Qkumba Zoo: A Journey Through Evolution in Music

Qkumba Zoo: A Journey Through Evolution in Music

Qkumba Zoo is a South African dance music duo from Johannesburg, consisting of vocalist Levannah and musician/producer Owl. Originally formed as a duo called Ocean Road, they later became a trio in 1996 with the addition of dancer/sculptor Tziki. Their song “The Child (Inside)” from 1996 became a hit in the United States, reaching number 69 on the Billboard Hot 100 and number one on the Billboard Dance Club Songs chart.

Qkumba Zoo

Qkumba Zoo
Also known as Innaskinz, QZoo, Qcumba Zoo
Origin Johannesburg, South Africa
Genres Electronic, House, South African, Dance
Years active 1995–2013
Labels Arista/BMG Records
Members Levannah, Owl
Past members Tziki


“BIG” was Qkumba Zoo’s debut release in 1995, initially spelled as ‘Qcumba Zoo’ and featuring an elongated version of Tziki’s name as ‘Tsatsiki’. It was released on Gresham Records in South Africa. The album showcased a vibrant design with original artwork by Tziki and photos from the band’s stage performances. The title track, “BIG”, had slight variations in music and vocals compared to its later release on “Wake Up & Dream”, and “The Child (Inside)” featured a fading outro.

Track Listing:


  1. Rain (3:58)
  2. Happy Earthday (3:42)
  3. The Child (Inside) (3:27)
  4. Cloud Eyes (I’m Scared, You’re Scared) (4:28)
  5. Flesh & Blood (4:04)
  6. Big (3:48)
  7. Into The Night (5:04)
  8. Mermaids (4:45)
  9. Time of Wonder (5:18)
  10. Big – Mothership (4:15)

Wake Up and Dream

“Wake Up & Dream” marked Qkumba Zoo’s international debut on Arista Records in 1996. Levannah expressed the band’s desire to create music that could resonate globally while remaining rooted in its birthplace.

Track Listing:

  1. Rain (3:45)
  2. The Child (Inside) (3:58)
  3. Cloud Eyes (I’m Scared, You’re Scared) (4:32)
  4. Flesh & Blood (4:03)
  5. Big (3:48)
  6. Into The Night (5:04)
  7. Weeping (5:06)
  8. Mermaids (4:46)
  9. Happy Earthday (3:42)
  10. Time of Wonder (5:14)
  11. Big Mothership (4:04)

Their debut single, “The Child (Inside),” produced by the Berman Brothers, achieved significant success, reaching No. 1 on the US Hot Dance Music/Club Play chart and No. 69 on the Billboard Hot 100. It also reached No. 34 on the Radio & Records contemporary hit radio charts on October 16, 1996, making Qkumba Zoo the first South African group to top the Billboard Hot 100 Singles chart in over 17 years.

The 1996 Arista release of “The Child (Inside)” included several mixes by DJ Junior Vasquez, which became club favorites in the United States. Vasquez also provided mixes for “Cloud Eyes (I’m Scared You’re Scared)”. Additionally, the original mix of “The Child (Inside)” has been featured in various US television commercials, including those for Seaworld parks and Carnival Cruise Lines.

“Weeping,” a cover of an anti-apartheid song by Bright Blue, was added to this release. Bonus tracks include a musical remix of “Mermaids” and two stories/poems narrated by Levannah.

In August 1996, Qkumba Zoo served as the opening act for Danish singer Whigfield at the University of Port Elizabeth indoor sports center.

Butterfly Peepl

After the tragic loss of band member Tziki in 1999, Owl and Levannah underwent significant personal changes, reflected in their music on the second album, “Butterfly Peepl,” released in 2000. Alongside the album’s release, the band officially shortened its name from Qkumba Zoo to QZoo. They also departed from Arista Records to establish their own independent label, Zoocumba Music. However, “Butterfly Peepl” received limited attention, as it was only briefly available for sale on QZoo’s official website and released exclusively in South Africa.

Track Listing:

  1. Beautiful (4:28)
  2. Torn Between You and the Sky (7:01)
  3. Invisible (3:55)
  4. Slap Bang (4:00)
  5. Virgin (4:28)
  6. Wonder Woman (4:54)
  7. DNA (4:51)
  8. Butterfly People (4:03)
  9. Let the Light In (4:50)
  10. Words (6:41)
  11. In The Moon (2:57)


The release of Qkumba Zoo’s EP “N3X+” in 2009 marked a new chapter for the band, now consisting of Owl, Levannah, and Cajun. This EP showcased a blend of traditional folk and electronic/tribal sounds, indicating a musical shift from their previous albums.

