May 2014


From City Press

The old art of record collecting is still alive as independent record shops crop up across SA despite the growth of online music sales. Percy Mabandu lists 10 of his best

Mabu Vinyl
1 Mabu Vinyl
This tune emporium was established in 2001 by Jacques Vosloo, who now co-owns it with Stephen Segerman. The store was memorialised in the
Oscar-winning documentary Searching for Sugarman
in which it featured extensively. It stocks a rare selection of classics with a catalogue including second-hand records, books, comics, CDs, DVDs and cassettes. The average price of a record is R80 and the store is open seven days a week.
2 Rheede Street, Gardens, Cape Town
mabuvinyl.co.za

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From Georgette Magazine

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By Sharon Warr

The first record I owned was given to me on my 5th birthday. It was a Jim Reeves seven single with Little Ole You on one side and Guilty on the other. I still have it. I know this dates me a bit but we all know that 50 is the new 30 and just in case you are unclear on where I sit on the ‘decrepit’ scale, I don’t yet have to drink my pizza through a straw with a bib tucked under my chin!

 When I think of vinyl records I am strongly reminded that many readers will have no idea what I’m talking about. And until a little while ago vinyl had no meaning for me either. Back in the day, LP, seven single (or just single), record, disc or album was widely used. Never vinyl. Even the words album and disc only became popular in the late 60s and 70s – certainly in the South African context.

 For those of us who grew up with the LP, the arrival of CDs on the scene aroused mixed emotions. There were those die hard aficionados of the LP who would not embrace the new technology, firstly because it “could never match the quality of the tried and tested record and turntable” and secondly, and I fell into this camp too, because one’s collection of LPs was so big, one could never hope to convert them to the new format as the cost would have been prohibitive. So that left us with a ‘before CD’ collection and an ‘after CD’ collection. Betwixt and between.

 Being a bit of a Gadget Alice with my wonder of things ‘curious’ I soon however embraced CDs wholeheartedly. After all, they were so small – and just like their name – compact. No more lugging piles of weighty LPs around. No more searching for cuts or tracks as they are now called – you just selected one and, wonder of wonders, it played…from the beginning! And best of all, no more clicks and scratches. Listening to Dvorak’s Symphony to the New World sans clicks was amazing! You were able to know for certain that your Pink Floyd Dark Side of the Moon was not going to get stuck in the middle of Us and Them and you could say with certainty that your CD was not going to warp if left in the sun, rendering it suitable for use only as an ashtray.

 But for all the perks, for me, the magic of the LP still pips the convenient, slick technology of the CD any day. Why? Because listening to an LP required one’s full sensual engagement. It required you to be present in the full sense of the word. It was not solely about the technology and technicalities of the devices but in the tactile, visual and auditory experience that made LPs such a full on experience. From the moment you picked up an LP you became absorbed. Listening was more than cueing up two hours of music, clicking ‘play’ on a computer software icon and walking off.  It required that you stay…listening to the mix with a critical ear and it required that you be there when the record came to the end of the side. Failure to do so would result in the stylus clicking ad infinitum in the locking groove with the real danger of wearing out the sometimes expensive stylus. I can’t say I miss that part of the experience but there’s a lot I do miss.

 Another aspect of the LP was the branding. Record companies and their labels became part of the experience too. You couldn’t miss the names RCA Victor, Atlantic, Parlotone, Trutone, EMI, HMV, Apple, Island, A&M – you’d recognise their logos the minute you took the record from its sleeve. And the covers themselves – who can ever forget the cover designs by Hipgnosis – think Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon or Led Zeppelin’s Houses of the Holy amongst others. Another favourite of mine was the cover of Golden Earring’s Moontan whose designer sadly does not get a credit. There was shock and horror when the nude lady appeared in the record stores in this country! LP covers still have a solid feel and visual quality that a CD cover can never hope to achieve simply because it is too small.

 Although the golden age of vinyl has gone, it is still very much around as far as availability goes. I’ve been pleasantly surprised at how many young people I see browsing in vinyl stores. They want that same experience I tried explain in the beginning of the article. Back to a time when things were a little more hands on and the music was vibrant and, yes, tuneful. But more on that another time.

 So…for the lover of things old but good, the thing is to go to the attic or the garage and lovingly resurrect your turntable or find a good second hand little system somewhere. Give it a clean up just as you would a vintage car and wire it up to your current hi-fi. Then crack open those cardboard boxes of LPs you stashed away years ago or head for Mabu’s Vinyl shop at 2 Rheede Street, Gardens (just off Kloof Street) to browse through a bit of history. The shop is like a time capsule itself, hinting at the hippy era with the smell of incense wafting out onto the pavement and the sound of classic rock pieces in the air. Brings a smile to one’s face every time. Their prices are reasonable and generally the condition of the LPs is good.

From Daily Maverick

Malik Bendjelloul, the Swedish director of ‘Searching for Sugar Man’, has committed suicide aged 36. It’s just over a year since the documentary about folk musician Rodriguez won Bendjelloul an Oscar and captured the hearts of viewers all over the world. REBECCA DAVIS spoke to Bendjelloul’s subject and friend, Cape Town record-store owner Stephen ‘Sugar’ Segerman.

