I get “Rich Bitch”– the Die Antwoord song– stuck in my head a lot. Sometimes the earworm hits at awkward moments, like when I’m drooling over a Chanel watch that costs just under six grand at Costco. It’s hard to fight the urge to not roll into a chant of “rrrrrreeech beetch.” Sometimes, it’s irresistible. I’ve shouted it out through the window of my unimpressive car, dressed in my unimpressive clothes a few times. “I’m a rrrrrreeech beetch.”
I had the song stuck in my head once again as I drove to Meltdown Comics on Tuesday night. The Nerdist crew kindly invited me to stop by for the big event, a Die Antwoord music video marathon with Ninja and Yo-Landi Vi$$er in the theater talking about said videos. Boing Boing was hosting the event. Even though I just returned from a mountain excursion and am in the middle of moving, I couldn’t miss it.
Meltdown was a madhouse. Everyone who works there was racing around the store. There were bundles of people near the door of the theater. There were women mimicking Yo-Landi’s “Rich Bitch” style, sparkling in gold and shimmer, and guys in that ’80s style Ninja favors. There were people you would recognize from Comic-Con and other Nerdist Theater events. The seats filled up quickly. We sat in folding chairs so close to each other that a squirm in a seat might lead you to accidentally elbow your neighbor.
Xeni Jardin moderated the event. She’s not just the Boing Boing editor that invited me to guestblog for them a few years ago, but someone I greatly admire. Xeni is one of the best journalists I’ve met, someone who can cover both serious and light-hearted subject matter with skill and style. She’s also greatly responsible for bringing Die Antwoord to the blog-reading masses. Xeni opened the night by talking about that time back in 2010 when she stumbled across one of Die Antwoord’s videos. When she mentioned this, I thought about, by posting a link on Boing Boing, she did what most DJs can’t even do these days. She broke a band. Die Antwoord went from viral hit to a bona fide cult music sensation.
We watched a lot of videos, I can’t quite recall how many. Before each one, Ninja and Yo-Landi talked about the clip, their history, and essentially how their work got better with each consecutive video. I didn’t try to take any photos. That seemed like it would be a little distracting for everyone sitting around me. I do have the image of Ninja and Yo-Landi burned into my mind, both so blonde that their hair appears almost doll-like. Ninja is tallish, lanky. His face is chiseled to the point that he appears stern and intimidating. However, he’s incredibly funny, quick with the one-liners and possessing a knack for putting on the occasional fake American accent. Yo-Landi is tiny with the face of a high school girl. She doesn’t talk as much, but when she does, her voice is fast and chirpy. They’re both obviously extremely smart and well-versed in independent film and art. That’s something that I think is lost on a lot of people who write about Die Antwoord. With a lot of stories about the groups, words like “shock” and “provocateur” are dropped without much more than a passing reference of the artfulness of their work. Onstage, Ninja and Yo-Landi talked a lot about their collaborators and the artists who have inspired them. It was an interesting peek inside the world of a duo that’s largely misunderstood.