BY AURELIA MOUTON
Hailing from the sunny Mother City, four-piece Cape Town indie-funk group Year of Dogs certainly have a metropolitan, easy swagger to match their music. Made up of brothers Alex Birns on drums and Dillon Birns on bass, and life-long friends Nic van Graan on vocals and Themba Bosch as guitarist, Year of Dogs are making a name for themselves in the vibey, eclectic, alternative scene of South Africa.
“We like to say that we float in between the indie-funk-pop-French house-disco genres, although we aren’t particularly bothered about definitions! What’s important to us is making sick beats with our friends, writing music we connect with, and songs we would actually listen to ourselves,” says Dillon Birns.
The band’s nu-disco pop sound is heavily influenced by indie staples like Tame Impala, Mac DeMarco, MGMT, and French house-disco groups like FKJ, L’Impératrice, Polo & Pan and Paradis.
During the COVID-19 lockdown last year, the group continued to write and meet over Zoom and snuck in jam sessions here and there when restrictions allowed. While the pandemic has definitely had a negative impact on their ability to book gigs, Year of Dogs have certainly made the best of it by establishing a loyal online following through uploading short tracks and videos to their Instagram page. This also led to the release of their debut single, “Sweet Red”, in January earlier this year.
“The pandemic has had a huge influence on the band, and not just because all the gigs dried up. For context, the country went into lockdown level 5 one week after we played our first gig (so three weeks after we first all met). The pandemic meant that we couldn’t meet up, couldn’t practise or write music in person—it forced us to rethink how we would operate as a band,” says Birns.
Year of Dogs are, however, currently ready and raring to go with the release of their EP and final single from their album, MoonLove, in mid-October, as well as a show lined up with Saving Arthur at Aandklas on 9 October.
“Stellenbosch is a great place to build a following because there’s a good selection of venues and a large, diverse audience. While certain genres will always have a home in Stellies, the town—and in particular [the students]—[have] always been open to fresh sounds, which bodes well for a band that (we think) is bringing something different to the scene,” Birns continued.
Year Of Dogs can be found on Apple Music and Spotify and the band’s official Instagram page, @yearofdogs_.