For The Record: Marcel Vogel #Cycle2ADE

RAcycle2ADE_logo_vertical (1)

Resident Advisor are championing an initiative called #Cycle2ADE where a number of DJ/Artists have volunteered to cycle to the festival in Amsterdam helping to raise funds for a charity of their choice.

First up is supporting Bridges For Music in building a music school in the township of Langa, Cape Town, South Africa.

One of the DJs who has graciously volunteered is Marcel Vogel. The German DJ and label-head for Lumberjacks in Hell and Intimate Friends kindly took the time to speak to us…

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Hi Marcel…how’s Amsterdam tonight?

Yeah all well this side, thanks…

So you’re cycling to ADE…quite a task and for a bloody good cause too. What motivated you to participate? Are you an avid cycler?

I’m a runner. I run a lot. I bought a bike, and I hardly used it. I really wanted to do tours, so needed a bit of inspiration…and then this initiative came up and I decided to be a part of it.

Of course, you’ve now had to train a bit, to get into some shape for the main event…you managing ok?

I’ve been training for about 2 months now, but of course my travelling and the weather often hamper this.

That being said, I find this training, based on the circuit we travel, to be very very interesting as I’m getting to see places I’ve not really gotten to see before.

The other part is that I usually cycle for about 10-20kms daily just to meet friends. So doing it as training seems to be quite easy, but I’m not sure how it will impact me doing it 4 days in a row.

Music has the unrivalled ability to connect human-beings from all over the globe, irrespective of race or class. With that in mind, what are your thoughts on this initiative?

I’m aware of how blessed and gifted we are as human beings. Having luxuries like the Internet and basic commodities like food, water and a home are often things we take for granted…so we have nothing to really worry about. I think it’s quite beautiful, to give somebody the possibility to excel in life, through this medium of music and to be able to impact the lives of people we may never even meet one day.

Mike Huckaby’s workshops are another great example of how we can impact people’s lives by teaching, educating and sharing in the knowledge/talent we have…basically just giving back!

Your Boiler Room set of late last year and pretty much every set of yours I’ve listened to and posted on the For The Record page oozes that sexy disco disco feel…this style is very rare in Cape Town, with the Private Life crew basically the only ones pushing the sound. Is it quite common-place in Amsterdam, Netherlands?

In Amsterdam it feels rather main-stream at the moment as there are a lot of (young) kids playing this sound as well as the veterans, who know their disco very well. There are different shades to it though. The Chicago DJs have their distinct sound, while the (young) kids and even the guys playing in the Red Light area, having a different style as well.

Would you say that it’s become very trendy?

I wouldn’t say the kids are following a trend, as when I was that age, starting with House music, and then switching to Disco [as it was a sound I was more attracted to] …I was around 21years of age. So, I don’t think it’s so much a trend, but rather a persuasion…

The Lumberjacks in Hell label boasts some of the big-hitting disc[o] jockeys like, Rahaan, Jamie 3:26 and Mr Mendel…tell us a bit about the relationships with these artists and how you came about working with them for releases for the label?

Well it started with me buying records and my interest in the Chicago sound [DJs like Sneak, Cajual, and Derrick Carter] and feeling a connection to that city and the style of [house] music that came from there. Back then [around 2005] we would post on a message pod called ‘Bring the Heat’ where guys like Sean Sounds and Rahaan  and Jamie and Boogie Nights were posting and this is how we all got in contact. This of course was a great platform for me to learn more about the genre of disco. I distinctly remember there being these DJ disco battles [on these message boards], where DJs would post their 30minute mixes and people would vote for their favourite.

Later on in life, I started throwing my own parties and tried booking Rahaan, which didn’t happen for whatever reason. Eventually I did get to book Rahaan and he’s been a constant in my life and this is how our relationship grew and how I met some of the other cats I’ve hosted too. Rahaan has a big following in Europe, so he had/has the ability to open doors for his friends who may not be as well-known. I call him the “door-opener”

Thing is, there’s [strangely] many Chicago cats coming to/through Amsterdam, which is somewhat inexplicable. There’s a vibrant energy around the Dekmantel festival and people interested in the Chicago sound.

Coming back to how our relationships blossomed, I’d say, it started with one aspect [being our common interest in music and production] and moved from there. It’s all about building and gaining respect for the work you do and of course keeping your credibility.

You already have somewhat of a connection with South Africa, even though you’ve never been here. Tell us how you got into contact with Christopher Keys and how he became your Lumberjacks in Hell designer…

Well a while ago, I posted on a blog called DJ History, saying that I was moving to Amsterdam and asking if anyone had any connections in the city. Chris, connected me with [his friends] Juju & Jordash, which resulted in me sharing a studio with them and that started our friendship too. We then started chatting about a mix I uploaded on DJ History and Chris subsequently asked me to do a mix for his blog ‘Another Night on Earth for which he did the artwork.

I liked Chris’ work and then after I had my friend do the artwork for the first record as well as Red Light Radio [003], I got Chris to do the artwork for the past 12 releases on Lumberjacks in Hell.

