The South African psychedelic rock scene applauds their new it-boys: Moskitos. If you have not yet had the pleasure of experiencing this electrifying trio live, we suggest you add it to your bucket list — they are truly a wonder to behold. Garage rock, blues and funk are a few influences which make up this dynamic three-piece. 

2022 has been a year of firsts for Moskitos (@moskitos_), from touring with Sold Ash (@sold.ash) to Johannesburg, releasing their debut EP ‘Adieu or Die’, shooting an accompanying music video for their dual-single ‘Magazines/Shakes’ and their upcoming show alongside Desmond and the Tutus at District. We got to unpack this whirlwind of a year with the band’s Pieter “Lappies” Labuschagne (lead vocals and guitar), Albert le Roux (bass and backing vocals) and Danie Holtzhausen (drums and percussion). 

From The Gardeners to Moskitos 

Moskitos all began at a Stellenbosch house party — with a very different band name. “So I met this Lappies guy at a house party in 2019, right?” says Albert laughingly, adding that they had mutual acquaintances at the time. “That night he grabbed a guitar, and what can I say, I fell for him,” Albert adds that Lappies was kind enough to invite him to some jam sessions in his garage, where they briefly formed a band called The Gardeners. 

The Gardeners, however, was a short-lived experience as the band realised they needed a fuller sound. This is where Danie joins the party— kitted with an electric drum kit. “We jammed together for a while, a few other friends popping in here and there. Eventually, it was clear that we three worked pretty well together. The rest is history as they say!” says Albert.

[Albert le Roux jamming out at the Moskitos show at House of Machines, Cape Town PHOTO: Pierre-Louis Bredenkamp]

According to Lappies, he has always felt connected to music in some way. “I could relate to it as a means for expressing and internalising emotions,” he says. He began forming a relationship with music early in his life when he discovered his parents’ collection of old records — giving special mention to Neil Young. “I think that personal connection to this thing that was bigger than myself and a necessity to vent a lot of internal struggles inspired me to write and make my own music,” he says. 

Applying the Polish

When it comes to musical influences, the members of Moskitos have a very diverse range of artistic muses. The band feeds off old-school rock, garage rock records and some progressive rock to shape their unique sound. However, the band is in agreement that they tend to gravitate towards more modern psych-rock bands. 

Almost every band will tell you that the key to their creative process is the band jam session — the same applies to Moskitos. That being said, this is not the only ingredient necessary when cooking up great new music. “Jams can become stale or need direction, in which case traditional songwriting is needed to give everything a bit of direction,” says Albert. He credits Lappies with the songwriting and “larger picture polish”. “We all, however, influence each other’s playing and deliberate it out in the room when we’re together. We’ll get silly excited after figuring out a drum beat with Danie for like half an hour,” he adds. 

[Danie Holtzhausen at the Moskitos show at House of Machines, Cape Town. PHOTO: Pierre-Louis Bredenkamp]

Having band members with separate music tastes have helped Moskitos develop their own unique sound. “Our sound focuses a lot on groovy rhythms, catchy melodies and hard-hitting instrumental sections. Our vocals regularly harmonise to uplift the choruses. The thing I like most about our sound is that you can both dance and headbang to it,” says Danie. 

Lads on Tour

Earlier this year, Moskitos had the opportunity to cross off one of their bucket list items — a tour. They were accompanied to Johannesburg by fellow Cape Town-based psych-rock band, Sold Ash. Their tour included playing at some of South Africa’s most renowned live music venues, such as Sognage and Sowaar Bar.

According to the co-founder of Sognage, Neill de Villiers, Moskitos are a progressive, groovy and visceral three-piece that sound much bigger than they are. “Some of their riffs are more playful — a la 1969 — than psychedelic, and then the distortion comes in,” he adds. Other than rocking out at great locations, the bands also got up to some “on the road” shenanigans which they happily shared with us. 

