It’s impossible to listen to Hot Water. To just listen. Because when Donovan Copley, the band’s founder, frontman, and creative heart, starts singing, playing (often his iconic Afri-can guitar), jiving and jumping around stage, backed up by a mix of stellar South African musicians as diverse as the country itself, you can’t sit still…
No one does. The music – ‘South African Folk-Rock,’ Copley calls it – layers the sounds of traditional mbaqanga, kwela and maskanda with a more contemporary folk-rock vibe and utterly danceable rhythms, woven through with Copley’s raw, sweet voice and inspiring, almost dreamlike lyrics…
…Songs about ‘going home’ – whether to a place, a person, a community, or to yourself.
‘I think the qualities I’m striving for in my music can also be found in the general vibe of Bob Marley’s,’ Copley says. ‘In the words of a fan, “uplifting, dance-making and a positive influence on our home.” That’s who I want to be – a homemaker in the sense of creating music that leaves people feeling at home in themselves.’
For the past ten years, Hot Water has energised and uplifted thousands of audiences in South Africa and internationally. Local audiences follow the band faithfully to festivals across the country – such as Rocking the Daisies, Up the Creek, Oppikoppi and Splashy Fen – and to major venues such as Kirstenbosch Summer Concerts and the V & A Waterfront in Cape Town. Outside of South Africa, they’ve performed in twelve different countries, including WOMAD Spain, WOMAD UK, the Chiang Mai (Thailand) International Arts Festival and the Royal Carre Theatre in Amsterdam.
‘South Africa’s most happening band’ (Mail & Guardian)
‘Easily one of the most exciting musical projects to come out of SA’ (The Citizen)
‘Among the best [bands] in the country. They might even be the best.’ (Independent Newspapers)
Hot Water’s song Wamkelekile featured in Adam Sandler’s 2014 film with Drew Barrymore, Blended, playing during a raucous dance scene as well as over the end credits.
Copley’s hoping for more film hits, and is building an archive of songs, taking himself and the band on a journey that so far has produced four albums and ultimately aiming for twelve – exploring the full range of human experience.
‘I’m trying to create a whole package,’ Copley says, ‘a medicine kit of sorts with a set of twelve albums that fit together…’
Continuing to create, musically, a unifying space for personal and collective joy and healing…
‘For me, music is a sort of salvation,’ Copley says. ‘My personal inner and outer musical journey are two sides of the same coin. Songs allow me to feel powerful enough to face any challenge in life – they give me a vehicle to transform whatever comes at me from within. Songs have given me the space to be both vulnerable and invincible at the same time.’
Hot Water’s deeply rooted in South Africa, but its appeal is universal. As are Copley’s musical intentions…
‘My aim is to create awesome entertainment that – rather than playing into and feeding off people’s fears and pain – instead creates upliftment, magic and miracles.’
Donovan Copley (Lead Vocalist, Songwriter, Afri-Can Guitarist)
Tim Rankin (Rock Drummer)
Bandile Mbombela (Reggae Bassist)
Guy Collins (Blues Guitarist)
Xoliswa Tom (African Dancer/Vocalist)
Adriaan Brand (Rock Trumpeter and Goema Accordionist)
2010 - present
2010 - present