Road to Joy of Jazz 2023 with Marumofemme

Sister DJing duo Kopano and Mamello Pule, known artistically as Marumofemme, have in recent times taken the local jazz industry and it’s spaces by dazzle. The sisters can be best described as nothing short of boundary breakers given how they’ve not only packaged and offered the music in a format hardly seen but have also found a good balance of the new and the old in their offering. Their outward look into the world and their craft combined with them being young people entails we are in for a treat for years to come!

In the 2022 edition of the Joy of Jazz, Marumofemme were part of the acts in the then Lifestyle Expo segment and are in this year’s edition part of the acts that will be gracing the Joy of Jazz Lounge stage. We caught up with the ladies to speak on this transition, preparation, expectations and overall excitement leading up to this year’s premier jazz show, have a read below…

With you being sisters and running the duo, Marumofemme, how are the dynamics there?

We are two years apart and obviously we were raised together. Our parents brought us up in a musical environment. Our dad listened to a lot of Jazz music and would take us to Jazz concerts often. We were pretty young at the time and didn’t really understand what music was but we would go nonetheless because our dad was part of the Jazz music movement. Our mom on the other hand was on the gospel side, she was hard-core on the gospel playlists. So, the foundation of music was lied pretty thick for us even though we didn’t know it then. As we grew older we started liking some songs, listening to songs together, and sometimes even singing along to songs together. Especially the gospel songs because our mom had a church and she would make us sing in church. That’s were we started singing and performing together. Our parents also liked hosting so when they had friends over we would be the ones to curate and play music to create the ambiance.

Marumofemme in their earlier days. Kopano (left) and Mamello (right).

How did you come up with the name of your duo and why did you choose to present music the way you do?

I [Kopano] knew I had a creative gift within me and it just needs a way to come out. I then started praying about it  and one day it just came to me through a dream. I didn’t even know what Marumo meant at the time. I called my sister [Mamello] and told her about it and she was on board.  We then spoke to our parents about it and got the meaning of the word ‘Marumo’. Marumo translates as spear and femme means woman. So our name means warrior woman, fighting woman, or powerful woman.

With the DJing, our dad had a recorder and a huge music collection. He was a musician and had some movement going on so when he hosted his friends and fellow musicians at our home, we would be the ones playing the music  and we would get good feedback from the guests. As we got older we would host our friends and play music for them. So the DJing started off as something we did for fun, it was necessary planned. It was just us vibing with the music until we decided we wanted to host a real party. That’s when we decided to go for a few lessons on DJing and we did, all so we could host a party. So we can say DJing found us.

You played at the Lifestyle Expo last year, how was the experience and did it inform the set you will be playing this year at Joy of Jazz?

The Lifestyle Expo was a Jazz workshop and we felt like that was a great place to start because we had decided that we’re playing jazz solely for that set. It was a great welcoming for us and the audience was surprised to see people as young as us playing music from the 50’s and 60’s. The reception was absolutely fantastic. It was great to play the music we love and have the people truly enjoy it.

Going into the Lounge Jazz we are going to give people our definition of a Loungey vibe. Jazz is our first love and we are dedicating our set to heroines of jazz. We want to showcase the vastness of women’s contributions to Jazz music. There’s definitely pressure this year because we are on the lineup along the likes of sis’Nothemba Madumo but we’re also excited. We are certain that our set will be well-received and enjoyed by the audience.

Do you take the feel of the audience into consideration when preparing your set or do you rely on your experience? And do you put a tracklist together for an event like this?

First things first, for any event, is the music. You want people to understand the music, and this case jazz specifically. And then ofcourse the energy of the audience. Last year we played deep jazz and got a feel of the reception which definitely has influenced our set for this year. Our tracklist curation has also been intuitive. We usually create a playlist together and then work on the presentation of it because presentation of the music is very important.

People don’t always realize how big Joy of Jazz is until they’re there. As a duo, how important is JoJ to you and to an extent the jazz culture at large?

We are still in awe. We understand that JoJ is one of the biggest jazz festivals on the continent. This year they have jazz giants and from that alone you can tell they’re serious about the quality of the production. The different venues cater for different types of Jazz and different audiences, which you can experience all in one place.

JoJ is important for the culture because jazz is not just a genre of music, it’s a consciousness. It’s empowering and that’s why we, as youngsters, are pushing this mandate. We feel that we need this sound to liberate us.

Festival Dates: 29 and 30 September 2023

Venue:  Sandton International Convention Centre.

Tickets are available at Computicket and Checkers outlets.