WokRing are a South African duo composed of Nathan Nadler-Nir and James Lankester. Originally based in Cape Town and Makhanda in the Eastern Cape, WokRing has been making music remotely for the last three years. James and Nathan began putting their music on SoundCloud as a means of sharing projects with each other, they soon garnered a small, unexpected audience and formed WokRing as a long-distance, musical collaboration project.
BLOSS is their second album to be released on streaming platforms. Although started in 2019, the album was made almost entirely during the Covid-19 lockdown, where they were able to spend a lot of time conceptualizing and producing the project, James in his new room in London and Nathan in his room in Cape Town. The concept for BLOSS was largely taken from one of the duo’s weekly conversations over Zoom. The album centers on the idea of an emotional ‘glow-up’ and touches on subjects ranging from rejecting racist family members to displays of affection between male friends.
Hey Nathan and James, what is on your mind?
Nathan: Relief about having the album finally out, the Charlie XCX discography and the first season of Avatar: The Last Airbender.
James: Chess, Drugs, and Rock ‘n Roll.
Chess, Drugs, and Rock ‘n Roll.
How did you meet each other and decide you’re vibing so well that you’d like to make music, long-distance and all?
Nathan: We’ve been family friends since we were little, and when James moved to Makhanda in the Eastern Cape we started playing online games together. We bonded over Minecraft and Skype during our formative (read traumatising) early highschool lives. We both started dabbling in music and made a Soundcloud page to send each other tracks. It’s not so much a thing of us ‘vibing together’ and has much more to do with us being sole mates. At my 21st James described me as “A lot more than a friend and a bit less than a wife.”
James: What he said.
It seems like you two have been making music in “isolation” waaay before having to do it because of Covid-19. What is it like making music and jamming via the internet and not being able to do the live jams in person?
James: Our previous album, The Thank You Garden, was made while in the same room as each other, which was our first experience of jamming in person and it was great. But I think we have a really good system for long-distance collaboration.
Nathan: Since our friendship was cemented over the internet and we started making music just to impress each other, we have found a solid rhythm of sending files back and forth that was really formalised when making Bloss. We are obviously both very privileged to have been able to take the time that lockdown gave us to be creative!
What tips do you have for new bands that have had to do virtual jamming for the first time lockdown?
James: Take advantage of all the different technology and services you can use to collaborate long distance; get used to giving and receiving feedback bluntly; get to know the best ways to send each other project files (it’s always a hassle); stay organised, but keep the music first.
Nathan: I think lockdown has shown most people parts of themselves that they have been ignoring, it certainly gave me the space to be more introspective even if it was really difficult. I’d say channel that energy into something; music always sounds better when driven by honest emotion 🙂 Also use Notion!
Simplicity vs chaos?
James: In terms of our creative processes I would say that is definitely true. Nathan drives me insane with his incredibly short bursts of productivity. He always gets things done but it always feels pretty precarious.
Musically, though, I’d say we’re the opposite. Nathan is the best at producing tunes that are simple and effective and get lodged in your brain (Greyhound and Floor are great examples) whereas the songs I produced for the album could more easily be labeled as “chaotic” (Rainbow Gore, Wake Up). But those two styles work incredibly well together, and is the reason the album feels like both ends of the spectrum colliding into one another.
Do you have any hidden dreams that you have not shared with anyone?
James: Playing a show in Tokyo; getting a sponsorship from Peaceful Sleep; working with A.G. Cook.
Nathan: Mine would be to compose a film score, unfortunately I have no classical music training and do not own a violin (yet).
What can we expect from WokRing in the future?
Nathan: Sextape, Mixtape, Ted Talk.
James: Sorry, I’m not sure what he’s talking about. I’d say merch is probably the safest answer. Nathan: (And maybe an instrumental album!)