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Big in Japan: Johnny Foreigner

2010-03-31 16:51
Johnny Foreigner

Ben goes to London for a conference, Anja recommends he checks her favourite-band-in-the-world out live. Ben meets the band and they send Anja CD's and merchandise. Cue 2009, Anja moves to London herself and picks up the loose ends to tie a very tight friendship. She provides the Birmingham band with a place to sleep in her teeny apartment in London. As she leaves the UK to return home she makes them promise they will come visit.

Anja's favourite band in the world was, and still is, Johnny Foreigner.

What Wikipedia does not mention about Johnny Foreigner is that Alexei Burrows, Kelly Southerner and Junior Washington's new album : Grace and the Bigger Picture is produced by the same guy who'd done Death Cab for Cutie and the Mars Volta (Alex Newport). That they're signed to the same label as Kaizer Chiefs and Franz Ferdinand (Best Before Records). They've toured the world, now that Africa can be ticked off, and playing festivals such as SXSW, Reading, Leeds and Summersonic in Japan. In other words, they're used to crowds of 60 000. Ramfest might boast 10 000 at most.

FFWD to 2010. Message on Facebook to all members of the group:
Choose yr side and shut up – Johnny Foreigner SA tour from Ben Rausch: Johnny Foreigner aren't being bought here by an old man in a suit. These shows haven't been organised by some massive corporation to try sell more cans of fizzy black liquid. This tour won't be happening because the band sold crap loads of albums back in the 90ies and after 15 years of radio-play on Jacaranda and Highveld some company has decided that bringing them over will be profitable.

Jo Fo are coming here because:
a) They're dying to visit our exciting young country
b) Griet are so amped about having them here that they're making this tour happen.

Lexi chuckles when asked to recount the story of their journey south: "We told our friends Ben and Anja that we wanna go to South Africa and then we kinda forgot about it and the next thing we hear from them and they're like yeah, you should totally come to SA and then they just tell us that they've booked shows and plane tickets and everything for us."

"They" who book the shows and the plane tickets are Griet. Kidofdoom, Lark, Haezer, DJ Sassquatch, Isochronous, Yesterday's Pupil. It is Griet who brought you these fine acts and Griet who made you dress like a robot and shout "The humans are dead".

In the years since Griet appeared from the wings of SA music they have destroyed dancefloors countrywide and hosted the most obscure parties and music as well as the most exciting stage at Ramfest 2010. Griet is: Johan Auriacombe and Dominique Gawlowski. Johnny Foreigner is their first experiment at bringing international indie music to South Africa. In anticipiation of the Choose yr side and shut-up tour, Griet released a demo of 5 of Johnny Foreigner's radio singles available for free download to South African fans. Dom has convinced Look&Listen to sell 600 copies of Johnny Foreigner's new album. Dom and Jo did everything they possibly could to make this project succeed. Because if it does, this is the start of a new era of international music in South Africa. This could mean that your favourite band in the world could be heading here soon too.

NEXT Page: A Night with Johnny Foreigner.

A long time ago, when we could all still remember our Myspace passwords, Anja Venter from South Africa added her favourite indie band in the world on MySpace and wrote an appropriate: "Love your music" message on their wall. Some time later she is surprised to receive a response from their lead singer, Lexi: "Love the song on your profile! Who is that band?" The song on her profile was by the band her boyfriend Ben Rausch (DJ Sassquatch) was playing in, South African electro-duo Johnny Neon.
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