Die Antwoord's US debut at Coachella

Ninja and Yo-Landi of Die Antwoord sat down with me for an interview with Xeni after the South African rap-rave band's first-ever US performance at Coachella.

By Xeni Jardin

Ninja and Yo-Landi of Die Antwoord sat down with me for an interview just after the South African "rap-rave" band's first-ever US performance at the Coachella music festival. The duo spoke about their explosive, internet-fueled burst to fame, and about the origins of their "car crash music" (it's disturbing, but you can't look away) by way of District 9 and an anarchic internet and music subculture in post-Apartheid South Africa.

I'm told this is the only interview Die Antwoord granted during their US visit. Our conversation originally streamed live as part of the Los Angeles Times / Brand X magazine Coachella Oasis Webcast.

After the jump, a gallery of photos from their Coachella performance, shot by Dave Bullock (eecue).


Photos of Die Antwoord live at Coachella, below: Dave Bullock (eecue)









More Boing Boing video here. Links to fan-shot videos of Die Antwoord's performance at Coachella: user allisongeddie's clips parts 1, part 2, and part 3; and here are many more uploads by other fans in the audience.

THANKS: Eric Mittleman; David Burns, Scott Dallavo, and Richard Metzger of the Los Angeles Times and Brand X Magazine; Mazy Kazerooni and the UStream.tv team; Philip Nelson, Rex Olson and colleagues at Newtek, makers of the Tricaster live video production system on which this was recorded and produced; Diane Coetzer and Jay Savage; Syd Cohen and the office of Joel Zimmerman at WME; and Allison Geddie, whose video of Die Antwoord performing live at Coachella is briefly excerpted in this episode.

(PHOTO in video still: Clayton Cubitt)

WATCH VIDEO: YouTube, or download MP4.

Published 7:01 am Wed, Apr 21, 2010

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About the Author

Boing Boing editor/partner and tech culture journalist Xeni Jardin hosts and produces Boing Boing's in-flight TV channel on Virgin America airlines (#10 on the dial), and writes about living with breast cancer. Diagnosed in 2011. @xeni on Twitter. email: xeni@boingboing.net.

85 Responses to “Die Antwoord's US debut at Coachella”

  1. lewis stoole says:

    am i crying?

    this is an awesome interview!

  2. Anonymous says:

    The guy in the middle of the crowd shot wearing the red t-shirt looks a bit mif about it all. Maybe he just realised he left the bath water running.

  3. jeligula says:

    I still think they look horribly inbred.

  4. Marcel says:

    Wow Xeni! If grapes are obviously that sour in the blogosphere, it may be time to break out the gangster beer.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Nice work BB. We’ve been following (and loving) Die Antwoord since we found them here (on bb) several months ago. What was especially nice is that our suspicions about them being intense, at peace with their grimy but futuristic culture, and obviously very thoughtful people were confirmed by Xeni’s interview. Congrats. (and here’s to post-gaga!).

  6. Anonymous says:

    I just found the proof that they are indeed the real deal! Although I rather concentrate on Die Antwoord as a band. This band will became really big in the next 2 years I bet…It’s not an act, its actually who they really are…check this video in the article if you disagree with that folks: http://www.dieantwoordzeflings.com/en/news/die-antwoord-video-with-answers-all-zeflings-have-been-waiting-for/ so cool!

    • Anonymous says:

      it’s an act. ninja’s been doing it for some time. he was known as max normal at some stage. he basically lives his character. method acting in extreme.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Very nice pics Boing Boing! Will you take me with you next show? ;) Found another cool site with lots of pics and extra info btw here: http://www.dieantwoordzeflings.com Very much fun for the fans like me!! Go Ninja!!!

  8. Anonymous says:

    DJ Hi-Tek is a highly-respected South African producer/musician by the name of Justin De Nobrega aka Seven Ark aka The Considerate Builders Scheme aka a member of defunct Cape Town band Unit R. De Nobrega does not fit any of the stereotypes being satirized by Die Antwoord, nor is he interested in maintaining a character for the media/hype-machine. He makes wicked tunes and keeps a low profile. The ‘teddy bear’ is simply being used to maintain the ‘zef’ factor.
    Check out his other projects, great soulful music that deserves an audience!

  9. I AM A LASER says:

    It was history happening right before our eyes. See my backstage video and Ninja story here:http://bit.ly/dxSZVW – I snuck backstage for fours hours just to see this all go down. Turns out I was standing right next to Xeni as we rocked out to the Zef Level!

