MiNNAAR is an explosive and long-overdue musical collaboration between brother and sister Louis and Magdalene MiNNAAR. The super-talented siblings have been brooding over this symbiotic project for many months, engrossed in the crafting of their dramatic lyrics, soaring melodies and crunching beats. Not being governed by any specific genre, MiNNAAR’s music weaves an electronic beat tapestry with various styles of vocals, creating an enchanting fusion of epic dance-inspired operatic ballads. MiNNAAR is not a band in pandemonium: the vocal range in their song ‘pandora’ and the hypnotic beat intro on ‘safe and sound’ is proof of their musical talent. Dudumalingani Mqombothi interviews the brother and sister duo.

As a brother and sister collab… When did the collaborating actually begin?
We’re always made music together – playing in children’s eisteddfods and culture evenings… but the most memorable is our annual Christmas show that we put on for our parents. We rehearsed during the entire December holiday to produce a little musical revue with us playing all sorts of instruments and singing Christmas songs. We record it each year and design a cover and give it to our parents as gift.

What is your first memory of music?
M: I started music lessons when I was three.
L: I use to listen to Andrew Loydd Weber on my parent’s tape player and lie on the couch and feel emotional. I was six.

How did you land up with using your surname for the band’s name – any meaning behind it?
MiNNAAR means ‘lover’ in Afrikaans. Jaco (from Bittereinder) actually suggested we use it as our name. We just thought that seeing that it is our surname – and us being a sibling duo – that it is quite apt.

Who does what in the band?
Louis does all the compositions and all the production on the songs. Magdalene writes the lyrics and does vocals.

How would you NOT describe your music?
Afrikaans rap

How has the public reaction been to MiNNAAR so far?
It’s been great – we didn’t really except such an overwhelming response from so many different ‘listeners’ – everyone from opera lovers to hipsters to the young and old. It’s quite cool and unexpected.

MiNNAAR, Photo: Louis Minnaar & Christo Jansen Niemandt

Music genres are getting remixed and other genres stem from it: some defined and others undefined: Where does MiNNAAR fit?
We don’t write music with a specific genre in mind and we are quite careful not to try and emit a certain sound. We simply write what comes from our pens at that moment. But essentially there will always be a strong undercurrent of the type of electro we both love, and also an element of opera, as Magdalene is a classically trained singer, even though that doesn’t always come out in her delivery.

Also – the text for us is important as opposed to churning out catchy beats with nonsense lyrics.

When is the full album coming out?
We currently have 2x 5-track EP’s out (Volcano and Safe and Sound - downloadable from here for free) and working on the next one already. Once we have our planned 4 EP’s we’ll probably select the highlights to go onto an album of sorts.

You released the EP for free. Why? Will the album be free as well?
We want to share our music with the world – and what better way of doing it than giving it away for free at the click of a button?

Do you feel that the gig is now the new album when it comes to making any money? Due to the way that internet has changed not only distribution but also the consumption of music.
If you play a lot of gigs, then yes, maybe. It is tough making money off album sales if you are not selling a very commercial product, especially hard copy albums.

Right now it is not about the money for us. We have our jobs, we just love making music together.

Which artists would you like to work with?
We haven’t really collaborated widely, except for the Bittereinder boys. Then we are planning to do some more work with Yesterday’s Pupil (a little collab EP). In a perfect world it would be amazing to collab with the likes of Bjork and Trent Reznor. I actually tried emailing Trent one night in a weird state but I somehow don’t think he got it.

Something you feel could be addressed in South Africa in order to push things forward when it comes to new ideas, new music and artists… ?
Yes, if people stop following international trends and keep looking elsewhere for inspiration then there might be more original South African sounds popping up all around and less of the same on the radio.

Many South African rock bands leave the country and seek better opportunities overseas, are you considering this or are you happy here?
We are quite happy doing things the way we are and don’t have any intention of moving anytime soon. We are both busy with our day-to-day creative outlets and somehow we are finding the opportunities to make things work in this beautiful country of ours.

Now that Spring is here… Where will you find you?
L: I can be found in PTA in my studio pushing keyframes and killing pixels.
M: I’m busy with two productions that are opening at the Aardklop Kunstefees – both very exciting projects involving awesome music and quite ground-breaking theatre.

Find MiNNAAR on:

interview: Dudumalingani Mqombothi
images: Louis Minnaar and Christo Jansen Niemandt