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Featured Music Reviews Videos

Premiere: Tzara links up with Three Witches for Furies, a single & a visual

Multi-faceted Cape Town based artist, Tzara, is known for challenging societal conventions by using music as her main medium of expression. Her approach is unconventional and this is due to her heavily DIY-focused style and outlook — this has made her one of most coveted artists in Cape Town’s underground electronica scene.

Tzara’s storied artist life has allowed her catch the attention of her peers in the South African electronica scene, such as the Three Witches, a groundbreaking new duo that is pushing sonic boundaries for electronic music in Mzansi. The Three Witches and Tzara combined their talents, expertise and their collective desire to innovate to create an eight track EP titled ‘On the Beach at Night Together’. The EP sees them merge their sounds to create an extraordinary electronica experience, allowing them to build worlds that give them the freedom to speak on the human experience.

Furies, is the leading single off of the EP and it deservedly has accompanying visuals which further drive the core message of the song. Feelings of incompleteness, disconnectedness, frustration and jealousy, are some of the topics that the song tackles while also speaking the unhealthy obsession we have with technology in the ultra-connected world we live in today.

image of ciaran of three witches
Furies video still. Ciaran of Three Witches.

The music video was directed by Daniel Alexander and produced by Marco Rodriguez. The idea of the video is rather interesting as it focuses on imagined realities and universes, allowing them a lot of room for creativity. Furies is seen as a universe which was inspired by the ‘Thaumogenesis’, a process through which a demon is believed to be created as a byproduct of a resurrection technique. When speaking of how the video came about, the concept and what inspired it, he says the following: “The concept of the video is inspired by the feeling of thinking you have found your way while unknowingly conjure your inner demon that will ultimately push you back off the track. We wanted the video to be left open for interpretation. I did not want to shove a narrative down the audiences throat but rather allow them to their own conclusions”.

With Furies, Tzara and Three Witches show us the possibilities of genuine, unadulterated and authentic creativity. A step in the right direction for the artists, for sure.

video still of the furies music video by three witches & tzara
A snapshot of the David Alexander directed music video.

Watch the Daniel Alexander directed and Marco Rodriguez produced video for Furies.

Stream the On the Beach at Night Together EP, a collaborative project by Tzara and Three Witches.

Follow Tzara on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and SoundCloud.
Follow Three Witches on Facebook, Instagram and SoundCloud.

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Featured Music Reviews

African Electronica: South African label, Suid Tronica, releases its first compilation ‘Sounds of Suid Tronica // Volume 1’

Newly launched South African label, Suid Tronica, is undoubtedly what the country needed to facilitate the growth of electronica in the country – a genre that is growing at a rapid rate in Mzansi. Founded by Matthew Fraser and Alex Leeu, the label seeks to introduce the world to afro-electronica and also shine a light on the talent that exists in the third world. Their location is not a limitation as their platform also hosts musicians, producers and singers from other countries with a focus on offering much needed difference to the global electronic music landscape.

The label puts its best foot forward with the release of their first compilation – Sounds of Suid Tronica // Volume 1. The compilation is a stellar body of work that features musical expressions from some of the best electronic music artists in South Africa and abroad. The concept of this compilation is remarkable. Conceptually, the compilation serves to provide the listener with insight into the inner workings, creative standards and mediums of expression that exist in South Africa. The compilation’s main purpose is to give the world of a piece of home as the music is deeply inspired by South African sounds. Experimental and unique textures are blended to curate a truly mind-blowing sonic experience.

The compilation can be described as a beautiful musical odyssey giving you a peephole into this scene and sonic representation of the culture and people that live on the fringes of pop culture. There are songs to chill to, dance to and work to, which makes the compilation a solid body of work that is packed with gems that will have any beat head entertained. The visual and art direction that accompanies the compilation perfectly captures and illustrates how the project sounds.

The label is tirelessly working to change the landscape of African electronic music and usher in a new era of authentic music that African music lovers can own and cherish. They are doing this by releasing music and curating events that will place pioneers behind this new wave at the forefront.

image of event artwork
On the 18th of August, Suid Tronica is hosting its second Showcase in Newton.

Stream the compilation below.

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Featured Music Premiere Reviews

Premiere: Umlazi born artist, Umaah, releases the Sheila EP, an exploration of modern African womxnhood

Umlazi born singer-songwriter, Umaah, is one of the freshest, breathtakingly talented up and coming artists to come out of South Africa this year. She’s an artist that does not fit into any conventional music industry category, in fact in her artistic presentation she defies all commonplace industry norms by being authentic in how expresses herself.

