“I’m currently between streaming services…”

A few weeks ago, a Barclays ATM decided to eat my Irish bank card. While this was a little inconvenient, I had some cash to hand and was able to get by for the next few weeks. The chief hiccup was that my monthly Spotify payment was due the following day – and living in the UK but paying for Spotify with an Irish account meant I couldn’t get a replacement card in time to pay that month’s fee.

I didn’t see this as the end of the world – Spotify offers both a free and a premium payment service, so when the payment didn’t get to go through, I just got demoted to regular Spotify.

Unfortunately, as I primarily use Spotify’s mobile app when I’m walking to college or travelling somewhere, I learned that free Spotify is the worst thing.

I’ve given out about this before elsewhere, but here’s a quick rundown of the problems with free Spotify:

Continue reading

Metal in Botswana: Part Three – Other Issues, Recommendations, and Sources

This is the final (for now) entry in my series on metal in Botswana. Here are Parts One and Two.

The previous posts covered the research I have done so far; this one will be about problems with this topic, where else this research could go, my personal recommendations, and finally a list of sources.


Not surprisingly, it’s hard to research a scene in a different country without ever visiting that country. That’s part of the reason I looked at the othering, exoticizing aspects of the media’s presentation of the scene – and of course there’s perhaps an irony or a methodological problem in taking all of my sources from the media and then accusing the media of a bias, but I’m confident my point is a valid one still.

The volume and variety of information that can be gathered purely through online press and scholarly sources is limited, and there are huge gaps and inconsistencies in some of what I’ve found. Not all bands update their social media as often as others, and sometimes different social media sites may contradict each other. Encyclopaedia Metallum doesn’t list every Botswanan band that I’ve found, for example. Some bands I only know from references on others bands’ pages or gig programmes.

Continue reading

Metal in Botswana: Part Two – Reception

This is the second part of my series of posts on Botswana. Part One can be found here. In this installment, I’m talking about how the Botswanan scene compares to scenes abroad, and about the scene’s reception.

The notion of metal in Botswana – particularly such a vibrant, committed scene, composed almost entirely of black fans and musicians – is a strange one, as metal is traditionally seen as a white and European or American scene. While there’s an element of truth to this, I think it’s important to remember that there’s a huge and long-standing death/thrash scene in Indonesia, and scenes thrive in many places that aren’t majority white.

The striking images of Frank Marshall’s exhibit, which were one of the first mainstream exposures of the scene, also emphasise the unique fashion dominant among the scene’s fans.

This extract from metal blog Invisible Oranges describes many of the possible reactions to discovering the Botswanan scene:

Continue reading

Metal in Botswana: Part One – Overview

This series of posts will draw on the research I did for, and feedback I received on, a paper I gave about the metal scene in Botswana for the ‘Metal and Marginalisation’ conference in the University of York on the 11th of April this year. Many thanks to all those who helped with the writing of the paper, and to those at the conference whose responses were so encouraging and have given me extra material to consider for the future of this  topic.

A note on usage: as far as I understand, the term Motswana is used to refer to an individual from Botswana, Batswana is used as the plural, the term Botswanan refers to groups or items, and the term Setswana to the culture or language. I’ve tried to use these terms consistently – please do tell me if I’ve made a mistake!

The southern African nation of Botswana is becoming recognised by the international metal community as one of the continent’s most active and exciting national scenes. Though composed of a relatively small number of fans – approximately 1,500 according to VICE– the scene boasts a healthy quota of active bands, and a dedicated corps of fans. The scene seems to be primarily concentrated around the capital city Gaborone, and the northern city of Maun.

To date, much of the interest in Botswanan metal has focused on the works of South African photographer Frank Marshall, whose collection of portraits of Batswana metalheads, Visions of Renegades was one of the first mainstream exposures of the scene. In this series of posts, however, I’m going to look more closely at its relationship to scenes abroad by examining the scene itself (Part One) and its domestic and global reception (Part Two), and finally a list of bands, sources, and some thoughts about where this interest could take me next (Part Three).

Continue reading