“In die nuus: rugby, die weer, en die openbaring,” goes the flawless Afrikaans of renowned TV news reader Riaan Cruywagen. This opening line paves the road for an 11-track exploration of the ups and downs of suburban life through the eyes of Francois van Coke.
The rock ‘n’ roller’s third solo album, Dagdrome in Suburbia, is an exquisite snapshot of everything that has made him the man he is today. It is an amalgamation of his past and present, and casts a hopeful eye to his future by expanding his musical horizons.
“This album is very autobiographical,” van Coke explains to Apple Music when asked about Dagdrome’s narrative. “The title comes from a feeling I had when I was growing up in the ‘burbs. I so desperately wanted to get out of there and away from what I thought was a mundane life and existence. I was dreaming my way out of it. My thought process as a kid was, I want to get out of here and do more, I guess.”
So now, being a husband and a father living back in the suburb in Cape Town where he grew up, surely there’s a palpable sense of irony?
“I do feel a slight sense of irony living back there—but it’s different. I’m not stuck there,” he confesses. “As a kid I thought I was stuck and my whole world was a 10 km radius from my house, I felt like the greater Cape Town was this mystical place far away that I needed to go to. Now that I’m back in the ‘burbs I feel like I’m there on my own terms now. This also ties into the general theme of the album because I’m still observing life and South Africa and the world from the same sort of vantage point.”
When van Coke was young, he explains how there was no scene—which is why he cofounded Fokofpolisiekar. He and his friends were forced to create their own scene, which has evolved into a close-knit unit. “I realise more and more that we really are a family,” he says fondly. “Everyone from Fokof was involved on this album. Hunter [Kennedy] was involved in the whole project, he was my go-to guy and helped me with lyrics, Wynand [Myburgh] is my manager, Johnny [de Ridder] played on it, Snake [Venter] came to head bang in a music video and spent some days with us in studio. It’s really awesome that we have this friendship circle that supports one another and doesn’t get jealous of each other’s successes.”
By collaborating with rapper Riky Rick, pop songstress Tasché and emerging Afrikaans rock darlings Spoegwolf, van Coke’s canvas is more colourful than ever. He muses, “I love being South African and I love living in South Africa. I’ve set up my business and my family in a way that we’re so entrenched that we can’t do this anywhere else. I love working with people from different backgrounds and experiencing different cultures and I hope I can do more of that in the future. I feel as positive as anyone can feel about South Africa at the moment but I do hope that things get better.”