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We chat to the 4 hot women from CODA Africa

2014-11-25 06:00

Cape Town – We recently had the opportunity to get to know the four women from CODA Africa a bit better.

Fronted by powerful vocalist Zami Mdingi, CODA Africa combines electric strings (violin and cello by Galina Juritz and Carol Thorns) with saxophone (Judy Brown) and DJ (DJ LuvChild). Their music traverses different genres from Classically-inspired ballads to Electro-Swing, Dub Step, Reggae and Hip Hop.  

They have also been nominated for two All Africa Music Awards (AFRIMA) recently for Most Promising Artiste in Africa 2014 and Best African-Electro Act 2014.

What do you do in the band and when did your musical journey start?

Zami Mdingi:
I’m a Vocalist and my journey started after high school when I attended Prompt Music College in 2001.

Carol Thorns:
I play the electric cello. Apparently my musical journey started when I was about 3 years old and insisted on standing on a suitcase to sing to the family!

Galina Juritz:
I play violin in the band. I suppose my own 'musical journey' started at age four when I first heard Stevie Wonder's Hotter than July album.

Judy Brown:
I am the saxophonist in the band and started playing the clarinet from 11 years old. Our high school had a little jazz band so I was playing sax by 16.


You have been nominated for two All Africa Music Awards, congrats! Were you surprised by the nomination? And what makes your music stand out from the rest?

It's fantastic validation of 2 years of hard work!  We so enjoyed the process of writing this album that we are very philosophical about it's journey from here on. And it seems to be making its way very nicely in the world! CODA Africa is an unusual act and I think that distinction has helped us stand out from the crowd. The combination of strings, sax, vocals and DJ contributes to a signature, eclectic sound.

I was definitely surprised - in the way I'm always surprised when good things happen! After the whole writing and recording process I can't possibly be objective about the album - so I'd have to hear from the judges themselves.

We were very surprised and excited by our nomination.  Our unusual instrumental line-up is the first striking difference in CODA and the fusion of styles in our music makes for quite an original sound.

It came as a shock because it’s from beyond our borders. It would be a great step ladder to elevate our music career as CODA in Africa and the world.


You are very energetic on stage, what do you do to stay in shape?

I am very fortunate to live in a beautiful, mountainous area so I go running most days. It clears my head (although there always seems to be a song playing!) and gives me the energy I need to lug my huge cello around!

I love to exercise... spinning, kick-boxing, anything high energy!

Being a performer is a physical act on its own. We perform on stages where we are the heart of the party. Dancing is a form of exercise so as the singer I have to constantly engage with the audience and movement is important to communicate the music and create vibe.


You guys really look great. How important is your styling in terms of the music that you make?

It’s important to be well groomed for a band because it’s both an audio and visual experience. We are a brand and our styling has been one of the key factors that contribute to the group’s success.

We have Carol to thank for our great styling. She's always making sure we look good before performances. The music industry today is not just about the music but really about the whole package.

All these things contribute to making up a brand and we have been very careful to look after ours. But above all it's the music that counts.


Women are known to be great multi-taskers, what do you do when you are not making music? Are there any other projects that you are busy with?

When not performing with CODA Africa I play in a beautiful, giant sphere called 'The Bubble' - it's quite magical!  I also have a solo cello album and perform a solo cello show called Red Cello a couple of times a year - it's my other passion project.  

I occasionally work with a Jazz band, as a songwriter for some projects and session artist for adverts and general studio requests. Above all, I enjoy being a parent and on occasion an adviser and mentor for newcomers in the industry who need advice and support.

Living near the sea means I can enjoy mornings body-boarding or running along the beachfront...but mostly I'm running after my 5 year old and 10 month old girls!

Personally I'm a terrible multi-tasker - So either it's a myth, or I'm very masculine. Still I manage to compose music and play with various ensembles in between the band.


If you could collaborate with anyone else in the world, who would you choose?

OK I know he's getting on, but Sting!  What a musician! I would be very happy playing the cello with him...

Collaboration is a trick question because there is the Group and every individual has personal music taste.

I would love to do a live collaboration with the Bruno Mars band!  Joining those awesome brass players for the night and learning some of their cool dance moves!

On this particular day I'd choose Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti, Stefan Burnett from former band Death Grips, and FKA Twigs (the collaboration would consist of me fanning her down on stage with a giant palm leaf and bringing her bottled water).

Catch CODA Africa at these venues:

Sunday 14 December - Franschoek concert - Cafe Des Arts.
Thursday 18 December - Waterfront Amphitheatre.
Friday 16 Jan 2015 - Cafe Roux, Noordhoek.

For more information on the band visit their Facebook page or their website.

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