Like the simple joy of a raspberry lollipop on a relaxed Joburg afternoon, the promo song “Wayward son” sets the uplifting tone of Blue Lit Sky’s upcoming debut album. Yet to be named, the band is hoping the album will bring together the decade or so of experience band members have to bear on a fresh new sound in South Africa’s indie-rock scene.
The four guys met originally at church, and decided to create something different from their previous bands – from the successful Joburg heavy metal band, Knave, and the moodier rock band Earl Grey and Croquet – Blue Lit Sky is about tapping your feet. Speaking on how the band came together, lead singer Chris Steenkamp says the four members starting working on some of his lyrics early last year, and over time the sound “got a snowball going, and we’re rolling with that, trying to keep the snowball going”.
The band is your classic indie rock set-up: Chris is the songwriter, lead guitarist, and vocalist; the other Chris (Smith) rocking out the second guitar, Mikey is busy on bass and the lovely Liam keeps the feet tapping on drums. Having been in unsigned bands previously, the guys know what the hustle is about. They understand the power of networks, of finding and exploiting those people who can get you some exposure, like those in radio, in magazines and social media. For them, part of this is also supporting the industry as whole; supporting friends’ bands and encouraging friends to pay at the door!
Blue Lit Sky is the idea of freedom – something that permeates the contours of the band’s songs. The guys talk about how they want their listeners to feel wrapped in a comforting sound, “something that covers everybody in a blanket of awesomeness”. For Chris, the songs are his way to try to pick people up when they’re down, to inspire them. They like to talk about the unseen things in way they tell their stories.
When speaking on the South African indie-rock scene, the band recounts stories of fun, of some shenanigans (what’s a live show without some questionable props), and of a lot of support. The indie rock scene in Johannesburg is particularly close-knit in its smallness, but with a strong international outlook. A lack of live music venues this side of the karoo has meant a lot of bands play themselves out on small, weeknight gigs, hoping Sony will find them. Their idea however, is take their brand and their image seriously, and put out quality music on multiple platforms (though funnily enough, not on CDs), and to bring their professionalism to their performances and products. The band is working on their next single, which should be released later next month, and once they have some song online, will be launching themselves head-first into the weekend gig and festival scenes.
Expect to see a lot of these guys in 2018 – and have your soda and lollipops ready.