MotherLand X is one of eSwatini’s music label which is always pushing boundaries and elevating local artists. In the recent months they have been hosting a social Sunday event called Pop Sunday which has been well received by the youth. Since its inception, MotherLand X was founded with the main aim of shining a light on producers. “Producers are clearly undervalued all over the world yet they do most of the work behind the scenes”, Rendition (co-founder) explains MLXs background. Inspired by movements like Soulection which highlight the importance of celebrating producers and giving them the same respect as artists. In its 5th year since inception MLX has grown in leaps and bounds and has elevated eSwatini’s music scene with some of their notable achivements being featured on a number of international projects – with the most recent being Rendition on uSanele’s mixtape, DJ Ohpis perfoming at the Luju Food & Lifestyle Festival, hosted DJ Shimza in December, unearthing new talent – Remedy (one to watch) being the most recent and countless other achievements.
MLX has grown to be a collective of not just producers but an entire spectrum of the creative industry (DJs, photographers, artists, fashion designers, videographers etc). King of the Boards is a new concept show in collaboration with Deck Life Events. The event is called Social Saturday Beer Garden spear-headed by DJ Mkay and it will be hosted at the Albert Millin. With an outdoor upmarket setting, young and diverse crowd this is set to be one of the popular events in the capital city. King of the Boards will be a segment which will feature two local producers to compete against each other. “The challenge to the producers is to captivate a crowd of over 500 people with their beats with the crowd deciding on the eventually winner” Rendition explains the concept. “The battle will be broken down into three rounds, with each producer playing a beat for 2 minutes per round and then the crowd decides on the winner” he elaborates. Each round will test the producers ability to grab the crowds attention considering three different elements.
This new initiative will profile the kingdoms hidden talent and give producers the same platform and respect that artist get. Performances and deejay sets have been scheduled in between the rounds to keep the crowd entertained. With the ultimate goal of this concept is giving bedroom/budding producers the chance to showcase their talent and open doors for mentorship or even collaborations.
South Africa continues to be the capital of house music globally; the passion and love for deep house does not simply exist with DJs and producers but lives and breeds within its fans on the dance floors. Cape Town based Rafeeqah Ely is an epitome of this passion as she continuously graces deep house dance floors in the Mother City and Johannesburg with her crew of friends (The “Jol Patrol”), who are equally as passionate about house music as she is.
We had a sit down with her to tell us more about herself, how she fell in love with deep house music and how she became such a consistent figure in Cape Town’s dance floors and beyond.
Before we talk about your life as deep house super fan, we’d like to first get to know Rafeeqah a bit more. Besides being a serious groover, what else does Rafeeqah do? Well, when I’m not at the “groove”, I’m busy making money so that I can go to the groove and compensate for my groove time [laughs]. Currently my job description is that I work at Amazon where I do quality assurance, but I’m also still studying as well. I graduated with a BA degree in 2017 and now I’m trying to pursue my Honours degree in Psychology. I majored in different things but then I chose Psychology because that’s where my heart is.
Do you see a connection between these two passions of yours, Psychology and being a deep house groover? Yeah, I think there is. Getting to know all these people at the groove is very fascinating to me because you meet so many different people there, it’s insane! I consider it therapy honestly. Just to let loose and exchange energies with different types of people. I feel like I find my solace there.
When did you get into deep house music and how did you fall in love with it? I am madly, deeply and unconditionally in love with deep house [laughs]. 2lani the Warrior was asking me about this at the We House Festival some time back and I told him that I’ve only been in the scene for 2 years and I’ve been unequivocally invested in house music. I then actually thought about this question after and I realized I gave him the wrong answer because unconsciously I’ve always been drawn to this kind of music.
Before WHS I listened to house, but I just didn’t categorise it as I listened to music generally. I was someone that was always open to music, so I didn’t pay close attention to the specific genres, it was just music. Now though it has become more than that. Commercial music has become alien to me now since I’ve been sucked into this deep house craze [laughs].
It is quite amazing how consistent you have been in supporting deep house music, particularly events such as “We House Sundays”. Why did you choose to support this event so consistently and tirelessly? I had this friend at school who is the one who introduced me to We House Sundays. He told me that he wants to take me to this place because he thought I would enjoy it and then after my first experience I said to him “I think we should do this every month” so that we can hangout and experience this more. Then the more I went, the more I was amazed, and I understood why people enjoyed it. It’s deeper than just being music. That was about 2 and half years ago and ever since then I’ve been going.
