The Skyscrapers, South Africa’s latest and youngest pop music sensation

Meet the Skyscrapers, a Cape Town trio of pre-teen musicians taking South Africa by storm with their catchy pop music.

South African music
The Skyscrapers are an up-and-coming band from Cape Town that write their own music and play their own instruments. (Image: Bandcamp)

Formed two years ago, the Skyscrapers is a gifted band that make catchy but intelligent pop music with touches of jazz and African rhythms. The group comprises vocalist Mila Smith, aged 12, drummer Dan Buchalter and keyboard player Leo Letschert, who are both 11.

Based in Cape Town, the band released their first seven-song album in September 2016 on the music purchasing website Bandcamp, to modest but increasing success. Popular songs on the album include original songs Confusion and Megaphone, as well as a knockout version of the jazz standard Summertime, made famous by Ella Fitzgerald and Janis Joplin.

Listen to Summertime and purchase the Skyscrapers’ début album on Bandcamp here:

The song highlights the incredible vocal skills of Mila, ably backed by Dan and Leo. Mila has been singing and writing songs since she was seven and is also a burgeoning musical theatre performer. The boys in the band are both currently studying classical and jazz music theory.

As the Skyscrapers, the band, with back-up support from friends and family members who are all involved in the Cape Town music scene, perform regularly at local festivals and outdoor markets around the city.

The Skyscrapers’ song Megaphone was used as the theme song for a DStv kids pop-up channel in December 2016. Watch the video below: 

Georgia Black, the band’s manager and Leo’s mother, makes sure the band keeps grounded in the often tumultuous culture of the music business. Speaking to the Superbalist website about the band, Black, who is also a full time music promoter in her own right, said “I make sure they’re not spoilt. What they earn must go towards [keeping the band going]. It’s come relatively easily to them and it’s important that they understand that they still need to work for it.”

In between doing normal things kids do, like school and sport, the band manages to rehearse twice a week, jamming new ideas into workable songs and developing their performance skills.

Musician Nathan Woodman, who has worked with South African artists such as Jeremy Loops and Good Luck, is part of the band’s support team, and vocal coach Sadé Ross. Part of their role in nurturing the band is keeping their love of music fresh and varied, introducing the kids to a wide scope of different styles of music: “We try and show them [music] that sounds cool, [but also to] bring it back to where it came from,” Woodman told Superbalist.

Ross focuses on developing Mila’s voice, while also trying to maintain its uniqueness as it changes with age, saying “people often discard the natural voice and adopt [a] pop star’s habits. They try emulating others. But I’ve made Mila aware that there’s no longevity in that.”

Despite the support, the sound and the success of the band comes down the three performers themselves, who, unlike most pop music performers their age, write their own music and play real instruments.

South African music band
The Skyscrapers are an up-and-coming band from Cape Town that write their own music and play their own instruments. (Image: Bandcamp)

Mila writes the lyrics, while the composition of songs is a team effort. Usually Mila and Leo will create the melody together, with Dan adding the song’s backbone with drums. The whole team, including manager, producers and coaches, polish up the final song that fans will eventually hear on the album.

Ultimately, the Skyscrapers want to create good music, music that is both catchy and that will endure. As the Superbalist website aptly concludes, “the Skyscrapers have towering talent and multiple stories to tell, so you’d better look up, because they may be small now but are surely destined for big things.”

Watch the music video for the Skyscrapers’ song Confusion below: 

Brand South Africa reporter

Source: The Superbalist

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