Formally trained as a fashion designer, she fully understands the practice and structure of creativity, and as a self-taught musician, she uses what she has learned in her formal training to create her music. Her new EP, Sheila, gives us a glimpse of how she approaches music – a mix of a strategic, structured, physical effort and a spiritual, ancestor-guided and emotive effort. Creatively, she presents herself bare, bold and focused as she places womxnhood, African spirituality and unhindered expression on display for the world to see.

image of umaah

The Sheila EP is special to her because it serves as her first official release and it is named after of her grandmother. The EP oozes of matriarchal energy and is experimental in composition. With the voice that she possesses, she could have easily settled for R&B, soul or neo-soul, but she choice to creatively lean on electronica, a genre that knows no creative bounds. As much as she took the electronica route, traces of Hip Hop, soul and R&B can be heard in the new EP.

When describing the process of creating the EP, she says the following: “I found the process of creating Sheila to one of trust, trusting myself and trusting everyone who helped me open up heartedly to see it all into fruition”. For this project, she had to trust herself and her collaborators, and also allow her lead producer, Micr. Pluto, to guide her appropriately through the creative process. The EP consists of four tracks, with seventy-five percent of the project produced by Micr. Pluto and the rest is handled by Eye-on-Feather.

image of umaah

The EP is released under SubWav, one of Johannesburg’s most left-field and progressive labels pushing beat-focused, electronic music.

image of the umaah's sheila ep
Image credit: Subterranean Wavelength

Stream the Sheila EP on SoundCloud below.

Stream/Buy the Sheila EP on Bandcamp below.

Follow Subterranean Wavelength on SoundCloud, Bandcamp, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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Featured Music Reviews

South African electronic music maestro, Muzi, shares his vision for Africa with the world

Durban-based producer, Muzi, is a true treasure for South African music. Experimental electronic music that prioritizes traditional African sounds, from West Africa to South Africa, is rare and the producers that are brave enough to test the waters of experimentation are even more rare. Muzi on the other hand is a brave, creative and free. In a time where imitation is rife, and individuality is scarce, he unapologetically expresses himself the way he wants to, with no boundaries or external pressure. Weirdly enough, by listening to his music, you can almost tell that he is not in this music thing for anything else but the music – the passion is clear and undeniably infectious.

Successfully combining traditional Zulu folk music like Maskandi and Mbaqanga, with modern soundscapes that are prevalent in today’s popular music genres such as hip hop, electronica and then mashing that up with some South African kwaito and some afrobeat flavor from West Africa, you get Afrovision – Muzi’s vision for Africa shared through music. On the thirteen-track album, he channels African icons and respected pioneers of African music; Fela Kuti, Bhekumuzi Luthuli, Hugh Masikela and Mandla Spikiri, to create a modern-sounding album that can be used to forecast what African music is likely to sound in the next five to ten years. In composition, Afrovision is inherently futuristic and progressive. An easy and fun listening that subtly forces you to envision a better and more prosperous Africa, and all of that is done through music. You really have to give Muzi props! Afrovision is crafted in a way that will prove to you that Africa is where it’s at.

album artwork for muzi's afrovision album
Image credit: Muzi

It is no surprise that for a boundary pushing album like Afrovision, Muzi enlists some of South Africa’s best up and coming talent like Langa Mavuso, Una Rams and Tiro alongside seasoned Mzansi innovator, Okmalumkoolkat. To support the West African influence, he calls on Nigerian star, Seaba on Chocolate Dreams, a song with a catchy hook that a lot of South Africans have fallen in love with. Songs like Zulu Skywalker, Boss Mode, Best Friend, Kini and Bantu Space Odyssey are absolute vibes and bangers of note. Props to Muzi for not succumbing to the pressure of creating what his peers are creating and crumbling under the pressure to follow what artists are doing. Afrovision is an amazing album and one that will be remembered for taking African music forward. Strongly recommend that you buy this one.

Stream on Spotify below.

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Featured Interviews Music Reviews

Interview & Premiere: Ou speaks to us about his House Afrika EP release & plans for the future

The South African House scene is alive and well. With strong releases coming from the country, the world is forced to take note and pay attention. Talent is emerging from all corners of South Africa, taking ownership of their destiny, locking down their targets and fearlessly pushing to build a name for themselves in the international arena. Ou, a producer from KZN, is one of the promising acts to come out in South Africa. He has shot up the ranks to be one of the newer acts to take South African electronic music to the world. We got a chance to speak to the talented producer about his new EP dropping through House Afrika, how it all started for him and what he has in store for us for the rest of 2018. Peep the interview below.

