Since first releasing their debut single back in 2014, SA’s premier acoustic dance music (ADM) act, Rubber Duc, has proven their growing popularity and staying power time and time again – from their first release, Ain’t Nobody Got Time For That, which still sits on top of their streaming list internationally, to It’s Alright, which cemented the foursome as a household name in the country, right up to their release, Through The Night, which made it all the way to the top when it reached the #1 spot on radio giant Jacaranda FM’s charts towards the end of 2018, amongst also being a chart topper on a variety of other radio stations nationwide.
And since the release of their debut album (The Secret Sunrise) in 2016, one accolade after the other just seemed to pour in for the hitmakers, ranging from two SAMA Awards nominations, to receiving an honourable mention in the prestigious 2017 International Songwriting Competition (with over 16,000 entries from over 140 countries), as well as performing at every major music festival across the country – all this on top of making it to the top of the charts with Through The Night.
Commenting about enjoying a #1 hit song, Rubber Duc’s Nick Jordaan enthuses: “It was and remains an incredible feeling! We actually took a bit of a risk changing our sound a bit as we were in fear of losing our fans in the older age demographics, but flip, it worked big time. We were honestly completely blown away and as any artist out there will tell you, it’s not an easy feat to accomplish. As a result, we’re taken more seriously now than ever before and we’re working hard in order to aim for many more of our songs to do the same – reaching the top spot on a variety of charts.”
Jordaan adds that they definitely experience how the greater the success of a single performs on radio, the more it directly impacts on sales figures for these particular songs, displaying the power that radio still has in making or breaking a band.
But who exactly are Rubber Duc’s fans and audiences? Band member Amiel Gopal states: “Our fans have been so vastly different over the years – from little princesses turning four years old coming to watch us at Casalinga, to playing in the heart of the Underberg for the 80th birthday party of the coolest grandpa in the world, and also performing at every major music festival in South Africa. All we can say is that we love people of all ages and we’re lucky enough to have the same people love us back.”
Rubber Duc’s rollercoaster ride continues with the release of “Down On My Knees (feat. Lara Gear)”
Rubber Duc’s talented team certainly do not allow for any grass to grow under their feet as they are already back with a new single, Down On My Knees (Feat. Lara Gear), despite their previous single(s), like Through The Night,still enjoying regular airtime on a variety of radio stations.
Sheldon Sham elaborates about how the collaboration with Lara Gear occurred: “While we were recording the song, we felt it would be really cool to feature a female vocalist. We looked around and listened to many, but nothing ever felt right. A friend suggested Lara to us. We instantly loved the tone of her voice and asked her to please consider joining us on the song, and the rest is history as they say. And we’re super happy with the end result and believe our fans will be too.”
He adds that 2018 was not the best year for some of the guys in the band in terms of their love lives, which actually inspired the song. Sheldon shares: “There was a lot of back and forth and quite a bit of healing to get through. Down On My Knees is a summary of the process of being on the fence between holding on and letting go. Oh and also feeling guilty about something that you should no longer feel that way about, as well as the adjustments we make when experiencing something new and foreign to us.”
In short he summarises the message of the song as “there are plenty more fish in the sea, so get out there and go fishing”.
So what is the secret behind Rubber Duc’s success?
One of the marketing strategies that Rubber Duc applies to their music is to first release a song on digital platforms every two months or so, followed by releasing it as a single to radio approximately a month later. Nick Jordaan explains why: “In this digital age, the flow of information and data are pretty stupendous. It’s only the internationally established artists that can enjoy releasing an album that will have a full life span. The choices people have these days are endless! So releasing an album doesn’t really make sense anymore like it did in the past.
“We have now entered the ‘playlist’ era, where the focus is now to be on as many playlists as possible, with Spotify being just one example. The challenge is how you can be seen constantly and remain top of mind. The answer? Releasing singles and pushing for the playlists at a much faster pace than ever before. If we release six to eight singles in a year, that’s pretty close to releasing an album in itself in any case. Nowadays, if someone releases an album and the first two tracks don’t grip you, you’re not likely to go back and listen to the rest of it. Releasing singles doesn’t allow for that problem. You have the full attention of the listener on a monthly basis, resulting in less risk of people getting bored of your material. The other upside is that it allows for your sound to change and adapt to the current musical landscape, so you have a little more freedom as a result too.”
He further adds that content is key, explaining: “We aim to tell a story though all of our content. We try and keep people as interested in what’s going on in our lives as what they are at the shows. We are pushing a ‘one voice’ approach where all of our content is aligned and as relatable to the message we are trying to voice as possible.”
But what do the members of the band believe sets Rubber Duc apart from others and makes the band so uniquely different? Brendan Campbell is quick to answer by enthusing: “You know, we believe that being likeable doesn’t and shouldn’t require effort in order to be liked. We don’t go out there to show off how good or great we are, we get out there to entertain. We strive to have a good energy and engage a hell of a lot with our audience. We like to get them into the song before the song is even performed. There is nothing like seeing the smiles of people listening to your music, and seeing them hold their loved ones when ’their’ love song is played. The crowd singing back to us – it’s just incredible and nothing compares to it.”
So what’s next for Rubber Duc and how can fans stay informed
So what would Rubber Duc like to achieve within the next year or so? Amiel Gopal concludes: “Our aim is for 2020 to be the year where we push our international agenda a lot harder. We would love a few more number ones, and to break into radio outside of SA. We have a lot more coming and can’t wait for what the journey has in store for us.We want to get touring ASAP, spread our wings, leave the nest and explore new territories, enjoying every single moment along the way.”