The LED are a South African band that emerged in the mid-90's.
Originally, a group of students at Stellenbosch University got together in 1994, the same time that the Springbok Nude Girls were getting off the ground in the same place.
Their first gig was organised before they had settled upon a name. For want of inspiration, they settled on The LED - LED being an acronym for Lawyers, Engineers, Doctors - their current fields of study. The line-up changed slightly, with the present drummer joining in 1997.
The band consists of:
- Skye Stevenson - vocals, occasional guitar, songwriter
- Bruce Watermeyer - guitar
- Michael Lyster - bass
- Johan ver Loren van Themaat - keyboards, programming & dodgy backing vocals in the good old days (he he, he'll kill me!)
- Peter Benz - drums
The band are not lawyers, engineers and doctors anymore. Johan is a professional student (I am toast!), who may emerge an engineer one day. Skye is a banker, Peter is something else financial (not an accountant), Bruce does something or other to do with IT, until recently he worked for Mark Shuttleworth's Thawte Consulting. I have no idea what Michael does, but he does the album photography and cover design, if that's any help.
The band have come and gone in fits and starts. Their debut EP, Last Evening's Dreams was an overwhelming success. They sold out at the 1997 OppiKoppi festival, and were the festival's number 2 seller. Their singles, The Boy from Apricot Spells and Daylight did exceptionally well, getting into the Top 5 on national radio. Time, also off the EP, was included on a few compilation albums. The band were compared to The Cranberries, and not unworthily so.
As full-time students, the band did not gig much during university terms, and not much outside of Cape Town. They did go on the occasional national tour, but sadly they often missed the bigger festivals.
The end of 1998 saw the release of their long-awaited follow-up to Last Evening's Dreams. Initially meant to be a full-album, sadly 2 am too was an EP. Come On did well on the radio, but not as well as Apricot and Daylight had before. However, Come On did feature on the 5fm Radio Sessions compilation, rubbing shoulders with some outstanding artists and songs. 4 Men, a heavier, more angstful (girl power and not like the Spice Girls did it!) track did well on late night radio, but I certainly never heard it during the day! 2 am did not set the world, or even the country alight, as Last Evenings Dreams had.
Following the release of 2 am the band continued their low profile. Some of the members had by now graduated, others were at critical times in their studies. Early 1999 saw the band in near stealth mode, but fortunately this time because they were busy recording a demo.
While not gigging regularly, the band had been songwriting and by the end of 1999, had placed an enormous zip file of MP3's on their website for the fans. The fans sat patiently in front of the computer while it downloaded and gleefully cut themselves CDs. The fans were beside themselves when the band suddenly started gigging again during the December summer holidays.
In early 2000 they went into the studio to record their demo, the results of which were posted on the website, again to the applause of the fans. Late in 2000, Working Day was released as a single, in the hope of luring a record company to sponsor the new album. It had been so long since the band had released a single, Working Day did not set the charts alight, but did do well enough on the Top 40, particularly given the band's long absence.
Gigging was still sporadic, with Bruce's career frequently taking him to the US. During 2000, Skye and her new husband did what many 20-something South Africans do, and moved to London. However, with hard work and dedication, the band continued to work together. Early in 2001, after accepting that a record company would not come on line and pay for everything, the band entered the recording studio at their own expense. Skye flew back and 8 Days (gee, I wonder where the name comes from?!) was set down.
8 Days hit the shelves in November 2001, the long, long, oh-so-long awaited full length album from The LED. The band have progressed miles since 2 am, with keyboards and programming more evident than ever before. Skye's vocals remain awesome, haunting. Peter's drumming is more laid-back. The new album is also available on the website.
The future of the band is uncertain. It is too early to say what the new album will bring, but Skye, Johan and Peter are all in London now, with just Bruce and Michael in Cape Town.
More information and all their music is available at www.theled.co.za
Their latest release, 8 Days, is available at http://www.theled.co.za/sneakpreview/sneak.htm
Update, 28.12.01 Johan informs me that I am, most definitely, toast when I get back to the UK. =) He has the following additions / revisions:
- He has passed his exams and is now an engineer.
- Michael is a professional photographer, doing well for himself in Cape Town.
- Bruce works for Clickatell, an IT sms company.
But most importantly, Johan informs me that 8 Days
is currently on the SA Rock Digest
Charts. And I Reason
and Working Day
peaked at #1 and #4 (respectively) on the singles and 8 Days
the #2 album.
He also tells me that his keyboards
are arriving in London
at the end of
March so watch TNT
for news of gigs!!!