  10. circusvoltaire says:

    Waddy Jones, Max Normal, and Ninja –
    read the great ALL OF MY LOVE interview on the archived (hidden) old Max Normal site – He’s a smart cookie and they are having the time of their lives laughing at those of you who have forgotten how and laughing with any of us who care enough to remember! It’s THE ANSWER after all!


  11. Anonymous says:

    Try and find the album Watkin Tudor Jones Jnr. – Memoirs of a clone. I believe it is his first album from back in 2001.

  12. TheNipponese says:

    Gummo’s my favorite movie.

  13. Anonymous says:

    I’m going to paste pretty much verbatim what my SA mate sent to me talking about Die Antwoord, which filled in a few of the cultural blanks for me:

    “kwaai ouens! (cool, guys) lekker to hear from you.

    interesting how die antwoord has exploded within a really short time. it’s cool to view him juxtaposed to jack parow for example, who claims to be from the same part of town: other side of the “boerewors curtain”, or the northern suburbs of cape town. as francois van coke from fokofpolisiekar and van coke cartel said: the bellville rock scene has unfortunately become “cool” in itself, which is wrong – a fuckup. but it is understandable that suburbia offers little other than drinking, screwing, malls for entertainment. and so kids can get round to jamming as a catharsis. so parow and die antwoord are in a sense 3rd generation wave of muso’s hailing from that neck of the woods that is regarded as the boring as fuck middle class trap.

    checked [your] links now, and was amazed at the parallels to what i wanted to say, how they are pretty well informed, and one of the comments gets it exactly:

    “Think about the history that makes something like Die Antwoord possible: African music that came to America with slavery, evolved through Blues, Jazz, Funk, Soul, Rap and Hip-Hop, and then globalized through modern technology, returning to Africa, and collided with modern South Africa, in all her gritty ambivalence, to create Zef. Full circle.

    Rap and politics have always been intertwined. On the surface, it may look like Die Antwoord are poking fun at their local rednecks/chavs/neds, but look closer, and you will see serious race, class and political power issues. Good stuff.”

    both jack parow and antwoord are loaded with the issues. 1 omission is that “doos dronk” (raging drunk, whihch doesn’t capture the profanity) also gets into gender issues, deomstic violence. the first time i heard it it was a little hard to listen to, slightly offensive even to me. but like eminem one must take it all with a ladle of salt. it’s in jest, but also social commentary. excellent collaboration between fokofpolisiekar (fuckoff police truck obviously), jack parow (a truly shitty suburb with an unhealthy abundance of scummy Zefs) and Die antwoord. and make sure to check out parow’s “cooler as ekke” (cooler than me). it’s so full of sterotypes and cultural nuances that it is hard to explain it all, but funny as fuck. and it’s liberating to laugh at ones self. huge in the afrikaans psyche – the search for our identity as modern africans who no longer associate with the okes who faught blacks on the one side and the british on the other….does it make sense?

    know nothing of leon botha. it makes local culture more interesting!

    also insightful (cos i know only about MN’s existence, never followded their stuff, was out of the party scene already – too much coke and attitude for my liking):

    “Max Normal and Max Normal.TV are two different projects with only Watkin Tudor Jones being in both of them. Max Normal was a band with a mean-riff playing bassist, an actual live Japanese drummer playing drums and loop samples (often at the same time), DJ Sibot (later from Constructus Corporation and The Real Estate Agents) and Jones. Max Normal.TV was an audiovisual live multimedia mashup featuring DJ Hi Tek, Yo-Landi Vi$$er, Jones and random collaborators.

    Every project Waddy’s been involved with has had a distinctive concept that ties in with the music, the lyrics, the visual presentation and perception. The bigger picture is always a performance art piece. It’s always brilliantly constructed and authentic. At the heart of it lies truth and sincerity. Who cares whether it’s real or not.””

  14. I AM A LASER says:

    Here’s how that night looked from the other side – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X0bz830qOZY

  15. sarahmayscott says:

    great interview xeni, and thanks for introducing me to such a cool act. you are so on with the remark about how unexpectedly they grab you. they did.

  16. agnot says:

    Ninja and Yo-Landi,

    Those “friends” you get when you become popular, aren’t friends.


  17. Anonymous says:

    OK OK, take it from a South African… they are being ironic. very. that’s one of the biggest criticisms against them here — their act is pretty contrived. Still very funny though!

  18. Himelfarb says:


    I had to see it to believe it

  19. I AM A LASER says:

    Also -how come no one who interviews Die Antwoord asks about why the DJ Hi-Tek you see in all live concert videos and at Coachella is definitely not the cute teddy bear DJ Hi-Tek we see in the first few videos, as well as photo shoots, posted back in February? What da deal man!

