When I went along to the studio to chat to the entertainers from The Buzz, I felt just like I imagine the journos from Smash Hits magazine must have felt back in the 80s when they interviewed guys like Rick Astley and Bros.
That’s just how exciting this group is – and that was exactly the vibe I felt in the room with them. The Buzz is a group of 11 musicians, and I also drew mental comparisons with another big group – Mango Groove. The Buzz has only been around since January this year, and they are going to be as popular as those performers!
It was just a fun experience to be there while the team arrived from their various activities to rehearse, and I immediately sensed that they are all committed to hard work and success and are ready and willing to put in as much effort as it needs to succeed in achieving their dream. Far from the usual notion that young people aren’t willing to work hard, I went home inspired to work even harder myself.
The band is made up of 11 entertainers, and I chatted to 6 of them.
How old are you guys and are you still at school?
Jason: I’m 19 and I finished school last year. I’m a full time student here at Stageworx. I used to be very interested in music, not from a young age, I used to model and after that I found a passion for entertaining. That’s what made me really want to start music.
Dom: I’m 23, and I work in the industry. I work for two different management companies, managing mainly mainstream artists. So HHP, the Graeme Watkins Project. I work for Retrospect Media and Think Theatre. The Buzz is run by Think Theatre. I was in the Top 7 of Idols in 2012.. That started me in the industry and I formed a band called The Illustrators and then through Think Theatre, I then became part of The Buzz.
Jessica: I’m 17 and still in school. I come to study here, I do my academics here as well.
Deon: I’m in Grade 11 right now. How I got involved was I actually know Kim (Watkins of Think Theatre) from about two or three years ago. I did a project with her husband from the Graeme Watkins band. After that I was invited back to do a presenters course and so ever since then I stayed in contact on Facebook with Kim and Graeme and in the beginning of the year I saw they were having these auditions.
Lisa: I’m still in school and I come to Stageworx. I just started last year and I heard about it the beginning of this year via email and auditioned, and got in.
Siebs: I’m 19. I home school now. Cambridge is very hard and it needs a lot of time. I did go to school and this year I just decided to do it from home because it’s just easier that way. It has its days. I do come to Stageworks for Trinity exams, I take lessons with Gemma (Donnelly – Director and Principal of Stageworx).
What is The Buzz actually? What are you guys actually doing?
Siebs: We like to call ourselves a pop group and we basically sing cover songs of up and coming music and all that kind of stuff. We enjoy having fun and performing with people, that’s basically what it’s all about. We had auditions. Gemma sent out an email saying what the concept was and asked for auditions.
Sifiso: The Buzz is run by Kim, and Gemma, under Stageworx.
Dom: One of Think Theatre’s mandates every year is to conceptualise a band to really fill the gap in the market. A couple of years ago they started Swing City. They felt that there as a need for a Swing Group and then they started that in conjunction with some other management companies and then last year they started a concept group Shoowop Shop with Melissa Alison, Tamara Day and Mariechan. So this is the latest project by Think Theatre and because of the massive resources of talent that Stageworx attracts in terms of young people, after they saw the gap in the market, they saw this would be a great place to source the individuals they would like in the group. So the two companies working together sort of spawned what is now The Buzz.
And the auditions were completely open auditions as well. I think we must stress that. It wasn’t something that was exclusive to Stageworx students. It was something that they felt the platform of Stageworx as a theatre school and as a performing arts school was good in order to really find the resources in terms of people that could form it.
Sifiso: It’s not also just a school project or something. It’s young professionals. If you look at your Glee, your Pitch Perfect, and it is growing because the group only started this year but they’ve been performing many gigs already like Nickfest. They’re going to be dong a big corporate next week as well. Which we are all looking forward to. And right now we’re also just trying to get schools to book for spring, assemblies and stuff, and trying to also get the around South Africa. So they’ve been performing quite a lot. And they were communicating with some of the guys in Stageworx for Born To Perform as well. They’ve been on TV, so it’s getting out there. We want also to go to the target market the youth.
Dom: Something that’s been stressed is that they want to create young professionals. One of Gemma’s driving goals with everything is to realise that you can work with young professionals. You can work with teenagers and people on a professional point of view. I think that’s something that Stageworx wants to gain with The Buzz. Show the industry that young people aren’t always a hassle. They should be able to be hired to do these sort of things.
Siebs: And young people are talented enough to be given work and be on time for things and you know –
Sifiso: They’re lucky because they’re working with Graeme Watkins, Nathan Ro, Cito – everyone who is there, Gemma, in the theatre industry –
What would you say has been your best experience so far?
Jessica: I think it was Nickfest. Nickolodeon Festival at the Silverstar Casino. Mi Casa was there – and basically we performed for the little children and stuff like that. It was an amazing experience.