The last time I interviewed Stephen Segerman in his den in Oranjezicht, it was July 2012, just prior to the official release of Searching for Sugar Manin South Africa. At that time Segerman gave the impression of a man both bemused and exhilarated by the success of the film, in which he features prominently as one of two South Africans who made it their mission to track down Rodriguez.

Shortly before the interview, he’d been to the Sundance Film Festival with Bendjelloul and Rodriguez, where the film received a standing ovation. “It was just a magical night,” he told me at the time.

Watch: Searching for Sugar Man trailer

Almost two years later, the fairytale seemed even rosier. Searching for Sugar Man won the Best Documentary Oscar at the 2013 Academy Awards. Rodriguez, who languished in obscurity for years, today has fame and fortune locked down. It was the ultimate feel-good story.

And then, on Tuesday, shocking news broke: Bendjelloul, aged just 36, was dead.

“You know, with some people you have inklings and maybes. With Malik? Suicide? Impossible,” says Segerman, shaking his head. “I thought he must have died in his sleep or something. When I heard, well…” he trails off. “I’ve been seeing the comments. This dude had the world at his feet, he had an Oscar…”

Malik Bendjelloul was a teen actor in his native Sweden, starring in a show which Segerman describes as the Swedish version of America’s Family Ties. As an adult he worked as a TV reporter for Sweden’s public broadcaster, specialising in making short films about visiting rockstars. Then he left to travel the world, looking for richer stories.

Segerman first heard from Bendjelloul in late 2006, when he emailed the record-store owner to say that he was coming to Cape Town, and asked if they could meet. He had learnt about Segerman’s involvement in the Rodriguez tale through a piece in the Guardian, and wanted to hear more.

“At that stage we had a shop on the corner of Long Street with lekker big glass windows,” remembers Segerman. “I can still see him coming around the corner and saying: ‘Hello, I’m Malik!’”

In an interview with Movie Scope Magazine in July 2012, Bendjelloul described the encounter:

“I met Stephen ‘Sugar’ Segerman, the guy who first started to look for Rodriguez in Cape Town, and when he told me the story I was just blown away. It was just so beautiful and touching. Just the one-sentence summary was pretty strong: ‘A man who doesn’t know that he is a superstar.’”

For his part, Segerman instantly warmed to the lanky Swede.

“He just had such a lovely energy: tall, bright-eyed…He reminded me of Tintin,” he says.

Segerman took him up Table Mountain and Bendjelloul filmed a short sequence of Segerman telling the story of the hunt for Rodriguez. Then he disappeared off to Sweden, and Segerman didn’t hear from him for six months. At that point, Bendjelloul emailed to say: that’s the story we like in Sweden.

Bendjelloul returned to Cape Town and shot a one-minute trailer in Segerman’s den. He took it to the Sheffield Documentary Festival, where aspirant filmmakers pitch their stories. Bendjelloul won. A full-length documentary was on the cards.

Segerman points to a photograph pinned to a cabinet. It shows Segerman, Bendjelloul and camera woman Camilla Skagerström. “That was the team,” he says. “Just them. They came here and shot, then went to Detroit. There was barely any budget. Just – excuse the cliché – passion.”

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Photo: Stephen Segerman, cinematographer Camilla Skagerström, and filmmaker Malik Bendjelloul, pictured in Segerman’s den in Cape Town.

In Detroit, there was the tricky business of persuading the reclusive Rodriguez to feature in the film at all. Bendjelloul worked his way in by meeting the musician’s family members one by one. He got his way eventually through sheer charm, Segerman says. Even so, filming Rodriguez had certain unique challenges. There’s a scene in the film where Rodriguez is fiddling with a video microphone while he talks. It still had to be used: there was no question of a do-over.

“There was always only gonna be one take,” Segerman chuckles. “No way was Rodriguez going to say all those things all over again.”

For over a year, Bendjelloul sat in his flat in Stockholm making the film. People promised funding and backed out. He ran out of money for animation, so he had to do the animation work himself. It’s the stuff of legends now that some scenes in the documentary had to be filmed using a $1 Super-8 iPhone app.

“That movie is sort of a bit jerry-built – kind of smashed together,” says Segerman. “I saw it for the first time and thought: That doesn’t look anything like movies I’ve checked, slick, beautifully-made documentaries!”

But the film’s sheer heart – and the incredible story it told – more than compensated for its technical weaknesses. Some suggested that the story was a little too incredible – that Bendjelloul had conveniently omitted aspects of the Rodriguez narrative that didn’t easily fit within the rags-to-riches trajectory.

“There were two main snipes about the film,” Segerman says today. “The first was that Rodriguez wasn’t actually an anti-Apartheid hero – which I never said. The other criticism is about Australia.” Bendjelloul’s documentary left out the fact that Rodriguez was aware that he had a major fan-base in Australia, and had toured there twice in the late 70s and early 80s.

“The simple explanation, which we spoke about, is that [Searching for Sugar Man] is about the search of two South Africans for Rodriguez,” Segerman says. “I found out about the Australian tour the night that I met Rodriguez for the first time, in March 1998. If I’d known, I would have tracked him through Australia! It was not part of our story.”

