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Shane Cooper is hands down one of the most progressive jazz artists in South Africa. His willingness to explore multiple musical landscapes within his recordings as Card On Spokes has become his very identity, drawing from his experiences as a double bassist and pulling them into music made for the dancefloor. The album Oscillations was awarded the 2014 SAMA for Best Jazz Album. In 2018 his new project, MABUTA, was launched with the album Welcome To This World.

Taking influence from hip hop, house and of course, his jazz roots, Shane has crafted a unique style that is constantly evolving. Card on Spokes has seen rapid success in the last few years, reaching #1 on YFM, getting airplay on BBC Radio 3 and Radio 6, as well as support from Gilles Peterson and Boiler Room debuts.

As a live electronic act, Cards on Spokes incorporates keys, electric bass, and controllers, often flexing out into psychedelic bass solo frontiers, atop a bed of heaving dancefloor-centric beats.

We asked Shane a few questions in the lead up to his performance at the First Thursdays Sessions.

Image by Alexis Dominguez

You’re involved in a range of great musical projects. What’s keeping you busy at the moment? And any other upcoming performances we can look out for? I’ve started writing for the next MABUTA album as well as a new Card On Spokes EP. I’m very excited for MABUTA to play at Endless Daze in November, and a bunch of other cool shows over the next few months. All my upcoming gigs are listed on

Image by Jono Jebus

Where did the love for playing music begin and what lead you to pursue the bass guitar of all instruments? I think my love for playing really started when I first picked up an acoustic guitar at age 12. I got into bass guitar through an opening in my high school jazz band when I was 14, which lead me to discover a passion for the 4 string bass and for jazz music.

What is your experience of being a jazz musician in South Africa in 2019? It’s a very creatively driven period for jazz music in South Africa, but at the same time it’s a very difficult country to tour within because of infrastructure challenges. It means we spend a lot of energy trying to get projects to tour abroad, and this is a mountain of a task due to flight costs, visas etc.

Image by Barry Christianson

What advice would you give to young jazz-influenced musicians looking to break into the local and international jazz scene? It’s a cliché, but always be true to yourself. Study the work of your idols. Find mentors. Listen to as much music as you can. Build lasting friendships in music.

Who’s doing interesting stuff on the local scene that you’d recommend checking out? Bokani Dyer, Thandi Ntuli, Benjamin Jephta, Vuma Levin, Reza Khota, Siya Makuzeni, Nduduzo Makhathini, Marcus Wyatt, and many more.

Image by Jono Jebus

We hear you have some new music coming out soon. Can you tell us a bit more about that? I’m in the final stages of a new 5 track Card On Spokes EP, which is my follow up to As We Surface from 2016. It’s got several vocal feature tracks and some instrumentals as well. I’m very excited to finish it, and I’m hoping to release it this summer.

Top 5 desert island albums (of any genre)?
Radiohead – OK Computer
Oumou Sangaré – Mogoya
Thundercat – Apocalypse
D’Angelo – Voodoo
Any album by Fela Kuti

Image by Aidan Tobias

Where can people follow your projects online?
On instagram @cardonspokes
on my website

Card on Spokes performs at the First Thursdays Sessions on Thursday 1 August 2019. The event series is presented by Auchentoshan Single Malt Whisky, produced by Thursdays Projects, and hosted at The Gin Bar. The performance starts at 9pm sharp, with a DJ set by BÜJIN from 10pm. Upstairs at the Gin Bar, 64a Wale Street.

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Cape Town Johannesburg