Desmond & The Tutus have been scare-crowing across the world’s stages with their unique; some might call it niche, brand of kwela-indie-punk for just on ten years. But to call it niche would be entirely missing the point, the Tutus are more shape-shifters than niche, their sound slotting comfortably between Thandiswe Mazwai and Hugh Masekela, as it did at the Soweto Heritage Fest in 2013, or between surf rocker’s Beach Party and synth mavens Gateway Drugs during the Puma Happy Holiday in summer 13/14.
The Tutus’ have also toured extensively internationally, opening on their 2009 UK tour for The Vivian Girls, The Soft Pack and Women. They played at one of the last, and legendary Optimo parties at The Sub Club in Glasgow and somehow managed to sell out their first European headliner at Vanner och Bekanta in Stockholm. They’ve also played among Johnny Clegg, The Mahotella Queens, and Blk Jks at the South African themed Rio Loco in Toulouse, France in 2010. As an intern trying to put together a blurb on deadline you could probably just say something like “Desmond & The Tutus have sold out shows all over the globe, including Japan, France, Sweden and the UK”, I mean if you don’t want to go into the whole how-do-I-trim-that-mass-of-info-down panic.
Forming in 2005, it took until 2008 for Shane, Nick, Craig and Doug to get their act together and release their debut album Tuckshop, which was loved for its home record vibe more than it was a commercial success. Around this time they also had two releases on Japanese labels, Flake Records and Every Conversation.
Shortly after this they released an EP entitled & The. In 2008 Parisian label, Tigersushi released a 12” of Kiss You On the Cheek.
Closer to home, or rather right at home, the Desmonds have played for deaf people at Joburg’s Bassline, where there was a vibrating dance floor and interpretive dancer and, according to Craig, “a deaf person who stole my bag that night.” Let’s not get into that. Early in 2014 they performed at Kirstenbosch to a bunch of young people who were about 5 years old when the band was formed. That’s scary. Desmond & The Tutus are kak old. They remind a lot of people about that one time in first year. But that didn’t stop Shane from leaping off the stage a couple of years ago at the I Love Soweto Party at Orlando Bowls Club and participating in some kind of weird dance off. That’s just how they roll.
In 2012 the band worked with Los Angeles¬ based producer, Eric Broucek, and their 2nd full length album entitled MNUSIC was released in July of 2012. The first three singles from the album all charted on the 5FM Top 40. Most notably, the 2nd single Zim Zala Bim reached No. 1 on the 5FM Top 40.
Desmond & The Tutus basically have not done too badly in ten years. This you, as an intern, or even editor, on a deadline, should take note of. It’s notable. People LIKE this band, whether it’s because their music is cheeky and infectious and jangly (but not too jangly) or it’s because they spin around the stage as if their limbs are coming off, yowling like Big Foot in the Canadian wilderness, or because they like to dress up at Halloween and are pretty serious about their costumes. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, yes they did that. Four Ali G’s. Check. The Parlotones. Check.
People who like them have also said very nice things about them. Here are some of those things:
“handmade-with-love “kwela punk”” – Mahala
“the best party I’d had in ages” – JHB Live
“A band with a personality larger than life” – indiedoesit.co.za
“A distinctively South African sound” – SA Promo magazine
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