Have you watched Harmony Korine's Umshini Wam yet? Hoooooooly shit, am I right? We called Harmony and Die Antwoord to congratulate them for blowing our mind's ass out our eyeballs and clarify a few things from the film. If you haven't seen it, watch it now real quick before you read this Q&A.
Vice: What's up, Ninja?
Ninja: How the fuck are you?
A little bit hungover, how are you?
I'm fine, I'm perfect.
Harmony: NINJA! Ninja: Is that Harmony Korine?
Yes it is. What are you doing right now?
We're drinking beers inside my new matte black Subaru.
That's hot. Did you trick it out?
Yeah it's fucking tricked out. It's got red neons underneath and everyone wants to fucking steal it from me all the time. I get threats constantly, that's why I have an AK-47.
You have a gun?
Well, it's an AK-47—it's a machine gun.
Are machine guns your favorite kind of guns, or do you have pistols and stuff too?
I like Glocks too. I like keeping it simple, a Glock with an extended neck.
Are you naked right now?
Are you naked right now?
Chill the fuck out, I'm in my car for Christ's sake! Why the fuck would I be naked?
Just wondering. How did you and Harmony meet, Ninja?
I saw him outside of this hotel in Nashville, in this expensive Land Rover playing gangster rap music. He looked like some kid who had just stolen a Land Rover.
What was the first Harmony Korine film that you saw? Did they have his movies in South Africa?
Yeah, I saw Kids or something.
What did you think?
Good. It made me fucking horny.
The opening scene.
OK, so where did the idea for this film come from, and what does "Umshini Wam" mean?
It means "bring me my machine gun." Harmony thought of everything, he just sent us the script and it had Zulu battles. We were attracted to that. We were just like "Fuck, we'll do it."
Where did the idea come from, Harmony?
Harmony: A couple of years ago I saw a clip on some site, I think it was a website that specialized in car rims. I was trying to find these rims for my car that I'd seen somewhere in Nashville. They had dollar bill signs that would spin, and I was trying to do research on that when I found this link to holographic rims. Someone in Atlanta had invented holographic rims and I just thought they were so amazing. They would just light up the sky.
Is that a Nashville thing?
No, they're impossible to find. I think there are only a couple of holographic rims around, and we couldn't find them. But that's what got me imagining what it would be like to put them on wheelchairs, and then I started to dream up what kind of characters would be in wheelchairs with holographic rims. Then I started to build some sort of story based on that idea and the first time I'd seen Die Antwoord. They were exactly who would be riding in a wheelchair with rims and blasting guns, and they have the proper gangster status that I was looking for.
Yeah, they look good in wheelchairs.
They were perfect.
Did this start as a short, or was it originally supposed to be something else?
Ninja and I were talking about doing a music video, but it got too complicated. We thought it should be like a music video without any music, or without any proper songs. The music was DJ Hi-Tek, so we decided to make it more like a short film, or a feature film that was condensed. It is a feature film, but now feature films are only 15 minutes long. It's not a short film, it's just a tall midget.
The film was set in South Africa, but you shot it in Nashville. What was that experience like? Did you get a lot of stares?
Actually everyone here was really accommodating. Ninja and Yo Landi would walk around with those Uzis and everyone was really relaxed about it for some reason. Maybe because everyone here has guns.
Ninja: Harmony, it wasn't an Uzi, it was a Glock. A fully automatic Glock with an extended neck.
Harmony: Yeah, well it was supposed to be an Uzi.
Ninja: I know, I was pissed off when it wasn't an Uzi, but that fully automatic Glock is my favorite gun now.
Harmony: Yeah the extended neck gives it a kind of punch.
Whose voice is at the beginning of the film saying "umshini wam"?
Ninja: It's the alien. You know, the big alien with the eyes that shoots rays of light. It's singing with its fucking mind.
Harmony: The alien's voice was screwed. He was just born screwed.
Ninja: We decided on "umshini wam" because it's African.
Did you guys get to keep the wheelchairs?
Harmony: Yeah, we still have those things. We're hoping the Smithsonian will ask for them.
Ninja: I kept the mags, I put all four of them on my Subaru.
You play a very convincing dead guy in the film, Ninja. Do you ever play dead in real life to piss off Yo Landi?
No, I just did it by accident and Harmony left it in. I was just tired from riding around in a wheelchair all day and Yo Landi got really upset and emotional and started crying while they kept filming.
Do you want to make any more films?
We don't know. We just like making music. We just do whatever we want. We're also making an Evil Boy toy. It's made out of wood. I'll send you a photo. It's on my dashboard right now.
Sounds good. The film is sweet, funny… almost tender. I was wondering if that tenderness and chemistry came out while filming, or if it was written into the script.
Harmony forced us to act like that. He fucking forced us.
So it was genius directing then?
Harmony: I had to force them to do it. They were very apprehensive at first, but then they realized it was the right thing to do and they just went for it.
Well everyone here loves it. We showed it yesterday before we put it online and the general consensus was that we want more. Do you think you guys might work on more projects together in the future?
Harmony: Yeah, I would love to keep making things with these guys. Ninja and Yo Landi are sent here to teach the children.
Maybe they're gonna be superstar actors.
Yo Landi: Nah.
INTERVIEW BY EDDY MORETTI