You have an interesting bookings policy, when selecting artists for your events…

People I book are people who inspire me. I’ve been doing it for 10years, and so when I book a DJ, it’s always who I wanna see/hear perform. I’m doing a tour with Jamie 3:26 who I feel needs to be booked a lot more than he currently is…he’s a lot better than he’s given credit for. Whenever I put time and energy into an event [and it’s usually a lot of both], I do them for my pleasure. So it’s important that the artists I book are ones I really want to hear play.

So essentially you wanna hear an artist who is able to move you with their music?

Yes, I’m not interested in the whole Deep House this and that debate, I’m interested in music that has a soul…music that moves me emotionally and tells a story.

Thanks Marcel…all the best for the cycle and hopefully we’ll have you out in South Africa soon?!

Yeah, thanks man. I hope to come out and play there soon…just tell every promoter you get in contact with that I’m keen and let’s see what happens.

To Donate to #Cycle2ADE click here

Advertisements
Standard

For The Record: Soul Clap

_MG_7163

We are just over a week away from a much anticipated visit by Soul Clap. Eli and Charles were kind enough to have a chat to us, and we asked them a few things.

So, first trip to South Africa. Is this your first AFRICAN adventure as well? 

Yeah, our first trip to South Africa, but we’ve played in Tunisia before

Looking forward to leaving this cold ass United States and coming over to warm ass South Africa.

What have you heard about this ‘neck of the woods’ …

We first heard about South Africa from Louie Vega, who told us that the [deep] house scene down in RSA was really big and then we also heard from Till Von Sein and Daniel [Trickski] that it’s a spot we definitely need to check out. From there we got in contact with the guys down your side and this trip was scheduled.

It is still ‘Deep for Life’ for you guys, right? Although, you’ve proven that you’re comfortable taking it the route of some slowed up RnB or Jazzy sounds. Quite ‘ballsy’ of you lads!?

We have big balls!  The playing across the spectrum thing, is something we’ve always done. It came from playing gigs in shopping malls and doing corporate events, which called out for a more laid back sound. Also, it was at a time when Prins Thomas and Todd Terje were big influences, and were doing the same thing in their sets, so we kinda took their lead.

We’re also very nerdy about the history of house/disco  and where it’s derived from. It was common for DJs to play the slow down sounds at a certain time in their sets and we continue to do this, to pay homage to the guys who were around before us.

So, what would you view as an ‘ideal’ length of a set for Soul Clap?

4 hours is a bare minimum. We like a good 8-9hour set. When we’re playing the longer sets there’s more opportunity for our energy to dictate the feeling of the club, so at the end of a marathon set the crowd would be tired too. Whereas when we’re playing a 4 hour set, we find that we’re still at the ‘pumping’ phase and still wanna carry on when it’s time to end.

How’s your [fairly new] label going? We’ve heard a few belters, like Kon – Love Youx Forever, coming from there. Everything going the way you envisaged it to?

We actually thought it would go easier than what it is, to be honest. You know  “Soul Clap Records” people would just go out and buy our stuff. However, it’s been a lot of hard work. We’ve realised that every time you put music first and put out artists that you actually believe in, there’s a lot more work that [needs to] go into it. You learn that it takes time.

We’ve seen a lot of Nick Monaco’s work sell really well and again its because of the perseverance.

Some of our friends moan about having to play stuff, because they don’t really like it, but it’s on their label so they feel obliged to play it and we’re like, WHY would you do that to yourself and besides, it’s disrespecting the art form.

I think we need to remind ourselves that this is not a dead-end job or a cash cow, it’s actually about the passion and again the art-form of music

It’s so ‘funny’ that you mention that, because on my way here I was listening to a song by this jazz drummer from Boston area [Terry Lyne Carrington] – Money Jungle, which has a sample of an old guy speaking of a people who appreciate music and make music for the sake of the art instead of for financial gain

There are enough examples of [house music] artists who have gone off the other end, selling out for the sake of making wads of cash.

It’s a double edged sword when money gets involved, people forget about the moral implications and again it’s a call out to artists to just make music for the sake of believing in it.

We know there’s a point in artists lives when you have to make business decisions and do whats best to support yourself and your family, but be true to the art form.

One of the tracks on Efunk [The Album] features Lazarus Mathebula aka The Lazarusman. How did this collaboration come about?

That came about through Till Von Sein, when we shouted out a Tilly record on twitter and then Lazarus tweeted us saying he’d be honoured to feature on one of our tracks. Lazarus then wrote the acapella before we had even done the music for the track and we basically found a nice beat to go with that.

We’re looking forward to meeting him when we play in Johannesburg!

Speaking of albums, what you make of Moodymann’s new album? I’ve read mixed reviews on it

Who’s hating that album?! That album is DOPE man! It’s another great example of art. For me it’s exactly what I would want from a Moodymann album.

We try not to bother too much with media reviews as more often than not the guys writing these reviews have little ‘substance’ to their work and just write a bunch of words for the sake of it.

