Published Sep 13, 2016After we interviewed Ninja of Die Antwoord and reported that the band are splitting up in 2017, the duo took to Instagram in order to deny our claims. In the ensuing clamour, the rest of the findings from the conversation went largely unnoticed. During our hour-long interview, Ninja spoke candidly about death, fandom, losing his identity and moving past Die Antwoord.
So, here are five other things we learned from our conversation with Ninja.
1. Die Antwoord has five members.
Yolandi Visser and Ninja are the obvious ones, and their DJ/producer, GOD, is mentioned a number of times throughout their albums, although his face is never shown in videos. Recently joining the roster, however, is DJ Muggs, of Cypress Hill fame. Muggs, who goes under the name the Black Goat in this case, appeared briefly on Donker Mag before working with Die Antwoord on their Suck on This mixtape, released earlier this year, and was also instrumental in the production of Mount Ninji and Da Nice Time Kid. According to Ninja, the fifth member of the group is artist and photographer Roger Ballen, who's been a huge influence on the look and style of Die Antwoord since their formation in 2007.
"Roger Ballen is pretty much a member of Die Antwoord, it would be safe to say," Ninja tells Exclaim! "He's in our group. We're super close friends and we're always collaborating with him and it's all climaxing."
2. GOD is definitely DJ Hi-Tek.
There have been plenty of conspiracies surrounding the identity of GOD. Some claim that Ninja himself is GOD, while a few have even theorized that Aphex Twin is behind Die Antwoord's music, although there's no evidence to support that. After their 2012 album Ten$ion, it appeared that DJ Hi-Tek was replaced by GOD, which would've made sense considering the controversy around his part in the song "Fok Julle Naaiers". While Visser did write "DJ Hi-Tek is GOD dum fux!!!" on her Instagram page some months ago, Ninja also confirmed this when talking to us.
"We've got other people like our DJ, GOD, the artist previously known as DJ Hi-Tek," says Ninja. "and Muggs who we've done this album with, who calls himself the Black Goat now."
3. Ninja thinks Drake is super ill.
In yet another sterling post from Visser's Instagram account, last year saw her uploading a picture of Drake with "I'm a massive faggot" overlaid, and a caption that said, "Fuk. Drake was kak," after seeing him perform in Australia. So, it was surprising then to hear that Ninja is actually a fan.
"I like Drake's stuff," says Ninja. "I thought he was different from what he is. I first heard 'Started From The Bottom' in a club in Paris, and I was like 'What the fokkkkk! Who the fok is this?' and everyone was like 'This is Drake,' and I couldn't believe it, I thought he was all about this soft R&B shit, but that song and the one that goes 'Motherfucker' [ed note: our guess is he's talking about 'Worst Behaviour'], so then I thought Drake was super ill.
"Even the way that he beat Meek Mill in that battle, that was amazing. I mean, I've heard battle rhymes before but I've never heard a battle rhyme that goes on high rotation, played every single day on the radio in Los Angeles, it's so funny. It's quite an amazing thing, I was like 'Jesus, that is the ultimate fokken dis track,' where your shit is on heavy rotation all the time, everywhere."
4. Die Antwoord have an odd circle of friends.
Name-dropping is nothing new, nor is it strange to hear in an interview, but the sheer range of celebrities in Die Antwoord's inner social circle is kind of insane. After attending one of their shows in Austin, TX, actor Jack Black met with the group backstage and they've "been homies ever since." Black even appears on their latest album on the track "Rats Rule," and not in skit form either — he's singing in full pantomime mode. They're also pals with director Chris Cunningham and Aphex Twin, who cleared them to sample "Ageispolis" for the track "Ugly Boy." Perhaps most surprising of all though, is their relationship with Canadian-American author William Gibson.
"I'm friends with friggin' William Gibson, I can't believe it," Ninja says. "Our friend said he likes us and we were like 'What!?' Now, every time I speak to him, I'm blown away. He's so stylish, even if he writes like an email, he just writes so cool. He'll write like four sentences and I'm like 'Uhhhhhhhh.' But he's so grim too, ole William. In an email, he sent me shit straight from the pages of Neuromancer and I was like 'Okay, I can die now.' It was like the nicest, coolest thing ever. I was like 'Did he really say that? He didn't just say that. That's fokken insane.'"
5. Ninja isn't Ninja anymore.
Staying in character for nine years is no easy feat, especially when you're bored of that character. Watkin Jones, or Waddy, actually dropped the Ninja act a few years ago, but no one seemed to notice.
"It's almost like I put this suit on," Ninja explains. "Like, you know those Japanese mechs that you climb into? Those suits? It was like, I bought the Ninja mech, and I was like 'Fok, this is cool. I wanna ride around in this thing' and I climbed into this thing and I did the first album in it. Then I did the second album in it, and then I started thinking 'I don't wanna rap in this suit anymore.' Like, it's fucking awesome but I wondered what it would be like without it.
"Then on Donker Mag, I took it off, and then it's still off for Mount Ninji and Da Nice Time Kid and I had changed inside the suit, it was one of those suits that fuses with your DNA. So, then when I took the suit off I wasn't the man I was before Die Antwoord and I'm not the Ninja I was during it, I'm another thing altogether... maybe Ninji now."