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One sunny afternoon in Stellenbosch, I met up with the four zebras, Johan Viljoen, Wouter Möller, Jan Meyer Verhoef and Franzua van den Heever, for an introduction into the world of the new kids on the Potchefstroom block – ZEBRAMAN. We took a deeper look into their debut self-titled EP. 

First things first, where did it all begin?

Coming from the popular student town myself, I immediately asked where they met, and with a giggle Wouter answered that they were partying in the club, Bourbon Street. As they walked out, they started busking with the guys in front of this popular student destination and decided that they wouldn’t mind doing this more often. Just as they decided to busk their way into the music scene a global pandemic and mandatory lockdown hit, and they realised they now have the time to do this full-time. And so the EP was born.

But before we delve deeper into the different stripes of this debut self-titled EP, let’s go back to how they became ZEBRAMAN.

Vocalist, Johan Viljoen, jumped at the opportunity to tell me that the story existed long before there was a band, and that the songs needed a band so that it could be shared with the world. 

With zebras having black and white stripes instead of one grey coat and their colours co-existing with each other, they are an embodiment of all the different cultures within our beautiful country – the essence of what it means to be South African.”

First and most importantly, the four zebras are musicians and are lucky enough to be friends as well. And that is how ZEBRAMAN became a reality, just four friends making music together.

Zebraman - EP Review

So, now that we’ve reminisced about the good old Bourbon Street days, let’s travel back to the present. 

Their first single, Green & Lovin, was released some time ago. The song started with Johan enjoying a coffee in a local coffee shop and writing a song. The waiter asked him what he was up to and before Johan knew it, he wrote the song with the waiter. 

Green & Lovin is a song with many different sounds and qualities; it was inspired by escaping false ‘utopias’ that people tend to create for themselves, whilst only losing themselves in the process.

For the drummer Wouter, art has the ability to talk to someone and they can therefore make their own interpretation of music, and that is the beauty of Green & Lovin, you can interpret it the why you want to.    

What can we expect from the 5 track debut EP?

Bassist Franzua described the EP as something you can dance to in the rain, in front of a stage or at a party. According to him, the album has a lot of layers and you will experience a different layer each time you listen to it. 

The EP has a lot of hard-hitting drums and electric keys. Keyboard player, Jan, describes it as a carnival: it’s light-hearted, colorful, and a celebration of all the dynamic people we have in South Africa. 

Children in Disguise is one of my favorite songs on the album. It’s a well produced ballad with amazing vocals. 

Medicinal Criminal is about sinister charismatic leaders that try to steal your freedom by letting you subscribe to their personal doctrines. It has a pleasant surprise in the middle with Johan rapping, taking us on a musical adventure. 

The album ends off with Blindsided and this song is about moving away from the idea of choosing freedom, and rather how falling in love makes you want to give yourself to someone and share that freedom together. 

When listening to the EP, you go on a journey, from partying in front of a stage to bringing it full circle back to the same party under the African sun. 

The debut self-titled album of ZEBRAMAN is available on all streaming platforms. Music with a lot of textures, colours and layers that is the perfect start to the weekend.

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The VaaIie girl with a laugh better than the joke itself. If you’ve lost me in the crowd, look for the red hat. Or the shoulder pads. Or the floral-patterned blazer. I’ve got a winner of a party trick, just give me a shot of tequila and a raw egg, and if you’re not sure how to start the conversation, don’t worry. I’ve got you covered.

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