Take for example a UK magazine who are uber PC about their publications…we sent them a Nick Monaco ‘The Stalker’ video…which we thought was very artsy and not at all disgusting, yet they thought it was not PC enough and wouldn’t go with it. Yet, their website/magazine name is as ‘non PC’ as it gets and they’d much rather put up some hip hop joint with foul language and naked women, than the Monaco work.

The Resident Advisor editorial is horrible, some of the worst out there. The problem with them is, that many of their writers can’t even write. They’re just throwing some buzzwords in there and actually have no idea or substance to base their opinions/writing on.

There are a few Saffers who do a bit of travelling and have taken a keen interest in the fairly new OUTPUT club in Brooklyn. You guys are about to play there this Friday, right?! Is it the go-to spot in NYC right now?

Output is the go to club in the United States right now. While Cielo has a great dancefloor and amazing sound, the area that it’s in means that it draws a kinda crowd that isn’t very cool. Output, however, has great character to it and the whole vibe of the venue and the people who go there makes it a great club. They have the ‘no camera’ policy too and also, when you go to Output you have the option of like three clubs with The Panther Room and another little bar/restaurant vibe going as well.

Alright, moving on then…what’s your favourite track right now and which record never leaves your record bag?

Favourite track right now is definitely Moodymann – Lyk U Use 2 and the record that never leaves the bag has to be the first LP by Metro Area.

That’s about it from me…I mean we could chat some more, but I know you gents have work to do

Wait, Is Jullian Gomes from South Africa?

Yes, he is. He’s based up in Johannesburg.

We love his stuff, Love Song 28 is a jam we love playing out. Tell him, we’re looking forward to meeting him!

Thanks a span gentlemen. I’m sure we’re in for one helluva night with you two. Expect some WILD ANIMALS on that dancefloor 🙂

We’re definitely looking forward to coming over, thanks!

Standard

For The Record: Basic Soul Unit

Basic Soul Unit

Stuart Li aka Basic Soul Unit [and Herman] has very recently released his full length album “Motional Response”

The Hong Kong born DJ/Producer, residing in Toronto Canada, has had an affection for the “underground” sounds since as far back as the 90’s. Spending time in clubs around NYC, Chicago and Detroit where the music was anything from Deep House to Industrial Techno.

We were fortunate to have a skype conversation with him and find out more of what happens in the world of Basic Soul Unit.

Hi Stuart, it’s amazing how this music thing connects people from all around the planet. We’ve never met, yet it feels like we know each other for a bit. Thanks for taking the time out to chat to For The Record.

Thanks for having me…

You do of course have another South African friend in Lerato Khati, so there’s a connection…is there anyone else you know from South Africa besides the two of us?

Not really, I do not know anyone else.

It’s quite interesting that there are lots of similarities between the two cities and the scenes

It’s always the case, like in North America where it’s very “mass-media oriented”…of course every city has some kind of underground scene, whether it’s relatively large or small, but even with the large [underground] scenes, it’s not like there’s a lot of commercial radio support.

We find that here as well, we have your commercial artists like “Goldfish” who will blow up on commercial radio stations, but obviously that has financial reasons attached to them…and it’s the same with doing events, you’re more likely to get someone like Fur Coat or DeadMau5 [hahaha] say no more…

Moving on then…

Yeah, I don’t know, you probably know Nick Holder…he’s from Toronto as well

Yes of course, we know Nick Holder! Summer Daze is pretty much an anthem in South Africa. He is HUGE in South Africa, based solely on Summer Daze and also his influence with his DNH label. Then there’s Louie Vega…I mean some of the guys actually have houses in South Africa, they come here in the summer and spend time playing gigs in Johannesburg.

On Nick Holder…ask anyone who has an affection for house music about “Summer Daze” they’ll say that track pretty much is the ‘benchmark’ for what the scene was like back then. It’s a pretty cool tune

Yeah, he has a great ear for samples…hahahahahahaha

So what does a general day in the life of Stuart Li consist of…

I do graphic design and I do free-lance, which gives me the flexibility to travel the world and wake up late when I need to [hahaha].

Nowadays even when you have somewhat of reputation or name, it’s kinda hard to make a full living solely from music, of course with the whole digital thing, you don’t make much money from releasing or producing  music.

 I mean I don’t have any regrets, I kinda just take things as they come and go with the flow and every year it seems to be getting a bit busier for me and I’m happy about that. 

At the end of the day [as we were discussing off-line], for me it’s more about the love of music, because once you start to make a living off of it, you get more stressed about paying bills…and maybe releasing music that you wouldn’t otherwise have released, making stuff that you don’t really stand behind

Moving to the “Scene” in Canada. In Cape Town we have the “house scene” and the “House scene”…what i mean by that, the latter being the one where the music is real [it’s quality], the punters are interested in the tracklists, they’re interested in the artists and they actually come to get down. How different is it over in Canada, is it very similar?

Very similar. I think almost anywhere there’ll be that two types of scenes…there’s gonna be the underground/the heads where people are really interested in the music and then there’s the bigger commercial scene, it doesn’t matter where you are, it’s the same game.

