The first press release I got about Thor Rixon was about his album “Tea Time Favourites”. In it, I was introduced to a dreadlocked white dude who made world music. Not exactly my cup of tea. That I clicked play and not delete was either because I wanted to slate it or I really trusted whoever sent the mail. I’m grateful that I did, because I was introduced to the charming and eclectic sounds of a sentimental sweetheart who I’ve come to really appreciate as an artist. Tea Time Favourites is still one of my favourite albums – ever. There’s a sincerity and earnestness to Thor’s work, with layers of sardonic humour and irony that resonates with me. I know it’s not for everyone, Thor know’s it’s not for everyone. I mean, look at ‘fuk bread’, that song and video divided people. A seemingly lighthearted look at diet drew love, hate and confusion from whoever came across it.
With Thor’s latest music video for ‘The Clown’, you might be fooled by the title into thinking that those layers of humour would be present once again, but, spoiler alert, they’re not. Like, at all. Or maybe they are and I’m missing them, idk. That’s all I’m going to mention about the video because Thor wants “the audience/viewer to have their own view of the piece and for them to take from it what they feel is necessary for them – if that makes sense? It just feels necessary for the piece to work.” Yup, we did an interview for a music video and we barely discussed the video at all. Instead, we waxed philosophically about the Cape Town music scene, racism and art, man.
Here’s the thing, Thor Rixon is a unique cat, so I started off our Facebook chat by asking if he considers himself to be a bit of a weirdo. “Yes, I do, but doesn’t everyone feel like that?” He replies. To a degree, yeah, I’m sure everyone feels like an outlier, but not everyone tattoos their head for a music video, like Thor did with ‘fuk bread’. It seems that Thor truly doesn’t give a fuck about fitting in. “Maybe it’s that I don’t really put that much energy into making sure people don’t find out that I’m really strange or weird?” He offers as an explanation. ”Maybe everyone is strange and weird but they spend more time covering it up and making sure no one finds out? I don’t know. Just a thought.”
Thor seems hyper aware of the world around him and his place in it, and through his various creative endeavours, plays with the relationship between the audience and the artist. I ask if he enjoys playing with people’s perceptions “Yeah, I do enjoy surprising and entertaining people, but I don’t actively try and be strange or ‘out there’.” He continues “To be honest, I don’t really want people to focus on me but more the work, or the message that I am presenting. I see the reaction as an extension of the work or the message and that I enjoy because then the audience becomes a part of the greater work/message.”
I asked him to explain what he means, “So, for instance, there was a message in ‘fuk bread’ that people commented on. The audience’s opinions and comments on that work shows you the thoughts and feelings of a society ranging from meat consumption to what it is to be queer etc.” He continues to explain “Usually there are 2 main viewpoints: pro and against, and the size of that divide is usually the most interesting part of the work. Well, it is for me at least.” I found it strange that a song as whimsical as ‘fuk bread’ can elicit so much love and ire, but at the end of the day that’s what Thor wants. “I hope that all the work I create is provocative to be honest. it would be a waste if it weren’t, I think.”
Last year, Thor lived in Berlin for a few months and has found adjusting to life back in Cape Town difficult. I asked him about the experience and what it’s like to be back home. “Berlin is amazing. Cape Town is pretty fucked.” The conversation turns to something that more and more South Africans are discussing at the moment, racism and structural inequality. “I say this because CT has a lot of serious issues mainly to do with how the city was built and structured to create divide. Yes, it’s beautiful and full of nature and shit but socially it’s so wrong. The racism is strong.” I ask Thor if he thinks it’s fixable, “To be honest, I don’t know. I think that it is possible but I don’t know how.” I narrow the question down a bit, because it’s often easy to wax woke about racism in South Africa. I ask him what he’s doing to enact change in his own life and what other “woke” white dudes can actually do when faced with the reality of racism in our country. “I choose to have messages in my work that hopefully makes the viewer think and question the way they live their lives. What I have also started to do is try and educate my peers and the people I interact with who are racist to become aware of their their prejudice towards others just as I have become aware of it in me. This is not to say that I understand racism completely. I feel I still have a lot to learn and look forward to learning more to hopefully fully eradicate the racism I see in myself and in others.”
You can watch the video for ‘The Clown’ below then look out for it’s release on Get Physical Music (Berlin) on Friday 7 July with remixes by Few Nolder and Lord Of The Isles.