  20. Goofball Jones says:

    I don’t even know what Coachella is!

    Nah just kidding, what is it, like a bus or something?

  21. Anonymous says:

    I’ve only just now started looking at this Die Antwoord thing, and I have no clue as to whether they’re being ironic or not, if this is all a put-on or not. From their videos, their Web site, I see no wink-wink. Only people here claiming they’re being ironic.

    So then, I have to ask the most basic postmodern question: At what point does ironic production become simply more of what whatever is being satired?

    If the viewer isn’t in on the joke (*raises hand*), then the production is indistinguishable from what it’s ironically parodying, then the producers are simply being more of what they’re commenting on.


    • loonquawl says:

      To answer your question, you would first have to formulate the message that you think may or may not be ironic.
      They do some talking, talk-singing, singing and we see them lounging, sitting, standing and dancing. Those actions are real (as opposed to CGI) They are, and work with, professional artists. They do not live in squalor. They are acutely aware of what they dress in. They use interview-like settings to underline their avatars’ character.
      If any of the above was not immediately clear to you from seeing ‘Enter the Ninja’ & one interview, you might consider taking basic media awareness/competence classes, as it is likely our media-based culture might affect you to your detriment. Also, look into the work of the artist known as Watkins Tudor Jones/Max.Normal.

  22. Gilgongo says:

    Christ. I’m 43 years old now, and there’s so much in Die Antwoord that reminds me of my time in 80’s Detroit, 90’s Berlin and in fields in the middle of some rain-soaked hell hole in Essex on wizz almost 20 years ago.

    Was it supposed to happen like this? I mean, they’re great entertainment and all, but am I going to be listening to this when I’m 60? Maybe I don’t understand anything about music and culture after all, because it sure looks like it.

  23. Matt Staggs says:

    Silly Boingers. When the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie – that’s Coachella.

  24. dearsina says:

    I was at the concert, and it was, well, interesting. Some people had no idea what they’d gotten themselves into, but even those of us who specifically came to see them were taken aback by the sheer absurdity of it all.

    Their popularity stems almost exclusively from that first “interview” video that was shot of them, a video so brilliantly done, you can watch the whole thing over and over and still not be sure if they’re being genuine or if it’s meant as a farce. This is the genius of Die Antwoord. If they manage to keep this balance, there is a future for them, if they take themselves too seriously, they have a lot of work to do to keep their music relevant.

  25. FrankHardy2550 says:

    I see these 2 at the Gardens Center in Cape Town ALL THE TIME. They friggin live there ekse! Yo-Landi must be about 4 feet tall, max. Cute little daughter too, hope she doesn’t have as foul of a mouth as her mother!!

  26. Delicious Br@!ns says:

    Where can you buy Die Antwoord’s debut CD? I’ve searched for it everywhere, and I really don’t want to resort to converting the streaming content on their site to mp3. They were cool enough to provide the whole album for listening, and I’d feel miserable in cheating them out of a few well deserved bucks

  27. Anonymous says:



  28. Anonymous says:

    His accent sounds put on to me, but her accent sounds very authentic, especially on her Afrikaans words. I know lots of people in SA who speak exactly like that.

  29. Jack Daniel says:

    Down to earth, yet out of this world.

  30. agentengram says:

    I am sorry but I cant help but liking these two. They really are consistent with their basic goodness.

  31. 5ynic says:

    I understand the guy’s not speaking with his born accent (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Watkin_Tudor_Jones) but it’s what it is, and it’s good. We need this.

  32. bluefelix5 says:

    I don’t really see any reason to believe these guys are being consciously ironic. I think they just are that, um, bad. But whatever, the songs are fun. :)

    • Anonymous says:

      Oh dear oh dear. Ninja’s real name is Watkins Tudor Jones, he lives in a nice suburb in Cape Town – its completely ironic, subversive pastiche and its bloody fantastic!!

    • Anonymous says:

      Believe me they are being consciously ironic. You’ll quickly understand it if you hear Max Normal’s earlier stuff. But most of the humour you can only really get if you’re from South Africa and even in South Africa most people don’t “get” it.

      Even their accents are fake. Their outfits, the tattoos, the hairstyles.. the in-character interviews.. The location where they filmed the initial “interview” and shot the photos for their website.. It is brilliant. ;)

      (which is not to say that there aren’t people like that. well.. not exactly. They are obviously exaggerating even the worst of zef culture.)

  33. Anonymous says:

    Top tip Xeni: sit to one side next time so there’s less swinging of the mic from one side to the other and asking interviewees to repeat themselves!