I was chatting to David Moufang [Move D] when he visited South Africa and he alluded to the fact that he doesn’t get booked as often in Germany as he does abroad. Is this the same for you?

Well, I did my own parties in Toronto for a long time and actually it was more jazz, funk, soul and latin styled stuff…even afro-beat, but as far as my house/techno stuff…

I didn’t really get a lot of bookings in Toronto, until i started producing, but I think that’s the way it is, because…well for one thing [like I told you] I’m almost 40yrs old, so I don’t go out a lot any more and haven’t made a lot of connections with the local scene in a while, so it was kinda explainable that people didn’t really hear or know of me until they heard my music through other channels.

In the last few years through the gigs I’ve played here, I’ve made a lot of connections with the younger promoters and connected with the younger crowds.

Talking about gigs and cities, which is your favourite city/club to play at?

Erm….well, that’s always hard to say…I don’t really have a favourite, but of course I’m in Germany quite a lot, in Berlin of course there’s Panorama Bar that’s great and a lot of other smaller clubs.

Then I have very good memories from a lot of other places like Singapore, Norway and England, so it’s hard to say that I have a favourite…although some of my most memorable parties are not necessarily the big ones.

I always tell this story that I played for a friend [Darand Land] in Buffalo [in the US] which is a small city and there’s not much happening there, but he’s a good friend, he has been there from the old days and has traveled to Chicago to New York to Detroit…he knows the old-school stuff and he’s also really into the new deep stuff.

So he invited me to play at his house for him and his friends, and it was one of the best parties because No.1 they were there to get down and also, they know the music, they love the music…and they’re heads so they love both the old and the new stuff.

So I was playing anything from disco to house to techno…and it was one of the best times I’ve had.

You released your “Motional Response” album on Still Music earlier this year…can you give us some insight into the inspiration and story behind this work

Actually the label approached me to do the album about 5 to 6 years ago. At that time I kinda jumped at the opportunity cos it was there and I was like “yeah let’s do this”

Then the label kinda had some difficulty around distribution…so it got delayed until earlier this year. In the mean time, the few years that passed was actually better, as it gave me more time to develop my direction and gave me time to think about what I wanted this album to be like

So yeah, it took quite a few years, although “Clouds” and “Breathe” were already produced when we had discussed it.

So there wasn’t really a specific inspiration, it was more just a snap shot of what i was feeling at a specific point in time. I just did a bunch of tracks and picked the ones I liked.

The one thing I did decide about this album, is that it was going to be a dance music album. I guess it’s deep, but it’s still dancefloor based. I didn’t have a lot of beatless tracks or downtempo tracks, because what I do is dance music, so I didn’t want to incorporate that just because it was an album.

The other way I also looked at it was, that it was definitely going to have a variety of tracks from the more soulful house to the more jackin’ and banging stuff and I wanted the album to flow [for the listener] from beginning to the end.

 I totally got that on the album! You can definitely see the progression as well as the different elements in the music, as I was saying to you offline earlier. There’s definitely the more emotive side to it as well as the industrial techno sound further down the way as well. The album certainly tells a story, which many artists forget to do when they put out albums and it should tell the story of the artist…and i certainly got this with Motional Response!

http://www.mixcloud.com/MidiDeux/podcast-106-basic-soul-unit/

I can fully understand the description saying “Motional Response is a work of art”…there’s so much light and shade listening to this album. The techno elements, the emotion brought through with the house influence. Really class work. So speaking of music as an art form, I find that many modern-day artists have forgotten this and churn out “hits” for the sake of it, rather than attaching a sense of self to it. What’s your thinking around this?

I guess there’s always a sort of developmental period with most artists. You know that with artists who have been around for 10 years or more, the ones who have stuck around longer will have a more defined sound and more of a personality in their music.

I mean, when you’re young, you’re 20-something and you’re just kinda coming out onto the scene [making music], I think it’s more about having a party, you don’t really have time to mature [i guess] musically, so at that point you’re more than likely just churning out the hits or following a trend and that’s fine. 

For me and the guys who have stuck around, once you’ve been in it for more than ten/fifteen years it’s not about money and fame, it’s about the love and doing it for the love.

The label you released the album on, Still Music, is of course the label of Jerome Derradji, on which you’ve also released the Breathe EP as a follow up to this album. Tell us about the relationship between you and Jerome and how it started?

It was about 6 years ago, he just hit me up via email, saying he liked my stuff and he was interested in doing some releases and we talked on the phone and that’s how it started.

OK, so it was rather similar to this where I heard your music, we connected and the rest is history.

Yeah…that’s how it happened for a lot of other labels that I’ve done work for. The first release I put out was in 2003 on a local label called “Iwanai Music” which is a friend of mine’s label. When we put it out, it was like “let’s just do it, see what happens” because it was something that we wanted to do for a long time.

Then i checked around and noticed that some people were charting it and playing it. It wasn’t a huge hit, but people started recognising it and then I noticed that Gilb’R from Versatile Records in France played it on his show…and so I just sent him an email saying thanks.

