Rodriguez Label Chief: ‘Our Dealings with Clarence Avant Were Always Positive’ | AUDIO KORNER

Light in the Attic’s Matt Sullivan, whose reissues prefigured the Oscar-winning documentary, laments the story’s tragic ending.

Matt Sullivan, 38, is a true believer. The head of Light in the Attic, the reissue label he founded in 2003 with partner Joe Wright in Seattle, released Sixto Rodriguez’s two albums, his 1970 debut, Cold Fact, and the 1971 follow-up Coming From Reality, in August 2008 and May 2009, just about the time the late Oscar-winning filmmaker Malik Bendjelloul began working on his documentary about the Detroit singer-songwriter who had become a cult figure in South Africa as a symbol of the fight against apartheid.

The first time Sullivan heard Rodriguez’s “Sugarman,” from a compilation sent to him by his friend, Irish producer/musician David Holmes, he was hooked.

“I couldn’t get enough of it,” says Sullivan who launched the label with This Is Madness, the 1971 sophomore record by hip-hop precursors the Last Poets, and has released more than 150 albums since.

Sullivan then e-mailed South African record store owner Stephen “Sugar” Segerman, who put him in touch with Rodriguez and his family, as the fan tried to figure out how to license the albums and get the musician, who didn’t make a penny from all the bootlegs sold in South Africa and Australia, paid.

The search brought him into contact with Rodriguez’s original producers, Dennis Coffey and Mike Theodore, and music business veteran Clarence Avant, the one-time Motown head who released the two Rodriguez albums on his own Sussex label, most famously the original home of Bill Withers.

Avant refused to answer Matt’s e-mails or phone calls, but Sullivan’s persistence finally landed him a meeting with the elusive label head, who agreed to meet during a wedding anniversary trip to Seattle. After seeing the kind of publicity Light in the Attic generated for its releases, Avant relented and consented to license the two albums to the indie company.

If there’s a villain in Searching for Sugar Man, it’s the flippant Avant, who brushes off talk of contracts signed 40 years ago, though, according to Sullivan, his attitude belies the fervent belief the executive had in Rodriguez and his music, going so far as to ask him to change his name to Jesus Rodriguez to avoid a previous publishing deal, a case now in the courts.

Read more at Rodriguez Label Chief: ‘Our Dealings with Clarence Avant Were Always Positive’ | AUDIO KORNER

Malik Bendjelloul: Death of a filmmaker who told an extraordinary South African tale | Daily Maverick

From Daily Maverick

Malik Bendjelloul, the Swedish director of ‘Searching for Sugar Man’, has committed suicide aged 36. It’s just over a year since the documentary about folk musician Rodriguez won Bendjelloul an Oscar and captured the hearts of viewers all over the world. REBECCA DAVIS spoke to Bendjelloul’s subject and friend, Cape Town record-store owner Stephen ‘Sugar’ Segerman.

The last time I interviewed Stephen Segerman in his den in Oranjezicht, it was July 2012, just prior to the official release of Searching for Sugar Manin South Africa. At that time Segerman gave the impression of a man both bemused and exhilarated by the success of the film, in which he features prominently as one of two South Africans who made it their mission to track down Rodriguez.

Shortly before the interview, he’d been to the Sundance Film Festival with Bendjelloul and Rodriguez, where the film received a standing ovation. “It was just a magical night,” he told me at the time.

Watch: Searching for Sugar Man trailer

Almost two years later, the fairytale seemed even rosier. Searching for Sugar Man won the Best Documentary Oscar at the 2013 Academy Awards. Rodriguez, who languished in obscurity for years, today has fame and fortune locked down. It was the ultimate feel-good story.

And then, on Tuesday, shocking news broke: Bendjelloul, aged just 36, was dead.

“You know, with some people you have inklings and maybes. With Malik? Suicide? Impossible,” says Segerman, shaking his head. “I thought he must have died in his sleep or something. When I heard, well…” he trails off. “I’ve been seeing the comments. This dude had the world at his feet, he had an Oscar…”

Malik Bendjelloul was a teen actor in his native Sweden, starring in a show which Segerman describes as the Swedish version of America’s Family Ties. As an adult he worked as a TV reporter for Sweden’s public broadcaster, specialising in making short films about visiting rockstars. Then he left to travel the world, looking for richer stories.

Segerman first heard from Bendjelloul in late 2006, when he emailed the record-store owner to say that he was coming to Cape Town, and asked if they could meet. He had learnt about Segerman’s involvement in the Rodriguez tale through a piece in the Guardian, and wanted to hear more.

