#MEX Music Exchange Interview South Africa

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#MusicExchange: Never a dull moment with Nomadic Orchestra

Nomadic Orchestra, a five-piece instrumental dance band based in Cape Town, have just returned from a trip to Namibia and will be performing at The House of Machines in Cape Town on Thursday, 25 May 2023.

The primary goal of Nomadic Orchestra is to get people moving. The band makes an infectious kind of high-energy dance music - even the most prudish find themselves unconsciously tapping their feet. Nomadic Orchestra is strongly influenced by traditional music from the countries of South-Eastern Europe: Macedonia, Romania and Serbia.

The band is also influenced by Klezmer, gypsy and circus music as well as contemporary Western party music. Their musical training brings a strong jazz aesthetic to the band, and thus an emphasis on improvisation.

The music that the Nomads play is original and composed by members of the band consisting of Jono Prest (trumpet), Andrew Middelkoop (tuba), Matthew Lee Belyeu (guitar) and Gabriel du Toit (sax).

Image supplied
Image supplied

I chatted with Gabriel du Toit ahead of their upcoming show.

What is your purpose?

To make people dance and forget about the daily grind for a little while.

What does music mean to you?

Music is everything to me. Without it, I would feel a bit lost to be honest. Performing, writing, listening, and dancing to music gives me freedom beyond measure.

Our music is about…

My bandmates, our audience, our country, and our absolute love for being a silly bunch on nutters.

What is your motto?

If you’re not sweaty by now, you haven’t been bouncing!

Fame is about…

Not sure, I’ll let you know when we get famous… lol.

Retirement will happen when…

My knees and back give out. Although, I might be okay in a nice comfy chair. So really when I don’t have a band. Although, I could play with backing tracks. Mmmm maybe never!

I don't do…

Going back on commitments. The calendar is king!

I would love to co-write with…

BCUC, The Brother Moves On, Bombshelter Beast, Jack Parow,

Where do you go for inspiration to create?

Creating new music is easily the most rewarding thing I have done in my life. I don’t need to find the inspiration, just the time.

What is the most enjoyable aspect of your work?

Making jokes, having a good time with the band, creating new fresh tunes, but mostly playing live shows and feeling the energy from the audience!

The song you must do during every show?

Coming Home to Sousaphone

Any funny moments on stage?

Sometimes I only introduce our drummer and the songs he’s written. It makes a kind of awkward vibe that music nerds can enjoy…

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Image supplied

My heroes are…

Winston Mankunku, Jaco Pastorius, Frank Zappa, Marcus Wyatt, John Coltrane, Wayne Shorter, Bill Withers, Hozier, Kurt Cobain, Miles Davis and many more!

My style icon is…

Jack Black? lol. I’m sadly not very stylish.

Which living person do you admire most and why?

Our manager, Kevin Ramage for quitting his golf course construction career, so that I can stay on stage.

What is your most treasured possession?

My Italian handmade, gold-plated Rampone R1 Jazz Tenor Saxophone.

It's your round, what are you drinking?

Love a full-flavoured bear like IPA and I can’t lie, brandy and coke is a thing.

Dream gig to do?

Lake of Stars Malawi, Glastonbury, Cape Town International Jazz Festival, Bushfire Festival in Swaziland (again!), Kirstenbosch Summer Sunset Concerts (again!) Concerts in The Park (again!)

What makes you stand out?

My willingness to act a fool on stage and just have fun.

Any nicknames?

Gawie, Gawels, Gaweltjies.

If you were not a musician, what would you do?

If I studied more, medicine. If I didn’t, ice cream sales man.

Pick five words to describe yourself?

Young, dumb, and full of fun. But also, tenacious and hard-working!

Five must have songs on your Spotify playlist please

Hey Hey by Meute
Top by Boom Pam
Two Shoes by The Cat Empire
Swing Easy by The Skatalites
Shakar by Ladavina

Greatest movie ever made?

Little Nicky

What book are you reading?

Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain by Oliver Sacks.

What song changed your life?

Porcelain by Red Hot Chili Peppers

Who do you love?

The Beatles!

What is your favorite word?


Top of your bucket list?

A full-time music career.

Your greatest achievement?

Three studio albums!

What do you complain about most often?

Lack of music festivals and venues in South Africa.

What is your biggest fear?

There are many frightening things happening in the world these days, but to be honest, my worst nightmares are about gigs going wrong, forgetting my parts, incapacitated band members and gear failing…

Happiness is…

A warm bath.

On stage, I tend to…

Sweat a lot!

The best life lesson you have learned?

Desire is the root of all suffering.

What has been your favorite journey so far?

Touring in Europe for 37 days in 2015!

Do you do charity work, and if you do, what do you do?

I have given many free saxophone lessons, done some free repairs and hope to play one or two free shows a year for people living in underprivileged areas.

Wishes and dreams?

To keep playing music with my friends for many years to come. And for my body to keep handling it!

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About Martin Myers

Co-owner at Triple M Entertainment, founder Music Exchange, manager Sipho Hotstix Mabuse

Let's do Biz