Rapper puts freestyle dancing on the map

Garth Permal, aka Loon Hefner of Portland, talks about his achievements and encourages youth to become the best versions of themselves.

Garth Permal, 36, of Portland, has been blazing trails from a young age and along with the Unlimited Dance Group, has managed to put freestyle dancing on the map on the Cape Flats.

Mr Permal, who performs as a rapper and singer using the stage name Loon Hefner, said he started break dancing as a “B Boy” with his older brothers who were fascinated by the dance style.

He went on to win his first dance competition at the tender age of five.

Following his achievement, he joined a rap group and as a 12-year-old, embarked on his solo rap career.

Mr Permal has lived in Mitchell’s Plain for all his life and attended Portland Primary and Portland Senior Secondary schools.

“I met my mentor Gabi le Roux who was the late Brenda Fassie and Mandoza’s producer and, with his help, I performed with artists such as the late Ms Fassie, Ringo Madlingozi, Steve Hofmeyer and Arthur Mafokate”.

The tenacious teenager then had the courage to start his independent music label, Island Roc Music when he was just 14 years old.

“I started producing music for various artists including Maurice Paige who plays Calvin in Isidingo.”

His notable achievements include performing at Loftus Versfeld at the 1999 Rugby World Cup and being featured on the 1999 Cricket World Cup album. Recently Mr Permal was the opening act for musos Nasty C, Sketchy Bongo and E-Jay.

“I have always loved music and dancing from a young age. After winning my first dance competition and being in a successful rap group, I decided to pursue it more fully. Music then became my passion,” he said.

Speaking about the social ills prevalent in his community, he said: “My biggest fear and heartache is the gang violence that has had a major impact on communities. We have children on the road younger than 10 belonging to or working for gangs and it breaks my heart. Some of them have the X-factor but because this is the only way of life they know, they would tell me that music is what they love, but it cannot feed the whole family. So they have to do what they can do to survive.

“It’s difficult to convince an older person, but a child you can,” he said.

Mr Permal is passionate about giving back to the community.

“My biggest dream in life is to give back and raise funds for old age homes, cancer associations and TB patients, by hosting shows in Cape Town. Someday I hope to build a music centre for youth where children can learn more about music, instruments and various music production software. This is what our children need right now. Music has been a great part of my life and schooling. Once a parent sees their child’s musical talents they should show interest and support them”.

He encouraged youth to believe in what they do; have patience; put in the work and never give up on their dreams.

“Also, go and support your fellow artists at their showcases. Your support will mean so much to them,” he said.

On what a typical day in his life looks like, he said: “I have a day job, so after work I spend quality time with my family. Family time is so important to me after having lost my father and brother at a young age. My nights are spent in my studio producing music and making contact with other artists and checking for gigs. When I have an upcoming show, my manager and I will plan my music for the event.”

Those interested in seeing “Loon Hefner” perform can catch him at Khanyi’s Butchery in Delft for the Rheebongs and Madness Birthday celebration on Sunday July 9, from 2pm until 8pm.

You can contact Mr Permal on 072 146 6981.