“At that stage we had a shop on the corner of Long Street with lekker big glass windows,” remembers Segerman. “I can still see him coming around the corner and saying: ‘Hello, I’m Malik!’”

In an interview with Movie Scope Magazine in July 2012, Bendjelloul described the encounter:

“I met Stephen ‘Sugar’ Segerman, the guy who first started to look for Rodriguez in Cape Town, and when he told me the story I was just blown away. It was just so beautiful and touching. Just the one-sentence summary was pretty strong: ‘A man who doesn’t know that he is a superstar.’”

For his part, Segerman instantly warmed to the lanky Swede.

“He just had such a lovely energy: tall, bright-eyed…He reminded me of Tintin,” he says.

Segerman took him up Table Mountain and Bendjelloul filmed a short sequence of Segerman telling the story of the hunt for Rodriguez. Then he disappeared off to Sweden, and Segerman didn’t hear from him for six months. At that point, Bendjelloul emailed to say: that’s the story we like in Sweden.

Bendjelloul returned to Cape Town and shot a one-minute trailer in Segerman’s den. He took it to the Sheffield Documentary Festival, where aspirant filmmakers pitch their stories. Bendjelloul won. A full-length documentary was on the cards.

Segerman points to a photograph pinned to a cabinet. It shows Segerman, Bendjelloul and camera woman Camilla Skagerström. “That was the team,” he says. “Just them. They came here and shot, then went to Detroit. There was barely any budget. Just – excuse the cliché – passion.”

rebecca-Malik-dies-better-days.jpg

Photo: Stephen Segerman, cinematographer Camilla Skagerström, and filmmaker Malik Bendjelloul, pictured in Segerman’s den in Cape Town.

In Detroit, there was the tricky business of persuading the reclusive Rodriguez to feature in the film at all. Bendjelloul worked his way in by meeting the musician’s family members one by one. He got his way eventually through sheer charm, Segerman says. Even so, filming Rodriguez had certain unique challenges. There’s a scene in the film where Rodriguez is fiddling with a video microphone while he talks. It still had to be used: there was no question of a do-over.

“There was always only gonna be one take,” Segerman chuckles. “No way was Rodriguez going to say all those things all over again.”

For over a year, Bendjelloul sat in his flat in Stockholm making the film. People promised funding and backed out. He ran out of money for animation, so he had to do the animation work himself. It’s the stuff of legends now that some scenes in the documentary had to be filmed using a $1 Super-8 iPhone app.

“That movie is sort of a bit jerry-built – kind of smashed together,” says Segerman. “I saw it for the first time and thought: That doesn’t look anything like movies I’ve checked, slick, beautifully-made documentaries!”

But the film’s sheer heart – and the incredible story it told – more than compensated for its technical weaknesses. Some suggested that the story was a little too incredible – that Bendjelloul had conveniently omitted aspects of the Rodriguez narrative that didn’t easily fit within the rags-to-riches trajectory.

“There were two main snipes about the film,” Segerman says today. “The first was that Rodriguez wasn’t actually an anti-Apartheid hero – which I never said. The other criticism is about Australia.” Bendjelloul’s documentary left out the fact that Rodriguez was aware that he had a major fan-base in Australia, and had toured there twice in the late 70s and early 80s.

“The simple explanation, which we spoke about, is that [Searching for Sugar Man] is about the search of two South Africans for Rodriguez,” Segerman says. “I found out about the Australian tour the night that I met Rodriguez for the first time, in March 1998. If I’d known, I would have tracked him through Australia! It was not part of our story.”

Segerman says Bendjelloul was unruffled by this criticism. “It made zero difference,” he says. “For him to create something which brought so much happiness into the world…Nothing could have bothered him about that.”

Segerman and Craig Bartholomew, the music journalist who also features in the documentary as instrumental in the hunt for Rodriguez, attended the Oscars with Bendjelloul last year.

From his wallet, Segerman extracts a piece of card on which he’d jotted down ideas for an acceptance speech for Bendjelloul, since the filmmaker hadn’t prepared anything.

“I’m superstitious about preparing speeches – this has been lucky for me,” it begins.

In the end, the laconic Swede didn’t need the prompt. “Oh boy!” Bendjelloul said when he won. “Thanks to one of the greatest singers ever, Rodriguez!”

There’s a photo in Segerman’s den of the three men tux-ed up, Bendjelloul clutching his statuette, at the prestigious Vanity Fair after-party.

