The result? Minnaar, a collaboration spiking operatic melodies with lush electronic beats.
With Magdalene living and working in Cape Town and Louis in Pretoria, Minnaar is also a tale of two cities. Most recently, the duo have released their second EP, Safe & Sound, which was a nine-month long joint effort over the internet.
Louis says that the process has its disadvantages as it’s tricky describing sound over the phone if you can’t play it in real time.
“I hear something in my head that I think should happen lyrically or with melodies vocally over what I’ve done and then Magdalene does something completely different,” says Louis. “It kind of throws you off.”
There is an upside to the process, though, he explains. “It’s more of a collaboration than me just composing music, writing the melody that I want her [Magdalene] to sing. We both bring something valuable to it in that way.”
Both Safe & Sound and Minnaar’s first release Volcano have a dark, nebulous feel to it, a motif Louis says he uses often because he feels comfortable with it.
“But I don’t think darkness is the right way of describing it. It’s more human,” says Louis. “We didn’t want to force it into something that we thought people would enjoy. We just put our emotions into it and our thoughts into it and that’s what came out.”
Who better to add the human edge than Bittereinder’s bard Jaco van der Merwe, who penned lyrics for two songs on Safe & Sound? Louis and Magdalene liked the lyrics for “Safe and Sound” so much that that they decided to make the song the title track of the album.
Safe & Sound also sees Minnaar growing into their collaboration as a duo. “I think the third EP will come even more naturally, not just the process but the kind of sound we make. We’ve figured out what types of sounds and what types of devices compliment what the other one does,” explains Louis.
Speaking of their third release, Louis says that he and Magdalene have already started working on it. He had already written 30 base tracks for Minnaar before he and Magdalene came together, so there’s a lot of material they’re tinkering with at the moment.
Even with all this material, the distance between the two makes it difficult to gig regularly. “We just decided that we’re going to focus on making the music because that’s what we love,” says Louis.
Photo: Louis Minnaar and Christo Jaussen Niemandt