Mac McKenzie



Mac McKenzie, once of punk band the Genuines, and most recently known for his work with the Cape Town all star band the Goema Captains of Cape Town, has taken a classical turn. He is presently working on his first symphonic presentation, `The Journey’.




{mp3}MAC MCKENZIE Orange Morning{/mp3}
Orange Morning
{mp3}Red Rock City{/mp3}
Red Rock City



About The Journey

A Genuine, A Goema Captain, A Symphony
By Iain Harris

It seems like an unlikely journey for a musician to move from being a punk in exile to a jazz star to a classical composer. And unexpected for someone with no formal music education to deliver a major work.

This work is the beginning of a journey. Mac has been brewing symphonic for some time now. From even before the days of the Genuines, his seminal punk rock band featuring pianist Hilton Schilder and drummer Ian Herman (also known for his work with Tananas), he was sketching symphonic pieces. “They’ve been lying around in my drawers,” he chuckles. “But there was never really the opportunity before to bring them out and really make something out of them.”

Future works include a harpsichord concerto and a performance in Oslo in 2007.

For Mac music is music. “Me I don’t want to be bound to being a jazz musician or a rock musician or a whatever musician. I’m a composer. As a composer you can go to any place in your mind. And so now I’m going symphonic.”




Mac McKenzie – three movements

Punk. Mac made his name in the 1980s as the frontman for goema punk band The Genuines, featuring Hilton Schilder, Ian Herman and Gerard O’Brien. The band became a cult icon. Mac and Hilton, his collaborator since high school, took the frenetic goema rhythms, added electric guitar, keyboards and punk attitude. It was brash and hard and rebellious and the girls loved it. It was a revolutionary music. People couldn’t believe that this was goema. Under the apartheid regime their music was banned. In Europe the songs were on top of the charts.

Jazz. In 2002, Mac, together once more with Hilton, assembled a band called the Goema Captains of Cape Town. The band came together for a live recording session as part of the Wondergigs, a 13 part series of live recordings taking in the breadth of Cape Town music. With the maturity of age and the elegance of experience, electric guitar was exchanged for jazz guitar, keyboards for grand piano and punk attitude for concert hall cool. In came a banjo, double bass, tambourine and trumpet and accordion.

And out came a sound that had never been heard before. It was goema, but it was in the penthouse lounge. Slowed down, sultry, spacious and elegant. Music for dancing in couples, music for romance. Liberation music for a city without slave-masters. Music for a new identity.

Symphony. In 2006, goema takes a further evolution with Mac as he unveils his first symphony. A goema symphony. He has written a brand new composition, one movement in seven parts, that will be performed by the 45 piece Cape Philharmonic Orchestra. The conductor will be George Michie.

“Off the cuff you show your hands,” is Mac’s favourite line. And that’s where his music is at. Free and fantastical.




What is this goema?

It is a music of liberation.

It is a music of transcendence.
Cape Town is a pirate city. We are a pirate of cultures. It’s like Cape Town has pirated pieces of the whole world. Everything is gathered here. Cape Town is a port city after all, absorbing the world over hundreds of years. It’s a touch of Europe, a little bit of India and Malaysia, it is a piece of Africa, there’s Brazil in here and there’s America and Israel and Maputo. Cape Town is not one thing: it is many things in one.

The music of this city with multiple identities is called goema. The name originates with the Khoe people. The Khoe women played a drum, it was called a goma, because of the ox skin that covered the drum. The women would play and the men would dance.

Over hundreds of years, bantu tribes migrated south, missionaries arrived, colonisers laid claim and slaves were imported to the city. As the music of these worlds collided and became a common language, the goma became goema.

Think of samba. It emerged in the favelas, the slums, out of oppression, and now it infuses everything in the Brazilian nation. Goema is our samba.