  34. Anonymous says:

    To BlueFelix..

    I read on their WIki page that this is this guys like 4th incarnation. So that would lead one to think this guy knows what’s up and is in on the comedy of it all.

  35. zish says:

    I’m seeing some of the dumbest comments here! Get your stories straight before you post.

    A Coachella is a small gastropod. Although more closely related to the common garden snail, it bears a similar appearance to the nautilus. The shell has two dark, circular markings that bear a resemblance to human eyes. (Scientists originally speculated that these markings were defensive, similar to a moon moth’s wings. New research seems to suggest that their function serves more for hunting prey, which may be drawn to their sparse emptiness.) It has been found in waters south of the Aleutian archipelago, as well as Tea Party rallies.

    Despite what anyone else in here tells you, it is not a common component of -any- Mexican or Italian dish (especially Mexican).

    Do your research before you post!

  36. strumpet windsock says:

    Some of you might be thinking of Kuchella, which is a caribbean hot mango chutney. I prefer Chief’s to Matouk’s, but both brands taste great.

  37. Trotsky says:

    America is not big enough to contain the next level awesomeness of Die Antwoord. We still need several years to prepare.

    I’ve been dutifully listening to $O$ each and every day for the past several months(?) in order to do my part. These guys are going to play LA this summer? I’m there.

  38. Counterglow says:

    Sorry, but “Coachella” was the second-from-left uncredited groupie/chorus member in the original Rocky Horror Show.

  39. I AM A LASER says:

    Thank you Anon (#49) That is a huge chunk of info I never see on the Die Antwoord Interwebs machine. Here is The Considerate Builders Scheme Myspace page – http://www.myspace.com/theconsideratebuildersscheme

    Looks like he does not hype at all his involvement with Die Antwoord? The “Teddy Bear” in the vids then is the “fake” Dj Hi-Tek. An Actor? Dang! His presence added to that allure of them rising up against all odds, which I’m sure they did, a guy who has a PC computer and lives with his granny.

  40. Goofball Jones says:

    Coachella is that new taco-thing at Taco Bell isn’t it?

    No, that’s the Crunchella…or am I thinking of something else. Or did I dream that?

    (get’s Taco Bell on the phone…)

  41. Anonymous says:

    God, they’re so awesome. I’ve been listening to Enter the Ninja on loop for the last 2 weeks. I want to learn to swear in Afrikaans!

  42. Marcel says:

    O that’s brilliant Xeni! I was so hoping you would post the video of their interview.
    Thank you, and thank you again for bringing their existance to my attention.

    Haha, Yolandi said they were slampamping in America.
    A slampamper means a lazy person. But they were quite busy.

  43. Crashproof says:

    It’s a water-borne illness.

  44. jeligula says:

    Honestly, was that guy going for the GG Allin tattoo look? Because he has a nice start.

  45. jonathan levy says:

    Where’s the much discussed tattoo on Ninja’s back? It doesn’t seem to be there in the photo of the stage dive.

    Do they have their own anthem for the World Cup? I’m sure it would be interesting.

    • CLe4R says:

      It’s probably not there because it was so lame that reality deleted it. Hopefully the rest of the band will follow. Perhaps I’m missing the point. They’re supposed to be ironic, right? And so is the interview, I’m guessing?

  46. ciacontra says:

    Nope, it’s a kind of pasta shaped like a Klein Bottle.

  47. Rexatron5000 says:

    I have HUGE admiration for these guys. Taking it all the way is not easy. It’s easily as entertaining as the Gorillaz, Kiss, the Monkees, GWAR, or the Banana Splits- so I could not care less about how “real” they are. It’s a blast. I hope they keep blasting as long as possible and get even bigger budgets for their wonderfully twisted videos.

  48. Anonymous says:

    Aw they seem genuinely sweet. I totally agree with them about racism being “hidden” in places like the U.S., and seemingly worse as it continues to exist but goes mostly unspoken. Keep it next level, Die Antwoord!!!

  49. MrsBug says:

    I thought it was the down-market version of Coach footwear and handbags being sold at Target.

  50. Dondi says:

    Pretty wise, pretty funny.
    I like the cut of their jibs. (Ribs?)

    But sadly, unless that much mooted 2011 album brings something pretty special to the table, I just can’t see them stretching this SA chav schtick into a career. Basically, an exotic internet meme got a summer-long global reality pass that’ll be revoked almost as fast as it was issued once people’s staggeringly low tolerance for unlistenable comedy GangstaRave records is revealed.

