Witch: We Intend to Cause Havoc
There are music documentaries that heap praise on famous stars or provide new insight into established artists, but arguably the most valuable rockumentaries are those designed to reintroduce acts that have been largely forgotten for whatever reason – films like Searching for Sugar Man, Anvil! The Story of Anvil and now WITCH: We Intend to Cause Havoc.
Gio Arlotta’s movie finds its own Sugar Man in Emanyeo “Jagari” Chanda, the charismatic frontman of Zambian rock band WITCH, his name derived from Mick Jagger and coincidentally a type of brown sugar. An acronym for We Intend To Cause Havoc, WITCH were the heart of the Zamrock (a combination of African rhythms and psychedelic rock) scene in the 1970s, and recorded some of the first music the country had ever produced. Viewers even see the 1950s-era recording equipment they used, a militaristic piece of machinery resembling some sort of vintage oven.
WITCH’s circumstances made their success extremely unlikely, which makes their story unique in a genre that usually follows a similar trajectory, with familiar beats involving fame, drugs and fallouts that can normally be mapped out in advance. Their fortunes were tied not to the whims of the music industry or the egos of their members, but to the fate of Zambia. The nation became independent in 1964 with an economy strong from copper exports, but by the 1980s economic collapse, authoritarian government and an AIDS epidemic had ravaged the country and its young music scene.
This left Jagari to find work as a gemstone miner, which had the fortunate effect of keeping him fit enough to stage an incredible comeback. Seeing the energetic musician walk around singing (always flanked by groups of children) is a joy, even before he gets back on the stage for a European tour, backed by younger musicians who discovered his timeless music through Now-Again Records’ revelatory reissues. If the re-release and tour were about keeping the music and the scene alive, the film goes one step further by celebrating hope itself.
With great music and funky animations, We Intend to Cause Havoc is an instant classic of the genre, a fascinating and heartwarming documentary that unearths a rock legend and mines a gemstone of its own.
Witch: We Intend to Cause Havoc is released in select cinemas on 2nd July 2021.
Watch the trailer for Witch: We Intend to Cause Havoc here: