interview: the khanz
Over a warm beverage in The Rocks I caught up with The Khanz’s front man Themba and multi-instrumentalist Kat. I wanted to find out what they’ve been up to (musically) since Lipmag first interviewed them back in November. A lot it turns out, as they’ve been in a constant state of writing new songs, recording and gigging. Last month Prescription Culture’s music clip came out and I wanted to find out more about it and ended up learning the sushi dance along the way.
Themba: It was a long editing process (to create Prescription Culture) that took around six months. Someone came to us with an idea for it and it went from there. They felt our style already and had seen us develop as a band.
It was the first music video that Kat has been in since joining the band and it celebrates a new chapter for the Khanz that Themba says “marks where we are musically at. It’s got the feel that we’re aiming for. The cool thing is that she (Kat) was there from the start. She was there as an extra in the first clip. In the crowd scene” and her one year anniversary of joining the band is fast approaching.
Kat: Prescription Culture is a bit more intricate than the first film clip and really shows the progression of the band.
Themba: We really feel that we are in our stride and all of our band members fit our vibe. Our aim is to write music that we like to listen to, that’s fun and that people can come and have a good time to, while having a good dance. We’ve always been focused on getting the girls to dance in our audience. The guys are too concerned about what the girls are doing. But the guys will take their lead from the girls. That’s our goal. To get the girls having fun and the guys in the audience will follow. Of course they don’t have to dance, but it takes it from a good night to a great night.
Kat: We like dancing. If your fans are having so much fun, then their energy will spread to the band and then we as want to top it.
Themba: Like energy tennis. Hopefully by the end you have a good match.
I ask about their upcoming gigs and what they’ve been recording.
Kat: We have four songs under our belt. We’re going into the recording studio again next week for a single.
Themba: It’s important to get the recorded songs to ride on the back of the gigs. We’re playing more shows, but the recording side of it is very important. It’s a line to keep people interested. If we haven’t recorded anything for six months then it’s a worry.
Kat: We try to strive to have a great live show as well as great recordings. It’s important to keep both at the same high level. There’s nothing worse than one letting the other down.
Themba: It’s hard to capture that live atmosphere when you’re recording because there’s no audience to feed off to bring out that fun vibe. It’s easy to get caught up in the technical side, but I love watching it slowly build up into an epic symphony during the recording process.
Kat: It also helps that we work with an amazing team. They all believe in the band and they become your family.
I asked them how they feel about being called Afro-Pop?
Themba: We like the Afro pop thing. But ultimately we don’t want to be boxed into a genre. We just play what we like. Beyonce does this and I love Beyonce. I’m probably one of the only indie guys who will admit this. She has never really been boxed in.
Kat: She has such a great range. And she can dance.
I ask about Kat’s background.
Kat: I was in Musical Theatre when I was really young and did acting, singing, dancing and was in another band before The Khanz. I Love performing.
Themba: She dances her socks off!
Kat: I try to do some choreography when I can. Ballerina Katerina comes out in some songs when I perform. The music is so catchy that I couldn’t not dance to it. Then the audience joins in. The boys in the band ‘party dance.’ You know, the jumping up and down.
Themba: Jumping and shaking their heads. Guys don’t know what to do with their hands. They keep the dice throwing. I like the sprinkler. We need to bring these retro moves back.
Kat: Like the sushi. Roll it and then you chop it.
They do a demo of some awesome moves (not like this), before we move on to chatting about women in bands.
Themba: I think we need more strong front women in bands.
Kat: There’s a lot of solo female artists, but I think there’s a lack of strong women in more ‘rocky’ bands. So, it’s nice to be the token girl in the band. Hayley (Williams) from Paramour is amazing. She’s a firecracker. She’s a tiny girl with the biggest range and the biggest belt. I want to take it to the next level. If she can do it, so can I. Also, if I had half the attitude of Yolandi…
I ask about getting nervous before a performance.
Kat: It’s good to get nervous. Otherwise you think you’re too good for it. If you get too cocky it will not work out. Just a little bit of the butterflies is always good but stage fright is bad because you freeze.
Themba: As soon as you get onstage you go into the zone and it’s like a ride. Especially if it’s a really big crowd.
Kat: I think it helps having Themba as the front man because he’s got the charisma. I catch it. Then the other two boys catch it. We’re not trying to have on stage personas. It’s just us being us.
Themba: The only thing we want is to have a good time.
Kat: The biggest satisfaction from a gig is someone saying thank you. Or dancing. Or singing along.
Themba: It gives you chills when they’re signing along.
I couldn’t agree with Themba and Kat more. Music should be about playing and dancing and having fun together. We’ve been chatting for quite a while and unfortunately it’s time to leave.
Oxford Art Factory, 30th of June. supporting Set Sail
UNSW Roundhouse, 26th of July, UNSW’s 63rd Birthday
Bondi Pavillion. 28th of July. Winter Music Festival
UTS Music Festival, 10th of August, supporting Bluejuice
The Khanz: The name came about from the movie Mongol about the rise of Genghis Khan. In German it sounds like a naughty word and in Arabic it means King. They still look back on the name choice as being a good one. It has also given them a massive facebook following from Pakistan.