He then said, he really liked the music and said if I had anything I should send it to him, and that’s how I got a release on Versatile Records.

So it’s just always been about networking, making contacts, meeting people and taking opportunities where I can, I guess.

I would say to young producers though, take opportunities when they come, but also be “picky” about the opportunities too…cos if you put out your music on any label, you have to make sure it’s a label you know and respect. If it’s on a label that might not suit your sound, you’ll get misrepresented or might not reach the right audience…or you might not reach any audience.

I would sooner give twenty demos to labels that I like, and be rejected, than to send a thousand demos out to just whatever label is out there.

You’ve since started your own label called “Lab.our” which has Maxwell Church’s release on the 002 release. Tell us a bit more about how you decided on the name for this label and also your relationship with Maxwell, who is also from Toronto, I believe.

Lab.our before we even started the record label, was the name of the creative company myself and my partner Jason started. It was just a banner company where we did all our design work, as well as music. Jason hasn’t released anything as yet, but he’s helping me with the label and starting to work on his own tracks.

We thought about starting the label, after the album and after various releases, so I felt it was the right time for me to start a label. 

So we kept the name Lab.our, which is a play on words for “our lab”

As far as Max, well he is a young guy from Toronto, who had always been sending me demos and I thought he was really talented producer. I met him through parties that he did with another guy called Dan [the event was called Deep North]. They’re young promoters in Toronto, who were just getting into this whole techno thing.

They booked me a couple of times, we got on quite well and then they sent me some tracks and ja…that was that.

With the label, it’s not exclusively local [not exclusively Toronto], but I definitely wanna highlight and showcase local talent and that’s why I really wanted to put Max’s stuff out as well.

That’s fantastic, as I mentioned to you earlier, that’s actually my vision for For The Record SA as well, obviously showcasing international high-quality artists, but also punting the local DJ’s and Producers who aren’t necessarily getting the hype or attention they deserve, and it’s evident your vision and mine are pretty similar when it comes to this blog and your record label.

Yes, that is totally, exactly what I want to do and achieve.

The Herman alias is home to some of your deeper and more experimental work, I might be wrong?

You are right. It was the initial reason I started the Herman alias. It was on the label “Fine Art Recordings”…

He wanted to do an album with me, but I said I had already agreed to do an album on “Still Music” so then he suggested that we use a different alias, which is how Herman came about.

The story behind the name Herman is that my mother, when I was born, wanted to name me “Herman” , but my grandfather didn’t really like that name, so eventually they settled on Stuart, which I’m kinda glad about actually.

I thought it was a pretty funny name to use as a producer, that’s why I used it.

So, because it was a different alias, I decided, why don’t I try and make different [more experimental] music with it…stuff that’s a little less “4/4 oriented” and more experimental.

I’ve only had two releases on it and then it stopped as I found that my work as Basic Soul Unit was starting to cross over and I was experimenting [on BSU] with a lot more sounds and rhythms, so I didn’t really feel the need to use a second alias anymore.

There might come a time where I may feel I need to start it up again, if I do something REALLY far out.

BSU

Finally, being on the books of Uzuri Recordings, you get to ‘rub shoulders’ with some of the finest in the industry. Tevo Howard, Fred P, DJ Deep, Portable, Aybee etc. Is there any on the list who you gain [most of] your inspiration from or do you find your inspiration on your own?

Well it worked two ways actually. The reason why I initially signed with Uzuri and why I’ve stuck with them for so long, is cos it feels like a family.

I know quite a few of the artists on the label, and we’re all down to earth and we all get along on the same wavelength musically, so that really helps.

On the other hand, yes because we are in the same spectrum of music, I think we do gain a lot of inspiration from each other, but as far as inspiration goes, I get that from anywhere.

Musically, I think my taste is pretty wide. I mean sure, production wise, a lot of people might associate my stuff with Detroit or Chicago stuff.

I mean I grew up listening to as much Masters at Work and New Jersey, New York City vocal house as much as Chicago and Detroit, house and techno. You know, like I said, I even play some jazz and funk sounds. I even listened to Drum n Bass for a while.

Basically if it’s good music and it’s got some kind of soul and rhythm to it, I’ll see it as good music. I try not to stick to one thing or the other, i guess.

Yes, totally! Irrespective of the genre, if the production quality is good and you can feel where the artist was coming from emotionally and you’re able to relate, then you’d be able to appreciate the sound.

Yeah, there was a time where I wasn’t listening to jazz and disco and stuff and was like “this is real music” and I stopped listening to the Chicago and Detroit sounds, but after a while I realised that that music was very much a part of me and something I related to and I started digging deeper, finding the guys like Moodymann, Carl Craig and Theo Parrish. Which in a way made me come full circle.

Now I’m in a happy place where I judge the music basically on whether I feel it or not, not based on the genre.

Yeah, that’s excellent and totally the way to go about it.

Well, that’s all I really have to ask you. I really appreciate you taking the time out to chat to us.

Yeah man, no problem.

So what I’ll do is I’ll fly you out tomorrow [hahahaha]

Hahahaha, that would be amazing. 

Seriously though, thanks again and we’ll definitely keep in touch.

No problem man…good night.

Standard

For The Record: realROZZANO

DJ realROZZANO in Dubai 2007 cropped

Rozzano Davids or REAL Rozzano as he is known [on twitter] is a vinyl playing dj of epic proportions. Anything from Hip Hop, Chicago House, Disco, Funk and more…if it’s quality, he’s got it in his box.

For The Record is very pleased to have had a chat with him.

Hi Rozzano…how are things with you this week?

I’m lekka tired, been going to bed late as I’m digitising my records, can only do it when the family goes to bed and its quiet time…plus work/hustling during the day is tough, there’s so much to do!

Can you give us a summarised version of who you are, where you’re from and what your journey through music has been like, please? [Yes, summarised hehehe]

Due to being branded as a Hip Hop DJ playing this new but “kak” music as club owners and fellow DJs called it, I would not get any work in any mainstream clubs, although I was a versatile DJ I was marginalised and kept off programs. Due to this I had to focus on other skills in the industry, so My hats I have been wearing: BBOY (Break-dancer) DJ or QMS, Dancefloor Scientist, Event Organisor, Music Promoter, Journalist, Semi Graphic Designer, Human Activist, Sound Engineer, Record Collector aka cultural anthropologist and Artist Manager.

My Musical journey started in our house in District Six, my mom and dad loved Elvis Presley, Tom Jones, etc, we had a Rambler car with an 8 track tape in it, my dad had the soulful tapes such as The Main Ingredient, Marvin Gaye, Nat King Cole, etc. Later my dad worked in a pub in Mowbray and started coming home with vinyl he would get from “docks manne” ie: docks labourers stole them from the containers.  I will never forget this period ‘cause he came home with George Benson – Give me the Night, Bob James – Touchdown, BeeGees and Earl Klugh, and because I was the youngest of three boys I couldn’t go out much so I stayed home playing these records over and over! Things changed drastically when we were forced to move to Mitchells Plain, I was now almost a teenager, my two brothers would come home with cassette recordings from Route 66, Club Fantasy, Club Galaxy and the Casablanca, I would listen to these tapes when they were out partying, also exchanging tapes & LP’S with kids in the hood was big!

My first dj experience was at our home when my parents and their friends came home from lang-arm parties. I would become their DJ, playing more popular records which the lang-arm bands didn’t play; I started dee-jaying with LPs and cassettes on our family hi-fi, so playing a song on the turntable while using the small cassette radio to cue my songs on cassettes. There was obviously no mixing involved just switching from “phono” to “tape” and keeping my party crowd happy, gaining valuable experience in reading crowds.

So, when I could enter the clubs, especially when I got my break at Club T-Zers which was at the bottom of Harrington Street in the mid 80’s, I had to be different and push the envelope in the club industry!

I always say I’m not a DJ but a QMS which means Quality Music Selector, since I started DJ’ing in the 80’s I would never follow trends or other DJs, I always did my own thang. As a result [of my attitude, vision and goals], people thought I was an asshole, because I wanted to do what I wanted to do and I was not into playing Kylie Minoque or Jason Donovan. Electronic music was just about coming into stores back then and I was out to promote this new and fresh sound! Also what ever Top Ten records was out at the time I would only select two or three of those records to play in my set, ‘cause normally not all the tunes in DJs’ top ten were good so I picked the best of the ten and mostly because I couldn’t afford a lot of records, so choosing that timeless tune was crucial.

My first real taste of what Rozzano is about was about a year ago at a Vinyl Digz, where you tore the roof off Waiting Room, dropping some of the finest Hip Hop joints ever! You’ve clearly got a knack for how to woo a crowd. What’s your view on pre-planning a set versus going in there and feeling your way around?

During 1985 I started DJ’ing for free at Club T-Zers, playing a hip hop set for only 15 minutes, those days music genres were played in various sets: jazz, funk, disco/dance & the ballad set, every time I had to play after the main DJ, the floor would clear and only break-dancers/hip hoppas would dance to my music so I begged the resident DJ to let me mix/blend 120bpm electro hip hop songs into the house/dance music, for example: I would mix Planet Rock into House Nation flawlessly just to keep the dancefloor rocking and got the non-hip hop crowd into it, I soon realised that mixing was a science & art, and worked out my set and tried to squeeze in as many tunes as possible, as my set time was limited!

Only when DJ’ing at festivals, do I program my sets according to theme of event, good example was at this year’s CTEMF, because normally I freestyle all the time, I just pack in the bomb records, read the crowd and make it work! [BUT] one must practice at home, check which songs fit nicely together. One of my favourite alias is “The Dancefloor Scientist” cause during the 80’s the challenges of making Hip Hop music work or “break them in” on a dancefloor was very difficult, top club DJs were ignoring this new hip hop music because it was hard and distortive, compared to the soul, funk and jazzfunk tunes out at that time!  So timing and perfect mixing/change-overs was crucial, especially since during the 80’s, if you cleared the dancefloor you got fired, which meant you had to work hard at it. Also this music was difficult to break in, as only your fellow BBoys and BGirls really appreciated the music.