“Just on my left side, over there,” says Segerman, pointing at the photo, “there was this old American dude. I thought: who’s that? He obviously wasn’t an actor.” He pauses. “It was Buzz Aldrin. For a baby-boomer like me, you don’t get any better than that. I met Buzz Aldrin, and then I went home.”

Interviewed by the New York Times in May last year as part of a list of ’20 Filmmakers To Watch’, Bendjelloul hinted at the surreal aspects of having made such a successful first film.

“Since everything was the first time for me, it was a bit confusing to understand what last year was all about,” Bendjelloul admitted. “To travel around with your film is a weird experience. Filmmakers are not musicians, they can’t perform their film; you don’t even need to load the projector. It was weird to think that that year was the reward for the work. But now I realise that it’s this year that is the reward. To feel free to do exactly what you want to do without feeling too scared that your ideas won’t interest anyone or worry about the rent or having to deal with people who think they know better.”

After the Oscars, Segerman says Bendjelloul was besieged with offers.

“Malik had been turning down a huge amount of stuff. He had a lot of offers of TV commercials, that kind of thing, but he wasn’t the type of guy to sell out. Your first full-length movie wins an Oscar! What the hell do you do for a second?”

In fact, for his next major project, Segerman said Bendjelloul had turned again to a South African story. He was working on a screenplay for a feature film inspired by the experiences of conservationist Lawrence Anthony, dubbed ‘the elephant whisperer’ for his work with traumatised elephants.

“He loved South Africa,” Segerman says. “I always say he should have been an honorary Capetonian. You have no idea how many people found out about Cape Town from his movie. He made it look so beautiful.”

Bendjelloul didn’t let his newfound fame go to his head, according to Segerman. “He always looked a little bit shy, a little bit awkward. It’s not an easy thing to deal with.”

Segerman was last in touch with the filmmaker last Monday, when the two had an email exchange about a legal dispute unfolding between two of Rodriguez’s old record labels. He says Bendjelloul gave no sign at all that anything was emotionally amiss.

“You know, through the film… My little record shop became a great little record shop. Rodriguez found his destiny. Malik, I thought, had found his,” Segerman says.

“You put something like that out there. The joy that I’ve got out of it – how much more so for Malik? And it wasn’t enough.” DM

Mabu Vinyl featured in 40 Things To Do In Cape Town Under R200 | Travelstart

From travelstartblog

We’re almost halfway through 2014 and Cape Town is still enjoying the spoils of the momentum she’s gathered from numerous international press mentions from the New York Times to TripAdvisor and The Telegraph. Cape Town is now firmly on the world map as a destination unmissable. Table Mountain now joins the likes of the Statue of Liberty, The Gherkin, the Eifel Tower, Burj Khalifa, Sydney Opera House and the Shanghai Tower; a newly tacked on natural edifice on the tapestry of the world’s iconic cities.

But what lies beyond its beautiful mountain, historical Robben Island, wine regions and most popular sights? With this comprehensive list of alternative things to do in Cape Town we encourage you to explore the other side of the city. Discover Cape Town’s unique culture, people and history through outdoor activities, restaurants and bars and museums. We help you uncover 40 places around Cape Town to eat, play, shop, celebrate and relax, as well as an attractive smattering of free things to do in Cape Town.

Browse and buy vinyl at Mabu

Mabu Vinyl Cape Town

Cost: Vinyl – from R50 to R600. Shooting the breeze with Stephen – priceless.

The art of record collecting is alive and well in Cape Town City Bowl where Mabu Vinyl is at the forefront of this niche sub-culture. Stephen Segerman of Searching for Sugar Man fame is co-owner of the store and is usually available for a spirited chat about the 2012 hit movie in which he featured. Mabu stocks a rare selection of classics with a catalogue including second-hand records, books, comics, CDs, DVDs and cassettes. The store in Gardens is open 7 days a week.

Contact: 021 423 7635  | View location

Still Searching for Sugarman | Ted Baker Blog

When we heard that friend of Ted, Ali B of Air Recordings, had been to the one and only Mabu record store in South Africa, we wanted to hear all about it, and now we want to go too – all donations welcome! read his tale and prepare to be just a little green around the gills…

Still Searching for Sugarman

“In April this year I made a trip to Cape Town, South Africa to attend Afrikaburn, the Burning Man Festival of Africa, which I was introduced to by my friend Tal. Tal’s father Stephen had been involved in the recent Oscar-winning documentary Searching for Sugarman, about Detroit musician Rodriguez, who had become huge in South Africa during the 70s, while remaining virtually unknown to the rest of the world. So, on arrival in Cape Town, I made sure that I made a trip to Stephen’s record store, Mabu, to see if I could find any of Rodriguez’ music on vinyl.

A few weeks later, when I finally caught up with my friend at Afrikaburn, we were chatting about the recent success of the film and I’d told her that I’d been digging for 45s in her Father’s store. Meanwhile she was busy eyeing up the jacket I was wearing; an 80s silk blazer covered in the most ridiculous design of black and white cats. Being a sucker for anything with animal print on it, Tal suggested that I trade the jacket with her and in return, she would set it up for me to visit her Father’s basement which was apparently full of 45s – my favourite ever kind of vinyl. As much as I love my stupid cat jacket, without hesitation, I agreed.

Read more at Still Searching for Sugarman | Ted Baker Blog.

Oscar was ‘kersie op die koek’ | Die Burger

Stephen (Sugar) Segerman oor sy ontmoeting met Rodriguez
Stephen (Sugar) Segerman oor sy ontmoeting met Rodriguez

KAAPSTAD. – Die Oscar-toekenning is die kersie op die koek van ’n merkwaardige reis oor sy held Rodriguez.

Só gesels Stephen “Sugar” Segerman oor die dokumentêre rolprent oor Sixto Rodriguez, Searching for Sugar Man, wat pas ’n Oscar ingepalm het in die kategorie vir dokumentêre rolprente.

Segerman is ’n sentrale figuur in die dokumentêr.

Die rolprent is die verhaal van Segerman en Craig Bartholomew Strydom wat Rodriguez in die 1990’s in Detroit, Michigan, opgespoor en na Suid-Afrika gebring het.

Hy en Strydom was verlede week ook in Hollywood toe die goue beeldjie aan Malik Bendjelloul en Simon Chinn (regisseurs) oorhandig is.

via Oscar was ‘kersie op die koek’ | Die Burger.

Discovering hippies and teen rebellion when ‘Searching for Sugar Man’ | Arts and Culture | Music | Mail & Guardian

Rodriguez’s magical transformation into a hero around the world has proved old South African hippies right — for once.

Rodriguez
Rodriguez

‘You know then,” said Stephen Segerman.

It was last Sunday morning and I’d spent the weekend googling recent developments in the story of Rodriguez, the construction worker who woke up one morning to discover he was actually a pop star in a parallel universe called Mzanzi. I checked his appearances on big-time American TV talk shows, scanned emotional fan mail on his website and watched several clips of foreign audiences erupting in standing ovations after screenings of Searching for Sugar Man, Malik Bendjelloul’s magical documentary about Rodriguez’s life, death and miraculous resurrection.

Somewhere along the line, it struck me that Rodriguez’s global triumph is actually a huge compliment to people like me — white South Africans born in the baby boom, raised on the apartheid moonbase and converted in the Sixties to the cause of long hair and teen rebellion. The rest of you would not get it, so I ran my idea past Segerman, who laughed and said: “You know then,” thereby identifying himself as an ex-hippie of exactly my own persuasion.

As the whole world is now aware, Segerman is the psychedelic music enthusiast who set out in the 1990s to unravel the mystery of the missing Sugar Man. Rodriguez was supposed to be dead, but Segerman and Craig Bartholomew found him living in poverty in Detroit’s ruined downtown and brought him back to South Africa, where he stood dazed and dumbfounded in an outpouring of love from thousands of fans who had waited decades to see his face.

via Discovering hippies and teen rebellion when ‘Searching for Sugar Man’ | Arts and Culture | Music | Mail & Guardian.

Search for Sugar Man Leads to Cape Town – Cape Town Tourism

Sugar and Eva
Sugar and Eva

Star-struck doesn’t even begin to describe our reaction on Monday 22 October, 2012 to meeting not only Stephen “Sugar” Segerman and Craig Bartholomew Strydom, fans of musician Sixto Rodriguez and stars of the documentary Searching for Sugar Man, but also Eva Rodriguez, daughter of the music legend himself.

Searching for Sugar Man, directed by Malik Bendjelloul, follows Segerman’s and Strydom’s journey to unearthing the truth behind the gruesome rumours of Rodriguez’s death, the rediscovery of the living musician, and his subsequent sold-out concerts in South Africa in 1998.

The 101-minute long doccie is currently being shown at Ster-Kinekor Noveau cinemas and features stunning scenery of Cape Town, where Rodriguez performed at the Bellville Velodrome in the late 1990s.

via Search for Sugar Man Leads to Cape Town – Cape Town Tourism.

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