Here’s the track listing for “N3X+”:

  1. Earthbound
  2. Torn Between You and the Sky
  3. Strike Out Against the Tide
  4. Karmic Book
  5. Let the Light in

Tracks 2 and 5 had previously been released on their album “Butterfly Peepl” but were remastered for “N3X+.” Additionally, “Earthbound” was a song originally written during the band’s Ocean Road era.

Fans could stream or download tracks like “Vision Afrika 2000,” “These Visions,” “Spider Girl,” and “My Shepherd,” indicating that Owl had continued to produce music both solo and in collaboration with Levannah.

The EP was available for download on the Rhythm Music Store’s website. In late 2009, an official Qkumba Zoo website, qkumbazoo.co.za, was launched, providing fans with a blog and other band-related information.

Other releases

Qkumba Zoo had numerous releases during their time with Arista Records, spanning various formats including CD, cassette, and vinyl. Here’s a breakdown of some of their releases:

  1. CD Sampler (1996):
    • “The Child (Inside)”
    • “Weeping”
    • “Flesh & Blood”
    • “Cloud Eyes (I’m Scared, You’re Scared)”
  2. The Child (Inside) – Promo CD (1996):
    • “The Child (Inside)”
  3. The Child (Inside) – CD/Cassette (1996):
    • “The Child (Inside)” – Radio Mix
    • “The Child (Inside)” – Berman Bros. Remix Edit
    • “Wake Up & Dream” (Album Snippets) – Weeping & Flesh and Blood & Big
  4. The Child (Inside) Remixes – CD (1996):
    • Extended Album Mix
    • Junior’s Club Mix
    • Berman Brothers Club Mix
    • Anthony Acid’s Up-Lift Mix
    • Toxic Twins Solid Waste Dub
  5. The Child (Inside) Remixes – US 2 x 12″ Vinyl (1996):
    • Various remixes by Junior, Anthony Acid, Berman Brothers, and Toxic Twins
  6. Enhanced CD Bio (1996):
    • Multimedia Presentation
    • “The Child (Inside)”
    • “Weeping”
    • “Flesh and Blood”
    • “Cloud Eyes (I’m Scared, You’re Scared)”
  7. I’m Scared, You’re Scared {Cloud Eyes} – CD (1997):
    • Radio Mix
    • Album Version {Edit}
    • Dance Radio Mix
  8. I’m Scared, You’re Scared {Cloud Eyes} – US Promo Vinyl ADP-3303 (1997):
    • Various remixes by Murk
  9. I’m Scared, You’re Scared {Cloud Eyes} – US Promo Vinyl ADP-3377 (1997):
    • Various remixes by Junior
  10. I’m Scared, You’re Scared {Cloud Eyes} (Dance Mixes) – US Commercial Vinyl 07822-13384-1 (1997):
    • Various remixes by Junior and Murk

Additionally, Qkumba Zoo contributed to compilations like “5FM presents The Santa Sessions” (2002) covering “O Holy Night,” and they performed on “SA All Stars – Elephant Song” (1999), a CD single benefiting the Tuli Elephant Trust Fund.


“Letthelightin,” released in July 2011 by Qkumba Zoo in collaboration with Souvenir Records, marked a significant release for the band. The album featured remastered tracks from their previous album “Butterfly Peepl” as well as songs from the “N3X+” EP, providing fans with a collection of their music in a fresh and refined format.

Here’s a glimpse at what the album offered:

  1. Earthbound (Remastered)
  2. Torn Between You and the Sky (Remastered)
  3. Strike Out Against the Tide
  4. Karmic Book
  5. Let the Light in (Remastered)

By incorporating tracks from both “Butterfly Peepl” and “N3X+,” “Letthelightin” provided listeners with a cohesive listening experience that showcased the band’s evolution over the years. The decision to remaster these tracks likely enhanced the overall quality of the album, giving fans a chance to rediscover their favorite Qkumba Zoo songs with a fresh perspective.

From 2013 to 2022

Qkumba Zoo experienced significant changes and continued to make an impact in the music scene:

  1. Transition to Side Project: On March 11, 2013, it was revealed that Qkumba Zoo had transitioned into a side project, signaling a shift in focus for the band members. Owl, one of the founding members, joined forces with Simone to create a new musical endeavor called Owl and Simone.
  2. Recognition for “The Child Inside”: In 2014, Qkumba Zoo’s iconic song “The Child Inside” was recognized as one of the greatest South African songs of all time. It earned the prestigious ranking of number 60 on the Sunday Times’ “100 Greatest South African Songs” list, reaffirming the enduring popularity and cultural significance of the track.
  3. Release of “Unicorns”: In February 2019, Qkumba Zoo made a comeback with the release of the single “Unicorns.” This marked a return to the music scene for the band, showcasing their continued creativity and ability to resonate with audiences after years of being a side project.

Throughout these years, Qkumba Zoo maintained their presence in the music industry, leaving a lasting legacy with their iconic songs and remaining relevant with new releases.

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