all these other things we've got cooking, these little secret motherfuckin' projects.
So, are they going to be Die Antwoord projects?
You weren't listening, young man. Die Antwoord dies on that day. It's all over.
How do you feel about that?
I feel beautiful about it. How do you feel about dying one day?
I feel pretty scared about it.
I'm not scared of the end. I'm a Ninja, I'm not scared of death. Don't be afraid. Everything will be ok.
I've got your guarantee?
Thanks. I feel much better now.
Yolo brah. Drake said it. "Yolo."
And Drake's never wrong.
No way [laughs].
Ok, thanks so much for talking to me. I had a great time. Best of luck with your tour and living in LA, and the rest of your life, and disintegrating in a year's time. Best of luck with everything.
Thank you, sir. I appreciate it. Thanks for a fun chat. Peace, my man.