When we spoke at Tableism, where you also ripped it up proper [mind you], you mentioned you grew up in Lentegeur. An area where Hip Hop was prominent, resulting in a few of South Africa’s biggest groups coming from that area of Mitchell’s Plein. Can you tell us a bit more please?

Due to the Group Areas Act, we were forced to move to the Plein in 1980, and like most townships it was dangerous and my parents kept me indoors. My dad bought a video machine and I started recording music videos from TV and caught the Michael Jackson – Billie Jean video, Malcolm Maclaren video of Buffalo Gals which featured NYC Breakers and the World’s Famous Supreme Team DJs. Here we saw breaking, dancing and scratching for the first time. Before getting into breakdancing I was doing MJ and also won a few MJ comps. Shortly after that I had a good few music videos with a few new dancing moves in it. I started practicing these dance moves, showed these moves to my two friends in my class (Ready D and Gogga), which was during a period when everybody was still trying to do the moonwalk. I am credited for been the first person to do the moonwalk in SA! The two main streets in Lentegeur where hip hop was born were Agapanthus Street where I lived and Viooltjie Street where Gogga and Ready D lived. Youth from all over Mitchells Plain and surrounding areas traveled to the Plein for Hip Hop Education. At my parent’s house, we used to watch the rare funk and hip hop videos, which I had managed to capture from TV and we started practicing our dance moves. Opposite Ready D’s house was a huge cement patch where we would practice. Gogga would bring his family hi-fi to the “pitch” and the community’s kids would come and watch us practice from the time school ended until late at night. As break-dancers we got our big break when we danced at a “Michael Jackson” competition as “The City Kids” in the Town Centre. We freaked people out, especially when we did the moonwalk properly, something all the contestants couldn’t do properly! Here Mitchells Plain residents got the first taste of B’Boying, almost a year before the big breakdancing explosion happened due to movies like “Breakin 1 & 2” plus “Beat Street.” Later we discovered a movie called “Wild Style” which had a huge influence on us.  Thanks to DJ Dr Spook, the resident DJ at Club Fantasy in M/Plein Town Centre who saw us dancing in that competition. You could hear a pin drop in the busy Town Centre square when we danced, because nobody had ever seen this dance before. That very day we became resident dancers at Club Fantasy. Another thing to mention is that as fourteen year olds we danced 6 nights a week at the club and got NO pay for it but this gig blew us up and we became M/Pleins’ first ghetto superstars in 1984 appearing in newspapers and magazines.

realROZZANO at Guga Sthebe Centre 2012

Why @realROZZANO? Is there someone trying [in vain] to imitate you?

hahaha, besides our hip hop constitution of being original, real and true to self, one of my ultimate records of all time is “John Rocca – I want to be real” so during high school, I became Sir Real, later Rozzano X. I believe in evolving that’s why I keep changing my name, I have various names: Geto Soldaat [Ghetto Soldier], DJ Distortion cause “I distort in the mainstream club scene” I also like the term DJ ROOTS cause you will find me proudly in the Dirty Underground Black Soil. I have given birth to all modern hip hop DJs in RSA, many new DJs are receiving much attention in the sun on the huge hip hop family tree!

You are a resident at the famous MoFunk nights, have dropped some Chicago House [heat] at Vinyl Digz and can play Dancehall & Reggae too. So you’re pretty comfortable with most genres. Which genre do you enjoy playing most, though?

Technically the easiest genre to spin is house music, because of beat matching aka mixing but mixing house music can be very difficult. I find that even top house DJs play good tunes, but don’t necessarily mix them well. There is an “Art or Science to Mixing” that I notice most don’t “overstand”  DJs think their records beats match yet the songs/frequencies don’t mix well together, it’s hard work to get this right!

Playing/Mixing Hip Hop is extremely difficult, as we have NO long intros for mixing, plus various tempos and moods and one has to know your records very well to keep the pace and vibe going. Also, these songs are very short and you must think two to three songs ahead of time. When playing funk records, you’re playing real musicians not drum machines, so mixing these records are a huge challenge. Also hip hop jocks like to juggle the “breaks” of funk tunes which could be 5 seconds or 15 seconds long, so you have to be physical & mentally fit. You have to mark those records, know when the breaks are starting and ending, sometimes we only play the break and not the rest of the song, so studying your records is crucial and hard work putting them together!  I don’t use Serato or Traktor. These software programs definitely help a DJ to cue and mark tracks better but playing them from vinyl is no joke, but lot’s of fun and can be embarrassing when you fuck up a mix.

How important is it to “send a message” and “tell a story” with the music you play? I ask this, especially since I’ve noticed you are very passionate about political injustices and fighting the system.

