Welcome to DMC – how’s the year treating you so far?
Great… I’m a new dad so life has changed for the better but it’s been crazy with music so far. I’ve been pushing myself into new spaces.
You’ve been producing for more than 15 years – what have been some of your personal highlights in that time?
Releasing on African Dope Records, winning DMC, starting Max Normal with Ninja, starting The Real Estate Agents with Markus Wormstorm, starting Playdoe with Spoek Mathambo, working with Msayyid from Antipop, producing for BoyznBucks, meeting Diplo, releasing an EP on Diplo’s label Jeffree’s, having Qbert contact me for tracks, pressing records, being the sound track to Miley Cyrus’s lowest point before she checked herself into rehab, building my own studio, integrating solenoids & switches with music, starting a live show with Toyota.
What initially got you into music and who were your earliest influences?
My first influences were labels like Mo Wax and Ninja Tune, Warp, artists like Krush, DJ Shadow, Qbert, Aphex Twin… when I first heard ‘Scratchy Noise’ it really shifted my understanding of music. This music hit me so hard that I couldn’t not be involved.
How would you describe the electronic music scene in South Africa to someone who’s never experienced it? How do you think it differs from that of the UK and Europe?
Unlike Europe or USA, SA was influenced heavily by both. Drawing from these difference scenes and being mounted on the backbone of afropop grew these unique sounds. There are many different scenes here split by sound and race. I’d say that SA is the hub for house with so many sub genres and new break-out sounds like the Gqom scene. We have a growing and solid techno scene but the rap scene is currently dominating.
Would you like to see more South African artists getting global recognition, and what barriers do you think they have to overcome to achieve this?
Global recognition is amazing but I’ve noticed it’s not everything. I’m super proud of all the local stars that are focusing on the continent … we have the most diverse countries out here and the music scene is very strong. This continent has hundreds of megastars that don’t need to go ‘overseas’. For some of the Gqom artists, overseas travel is just some extra cash and has no effect or influence on their scene.
Tell us about the current L EP – is it fair to say that this is you at your housiest?
I got inspired to make an ongoing album, like an album that you need to be a part of the journey to get the whole piece. I’ve always made a lot of different music and this idea just started falling into place. I wanted to release genre-specific sounds and have them interlock to form an eclectic album. Part of this journey is me figuring out the next step. I’ve got a pretty strong bank of house tracks but never put any out. I’ve released a bunch of more kwaito-sounding house. Last year I took on this incredibly challenging and rewarding job that required me to travel through Kenya and record the various tribes. I met so many incredible people and heard some of the most mind-blowing songs. Some of these chants transcend music and carry so much history. You can hear samples that I collected on that trip in these tracks.
And it fits into a series of EPs… how will the series develop?
This series is a way of engaging the listener and giving them a story. If you jump in on the project on EP 3 you can go back into the rest. It’s a way of me making different sounds and making them work. It’s a nice way of housing a project and letting it develop as it unfolds and influences itself.
How easy is it for you to move between multiple genres? Do you sit in the studio and think “ok, today I’m going to make house”?
No not really: I have many approaches to making music. I’ve worked on ways of killing writers block and in that I’ve developed many techniques. I do usually start on a piano or a synth though, so almost always start with melody.
On the live front you’ve been collaborating with the visual artist, Toyota – tell us about the work you’ve done together and how it will develop…
Toyota is aesthetically razor sharp. Her style is the illest. She’s been developing her 3D skills and the screens are essentially her platform. Whatever she does I trust and am down with. Eventually I’d like to integrate the 3D with live action and shoot some videos together.
What are your ambitions for the rest of 2017?
I’m focussed on the V.L.D.T. series but it’s also the 10 year anniversary of my album ‘In With The Old’ so I’m gonna make some limited vinyl. We launching a 10 year collab with Shelflife store with a range of clothes focused on the V.L.D.T. series, and I’m also excited to be playing Sakifo in reunion this year.