We recently came across your work through the lovely people from Surreal Sounds. They put us on to what you were doing and we were blown away. How did it all start for you?

My relationship with Surreal Sounds started last year, I got in contact with the label via Sizz who introduced my craft to Katlego Swizz the person who heard my music and got hooked on working with me straight away. The relationship was organic and then we first started by releasing a mixtape that was mixed by myself and Sizz and after that we followed that up with a collaborative EP which is titled Twin Towers and that’s when my relationship with the label grew.

The music you make is very unique and different. These days it’s becoming increasingly difficult to box or label music. How would you describe the music that you make?

Being unique and different is what I’m fond with and that was my approach to the industry in the beginning. In describing my sound or the type of music I make I would say it’s a balance between electronic and deep house music. It’s not a sound you can pick up any day in the market, to this point some people still find it hard to believe I’m from South Africa and I take that as a compliment because it shows that they can trace the origin of the inspiration of my sound which is not from South Africa.

One can describe you as a newcomer in the music game and you’ve grown immensely in your art. When it comes to the music, what are you in it for? Some are attracted by the lights, the popularity and the fast life that comes with entertainment. What keeps you pushing?

My mission in the game is solely to inspire upcoming producers to widen their scope of creativity and not to conform to what is trending and just deliver the best work they can bring forth. What keeps me pushing is the love I receive from my fans and the people who find it good to expose themselves to new and different sounds.

South Africa is one of Africa’s biggest exports of electronic music and for us to reach that level a lot of people had to tirelessly work and lay the foundation. Who are your local inspirations and influences that are still active in the music industry?

I have only two people I look up to which is myself and my twin brother Sizz who I usually spend most my time listening to and apart from him I would mention two producers which is Da Capo and Jazzuelle who I can say played a crucial role in making me wanna craft my own music and to also choose this genre which is electronic as the one that’s best fitting to my attributes in making music.

PREMIERE: Surreals Sounds releases ‘If I Had To Kill You’ by OU featuring Lungelo The Poet

You’re releasing an EP through the legendary South African label – House Afrika. A label that is rich in history and has done a lot to push South African house music forward. How did the House Afrika release come about and what does it mean to you?

As you know that it’s not my first time releasing with House Afrika, one track of mine was included in a compilation last year in the House Afrika Sessions 8, and the track is titled Laser Clutch. The Man EP’s plan to be released at House Afrika came to me last year December which is the time I completed the EP and listened to it thoroughly for about 2 weeks after that I sent it to Swizz to get his opinion on how it sounds before sending it to House Afrika, he then listened to it and gave me feedback and than we sent it to House Afrika and they also gave it a thumbs up. Being recognised by a label I looked up to growing up is a priceless feeling and a dream come true and it definitely meant a lot to also work with them for a second time.

You’re clearly breaking down a lot of industry doors. What can your growing fanbase expect from you this year?

There’s a lot to expect from my side this year. To name a few things, I am going to start with remix packages which I will be dishing out of a track I released with Surreal Sounds titled “If I Had To Kill You”. Part 1 of the remix pack will be released on the 18th of May and Part 2 will be released on the 16th of June. I might also appear on some compilations as the year goes and I will constantly be dishing out EPs every month till say September or August on different labels from South Africa and also internationally.

Lastly, where can people buy or stream your new EP on Friday. Where can people follow online?

The Man EP will be available for streaming and download on iTunes, Google Play, Spotify, Beatport so basically in all Digital Stores. My interactive socials are FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

 

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Featured Interviews Music Reviews

Cape Town based production duo, Twice The, speaks to us about their new EP

Cape Town based production outfit, Twice The, has shaken up the electronic beats scene in South Africa, all through the strength of one single. The production duo is made up of two of the most talented producers to come out in the last three years in South Africa. Fernando and Likhona (popularly known as Seventhgaze) share a similar vision and are consistently pushing boundaries within the electronic music scene. With co-signs from seasoned vets in South Africa like Kid Fonque and DJ Raiko, the two young producers are geared up to be notable success stories in the game. We got the privilege of catching up with them via email about their upcoming EP and got to find out more about them as a production outfit. Peep the interview below.

Please tell us more about Twice The and what inspired the creation of the production duo.
We connected online after we had both released music under the same record label in late 2016 and we just started sharing music we’d been working on. After months of getting to know each other and seeing each other perform, Fernando invited me to his sessions at Red Bull Studios and we started working on our music together there.