Segerman says Bendjelloul was unruffled by this criticism. “It made zero difference,” he says. “For him to create something which brought so much happiness into the world…Nothing could have bothered him about that.”

Segerman and Craig Bartholomew, the music journalist who also features in the documentary as instrumental in the hunt for Rodriguez, attended the Oscars with Bendjelloul last year.

From his wallet, Segerman extracts a piece of card on which he’d jotted down ideas for an acceptance speech for Bendjelloul, since the filmmaker hadn’t prepared anything.

“I’m superstitious about preparing speeches – this has been lucky for me,” it begins.

In the end, the laconic Swede didn’t need the prompt. “Oh boy!” Bendjelloul said when he won. “Thanks to one of the greatest singers ever, Rodriguez!”

There’s a photo in Segerman’s den of the three men tux-ed up, Bendjelloul clutching his statuette, at the prestigious Vanity Fair after-party.

“Just on my left side, over there,” says Segerman, pointing at the photo, “there was this old American dude. I thought: who’s that? He obviously wasn’t an actor.” He pauses. “It was Buzz Aldrin. For a baby-boomer like me, you don’t get any better than that. I met Buzz Aldrin, and then I went home.”

Interviewed by the New York Times in May last year as part of a list of ’20 Filmmakers To Watch’, Bendjelloul hinted at the surreal aspects of having made such a successful first film.

“Since everything was the first time for me, it was a bit confusing to understand what last year was all about,” Bendjelloul admitted. “To travel around with your film is a weird experience. Filmmakers are not musicians, they can’t perform their film; you don’t even need to load the projector. It was weird to think that that year was the reward for the work. But now I realise that it’s this year that is the reward. To feel free to do exactly what you want to do without feeling too scared that your ideas won’t interest anyone or worry about the rent or having to deal with people who think they know better.”

After the Oscars, Segerman says Bendjelloul was besieged with offers.

“Malik had been turning down a huge amount of stuff. He had a lot of offers of TV commercials, that kind of thing, but he wasn’t the type of guy to sell out. Your first full-length movie wins an Oscar! What the hell do you do for a second?”

In fact, for his next major project, Segerman said Bendjelloul had turned again to a South African story. He was working on a screenplay for a feature film inspired by the experiences of conservationist Lawrence Anthony, dubbed ‘the elephant whisperer’ for his work with traumatised elephants.

“He loved South Africa,” Segerman says. “I always say he should have been an honorary Capetonian. You have no idea how many people found out about Cape Town from his movie. He made it look so beautiful.”

Bendjelloul didn’t let his newfound fame go to his head, according to Segerman. “He always looked a little bit shy, a little bit awkward. It’s not an easy thing to deal with.”

Segerman was last in touch with the filmmaker last Monday, when the two had an email exchange about a legal dispute unfolding between two of Rodriguez’s old record labels. He says Bendjelloul gave no sign at all that anything was emotionally amiss.

“You know, through the film… My little record shop became a great little record shop. Rodriguez found his destiny. Malik, I thought, had found his,” Segerman says.

“You put something like that out there. The joy that I’ve got out of it – how much more so for Malik? And it wasn’t enough.” DM

From Tone Deaf

The 11 Best Things In Cape Town, South Africa Every Music Fan Should Do

While we uncovered some of South Africa’s musical delights in our guide to Johannesburg that metropolis’ music scene is nothing in comparison to Cape Town.

The second most populous city in the country is home to a music scene that is on the verge of something special.

Cape Town has the traits of a successful music city. Small, but also community minded musicians are welcomed into a diverse scene.

As rising musician Petit Noir puts it to Huffington Post, “Because Cape Town is so small, everyone interacts with each other. Whatever you do, you will always feel welcomed. People are very chill”.

“The music scene in Cape Town is very small but diverse. There are lots of bands around. Because of how Cape Town was designed, different areas have different sounds,” says the musician.

Cape Town is small in comparison to Johannesburg, but its size is its blessing. It’s easy to immerse yourself in the city’s music scene just by heading to the CBD where you’ll stumble across the majority of the best venues.

Another promising facet of the city’s music scene is the Cape Town Electronic Music Festival (which made it into our list of the 16 best international boutique festivals). It puts local electronic musicians side-by-side with some of the world’s best.

As the festival continues to grow it will undoubtedly push the city’s music scene further into the limelight.

Cape Town’s international exposure may not have reached further than its starring role in the Oscar winning documentary Searching For Sugarman, but it’s only a matter a time before its up and coming musicians start to make a notable impact on music culture.

Read on to discover our 11 highlights that all music fans should check out in Cape Town.

Purchase More Than Just Rodriguez Records at Mabu Vinyl


2 Rheede Street

This record store has been the best of its kind in Cape Town since 2009. However its owner Stephen Segerman got a taste of the fame that will define the store for a long time in 2013 via the Oscar winning documentary in Searching For Sugarman. Mabu has a large selection of vinyl, CDs, DVDs, cassettes, videos, books, t-shirts, comics, magazines and turntables on offer.