    I wish ‘em all the best because they genuinely look like they could care less about global super stardom, but they’re basically just Aqua for our post-Gaga world.
    (Christ, I can’t believe I just typed post-Gaga world).

  51. Anonymous says:

    Where is DJ Hitek? He’s the cutest! Watch the first videos again, he’s a bashful giant.

  52. Enormo says:

    No, no. It’s a street legal form of synthetic marijuana. Similar high. More abdominal cramping.

    • Anonymous says:

      MORE abdominal cramping?

      You need to change your source of cannabis. REAL cannabis relieves cramping.

      As for DIe…. I rather think they will. Suck stupid music…. clueless attitude and foul language. NEXT PLEASE!

  53. neljmar says:

    Xena needs a second Mic. It’s heartwarming to see people so non-hollywood with a little fame

  54. Anonymous says:

    Yo-Landi is beyond next level. She’s the fucking final boss.

  55. ebdus says:

    Yo-Landi is beyond next level. She’s like, the FInal Boss.

  56. neuralien says:

    I wish they would keep their next album in Afrikaans instead of English. That’s one of things I like the most about them.

  57. Anonymous says:

    An interesting writeup from a local newspaper: http://www.mg.co.za/article/2010-04-23-die-antwoord-are-god

  58. Anonymous says:

    If you like something, then it is good,
    -at least for you.
    if something makes you laugh, then it is fun,
    -at least for you.
    if you’re anxious whether you got the joke or not,
    or if there was one, then you are sad and boooring.
    if you don’t think one could have fun with things and say serious things at the same time, then you are sad and boring with very limited brain-capacity.

  59. wrybread says:

    I just watched that video twice and, oddly, I could probably watch it again… And then I found this gem of them singing one of their songs in a taxicab in South Africa.

  60. bubbagrump says:

    real, fake, who gives a fuck? that shit is brilliant.

  61. ahab says:

    Please no flames. I think they’re brilliant. I really do like them and their music but I tend to look at them more as a performance artist. Like a Laurie Anderson, Grace Jones or David Byrne, etc. Right now they just now found their niche and what excites people.

    The reason I say this is because of the interview with Xeni (that they’re really in to visuals, art, cartoons, films, and shocking people). Also I you watch these links I think it shows pretty much the same thing.


    They’re weird and I love it!!!! I wish them much success.

  62. Anonymous says:

    Haha, Waddy’s (Ninja) accent slips a bit when he’s talking about Techno. A bit of South African Enlish peaking through there. Well, his name is actually Watkin Tudor Jones Jr, that’s not your typical Afrikaans name!

  63. Manooshi says:

    Awesome pics and vids, Xeni!

    I’m gonna get to rock to the Zef side level shit this summer with Die Antwoord (and M.I.A.) at the Los Angeles State Historic Park! I can’t wait! Woohoo!!!

    P.S. I wish I could helicopter my junk in Pink Floyd boxers. Fuckin’A! Freud was right about penis-envy after all! Shit, man!!

  64. seminal says:

    boingboing is an insidious A.D.D. trap at the heart of an insidious A.D.D. trap – the internet? Either that or it’s a celebration of it. Or a creative outlet for consumers of media culture.
    Anyway, it’s A.D.D. heaven and it’s A.D.D. hell. Smiley-Winkey.

  65. Anonymous says:

    At last, a South African Goldie Lookin’ Chain!

  66. Anonymous says:

    What’s wrong with that guy in the red shirt?

  67. Anonymous says:

    As a former hater, I’m pleased to eat humble pie. Hidden (barely-concealed?) depths … Definitely worth watching to the end.

  68. ytrewq says:

    They have just announced the line up for Big Day Out in NewZealand and Die Antwoord is on the bill.http://www.95bfm.com/

  69. Anonymous says:


  70. turquoisekid says:

    amazing concert photos.. and that was a great interview.. very cool and laid back and friendly.. i love hearing the metaphors they seem to be constantly inventing on the spot.. so creative and fun. cant wait to hear the new stuff they drop with the childrens choir etc..

  71. Anonymous says:

    This is one of the reasons I love being South African :)

  72. lewis stoole says:

    awesome interview! i am glad to hear that the ninja is about serving the people and not out to destroy it by command of the imperial forces. hopefully d.a. will find a symbiant capable of wielding this alien machinery without destroying it in the process.

  73. Mitch says:

    Yolandi is a 21st century mullet goddess.

  74. Anonymous says:

    the whole true story here, Xeni are you in on it?

  75. Manooshi says:

    If you listen to how fast their sick beats are, then it wouldn’t be surprising if they happen to maybe be tweekers. Regardless, their humor, music, and vids totally kick ass!

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