Dom: It was like a South African version of the Kids Choice Award, to a certain extent. It was kind of run by Nickolodeon. And it was really the first big platform for us and we fell right into a market that was exactly where we want to be. That’s why it was such a special experience for all of us as well.
Siebs: Dora was there, Sponge Bob was there, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. To transport kids to be on the scene of Nickolodeon.
Deon: I think that was definitely one of the biggest experiences. I think though in general when we’re all together as a family there’s nothing better. We just all click so much.
Lisa: Well said. I think we all have something different about ourselves, we’re not all the same. That’s what makes us amazingly different. It’s cool getting the experience and being professional and knowing what you’re doing and everything.
Jason: And having fun.
Jessica: Performing in front of people and engaging in what you’re doing. You don’t often get to perform on stage and have people have to look at you. We all started in school plays and stuff. I’ve been with Gemma now since I was 11 and she does stage productions every year. That’s how I started off.
Siebs: We spend more time with each other outside of school than our other friends.
Dom: Nickfest was an hour and a half show and then there’d be two cycles, one in the morning, and one in the afternoon. And you would buy tickets and you could take pictures, and there were performance by characters on Nickolodeon. Across the board the response was great. And also there were a lot of celebrities getting slimed in aid of Nelson Mandela Children’s fund as well. The response from the celebs was also great. Industry professionals that took notice.
Have you started recording your new album yet?
Sifiso: It’s in process and will be before the end of the year. We’ve got Graeme writing some of the stuff, and the guys also are being mentored to write their own music. We will be going to studio.
Dom: Our whole show is completely live vocals and choreographed by industry professionals too. It’s a balance of both. IT’s a 45 minute spectacle I would say.
Siebs: We’re all lead singers and we all get a chance to shine. It’s like One Direction meets Glee meets Pitch Perfect. It’s really nice to kind of have all the aspects of the different musicians that are out there.
Jason: It also depends on the song, who sings what.
Do you have favourite songs that you prefer to do?
Jessica: We do have a set –
Dom: In terms of response, One Direction, Steal My Girl. At the Nickfest, not just from our point of view as performance, but from a response point of view, One Direction was huge. The biggest response we got.
How do you fit it in with all your school work and that stuff?
Siebs: I guess we’ll have a meeting with Gemma and Kim and they’ll say this is coming up and we need rehearsals for this and this – who is free on this day, usually we have rehearsals on a Tuesday and before we were doing the gigs, we did on Saturdays and Sundays as well. It’s a process because there’s 11 people and 11 timetables to juggle.
Jason: But the group’s also been put together as to say where if three people can’t make it it doesn’t mean that’s it. We have a set that’s very flexible and we’re prepared to put the work in to kind of make something work. As you would as an industry professional who would be prepared to put the time in and take it in their stride. That’s the emphasis we’re trying to get with that. I hope it will become a trend where kids will sit in the crowd and look up to us and go ‘wow, look at that,’ but I think that’s something that we want to achieve purely from a performance, work ethic professionalism point of view. If you do something that can be admired, it will be admired. If a 10 year old boy looks up at Jason or Phillip, and until then he didn’t think it was possible then what an unbelievable bonus.
Siebs: I guess also the thing we’re trying to put out is that you can do anything, if you put your mind to it and you work hard for it.
Jessica: It also gives a chance for them to find their way into the industry.
Sifiso: Also nice to be earning at a very young age! There’s a stigma if you’re in the arts you’re going to face a bleak future and it’s not. You can follow your dreams.
Dom: I was very fortunate to have parents that kind of said if that’s what you want to do go for it and every one of the people in the group has parents completely behind them, whereas I think 15 years ago it probably wouldn’t have been the case. That for me is really refreshing. They’re very much a cog in the wheel of what is The Buzz.
Sifiso: The Buzz parents have been very supportive and they are very involved.
Siebs: Parents are also learning. I’m the oldest in my family and nobody else wants to be in entertainment. They are learning that not everybody wants to be a doctor or an accountant, not everybody is the same.
Jason: I’ve been bowled over by parents not even blinking an eye to travel over an hour, for example Deon lives in Vereeniging. Every performance he’s here without fail, every rehearsal.
Jessica: We’ve also been very fortunate to have Gemma and Kim to help us. We have everything we need to rehearse and practice, if you’re struggling or something like that.
What happens if you get people who say you can’t do this?
Siebs: We’ve been very lucky because we haven’t got something like that before. I’ve had like family members say – they told me no it’s very hard but I stuck to my guns and work hard towards it. We all work hard. We’ve got a lot of support, anything that we put our minds together if we do it we get it done.
Deon: We’re still starting out, once we get bigger we will kind of get that doubt from other people but now we’re still very fresh in our ideas and very much in the group.
If you are a corporate and you want to book The Buzz you can contact Kim here.