You guys are based in Cape Town. How has your hometown responded to the style of music that you make? I mean Cape Town is known as the home of electronic music in South Africa.
We’ve only put a single out so far but the response to just that alone was amazing, we’ve played a few shows together already and people really enjoyed the sounds we were spreading which was cool to see. Certain spots in Cape Town are really open to whatever people present to them which allows us a lot more room to experiment with our sounds.

You currently have one single out now called ‘Red’. One can easily categorise the joint as Hip Hop inspired electronica. What can people expect from the EP you guys are dropping on Friday?
It can be put into a whole bunch of categories depending on how you look at it and how you interpret it but we find that it’s a look into the sounds and feelings we’re really drawn to and are sometimes too scared to explore in our solo projects. You can expect more spaced-out, melodic stuff. It’s always perfect to listen to after a crazy party or something.

You have quite a few EP launch parties lined up and some of the dates include Johannesburg. What prompted the move to push your music in the city of gold?
We need to spread the sounds far and wide and let people know what we’re up to. It’s always good to be those guys running on the ground actually making these little missions, instead of being mainly internet-based artists. There’s a lot of good people here that are also open to a lot the stuff we enjoy doing so it’s only right to show them some love too.

What do you think of the alternative music industry in South Africa? Is there progress? Are you seeing any opportunities you can take advantage of?
A lot of the people involved are starting to take ownership of their own work and are pushing everything that they’re about by themselves. Everyone’s helping themselves and the people around them. There’s nothing really to take advantage of that but it’s something we are also trying to do for ourselves so we’re standing with all the independent artists that are opening their own doors out there.

What can people expect from you guys in 2018?
More music, more art, more shows, more good parties, more memories.

 When your EP drops, where can people stream or download it?
Everywhere! From iTunes to Bandcamp to Tidal to Soundcloud.

Stream the latest single, Red, from the upcoming EP below. 

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Featured Music Reviews

Diasporic connections: West African artist, HF, links up with Swaziland’s MotherLand X to fuse traditional Hip Hop with electronica

It is always wonderful when the African diaspora connects, be it within art, business or politics. Pushing in unity, with the understanding of where Africa is and the work that is required to lift the continent up to its much deserved glory, is necessary. Africa is rich in potential and so much to offer to the world, and Africans are not waiting, they’re not complacent waiting for a savior from the West or East. It is almost of as if the ancestors of Africans, who suffered painfully under 400 years of brutal oppression and colonialism, are blessing the current generation of Africans and gifting them with tools to bring innovation to the world.

Take African millennials as an example, smart, connected, filled with purpose and oddly enough very distracted. Besides of all that, African millennials are driven and they know what they want, and that with that being said they seek to live out their lives in a way that is not limited to any boundary. They run to the internet to share moments. They run to the internet to speak their minds. They run to the internet to build. And lastly, they run to the internet to connect with other like-minded people and through these connections – history is made.

To make history, effort is required. Something beautiful happened recently when HF, a Ghanaian artist, connected with the good people from MotherLand X. After hearing Rendition’s Becoming EP, HF was prompted to make contact with the MLX camp. Talks of a collab project began and the men kept their heads down proceeded to plot and work. The project was to be named HFX. Now take a moment to take this in: a creative connection involving Ghana and Swaziland. Countries were not the only thing that was connecting in this situation, genres were also being fused. The fusion of Hip Hop and electronica is not new, but it is something that is not particularly popular in Africa, so what HF and MotherLand X is borderline groundbreaking. Experimentation is prioritised as HF showcases his artistry with him staying true to the traditional way of doing Hip Hop as an MC – lyricism coupled with storytelling and conceptual themes.

HF takes ownership of the vibes created by Rendition as he eloquently cruises over the beats produced by Swaziland’s best kept secret. It’s as if HF was instructed by a higher power to spread his message far beyond Ghana, inspire African kids to self-starters and he did all of this by using the internet. To some, this project may be seen as another project that will live on the internet, but to the people that were involved in the making of this project – boundaries where pushed. The people that this project will reach will be surprised and delighted, as what HF and Motherland X attempted with this project is new and genre-bending. All in all, the project is a great effort and vital stepping stone in connecting African creatives, a move that is part of MotherLand X’s plan. We needed this project. We needed to see how limits were going to be tested and pushed. We needed Swaziland to connect with Ghana and we needed this to happen towards the end of 2017, so we could set ourselves up for what’s to come in 2018.

Stream the project below: