Sibonelo Zulu is as unassuming an individual as you’ll find. Put him behind a set of turntables and you’ll realise that he tells a story, not with words, but with music. For The Record caught up with him and had a wee chat.
Hi Sibo, how’s your week going? Can you give us a bit of background on yourself? Where you grew up, what your interests are and so forth. [No need for star sign or blood samples]
Thanks for the chat Bradley. This week is so far good. Not many parties happening around this time of the month, so mostly I am indoors. Man I am from north eastern KZN, a place called Ngudwini, say 50 km south east of the infamous Nkandla. My high school was in a small town called Mandeni. That’s where I started developing interest in music such as kwaito, and dance music. I generally have interest in music, philosophy, nature, both its beauty and its complications, and people that are less judgemental. I also like people who are true to themselves even under challenging situations.
You’ve been playing in the city for a while now. Vinyl Digz, Tableism, Lost&Found are some of the nights you’ve played at. Tell us how long you’ve been a DJ and what/who your influences were?
I started being a DJ the other day man, lol. I started collecting music in 2008, and then DJing started in 2009. I was influenced by a number of guys who were into collecting music such as Timo and Henderick Mitchell (www.deeprhythms.com), Flex and Tozio (CTDHM), Mike Bishop, Victor, Specter, Roxnadz, Estimulo (www.mixomat.org), Rene Jazzman Wolski (The deep inspiration show) and a lot of other online sites.
You’re a vinyl only DJ, right. This is not the easiest of platforms to play on in terms of skill-level and/or financially. What is it about the 12″ that has you staying true to this format?
Yeah I play vinyl only, due to the fact that most tracks I am attracted to are only available on vinyl. Well you get some of them on file WHEN the label decides to release it digitally, but most quality deep house labels don’t do the digital thing and a large part of the older releases don’t have digital releases. On the financial side of things, vinyl being more expensive than digital, well I think there are many ways to make it work, like buying less records, but records that really make sense you. Obviously vinyl will be expensive if you want all the hyped up latest releases that their relevance last for a month max.
How many records do you currently own and what’s the one record that never leaves your record bag?
Not sure how many records I have, maybe 1000 – 1500. In terms of a record that doesn’t leave my bag, I have a lot of records that I can play anytime. This one is one of them.
I’ve heard you play anything from Chicago House right through to the darker Techno sounds. What do you look for in a record before going out and purchasing it?
It’s difficult to precisely define the gradients that are needed to satisfy my soul. I feel it when I hear it. But it must be groovy and have soul. I think deep house originated based on those components. The soul part is complicated but we can discuss some other time.
Tell us a bit about the Cape Town Deep House Movement and also how you guys were founded?
Cape Town Deep House Movement (CTDHM) is a group that focuses on show-casing deep house music. It was founded by friends that have almost similar interest when it comes to underground dance music.
Tableism, the event you are a resident at, is fast becoming one of the best monthly nights in this city. In short…what does this night mean to you and what’s the vision behind it?
This party started due to the frustration caused by hearing mainstream music in most places we attended. We couldn’t find a party that played music that we enjoyed, so we started our own monthly party, and named it “Tableism”. It started a small party with about 10 -20 friends and music lovers, then it got attention from other DJ’s that shared the same frustration of hearing dance music with absolutely no hint of soul in it. This party is currently happening at Jimmy Jimalo just behind Long street, come check it out, you won’t be disappointed.
You’ve played 1hr or 2hr sets and then there have been a few marathon sessions alongside Flex at Tableism. What is an ideal set time for you, in order for you to tell the story, fully?
1h30 would be an ideal minimum, and 2 hours being a perfect set time. One rarely gets sets that are more than an hour nowadays, there’s so many of us in the queue. I haven’t done more than 2 hours except when I am playing back2back with Flex, which is always exciting and challenging.
The “It’s Tough Out There” series of podcasts are exceptionally good. Initially they were your handy work, but for the next few months you have welcomed guests on board to showcase their talents. How did you come about that name and what’s the thinking behind this series?
Thanks for following the series man. I have 100’s of records that I listen alone at home, so I thought it’s a good idea to share this music with people and maybe some may appreciate it. And people who influenced me to start collecting records did mixes, so it made sense for me to start doing mine and then start influencing other people. Previously I was doing many mixes with different names, such as “fucked up shit”…….but then there were times where I was recording music while my mood was down and low on energy levels, so I was kinda taking out the anger into the decks, and I would play music with harsh and persistent synths, loud snares and claps, with intense rhythms, and I decided to call those mixes “It’s Tough Out there”.
Who are your favourite DJ/Producers locally and internationally and why?
Locally my favourite producers would be Ryotique (who has releases on Greta records). You can browse through his productions here. Ryotique – Soundcloud Page
His music sounds emotional and simple. I wish some vinyl labels would pick him up and release some of his stuff. There’s track called “He Left In Peace”, I can somehow relate to that tune.
If you wanna buy his products: Ryotique Tracks
Siyabonga Ofuren (I don’t think he has a release out yet). He is a very talented producer from Mpumalanga. It would be nice to have his stuff released too.
Rezkar (has a couple of records on Altered Moods records and one EP on Running Back). His work is amazing.
Some of my favourite local DJ’s are Othusitse, Flex, Tozio, Neo MrNeo, Phumie Mayongo, Keagile Lesame, Holly Herb, Msendy, Justin Slack, Bubbles, Julz Sanchez, Ronza, Neggie, Mystic, Pierre-Estienne, Dario Leite, Dala Flat, Kyle Russouw and a lot of other quality DJ’s man. These guys constantly dig for music that sounds fresh and different, whether it be disco, house or whatever.
Producers internationally, there’s a lot but some are Marcellus Pittman, Chris Gray, Darand Land, Specter, Alex Smith, Generation Next and his father, Scott Grooves, ChicagoDeep, Jose Rico, Owen Jay, Marco Nega, Jenifa Mayanja, Anton Zap, Nick Marshall, The Monochromatic crew, Rai Scott and Brad Peterson, etc. These producers seem to make music from their hearts, and they quite unpredictable.
You’ve put together just over an hour long mix for For The Record SA. Tell us about this mix please?
Man, I wasn’t sure what to put on that mix, in terms of the mood. Luckily a new Omar S album had arrived from South Store, so the whole mix was built around the mood of that album, i.e. records that have the same intensity and aggression were used, well except for the last one, which was used to cool things down.
I used two T60 Stanton turntables and a basic DJ mixer with FX turned off, lol, and recorded to a laptop via a USB audio codec. Software used for recording is audacity. The file was exported into a high quality mp3 at a bit rate of 320kbps. This tape would be more enjoyable on decent speakers compared to headsets. Beware of the highs on the 4th track by DJ Blend…..He was probably frustrated.
Finally, winter is nearing its end now and Spring/Summer approaches with longer days and warm nights. What can we expect from CTDHM/Tableism? Without giving too many of your secrets away of course 🙂
For the women’s month, we will be having a line up dominated by ladies. That will be on the 2nd of August at Jimmy Jimalo. In September we celebrate the 2nd year anniversary for Tableism, a lot is in store for that. More will be revealed later.
Thanks very much for chatting to us and for the music. Respect, the brother!
Cool Brad, thanks for pushing the mandate of underground music and supporting Tableism nights, and also introducing me to a lot of other great collectors in Cape Town.