It felt like the actual space was like family, like a community. When I’m there I always look at when people enter, they are literally dancing already before they even reach the dance floor, and you are already smiling at the people who are coming in. It’s crazy because you kind of know who is going to be there and we all connect on the dance floor. Something that started off as us just wanting to hang out with my friend at least once a month has become something that I’m more invested in now. We have become very invested in this thing, particularly in following the WHS crew and even going to Johannesburg for events such as ‘Deep Town Jozi’. If you told me 2 years ago that I would catch a flight to another city for a groove I would have laughed at you. It wasn’t even a consideration for me to leave the city for no reason but now I want to keep going because we’ve met so many people because of it.
It seems in your years as a deep house fanatic you have formed a crew of friends who love the music just like you, particularly at WHS. Tell us more about these friendships you’ve formed on the dance floor. You know what’s crazy is that whenever we go to groove, the last thing we speak about is our personal lives so talking about that is kind of crazy for me [laughs]. We kind of want to leave that at the door because we are at the groove to come and let loose. But considering how close we have become we have been trying to get to know each other at a more personal level, because we realise that its more than just us being at the groove, we actually enjoy spending time with each other.
Even though we have one thing in common (the love of house music), we are all there for different reasons and though we try to escape our daily lives we can’t really escape them completely because they shape who we are as individuals and as a crew. What’s also crazy is that most of the people that stay in my area I met at WHS, I never met them where I live when going to the store or anything.
In a scene that is quite heavily male dominated, even with the supporters of Deep house music, how has your experience been as a woman who attends so many events? I feel like being often the only female in the crew allows me to play a very specific role. I feel like I am more like the mother of the group because these guys need a lot of support. We come from different walks of life and because of the way we support each other we have become a very close unit. I’m a really shy person, believe it or not, and I feel so comfortable with these guys that I’m literally motivated to be myself with them and I don’t have to be that person that’s chilling and watching everyone dance. It’s because of them giving me the platform to be myself and comfortable, so I just go crazy.
With me being the only female in our crew people always say to me “why are you the only female with all these guys, don’t you have issues with them hitting on you all the time”, and I always say no, that’s not what it’s about. We’ve dubbed ourselves as being family because that’s the last thing on our minds; it’s so much more than that. The guys and I just feed off of each other’s energy.
Have you in the last 2 years of being a super fan become more into getting to know the artists/DJs and following their music outside of the events you attend? Yes, I have. I think that once I have experienced an artist I then go on and follow them. We experience a lot of music on the dance floor and for some reason I want to dig deeper and try experience what other kinds of house music are out there. I’m quite an avid fan of Avi Subban and I’ve always enjoyed his productions. Also !Sooks, who’s music I’ve always enjoyed even before I experienced him play; as well as Pierre Johnson, who I know through a few mutual friends. So yes, in the past 2 years my knowledge of deep house music has really grown. If you look at my playlists now, its just deep house [laughs].
Have you seen yourself being more recognised now by people as a deep house super fan, even outside of the dance floor? Definitely. The ‘Front Rowers‘ that’s what they call us [laughs]. Even at work I get people come up to me and say “you are that girl that I always see on the photos” and I always say “hey lets not speak about this here, I am not this person” [laughs]. But yes, when people see me and the crew they now recognise that we are the people that bring the vibe and our faces are now attached to the brand that is deep house. And the fact that people are appreciating our presence makes me want to invest in it even more.
Do you believe that the fans of deep house music like yourself are important and play a big role in the deep house scene? I think that we are very important as dancers. A friend of mine even said to me that I enjoy the music so much that everyone thinks I will get to a point where I say I would also like to DJ [laughs]. But for me, I would like to remain a dancer because one of these days if everyone is going to be on the line up and who’s going to dance and bring the vibe? I feel like we contribute quite a lot especially in terms of welcoming everyone there and making sure that people feel welcome. So yes, I believe we are as important as the artists because we show appreciation by showing up, being present and actually enjoying the vibe.
Finally, would you ever consider formalising the important role you play in the scene and what ventures would you go into? [Laughs] I don’t know how I would. It would be nice to do this as a job because it’s quite an expensive thing [laughs] but unfortunately, I can’t. I don’t think I would want to consider it as a job because I’m scared it would lose its substance and currently, we are doing it for the love. We want to support these events as much as we can so that they can keep pushing the movement. It would be nice to get paid for it because of how expensive it gets, but ultimately, we know what we are there for. It’s not about the money or anything but about what we take home from the groove. The whole experience, and you can’t buy experience. So, for now I’m just doing it strictly for the love.
Bakai are back in a big way with their new track titled ‘Under Those Trees‘. This time, they bring in the world class talent Manu Grace, to lace a touch of sultry gracefulness to take this groovy lo-fi house tune to the next level.
