In this regular column, we chat to some of SA’s favourite sons and daughters about their travel experiences and favourite local pastimes and haunts.
This week we feature queen of the Groove, CLAIRE JOHNSTON, who’s well known band is once again in the swing of things. The exciting news for Mango Groove fans is that the group’s first new release in over six years, ‘Faces to the Sun’, is currently making waves.
The single is the first of several that will be released from the group’s forthcoming album, ‘Sing the Beloved Country’. The album has been over four years in the making, and represents a celebration of SA songs through the decades, featuring Mango Groove and key collaborations with some of South Africa’s most legendary and timeless artists.
“Wow; we cannot put into words how excited we are about this release. In between a lot of touring over the last few years, we have been putting in huge amounts of time in the studio,” says Claire Johnston.
What is your favourite travel destination, and why?
Whoa – tough call. Wherever I feel accepted and therefore relaxed. I know….not very helpful.
But for glam and that sort of excitement, Paris, London and New York.
For real relaxation, I love my partner’s father’s elk ranch in Alberta, Canada with its endless sky, zero pressure to be glamorous…you get the idea. And, I also love my fellow band member John’s parents’ home in the hills of north Wales.
What was your first international trip, and what do you remember most vividly about the experience?
France with Mango Groove. I was born in England and came to South Africa when I was around three. The first time I went back North was when I was 21 and touring France with Mango. I loved the difference of the language, the culture(and the pillows).
My overriding international experience? Huge double decker sleeper bus…being driven from Paris to heaven knows where (Amiens, Angouleme to name a few). But what a beautiful blast.
What is the first thing you usually do when you arrive at your destination and you’re trying to get acclimated?
Obviously checking into hotel, then taking a walk and soaking up the “culture”…and “making friends” with the place
What for you is usually the best way to soak up the culture you’re in?
Going for a walk and soaking up what’s around me. Food, art and architecture are a big part of learning about the ethos of a new town or city.
Flying – love it, or hate it?
It’s a a necessary evil, so I tolerate it. I’m still eagerly awaiting (the moment when) “beam me up, Scotty” (becomes a reality).
What has been your favourite cuisine that you have discovered on your travels?
OMG; where to begin? I love Asian, African, and my own South African twist. Food and happiness are best friends, and therefore mine.
You’ve got exactly R48 in your wallet. Where do you go for lunch in Jozi, and what do you have?
I would probably invite my besties back to my home for a veggie/vegan meal. Inexpensive, ethical and delicious.
What is your speciality in the kitchen?
A Thai prawn curry, followed by a chocolate Swiss Roll calorie fest.
* Visit www.mangogroove.co.za to keep up with Johnston and her band’s doings.