Die Antwoord leave Interscope, will release "TEN$ION" on their own new indie label

[UPDATE: Here's the video that led to the "divorce."—XJ]

Anyone can not sign with a major label (see there? you just did it yourself!), but to sign with one and then sign off abruptly when the label tells you your work needs to be reworked for more mainstream appeal? That's news.

And that, according to those close to the matter, is what just happened between South Africa's Die Antwoord and Interscope/Universal Music Group.

The zef-rockers have a new album in the can, TEN$ION. It was to be their second release on Interscope, and due out within the next few months. The band chose a track to lead with as a single, titled Fok Julle Naaiers ("Fuck you all," loosely). The label heard it, perceived it as too hard for a single, and according to our sources, wanted the entire record to be reworked for more pop appeal (think Gaga or Black-Eyed-Peas). Ninja and Yo-Landi would have none of it, and asked their attorneys (one of whom was Michael Jackson's former rep) to sever all ties with Interscope, forgoing a million dollar guarantee on the new record and choosing complete creative independence.

From the band's online diary:

So anyway... Interscope offered us a bunch of money again to release our new album TEN$ION.

But this time, they also tried to get involved with our music, to try and make us sound like everyone else out there at the moment.

So we said: 'U know what, rather hang on to your money, buy yourself something nice...we gonna do our own thing. Bye bye'

The band will release TEN$ION through a new independent label of their own, ZEF RECORDZ. Songs will be available as digital downloads and on flash drives, "Because CDs are like motherfucking VHS," Ninja tells Boing Boing.


Their first single, Fok Julle Naaiers [Video Link], will be released for free today as a DRM-free, spreading-encouraged track. The band plans to make more music freely available in this way, and tour like hell starting in January or February of 2012. There are other odd plans in the works, and interesting details of their new independent business model, which will be made public soon.

They tried to release the music video they created (without label involvement or assistance) for this track on YouTube, but YouTube blocked it due to a copyright claim by Interscope/UMG (this despite the fact that the band and the label have already divorced; seems like the copyright claim wheels turn slowly).

Yo-Landi tells Boing Boing there's another surprise in the video. "It features the first rap verse by the real DJ HI-TEK, our gay deejay, who haz just bust out da closet wif a muddafuckn vengeance!"

They're uploading it from a bad internet connection in Johannesburg as I type, and we'll re-post it here as soon as it's available.