Featured on powerhouse Cape Town based indie label, Kudukudu, Bakai’s atmospherically beautiful signature vibe is back with this summer banger for your face. I spent a good 20 minutes playing this track again and again just to properly soak up its brilliance. My cat ‘Socks‘ can confirm that my dance moves are average but this song is definitely not. With a music video surely on the way, this is a dreamy masterpiece you should hear on every decent radio station and pumped up loud in your local club. If not, please have a little chat to the DJ, yes?
Tell your friends and family about Bakai and Manu Grace and support these quality acts. Get your feet moving and grooving. Follow Bakai on YouTube and Facebook. Follow Manu Grace on YouTube and Facebook.
If you’re reading this then congratulations are in order. You’ve made it through to the second half of 2019 and just as Jim George said, “It’s not how you start that’s important, but how you finish.” Judging from this month’s releases the house music scene in Southern Africa is looking to use the second half of the year to blow 2019 completely out of the water. I thoroughly had a tough time picking this month’s music. There was so much and I left out so many so please do forgive me. Nonetheless, here are my top house picks for the month of June.
ZuluMafia, Nhlangano, June Jazzin – Soulfellas 2 Label: Moyo Muziki Records
Soulfellas 2 is a resounding reminder that soulful house music will never die. A laidback and groovy release that sounds nostalgic yet ever so fresh. Soulfellas 2 features three tracks from Soweto’s soulful house maestro ZuluMafia, Junkonme’s Nhlangano and June Jazzin who’s one of my favourite house selectors. I honestly love the whole release but my stand out favourite has to be June Jazzin’s Lakhusta Strawberry, that groovy hypnotic bass is a winner for me!
Sculptured Music – Sad To Think (Remixes) Label: Stay True Sounds
The other day Kid Fonque tweeted, “Some tunes don’t need remixes.” This may be true but he clearly wasn’t referring to Sculptured Music’s Sad To Think. The hit single received some remix tlc from FKA Mash, KVRVBO and Jazzuelle. FKA Mash comes through with his signature Glitch Dub sound, a favourite with many having been charted 18 times on Traxsource including Traxsource’s Weekend Weapons, Afro House Essentials and Hype Chart. My personal favourite though is KVRVBO’s Remode Mix, a vibrant deep house banger that every deep house DJ needs to have in their arsenal.
V.underground & George Lesley feat. Earl W. Green – Mayibuye Label: Phoenix Music
Throughout history, music has always availed itself as a vehicle for social change and a platform for the marginalised to have a voice. Mayibuye is a call for the restoration of Africa. Earl W. Green advocates for the redistribution of land back to its original owners. He does this over a percussive instrumental infused with afro sounds and a jazzy saxophone that compliments Earl W. Greens smooth vocals. Beautiful song by V.underground, George Lesley and Earl W. Green, Malibuye ilizwe lethu!
Jazzuelle – North Star EP Label: Atjazz Record Company
“The North Star EP represents my growth over the years, it’s the evolution and progression of my sound over time,” shared an excited Jazzuelle through a social media post. As I listened to the EP I shared the same sentiments. Jazzuelle has never shied away from experimenting and taking his sound to different avenues but on the North Star EP I believe he found a common ground for the signature Jazzuelle sound I fell in love with before, as well as his love for different facets of house, that is, techno, afro house and so forth. The Drake Equation is very much reminiscent of Jazzuelle celestial dreamy deep house sound but my pick of the bunch has to be Eclipse, both the Original and Darkside Dub.
The KwaZulu Natal based electronic music duo Kususa and emerging star Argento Dust are proving to be a force to be reckoned with. Incwadi Encane is proving that collaboration is at times the key to reaching new frontiers. The two-track EP showcases new age afro house sound driven by techno and electronic sounds. The title track Incwadi Encane is suited for festival stages with its spellbinding rhythm and melody. The Idea is a pulsating afro house banger that can set any dance floor alight.
Candy Man – Technokrat EP Label: Afrocentric Records
If ever there was any doubt, South Africa is the headquarters of Afro House music. There seems to be a gem discovered everyday and many others waiting in line to be discovered. By no means is he a newcomer to the game but I recently discovered Candy Man’s music through his Technokrat EP. This four-track release is packed with upbeat dance floor hits only! The title track Technokrat is the type of song I could easily envision Black Coffee playing on one of his sets on his international escapades. Obstraction & Wijo would be perfect for my girlfriend’s step/dance classes and quite frankly one cannot listen to this EP without breaking a sweat.
KG Smallz feat. Ree Morris – Give Me Some Love Label: House Afrika Records
Ree Morris cries out for love on a warm and mellow soulful house instrumental by KG Smallz. Though we act tough on the outside, everybody needs love and Give Me Some Love is every man’s plea for a chance at love. Though I’m not sure, I suspect Ree Morris is on additional production as well seeing that the man knows his way around the keys. The single is clearly a favourite with the Traxsource team as it featured on the Soulful Essentials, Weekend Weapons and Hype Charts.
Avi Subban – The Guilty Pleasures EP Label: Stay True Sounds
Yet another stellar deep house release from Stay True Sounds. This time it’s Jozi’s underground superstar Avi Subban serving the heat. Summer Nights is the perfect intro into this EP, an energetic deep house jam with a groovy bass. Guilty Pleasures, the title track, is the crème de la crème of this three-track EP. Driven by hypnotic synthesised progressions and mesmerizing beat drops, this one is bound to get you moving. It also got a heads up from Jimpster as he featured it on his Traxsource Top 10 chart for July.
As I said initially, there were many releases that deserve worthy mentions; Lemon & Herbs Edge EP, Lazarusman’s Letter To Your X, George Lesley’s The Atmosphere featuring Tlale Makhane and many others that I might have missed.
Cape Town is an important city for the African electronic beats scene. With a dance music scene which is regarded as one of the best in the world, you can imagine how great their beats scene is — a scene that frequently intersects with dance music and its many variants. Now with a great scene, you need great talent, and producers like Lakei (pronounced as ‘Lucky’) keep the scene alive and push it beyond its limits. To get more insight into the Cape Town beats scene, we had to catch up with the talented producer. A passionate young artist that is heavily inspired by kwaito music, bubblegum, hip hop and house music; which shows in many of his productions.
When asked about his creative process, his style of production, recent work and the Lipton Tapes, he said the following: “Lipton Tapes was just me trying to make some funky, summer time, house influenced festive music. I have a lot of music that falls in this category but I’ll probably never release the songs. Will just play them in a couple DJ sets.” Lakei is no stranger to showing appreciation for the old school and this is apparent in his music where, from a production perspective, he pulls stylistic influences from great kwaito producers such as Mandla Spikiri, Mdu Masilela and Oskido. His Inkomazi kwaito series gives off a nostalgic feel. Far from falling short in the skills of crafting electronic dance music and he has proven this with his bootleg version of AlunaGeorge’s hit song ‘I’m in control’.
Growing up in Rondebosch, Cape Town, he started producing when he was 12 years old; with his older brother teaching him the basics of producing music. “So basically my brother and I where fans kwaito music when were younger and that’s where it stems from. However, Dunn Kidda another producer from Cape Town, made a song called ‘Laanie Level’ and that acted as the catalyst for the first kwaito song that I made which was called ‘ Done Kiddin’ which was basically influenced by him.”
The young producer has a long career ahead of him and with his unique style of production, there is no doubt that he is part of the new generation of South African artists that are shaping the new Mzansi sound.
It goes without saying that Cape Town, South Africa’s mother city, is one of the global leaders in music, fashion and film. Culture, creativity and a spirit of progression fills the air of the coastal city and forms the bedrock of what the city great — at least from a culture and art perspective. To fully appreciate what the city has done for South African urban culture, you would have to zone in on the people who are behind the movements, the scenes and the properties that often carry themes of the times — allowing us to document these scenes and cultures. In the dance music scene in Cape Town; a culture of proactiveness has been developed and this very culture has made the city a great hub which the world marks as a mecca for innovative dance music.
These movements, scenes and properties that we speak of; especially in music, have record labels at the helm of the progression. Kalushi Recordings is one of these record labels. Founded in 2015 by Rob Toca and Darren Murphy; the label has achieved and done, in short space of time, a lot for the culture — consistently releasing groundbreaking records from South Africa’s established and up-and-coming artists. They celebrate endurance, progression and growth, by curating an event which is designed to shine a light on dance music culture. The lineup for this event is exceptional and is well within the world that Kalushi Recordings has built for itself in the South African dance music scene — it features German DJ/producer Moosefly, Harmonix, SIDES and Kalushi Recordings co-founder Rob Toca.
Listen to the latest release by Kalushi Recordings titled Kalushi VA Sampler below.
Join us as we celebrate this milestone on Saturday at Reset, Cape Town. Win 1 of 2 tickets to the Kalushi Recordings 3 Year Celebration by following our social media campaign on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Vaal born and raised DJ/producer, Sir Rizio, is not to be played with. Armed with a great ear for unusual, left-field and unique sounds, Sir Rizio has crafted a sound which is non-replicable — boisterous and hard-hitting in composition but delicate, refreshing and soothing in presentation. Hailed in the underground music scene as a rising force that feeds off of progressive energy, Sir Rizio moves at his own pace and is in a league of his own.
The one thing that can be respected about this incredible artist is that his work ethic is insanely incredible as he has released over ten EPs and short projects which earn him the respect and praise that he gets in the underground house scene in South Africa — and to be quite honest with you, the international house scene too, as his sound could easily perform well in the international space.
Last year, we caught wind of him working with Johannesburg based independent record label, Bodikela Recordings and the first release that resulted in this partnership was the ‘Walk With Me’ EP which was a scorcher of project which gained him great positions/rankings on Traxsource charts. In 2019, he returns with the release of his follow up EP on Bodikela Recordings. Feelings of Uncertainty is what the EP is called and it is a four track body of work which showcases Sir Rizio’s complexity in production, growth and knack for pushing the envelope. With this EP, he further cements his presence in the underground scene in Mzansi and take dance music to depths we have never seen or heard before.
South Africa is now known as the new deep house mecca with an incredible number of sensationally producers and DJs being discovered in this era. Born Willy Lubisi, SculpturedMusic is a DJ turned producer from east of the city of gold, Johannesburg. “I’m a DJ first before a producer. Producing came in later on in my DJ career” he explains. With two albums under his name; Brighter Days and Breathe Again, Willy is a really unique gem and a force to be reckoned with who continues to stay true to his deep house roots and marshals the groove. “Both albums have helped me to be where I am today” sharing that his work is of sentimental value to him.
From beatboxing a bassline on his phone voice recorder at a club then laying it down in studio the next day, Sculptured Music has curated music that shall be reminisced in the deep house scene for years to come. “It starts off on my phone voice recorder where I beatbox a bassline at the club or in my car, so I don’t forget the idea. Then lay it down in studio the next day” he shares his song making process. “A song gives birth to another actually. But there are no rules in making music. You just have to respect the art” he elaborates.
Equipped with Pro Tools, Reason and MPC AKAI, SculpturedMusic started the year on a very high note giving us ‘Sad to Think’ a potent soul-soothing joint terrifically sculptured to be a massive song for the year. Sampling ‘Neither One of Us’ by Gladys Knight & The Pips, Sculptured Music shows off his remarkable music gift and slick production skills, completely transforming a soulful golden oldie. “I was on YouTube listening to some old stuff to get inspiration, when I came across this Gladys Knight song and I liked the beginning of the vocal” explaining the concept behind the song. “I thought to myself I can sample this track in a way it has never been sampled before. And the song really got some SA producers inspired. Which helps the culture move forward” he elaborates.
Sad To Think is a beautifully constructed, hard hitting vocal deep house song which has been Shazamed over 2500 times and in the Top 15 iTunes Dance Chart. Packing a moving bass line, Sculptured Music has set the tone for the year with a song that will tear dance floors up for the rest of the year.
Cape Town based alternative pop outfit, Diamond Thug, kicks off the new year with a grand celebration of a recent milestone — Sapphire, their single off of their debut album Apastron, reaching two million streams across streaming platforms. As part of the celebration of this milestone, Diamond Thug releases a beautiful music video for the successful single. Directed by talented Cape Town based creative, Luke Nelson, the video sees the band’s lead singer, Chantel Van T, taking center stage as the main subject of the visual piece. Through her performance, she effortlessly communicates themes of self-discovery through relinquishing control, letting go and being open to change — the song then wonderfully soundtracks the short-film-like music video.
Watch the music video below.
Catch Diamond Thug perform at a venue near you here.
I first stumbled upon EMERGER’s Facebook page a few months ago, decided to find out more about them and gave their music a listen. This was probably one of the best decisions I made all year as I played their song ‘Urban Wilderness’ again and again as this majestic song made me all happy inside each time I played it.
EMERGER consists of Emma de Goede (lead vocals and piano) and Gerrit Matthee (producer and multi-instrumentalist) who met at high school in 2008 and also studied music together at the University of Cape Town from 2012. You can tell that the trust factor is there with these two talented musicians. A lot of promising bands flash greatness and then disappear before you can even tell all your friends about them. With EMERGER, you get the feeling that they are onto a special formula, carefully built up from many hours hard at work in the studio, mastering their sound and true love of music in order to create something absolutely meaningful to inspire us all.
Before releasing new music in 2019, EMERGER wanted to put all the versions of their popular track, ‘Break & Fall’ as one body of work. This song means a lot to Emma and Gerrit as they won the prestigious Avid & Abbey Road Studios International Song Contest for it & this helped launch them in the UK. All four songs on this release are quality, the production is world class and my personal favourite is the acoustic version.