For most of us, a challenge would be getting out of bed for work on a Monday morning. Not for South African singer-songwriter Ann Jangle who recently completed a trip cycling from South Africa to Kenya by herself to raise awareness for animals and uplift communities through music.
The trip was named after her solo album, African Dream Parade, which she released just before embarking on the journey. Having never cycled before and heading into the 5000km trip unprepared, the trek is now available to view, so we thought now would be a great time to speak to Ann about the journey and any plans for future challenges.
Thanks for your time, how is life treating you at the moment?
Ann Jangle: “I think life is treating us all like naughty little school kids at the moment.”
Before we start, can you tell us a bit about yourself and your music?
“Sure! My name is Ann Jangle. I’m a South African born, singer-songwriter, producer, and composer. I’m super passionate about animals, different cultures & community upliftment. I also eat pineapple on my pizza.”
Firstly, congratulations on completing your mammoth cycling trip. Can you tell us what prompted you to undertake such a trek?
“I was invited to perform at the Kilifi New Years festival in Kenya last year. Before the cycling journey began, I was already on tour for almost a year across South Africa. Raising awareness and gathering food for domestic animals. We raised just over three tons of dog food & drove about 23000kms across the country. I felt like my carbon footprint was contradicting my good deeds so I started looking into ways to reduce it. I looked at smaller vehicles, maybe something weird like a beach buggy or a motorbike with a side cart for my dogs. Then I met Blanca Fernandez (Blanca on a Bike) who, at the age of sixty, cycled London to China, Egypt to Cape Town via the East Coast of Africa and back to London via the West Coast of Africa. I figured if she could do it. So could I.”
While undeniably gruelling, there must have been some real highlight moments. Can you tell us about any?
“Ah man, there were just so many highlights. Too many to mention, that’s why you should all watch my documentary that just released hahaha! Victoria Falls, Lake Malawi, elephant encounters on the road, hyena sniffing my head, meeting incredible musicians from across the globe (one being Dele Sosimi. The keys player for the late Fela Kuti who invented Afrobeat music) I got to share the stage with so many great artists. Meeting Maasai warriors, meeting beautiful people, so many who helped me so much, Playing at the Zambezi Shores Music Festival on a riverbank on the mighty Zambezi river, falling asleep under the stars, waking up with the sun in the middle of nowhere. Not seeing any human beings for many days on end… to name a few.”
What was the hardest part of the 5000kms and what kept you going?
“Uphills and headwind. What kept me going was that I’m too stubborn to quit.”
Mentally and physically, what did you learn about yourself as a person?
“That I can achieve anything I put my mind to. When we believe, it manifests and we can conquer anything. Physically, I never knew my things could get this big. Also, my skin heals extremely fast. I got bitten by bugs and then it just healed so quickly. It amazed me.”
The trek was for a great cause, can you tell our readers a bit about that cause?
“African Dream Parade (also the name of my first solo album) was to raise awareness for endangered wildlife and uplift communities through music. It was a giant learning experience for me. I got to work with a lot of very amazing organizations I met along the way. Nothing was planned. I just seemed to attract it because I was putting it out into the universe. Like Kalahari Research & Conservation – who work with Vultures and African Wild dogs. I started cycling for wild dogs at first, but then I ended up just doing it for all wildlife. They are all in need of our help. I also strapped a Martin Mini backpacking guitar onto my bicycle and would go sing and talk at schools. Mostly to young kids. The youth are the future.”
You trekked across some beautiful countries, what did you learn about those countries as you passed through them?
“That they were all safer to live in than South Africa and that the poorest people were the happiest and most giving.”
The trek was named after your latest solo album, what can you tell our readers about the album?
“It’s my first solo album. It’s a lot different from my previous stuff with my full band. It was just me and my producer Antonio Cencherle (who now lives in London) who would sit in his studio, dim the lights, breathe, and the music would flow from the soul. At the point of recording this album I had come back from the Transkei where I did a lot of ‘soul searching.’ I had spent some time with a Shaman too. It changed me. I also did a lot of ‘growing up’ since my last full band. I took my sweet time with this album. It is a special album to me. My trumpet player, Keegan Steenkamp, also has some sick trumpet lines on the album.”
Looking towards future material, will any of it be inspired by the journey you went on?
“Oh, absolutely. My life is all based around this journey now. Everything stems from it now. What I do next. What I wrote about. Where I want to go…”
What are your plans to promote this record?
“Luckily, I signed a Publishing and Distribution deal with Just Music. So that really helps a lot, but my plan is still the same. Play as much music as I can to as many people as I can. Small groups at a time though. I love the intimate vibes.”
Finally, a new album is out and you’ve cycled across Africa, are there any other challenges on the horizon for you?
“I will be announcing my next epic adventure real soon… Check out my Facebook Page for more details. Coming soon…”
African Dream Parade is out now through Mongrel Records and you can pick up your copy here.