Hailing from the mother city of South Africa, Venus And The Snake are dominating the music scene with hard rock, and are very well known in Cape Town. I recently got to have a chat with them in the studio as they were recording their upcoming album titled Volume 1.
From what I could concur, they are energetic, friendly rock stars who have a great passion for their music. From previous releases to what they are working on, it is undeniable that they put their blood, sweat, and tears into their work.
Venus And The Snake is definitely a unique name. One of the founders, lead guitarist, Jordan Schouw explained how the name came about: “The name was inspired by a dream I had of a woman with a snake coiled around her body. After the second recurrence of the dream, I immediately sketched the image and the name just seamlessly followed.”
The band was formed in 2019, undergoing various member changes but the current lineup consists of: St John Calitz (Vocals), Thomas Putter (Drums), Kheno Schouw (Bass), Innes Linder (Rhythm Guitar) and Jordan Schouw (Lead Guitar).
Their genre is hard rock, with influences from pioneers such as Black Sabbath, Deep Purple and Velvet Revolver. The themes most prevalent in their music are everyday struggles, positivity and connecting through different experiences.
Over their five years of activity, they have released various singles, all telling unique stories. “Danger” was the very first single the band released. It is rife with raw honesty. The message is crystal clear: delving into love, the thrill and danger of it.
Each instrument has its own personality, but they all come together in synergy. The bass is very prominent, adding to the dark atmosphere of “Danger.” The guitars wrap around John’s voice perfectly as it cascades till the final note.
There is something different about how they create music, I heard it for myself and I had to ask, what is the secret formula for creating their sound? I was told that they focus more on having fun, great energy and use no emulations when they record.
Thomas Putter (drummer) revealed that: “Venus and the Snake, being an exceptional hard rock band, stands out due to its distinctive musical style, exceptional songwriting, and captivating stage presence.
With a sonic palette that pushes the boundaries of the rock genre, we effortlessly merge thunderous riffs, intricate melodies, and powerful rhythms, creating an intoxicating fusion of heaviness and melodic beauty. Our songs are meticulously crafted, delving into introspective themes, existentialism, and societal critique.”
They further display their knack for creating such compelling songs with “Get Me Outa Here.” It has such vigour, one cannot help but to headbang. The drums capture you with a cathartic rhythm, tying everything together to create a flawless sound.
The most important thing to them are their fans, and they hope to achieve certain goals with their music. Lead singer, St John Calitz stated that:
“When fans listen to our music, whether it be live or via social media platform, I can honestly say that I hope they walk away feeling any type of emotion. As long as they feel connected and can feel the passion each one of us bleeds into the songs. It’s all about understanding and relating to a song that makes it last forever.”
There is no mistaking that their music resonates with their fans, for it touches on some very real topics. Their song “Blame” is a call to arms, a song that makes a difference, a remnant of their hard rock influences. They do not hold back on speaking out on the problems, which we are faced with in society and furthermore, on who to blame.
“Taken for a fool by society’s rules” – Venus And The Snake on “Blame”
From discrimination, war and corruption, each person has their own battle. Prominent in the song, is speaking out for everyone who cannot, and letting them know that their voice matters.
They are very passionate about their music, but there are some challenges which they also face as a hard rock band in South Africa. Jordan explained more about the problems they have faced: “As a band, the toughest challenges we have encountered were always related to the business aspect of music. Figuring out ways to turn our art into something that generates good money is not the easiest task.”
They add that, “Second to that is working with people – producers mostly. On our first attempt at recording this album, we had a guy try to persistently change our music and drastically adjust the songs based on his own ideas – most of which sounded terrible. In and out of that and switching to different recording studios, we rewrote our songs a few times and added some new ones to the list. The whole process took us 2 years. Now we’ve been referred to an excellent producer who really understands our sound.”
The aim is not just to just stay local; they have dreams to play on certain stages including Opikopi, Ramfest, and Coca Cola, but at the moment, they are focusing on the album which they are recording, with Jordan Schouw sharing more details about the upcoming album.
“When the idea of an album came along, we looked at some of our coolest songs, half of which were written 3 years ago, and decided that it was time they got out into the world. Most albums are based on themes and concepts, whereas ours is just based on musical ideas that were thought up in the moment.”
Expanding on this idea, Jordan tells me, “All of our music is written in that way; where we just come together as a group and put together guitar riffs and a drumbeat, the lyrics, all written by St John Calitz, just naturally flow with each tune. Of course, to make the album a work of audio and visual art, we’ve decided to write a story about Venus & The Snake. The story is to be told in the upcoming series of music videos linked to each song – which one can call a short film.”
I was in the studio as they were recording, so I got to listen to a sneak peak of what they are cooking up. The sound is definitely something inimitable. The connection they have with each other and the topics they tackle, carries out into their sound, and the result is impeccable.
The various layers to their music, display their signature sound as well as their experimentality. I recommend Venus and the Snake to anyone who either wants music they can connect to, or something to just vibe to on a car ride. No matter the time and place, their music is always mind blowing!
Words by Melisa Nyamukondiwa // photography by Julia Naude