Twobirdypanda: A Johannesburg based DJ that is defying traditional practices in the South African music landscape.
Avant-garde DJing, a perspective that entails forward-thinking and innovative mixing, pushing sounds that are uncharacteristic to the a vast amount of South African music lovers and a determined spirit. Those descriptions are a perfect fit when speaking about the Johannesburg based DJ, Twobirdypanda. The aura and the image he has built for himself can have one asking the following question: “How does he do it? Where does he get the bravery to do something that has never been done before in South Africa?”. Twobirdypanda forms part of a select group of creative people that completely disregard traditional practices within the creative spaces that they find themselves in to create something that makes sense to them. Artists that think like Twobirdypanda are a rare find and to be more specific, the DJ realm is full of mundane characters that rarely push the boundary and innovate and he is relentless on leaving a mark in history. South Africa is a huge contributor of House music to the global community that loves and appreciates the House music genre and this means that if the country carries such an accolade or responsibility, there should be a large population of people that come up as House DJ’s. Twobirdypanda chooses to assume a position that is completely different from his DJ peers and other counterparts. This is seen in how he chooses to do things and how chooses to express himself.
With a style that is reminiscent of early Joe Kay and the UK’s Ralph Hardy and this notion is supported by the fact that he has set up his brand in a way that has innovation in its roots. He thinks differently and by that he is quickly building up a name that will have weight in future. The world is looking at South Africa as a House music destination and it is difficult for the world to expect something different from the country and that alone opens up the gates for Twobirdypanda as he has the space and the leverage to disrupt South Africa’s DJ scene. We cannot limit or box Twobirdypanda, which is one of the great characteristics of the creative. The innovation and forward-thinking is what sets him and his team apart.
We had a chat with the young creative from Tsakane, Johannesburg to find out more about his art and his creative business endeavor called Soft Pardy Island. Peep the conversation below.
We always kick things off with extending appreciation and gratitude. The Nusoulhub Radio team is always psyched to get to connect with talented artists like yourself. We were compelled to get you on board to know more about you after hearing your mixes online. So tell us, who is twobirdypanda and where are you based?
Twobirdypanda: Twobirdypanda is a reloaded version of myself(Ndumiso Mahlangu),basically a character I see myself in, when I’m out of my comfort zone. Based in Tsakane(East Rand).
When it comes to your music, when did the journey start?
Twobirdypanda: Haha it was in 2012 when I used to share music with this artsy girl I was dating. So in the process of sharing, my playlist got dry, so got our relationship lol. That’s when I went online and literally looked up “All types of music genres” haha it was crazy. I got exposed to a lot of great musicians and you know I started collecting. So on her birthday I compiled a mix(Soft Pardy) and uploaded it on Soundcloud,the feedback was exceptional and I made more Soft Pardy mixtapes.
You have rather an interesting name, which definitely caught our attention. Can you tell us about the story behind your chosen artist name?
Twobirdypanda: Referring to the Twobirdypanda logo , birds giving birth to music in early mornings,pandas dance to win a companion during mating season. So two birds and a panda were so convenient to define what I’m about.
You have quite a unique style of curating your mixes, particularly when it comes to song selection. We are easily reminded of early Soulection, Boiler Room and Ralph Hardy sessions on Radar Radio. What inspires you to push the type of music that you do because it is quite uncharacteristic in South Africa, but definitely a breath of fresh air?
Twobirdypanda: I’m convinced that 80% of South Africans have a good taste when it comes to music, it just goes down to what people are exposed to. Commercial music is as good as non-commercial music. The challenge is quantity, what we hear on tv and radio is a drop in the ocean compared to what the internet has to offer. So I don’t just see myself as a DJ but a channel where people can easily discover new music.
When it comes to the style of DJing that you do and the types of genres that you push, do you think that you’re creating a scene or forming part of a scene that has already kick started?
Twobirdypanda: I’m definitely forming part of a scene. I remember in high school when I came across Nu Jazz,Trip hop,etc I thought it was only perfect for studying and reading books until years later, I got exposed to local DJs that play this music as Lounge music, which for me was really fascinating. I’ve always liked the idea of people socializing with good chilled music playing in the background, lounging that is. 🙂
South Africa is internationally known to be a House music destination and majority of the events are House and most of the population consumes House music. Do you see that as a challenge in making sure that your mixes get the listener reach that they deserve?
Twobirdypanda: I don’t really see it as a challenge because House music is also part of the Soft Pardy package. What me and my team do,we go to some of these “House” events and hand out cds(Soft Pardy mixtapes) to selective people,which is classic and the way forward.
What motivates you to keep on doing what you do? It may be particularly difficult to pursue a creative endeavour in South Africa, so what keeps you soldiering on to do what you love?
Twobirdypanda: As practical as this might seem, I’m motivated by music. As if the whole world is musical and every time I think of that, positivity kicks in, I no longer see myself as just a South African but a universal being, who can make it anywhere.
What is your opinion on collaboration? Collaboration is a major life force for many scenes across the world, take Los Angeles, Tokyo and London for example have incredible creative scenes which are built on collaborative energy? Judging by the way South Africa is set up, do you think that Jo’burg and Cape Town can have world renowned music scenes within the domain that you play in?
Twobirdypanda: Collaborations are essential. They bring different types of energies together.There’s already big movements like ‘WeHeartBeat’ that are doing the most right now, as a start up it would be really wise to follow their footsteps and learn.
DJ’s have a very important role of breaking new sounds to the masses and that is a duty that needs to be respected. What do you think modern DJ’s lack today?
Twobirdypanda: These DJs don’t lack anything,they cool. lol
What are some of the struggles that you face as a young creative in South Africa?
Twobirdypanda: Not having free Wifi in our households,the internet has so much to offer. I hate it when people can’t download/stream our mixtapes because they struggle with data.
Is there a grand destination or goal when it comes to what you do? Where would you like your creative efforts to take you?
Twobirdypanda: Yes, owning a record label. The music talent in my area is very intriguing. The challenge is, there’s gaps between musicians, gaps like “ I have a really awesome voice but where can I record?” or “I’m really good at playing lead but who can I play with?” so if we could close these gaps,we can move forward.
We’re currently living in a digital age and for us to connect with you would not be possible if it weren’t for technological advancements. Do you think that the rise in internet usage and social media for example is great for artists? How do you do you use these digital avenues to spread your message and art?
Twobirdypanda: Yes, as an artist you should take an advantage of social media. People spend more time on their phones than watching television. So basically ,we should see social media as a marketing tool. I try to be more visual when I post stuff and you know people respond much better to visuals than just words.
In closing, where can people find you or your creative work online? Do you have any words for the people that follow you and the ones that are going to get to know you?
Facebook : Twobirdypanda
There’s also a musical movement me and my team are busy with, you can check that out on Facebook: Soft Pardy Island
Uhmm my Instagram is still dry for now lol but you guys can still follow me: Twobirdypanda
I’d like to thank everyone that’s been supporting and I love you guys.
Thanks to Nusoulhub Radio for the feature,it really means a lot.
Follow Twobirdypanda on social media to catch more updates on his new mixes, remixes and events.