Die Antwoord interviewed: On 'Zef style,' Harmony Korine and a movie featuring a drug dealer named 'The Elf'
Owing to space constraints in The Times’ print product, not all the weirdness and wonderment of Die Antwoord could fit into an article about the group that appears in Monday’s Calendar section. This online version offers a longer take of that article.
Since February, the question has become so linked with South African “rave-rap” trio Die Antwoord that you’d be forgiven for thinking the cuss-word-laden query is actually part of the group’s name.
“Die Antwoord? What the … ?!”
The trio’s name translates as “the answer” in Afrikaans. But that emphatic question has been posed all over the “interwebs” (the group’s misnomer for cyberspace) thanks to Die Antwoord’s hauntingly enigmatic homemade videos “Enter the Ninja” and “Zef Side,” which have become viral supernovas this year, racking up a combined 11 million YouTube views. Puzzlement with the group also reverberated through the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival in April, where the trio confounded and dazzled festival-goers over the course of a riotous 20-minute set.
According to hard-rhyming, helium-voiced frontwoman Yo-Landi Vi$$er, Die Antwoord is growing increasingly comfortable with causing confusion. “It’s alien, all right?” she said. “It’s not really our problem. And not everyone’s confused.”
Chalk up the head-scratching to the Cape Town trio’s singular synthesis of throw-away cultural effluvia: its bawdy sex rhymes, naked celebration of a uniquely South African white trashiness called “Zef,” its employ of imagery equally inspired by children and the criminally insane as well as the sense of cultivated mystery that has shrouded Die Antwoord for the last nine months.