Die Antwoord's US debut at Coachella

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.


  1. I don’t even know what Coachella is!

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

  2. 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.

  3. 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. :)

    1. 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!!

    2. 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.)

  4. 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.

  5. 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!

  6. 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.

  7. 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…)

  8. 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.

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

    1. 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!

  10. 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!!

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

  12. 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.

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

  14. 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.

  15. 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!!

  16. 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!

  17. 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).

  18. 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.

  19. 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.

  20. 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!).

  21. 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!

  22. 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.

  23. 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.

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

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

  26. 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!

  27. 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.””

  28. 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!!!

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

  30. 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!

  31. 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!

  32. 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!

  33. Ninja and Yo-Landi,

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


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

  35. 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.

  36. 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.


    1. @#59
      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.

  37. 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.

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

  39. 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.

  40. 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..

  41. 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.

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

  43. 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!

  44. 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.

    1. 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?

  45. 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.

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

  47. 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

    1. 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.

  48. 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.

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