Khanya: I didn’t prepare any questions, by the way. I almost did. Last week sometime, I was typing out a few questions because I was nervous. It started feeling like I was preparing an interview so I stopped. Was it myself or Jeff who reached out to you guys about being part of the KULT issue?
Manthe: Uhm, we… Well thank you so much, Justsunday, for having us on board on this historical moment. We really hope that this will inspire a lot of people. So we’re working on a campaign with Woolworths for a new collection called EDITION Collection. Kay-Kay was the main feature. I think if everyone were to go to every Woolworths in South Africa, they’ll see ‘The Classic Man’, Mr Ribane. Congratulations, by the way. – everyone claps – That’s a very big one. Also, we had just wrapped up the Nike Air Max month. We got chosen to be one of the influencers for the campaign, which was a really overwhelming experience because, you know, Nike is a global brand and for them to pick Dear Ribane to be a part of change, it was a part of history. What that meant for us is to not give up on what we started, and build on the progress. Before that were just travelling back and forth. And then Justsunday happened. That was just a great way to have a good Sunday, with the brilliant team.
Tebogo: So we also did some work on a Standard Bank campaign…
Manthe: Oh yeah…
Tebogo: #Today. We did a… Was it a social advert? Or…
Manthe: It was a social media campaign.
Tebogo: They gave every influencer a platform to give a pledge and we gave a our pledge to Sparrow Rainbow Village. It’s an AIDS orphanage home, so we thought it would be amazing for Dear Ribane to do a CSI project, and give back. Because that’s why we are where we are right now. God has given us so much grace.
Khanya: I’ve spent some time looking at your work. You’ve worked with multiple brands, on multiple platforms, but everything you produce still has that through-line that makes it look and feel like Dear Ribane. How do you guys bring that through all the time? Apart from the glasses that no one can mistake. I’ve seen a lot of artists’ style compromised because of particular brands that they’ve worked with. I mean, I’ve looked at the Nike Air Max work and that was incredible. You guys got the balance right. You can tell immediately that this is Dear Ribane’s work without putting the brand in the background. How do you guys manage to always make sure that your fingerprint is always present in the work?
Kay-Kay: I think it comes down to everyone that we work with, like some big brands; it feels like everybody gravitates towards what we practice. We love being part of it and we always try and make sure our craft is accepted. It’s a journey that we’ve been through with them as well. Before that, it was just us linking up and doing work that shows the strength of ‘us’. It was also a big deal for the brands to open up to us and our way of working; not being closed-minded as well. They were open to new ideas and new solutions and being innovative.
Manthe: …and its a great feeling to not sacrifice what you stand for. We know this world can be very challenging, and that’s a good thing because it brings out the best in you. But, sometimes you find yourself compromising to the point where you lose what you had started. We’re very happy that ‘the gatekeepers’ are a lot more open minded now. It’s time that they accept change. Change can be very uncomfortable, best it serves the world best when everyone gravitates towards it. Right now, the world is looking at Africa. We have so much richness and diversity here. We should not underestimate it by trying be something or someone else. Always be you, because there will never be another you… – laughs – wow, that’s so… – laughing –
Khanya: So when I spoke to Jeff… So like, this whole mag is a scam. We’re just using it make friends with the people we admire and look up to creatively. Like, “Hey! We spent Sunday with the Ribane’s, in their home!” So when I spoke to Jeff, he had shown me his treatment for the cover, and he was like, “Bro, we have to get the Ribane’s for this, it’s too crazy”. My point is, brands always come to you guys because they know they’re going to get some obscene work. So they have to be willing to step outside of their element. But, is it the same with you? Do you constantly push yourselves to a point of open-mindedness or discomfort to discover creativity, or is it like “Whatever man, this is who we are, it’s what we do on the daily?”
Tebogo: Uhm, I think knowing, and sticking to what you believe in, eventually makes people want to adjust to what you believe in. You’re correct in saying that all the brands approach us looking to get something different. What we do is something we practice on the daily. We’ve turned every room that we live in, into a creative space; so we don’t forget our duty in life which is to use creativity to positively influence our generation. It’s so important to us to be true to who we are. The world can be misleading, but being true to who you are protects you from a lot. And when brands approach you, they approach you for who you are. We went from saying “It’s ok Fam, if no one get’s it, they’ll adjust. We’re hardcore creatives. They’ll adjust” And now it’s like “Wow, you guys are so strong in your narrative”.
Manthe: Also, our father created so much vivid and creative memories in the creative world. Whenever there were school holidays, he’d always make sure that there was a schedule for graphic design classes, art classes, museums, so he really instilled that in us. Being in those spaces made us happy. Practicing it as such a young age helps us maintain it. So now it’s normality for us, we can’t be normal – everyone laughs – but it’s so amazing to see the world…
Tebogo: Adjusting. It’s a great time to be alive right now.
Manthe: …You know! We get so inspired by people who are doing even more, so we feel like we haven’t done much yet. We’re still at the beginning of it all. We’ll get better in time.
Khanya: I love how humble you guys are about it. “No, we haven’t done anything yet”. Please… – laughs – So, creative expression has become a cult, right? It’s a practice, a belief that fuels our ways of living. Do you guys ever look at what you do as a cultural practice?
Manthe: We love the fact that we don’t want to box it, or put a finger on it like, “Oh this is it. This is black, or this is white”, you know? We’re always trying to intrigue people’s curiosity and create conversation by shifting people’s mindsets. I remember when I was working with Die Antwoord, they were like “Oh yeah, you’re part of the cult family” – laughs – It was a bit like, I didn’t really look too much into it, but I just feel like Dear Ribane is a country on it’s own. It’s a philosophy and it’s a book and that’s what we’ve started. But I guess it does also connect with the cult – rituals of different beliefs, creative perspective and people that are pushing hectic boundaries, you know? But I don’t want to box it. So, it’s a challenge to answer that question actually. I don’t know if I did… It’s weird.
