[Die Kaappunters (from left): Willem Möller, Jackie Lätti, Riku Lätti, Jean Tunes Marias, Mark Louis Ellis. PHOTO: Wessel Krige]

Die Kaappunters is a Cape Point-based Afrikaans pop supergroup that is sweeping the Cape with its energetic blend of alternative Afrikaans pop and Voëlvry-era protest rock that leaves audiences nostalgic and energised.

The group, which initially started in 1996, consists of seven South African music legends, namely: Willem Möller (guitar), Mark Louis Ellis (bass guitar), Jean Tunes Marais (drums), Jackie Lätti (vocals), Wian Anders (guitar, vocals), Churchill Naudé (vocals), and Riku Lätti (piano, vocals, and accordion). Let’s Get Local had a chat with Riku about the band, its origins, and their plans to entertain people with laughter and good music.

26 years in the making

Die Kaappunters’ story began when Riku met former Gereformeerde Blues Band member, Willem Möller, during a recording session.

“It started in 1996 when Karring Kaappunter [Willem Möller] recorded the first album of the band, Me and Mr. Sane, which is how Willem and I met.  Years later I met my wife Jackie, and formed Die Wasgoedlyn.” Riku recounted, “Die Kaappunters is thus Riku and Jackie Lätti, Churchil Naudé, the Mark Tunes Band, Willem Möller.”

Riku met the rest of the bandmates over the following years through recording opportunities and collaboration on other projects. The group finally came to fruition in 2018 after fortuitous circumstances brought the core members together.

“Key to the formation of Die Kaappunters was an invitation from Die Gereformeerde Blues Band to Churchill, myself, and Jackie to tour with them from 2018 onwards. The second part of the tour had to be cancelled, which meant we had some time to write new material,” says Riku. Eventually, when the lockdowns ended, Die Kaappunters had enough material for their first album, and all the personnel were ready and eager to play.

Die Kaappunters
[“We think it is important to always expect the unexpected, thus, let go of your desire to expect anything. Just come and enjoy the music.” commented Riku on Die Kaappunters’ live performances. PHOTO: Wessel Krige]

The band name— often misheard as Die Carpenters — was the brainchild of Kingston and the Rasta member, Wian Alders, according to Riku. 

“In the end, it was quite the obvious choice because the band members are all situated pretty close to Kaappunt [Cape Point] so they could naturally be referred to as Kaappunters just as easily as people from Johannesburg can be referred to as Joburgers,” Riku comments.

Reviving local rock and roll

The music of the band is classic rock and roll, like that of South African music legend Johannes Kerkorrel — with infectious guitar and piano-driven songs that make listeners want to dance and start revolutions. Riku describes their music as alternative Afrikaans rock because “firstly, it sounds good and, secondly, because it abbreviates nicely to AAR”.

Riku believes that the band’s influences are eclectic.

“There are numerous influences: from punk to rock and roll, but the dominant influences are the protest Afrikaans music from Die Voëlvry Movement and also most definitely Afrikaans hip-hop, poetry, and songwriting,” he says.

According to Riku most of the band’s music is written by Wian, although he also wrote some of the band’s material. He mentions that they have also collaborated with Gideon and Ilze Breytenbach. In terms of lyrical content, Riku states that the band wants their music to be considered “fun, if not funny”.

“We all tend to settle on socially conscious jokes and soliloquies about the lives and times of people living in South Africa and/or the rest of the world. Some songs are satirical, some more serious, but all of them are inspired by real-life events and deliver some social commentary.” Riku comments, “Our first goal is to entertain people: to put a smile on a face or two and to move people with music.”

According to Riku, the process behind writing songs for Die Kaappunters is ever-changing — coming from spontaneous moments that they have had with their collaborators.

“Each song had a different route coming into being.  The most fun were the collaborative songs ‘Metodiste’ and ‘Op Ja!’.  They basically started flowing out of the piano together with the red wine and the jokes,” Riku comments. He hopes that listeners will see the humour in their songs; otherwise, they might “get into a lot of trouble in a lot of bars around the country”.  

Die Kaappunters
[Churchill Naudé singing with Die Kaappunters at The Daisy Jones Bar on 2 December. PHOTO: Wessel Krige]

While their music is meant to be funny, it undoubtedly still carries a political charge. Riku however, believes that protest or political music can also be palatable and enjoyable for the listeners. 

“South Africa still has plenty of problems, and thus there is ample reason to write songs about them. But the trick is to write about it in such a way that people enjoy listening to them so the word and music can spread and reach loving ears and hearts so that we can help create goodwill and good times,” says  Riku, adding that listeners aren’t interested in hearing people complain, but want to have fun instead. “Die Kaappunters are all about uplifting the spirit, feeding the mind, and moving the body,” Riku says. 

Past victories, present projects, and future conquests

Since their formation, Die Kaappunters have seen tons of success in both their recording and performing careers. One such feat is playing at Peter Gabriel’s World of Music, Arts, and Dance (WOMAD) festival which, according to Riku, was an honour.

“We are fond of World of Music, and to be selected as a South African contribution to World of Music is a huge honour, but over and above it was a great pleasure, the sound was fantastic, and the audience eclectic and electric,” says Riku. 

They also recently played at the famed Stellenbosch venue, The Daisy Jones Bar. The performance, which took place on 2 December,  was invigorating and had audience members cheering and dancing at their tables. It also featured a bevvy of guest musicians that made the night all the more special.

“We were blessed with so many accomplished musicians that came and joined us on stage, such as the talented singer-songwriter Hanru Niemand and the celebrated poet and singer Jolyn Phillips.  The music just seemed to flow like a fountain directly from rock and roll heaven.” Riku comments. 

Not even Eskom could stop them by the end of the night as the group powered on after loadshedding kicked in by moving in between the crowd members. They ended the night with a soaring performance of Johannes Kerkorrel’s ‘Hillbrow’.

Die Kaappunters
[Jean ‘Tunes’ Marias playing with Die Kaappunters at The Daisy Jones Bar on 2 December. PHOTO: Wessel Krige]

For the future, Die Kaappunters aim to delight fans with a second EP to follow their debut Ons Het So Pas Begin. According to Riku, the EP is finished except for one small detail.

“We are in the process of releasing the second EP.  That is as soon as we can decide on what to call it.  The songs are mixed, mastered, and ready to go, but Wian has a silly idea to call it Waarom verskyn die voëls so skielik as jy naby is. (Why do birds suddenly appear, every time you are near?) but who could take such an album title seriously?” Riku jokes.

Keep your eyes out for this humorous and fun take on alternative Afrikaans. Die Kaappunters, coming soon to a stage near you.


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