Okzharp & Manthe Ribane Share the Stories Behind ‘Closer Apart’

Their ace debut album on Hyperdub
Manthe Ribane
Manthe Ribane 

"The new music is a 360 turn," singer/choreographer Manthe Ribane says of Closer Apart, her ace debut album with co-producer Okzharp. "It's an expression of my 'lady' side. I grew up listening to jazz, classical and gospel; I am a very soft-spoken person, and it resonates with being confident with that. It's been crazy finding balance and a smart way to strengthen my weaknesses, I had to trust the process."

And trust she does; the duo's Hyperdub LP is a spare-yet-spellbinding pop opus, created across time zones in headphones and hotels, with skeletalmelodies serving more like mantras than pure, unadulterated hooks. The following exclusive is true to the duo's transient nature as well, a track-by-track wrapup of the entire record written over breakfast in Rome last week....
Closer Apart album cover
"W U @" 
This is two aliens trying to have a conversation and the signal is dropping in and out. The opening part was one take recorded on a phone; it felt right to keep it in.

Sometimes you don't know how words will sound until you say them. Or sing them. And sometimes you need to speak or sing your truth no matter what the consequences. Only the truth can make you blue.

Sometimes we create a wall of fear around ourselves, or we fade into a void of fear of ourselves, or of the obstacles that life might bring. It's a self conversation. Don't complain. Don't explain. Don't you fade away.

It means money. Money doesn't only talk; it shouts and whispers and sings sometimes. This is us playing with the connection between money and time. We met an elderly gentleman artist who told us that a billionaire can't buy five minutes.
We like the internal tension of this phrase, and the way it cycles around. Never doubt yourself and don't be afraid to contradict yourself. What was true yesterday doesn't have to be true today.

Our two aliens are reconnecting. The signal is back, but we only hear a one-sided conversation about how experience colours perception and how different people can bring out different elements of another person.

We like to think of this as some kind of blend of Bobby Vinton, [Jorge Luis] Borges, Burial, and [Erykah] Badu. It features our own made up word "billaweh", which means "you're going to find a way". It's a song of love for the ones that might get left behind. That's life sometimes.

We wrote this sitting on the floor of Milan's airport terminal, inspired by the flight updates and looking out at the 'viper trails' snaking across the evening sky. The music was inspired by something that we still haven't properly identified; it was playing over Lee Broom's installation at the Salone Di Mobile exhibition last year.
This is us connecting to the environment, trying to find a response to the slow apocalypse taking place around us, in which we are all complicit. But somehow we're always rising. 'We' can be quite a problematic word, but we hope it's hopeful here.

When I see you, you always walk with diamonds. We are born an uncut diamond, and life makes the edges. "Bohlale botswa lebadiing" is a Sepedi proverb that roughly translates as "wisdom comes from the wound". It's the edges that make the diamond shine. It's important to try and allow the obstacles you face to inspire you. It's about allowing ourselves to be limitless, timeless, endless, priceless, precious. And being strong in the face of things beyond your control. It's also about time and how it can distort and bend in different ways. Words carry power; be careful on what you declare upon yourself. Diamonds aren't forever.
Okzharp & Manthe Ribane
Theletsa means listen, so this is about listening. Chris Saunders has this tattooed on his wrist. Most of the problems in the world are a result of people hearing without listening. Listening to the world and also listening to the voice inside you.

This is a reminder that the journey continues. We're not dun, son. You need to feel.

Don't forget to remember. A moment of reflection, playing with the internal tension of the phrase. But there's a message here to ourselves, to reflect on our paths to this point to inspire a next step.


Okzharp & Manthe Ribane