Tebogo: You know, for someone to remember the word cult… It’s like, when you’re different, you’re a cult. Because we ‘have’ to put you in a box. We ‘have’ to describe you. You can’t just be something new, you know? You have to adjust to something. Cult is just one of those words we use to navigate through lifestyles and execution. Yeah, maybe we’ll be the new ‘cultcyclopaedia’ – laughs –
Khanya: The beautiful thing about what we’re trying to do; and I don’t know what to call it, is… uhm… I read this in an interview with Virgil Abloh. He was speaking on how protective we are over ideas, we want to own everything. Virgil blew everything open for me in that interview. The interviewer was pointing out how Virgil uses the youth as inspiration for OFF-WHITE, but the youth can’t afford it. Virgil responds and says something like “I’m not doing this for you to afford it. I’m doing it so you can know it’s possible. It’s a template. Take it and run with it. Make it your own”.
Khanya: We heard friends tell us about other people wanting to start magazines, and we’re like, that’s great. It’s amazing! There should be ten thousand of us. We got it from somewhere, and if we do it good enough, we’ll give it to somewhere. It’s better that than trying to own an idea. Now, that being said, everyone always sees something, they like and they imitate it, make it their own. But no one has tried to recreate Dear Ribane yet. Why do you think that is?
Dear Ribane: …whoah… – laughs, and laughs, then more whoah’s, and they laugh even harder –
Kay-Kay: I think it’s still something growing. It’s still a seed also. Everything is an offspring of something. We’re also at a point where we’re gravitating towards our greater execution of work. Also, to try and duplicate this, you’d have to have the same family orientation that we do. People who are trying to duplicate it are forced to go back and think “Oh, my sisters, my brothers” It makes you humble. It has a certain state of patience and perseverance within you and your family. Gradually, we’ll see siblings coming together, working together to create companies. We realised that everyone in our family is talented in some way and us discovering that is what we’re trying to inspire.
Khanya: How long did that journey take? Discovering who you are as individuals as well as a collective, and what you can do with it…
Manthe: So growing up, we became fans of each other. My father always had this, uhm… you know, he had this beautiful spirit for all of us to win, and to always stick together. So we grew up with that strength . We became so addicted to each other. So eventually, when we gathered our hearts together, it was like, let’s be impactful for each other because our father planted that. We saw each other’s strengths and we keep on enhancing those strengths. That’s therapeutic for us because the more we see growth within each other, the more we find purpose within each other.
Tebogo: We’re very selfish about someone getting hurt by other people. We were individually disregarded to the point where we’d come home crying like “Oh had this idea but they brushed it off and…” So we got to a point where we were like, “That’s enough. Let’s do this”. So now we try to improve to impress ourselves , and that’s inspiring. It’s exciting, everyday, to know what your sibling can create.
Manthe: Also, registering the name was sort of a wake-up call. Like, if we procrastinate on this, we procrastinating on our future.
Khanya: Was that scarier than it was exciting?
Manthe: It was uncomfortable. But we needed it. We had to be
uncomfortable in order to be comfortable, you know…?
– silence, breaks into laughter –
Khanya: Yeah, no. Yeah I get it. I’m with you – laughs –
Manthe: We just knew that our talent would feed us. This our nine-to-five, and our nine-to-life…
Tebogo: Hey! – claps – Sista! Tha quotes! – laughs –
Manthe: Once we started employing other people, it was like “Ok, wow, so this is really happening”
Khanya: “Today, being what they call a creative, brings to mind the daily thought: “I don’t know where these ideas come from, and I don’t know if they’ll come back again tomorrow”. I heard that from a documentary called Art & Copy. Do you guys ever find yourselves in that realm at all?
Dear Ribane: …
Tebogo: Could you please repeat that – so I repeated it –
Tebogo: That’s why you always have to live in the power of doing, so that you don’t have to think about not doing it. You start thinking that you’ve accomplished it, I’ve established it and it’s moving. If you don’t act on idea, it might not be there tomorrow. You’ve wasted a thought, a dream that came straight to you. It’s so important for us be doers. What ever comes into your heart, do it.
Manthe: At times it can be tricky. Imagination can be so expensive. But we believe in perfect timing. With perfect timing comes perfect execution. Sometimes, if that idea wasn’t really for you, then you won’t do it.
Khanya: I spoke to Sanza of The Uniconz about that in the last issue. We were describing ideas as cells that float in the ether. Uhm, like that flower I used to love as a kid; it’s fluffy until you blow on it and then it breaks into small particles that float magically all around you. Maybe that’s what ideas are like. They’ll come to you and you might ignore them; they’ll just float to someone else. Which makes you think, actually, that ideas aren’t really yours. You’re just an expressionist of that idea. You’re just a custodian, and that’s a humbling thought. Anyway, what are the threads that make up the Dear Ribane fabric? So far I’ve gathered that it’s family, humility…
Kay-Kay: …and drive
Manthe: …and to speak the truth. Like, if you can’t do something then ask for help.
Thabiso: Bro, there’s no more space on the memory card.
Khanya: Really? Both of them?
Thabiso: Yeah man – laughs –
Khanya: Cool. that’s dope because that’s how we’ll end it. Like,
“Yo we ran out of space…”
Manthe: In the actual mag? – laughs –
Khanya: Yes, exactly!