[The crowd at the Moskitos show at Sognage, Johannesburg. PHOTO: Evan Cummings]

Here is Moskitos’ highlight reel of the tour:

“We rushed to the airport. Drank beers and played Doodle Jump on the aeroplane. We landed and met some nice people. We went for beers at a local joint in Pretoria. The next day we did a bit of sightseeing and prepared for the Sowaar [Bar] gig. The venues are very well kept up there. Sold Ash played so well the first night that the police decided to pop in and check it out. How nice of them!”

“The next day started with a slow morning which picked up after a Wimpy breakfast and milkshakes. We went down to Jozi for the Sognage gig. Coolest venue. Great green room. Amazing sound. Well organised, kudos to the folks over at That 70’s Fest.”

“Sold Ash closed out that evening after an impressive line-up of acts. They absolutely killed it. I think the stage and sound really helped in delivering the vision and scope and weight of it all. We all felt it. I’m glad we were there to experience that with them. Overall, a crazy experience. One we are very thankful for and will remember fondly into our old age for sure,” says Albert.

[Moskitos performing at Sognage, Johannesburg. PHOTO: Evan Cummings]

Dual Single, One Music Video

Another bucket list item Moskitos can tick off is filming and releasing their first music video. On 1 July 2022, Moskitos released two singles titled ‘Magazines’ and ‘Shakes’. The band then went on to create a music video to accompany both singles, subsequently titled ‘Magazines/Shakes’. This music video was filmed and directed by Hough Maritz and Christiaan Jonck, who also happen to be good friends with the band.

[Moskitos’ debut music video ‘Magazines/Shakes’. VIDEO: Moskitos]

Lappies told us a bit more about the process of filming this music video, “Chris and Hough are immensely talented and compiled the entire seven-minute music video with only a few hours of shooting and editing,” he says.  The music video portrays Lappies being followed by an ominous man, which, according to him, represents a metaphor for the ever-present influence that modern-day media exerts on everyone.

Psych-Rock Meets Alternative Indie 

On 8 October, Moskitos are performing alongside SA bigwigs, Desmond and the Tutus, at District in Cape Town. Performing with such a prominent local band at an up-and-coming live music venue like District is a huge achievement for Moskitos. “[We are] very excited. It’s pretty trippy playing with such a significant name locally. I remember grooving out to the ‘Tattoo” music video on MK way back in the day,” says Lappies. 

[Pieter Labuschagne performing with Moskitos at House of Machines, Cape Town. PHOTO: Pierre-Louis Bredenkamp]

Making all the Pieces Fit

Every band has challenges they need to face. Moskitos is no different in this regard — trying to juggle jobs and studies while finding the time to create music together has posed a challenge to the band. However, this has not stopped them from prospering in the South African music industry. “We love one another and we love music so we’ll always find a way to make it work. Other than that, the big challenge is trying to find Danie after a night out,” Lappies says laughingly. 

Despite the challenges that may arise, they advise local bands who are just starting out to take time with their sound before they start gigging. They also emphasise making deadlines for new songs to be finished — else “without this nothing gets done”. “Jam with as many musicians as you can, you will learn a lot in a short amount of time. Party before and after shows with other bands and people who support local artists, because this is almost the only way to create awesome opportunities for your band,” Danie adds. 

[Moskitos live at the House of Machine for Jim Beam’s Welcome Sessions. PHOTO: Pierre-Louis Bredenkamp]

For now, Moskitos is just taking things as they come and taking the time to smell the roses. They tease that they might have a surprise or two up their sleeves towards the end of the year. Currently, they are mostly excited for their upcoming shows at District this weekend with Desmond and the Tutus and at Bohemia in Stellenbosch on 27 October accompanied by Yndian Mynah. 


It’s a good thing I’m better at my job than I am at driving. Otherwise, we’d all be in big trouble. On the note of things I enjoy more than driving, the local music scene is very dear to my heart — put me in a crowd in front of a band instead of behind the steering wheel any day of the week.