Watch the music video for “Steve Umculo (Feat. Khài) – Running Out of Space”
|PICTURED – From L to R: Khài; Steve Umculo|
Steve Umculo teams up with Ugandan rapper Khài on his brand-new single “Running Out of Space”, which is out across all digital platforms today.
Steve Umculo [‘Umculo’ is the Zulu word for music] is an upbeat and energetic singer/songwriter born and raised in the culturally rich and bustling city of Johannesburg. His music is a unique blend of afro-centric grooves and folk harmonies, and he maintains a beautiful balance between sing-along melodies and dance-inducing grooves. Umculo’s positivity is as contagious as it is refreshing, and manages to seep through into his music and his live shows.
Umculo adopts a moodier and more melancholic facet to his usual happy demeanour in this tongue-in-cheek sociopolitical statement. “Running Out of Space” is a groovy alternative-pop song that doubles up as a thought experiment exploring one mind’s place in a world that shrinks day by day. Teaming up with Ugandan rapper, Khài, Steve comments on factors including globalised media, overpopulation, global warming and worldwide lockdowns that all influence a small cacophony of sound ever closing in on an individual soul.
Umculo recalls how the single came about, saying “Cav Barry and I sat down with a guitar and a whiskey, like we usually do when hanging out at his place. Cav showed me a riff he had come up with recently which was in a minor key (obviously… Cav always writes in a minor key). For those of us who aren’t musically inclined, minor keys are usually associated with sombre or sad moods (Cav’s actually a really upbeat dude, he just loves A minor for some reason), contrary to my usual major key writing style which is happy and uplifting. I really dug what he was playing and messed around with it a bit. He then turned to me and said, ‘alright, what are we writing a song about?’ To which I responded ‘overpopulation’. It just made sense in my head. Sad chords, sad topic, makes sense.” Umculo continues saying “He came out with the 1st verse and I was like, ‘wow dude, that’s great! Go back into Cavland and finish it off!’ So he took another 10 to come up with the pre-chorus and chorus while I added in a bit of chord variation and BOOM! We had the start of ‘Running Out of Space’. Cav’s process and the speed at which he can write lyrics has always fascinated me. It’s honestly borderline genius.”
The release of the single is accompanied by a brilliant music video.
Watch the music video for “Steve Umculo (Feat. Khài) – Running Out of Space” here: https://youtu.be/JLaQCd2hzK4
The music video for “Running Out of Space” is visually powerful and Umculo chats about the thought behind it, saying “I always knew I wanted to make a music video for this tune. With such an extreme change to my sound, I knew I needed to give this song some appropriate visual representation to set the mood. My first idea was to take online stock footage of the drastic impact humans have had on the earth and edit it in a rather abstract way. I figured it necessary to intersperse a few shots of me singing the song to give it a bit more of a personal feel. I called my friend, Thomas, from Drawntolight Productions to brainstorm some ideas. I told Thomas that my mum owns a property where a dilapidated building stands, ready to be demolished and we set up a site meet a few days later. While we were crashing around, thinking about what shots we wanted, Thomas’ colleague, Gavin, piped up and said, ‘can we just address the elephant in the room? We have the opportunity to smash sh*t with a sledgehammer and film it. Shouldn’t we be focusing on that?’ And with that, the breaking-out-of-a-tiny-room metaphor came to life.”
The whole process was pretty fluid when filming started and Umculo loved Thomas’ creative energy. “The thing I love the most about shooting a music video is the creativity that being on set generates. Once you get going, so many great ideas come to the fore. Especially when you have as great a team as we had on our shoot days. The spray paint, the “SU” silhouette and filming Khài through the hole in the wall were all thought of on the day and they are some of my favourite shots,” recalls Umculo.
This song is quite a severe detour from Umculo’s usual upbeat and happy atmosphere he creates with his music. With that came quite a mammoth task of redefining the Steve Umculo image. “I feel like every creative team member has done such a fantastic job of capturing the new direction and I would like to personally thank you for all the effort you have put into this project. My brand is only as strong as the team that builds it and you guys are fucking amazing.”
Video: Director/DOP: Thomas Van Schalkwyk (Drawntolight Productions) Production assistant: Serah Barry Editor: Stephen Haiden Artwork: Cavan Barry (Chalk Creation) Photo: Lea’s Lens – Steve stills Thomas Van Schalkwyk (Drawntolight Productions) – Steve & Khài stills
“Steve Umculo (Feat. Khài) – Running Out of Space” is out now across all digital platforms: https://backl.ink/142884211
[Cover art for “Running Out of Space” single]
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