Artists are normally the “voice” of the voiceless, hence I have always been vocal and active in my community, plus I have always been spinning “socially conscious” records especially hip hop, reggae & funk. I have early house tunes from the mid 80’s that had a strong message! Another thing is that reading helps build/develop our most important muscle in our bodies: “the brain” when you read and feed your brain computer, you will be able to calculate the visual images or messages your brain is receiving and find solutions to problems!  With all the distracting noise of modern social media these days, people are not reading enough and seem to be very confused.

Besides spinning records, what else makes you really happy?

Dancing/partying, reading, family life, watching documentaries and good movies, swimming, braai’ing and cooking [making a veggie potjie] and spreading/sharing information.

If anyone knows the Cape Town scene, you do! I’m of the opinion, that things are still far too segregated for us to call ourselves a ‘true scene’…Your thoughts on this, and how do we rectify this?

 EGO’s and the love of fame, fortune and p…y is our problem.

On Saturday at a hip hop event in Langa I did a DJ workshop and left the kids with this quote: “during apartheid years we had FREEDOM cause we had: Hip Hop and currently in our so-called new “democrazy” we have Apartheid in Hip Hop!  During the 80’s we had one common enemy: the SA Government, so with political rallies at our schools and conscious hip hop/reggae music coming out, I became conscious of my surroundings and political situation and Music became a uniting factor amongst us youth. Club T-Zers and The Base was multi-racial clubs that united all races under one roof and we were raided by the PoPo [Police] on a regular basis!

In 1994 we became the rainbow nation, I’m only “overstanding” this concept now, I always called myself black or brown and never coloured, BUT today myself & everybody is coloured in the rainbow nation! People’s lack of overstanding our history and how we got here and their laziness to do research and to READ is the problem and let’s not forget “paper(money) & pussy chasing” I believe the “Fox in the chicken’s den” is money, big corporations have been throwing money at us and this causes much confusion and dis-unity. During the 80’s we just did the elements of hip hop to stay out of gangs and drugs, today cats are doing it to get paid/career move!      

For the amount of talent and skill you have, you’re exceptionally humble. I recall after your set at Vinyl Digz [Waiting Room], I complimented you on your mastery and you showed great humility, when it was easier to take it all in. These days DJs get ahead of themselves quite easily, even when they’re half as skilled as you are. Is there a certain amount of arrogance that is needed in this industry or is that just something you don’t subscribe to?

“Ek hou my PLAT!” I believe in being down to earth, be in touch with your roots, plus the higher you are, the harder you FALL when you mess up or when the industry doesn’t want your services anymore! So staying humble is crucial. There is always somebody standing in line to take your job if you mess up with management or piss people off! Be nice, follow protocol, keep studying/reading and develop some integrity! Another thing is “real bad boys move in silence” and the big talkers are normally empty vessels making the most noise, those with EGOS don’t learn anything new because they believe they “know it all” when you’ll be surprised at the educated crowds or DJs out there!

I have contributed lots to the South African DJ scene and haven’t been credited for it, but it’s ok, people can talk about those things when I’m gone one-day.

I know you work on a few other projects, like management of artists etc. Care to share some of that with us please?

I started DJ’ing in the 80’s when we had a few clubs and only one DJ would work in a club so getting in was so difficult, and thanks to Hip Hop’s mandate of ORIGINALITY I developed my own identity and didn’t wanna be a sheep and follow the top DJ of the moment. At that time Superfly/Russel/Dr Beat were the three main DJs in Cape Town, if these guys played a song, all smaller clubs and mobile DJs had to have that song. I was not gonna be doing that, I was playing hip hop records at Club T-Zers, became famous nationally over the years but the top clubs didn’t want us underground cats in their clubs, I was marginalised by other DJs and clubs, I didn’t let that get me down and started thinking about the other aspects in the industry: event organising, graphic design, marketing, artist or venue management and basically started our own underground hip hop & house movement which people still talk about today!

Finally, where can we catch you playing the black wax?

Most times you have to bring you own decks to parties, but you can find me at Vinyl Digz, Future Nostalgia and various clubs and pubs around the city and suburbs basically whoever wants my services!

 

Thank you very much Rozzano, mad respect!

realROZZANO mixes at Podomatic

 

Standard

Get A Life. Make it Private.

882404_577183665634108_835418918_o

When it comes to events in this City, Cape Town has become very much about quantity over quality. With everyone and their friend hosting some or other night, under the auspices of “House” and “Techno”

We’re probably the only city in the world where event companies have either of those names in their brand title, but fail to play those genres. I kid you not!

It’s not all doom and gloom though. There are a few nights that have built up quite a following, quite a reputation for delivering as promised and leaving the ‘consumer’ satisfied.

One such night happens every Saturday at a quaint little spot on Long Street, upstairs from Royale Eatery [a restaurant renowned for great burgers and milkshakes], called The Waiting Room.

It has become somewhat of a non-negotiable for a few of us. A place where familiar faces meet….dance…smile…and make new friends.

Private Life, was initially called “The Warm Up” until it got too hot! Well this is my theory, at least.

The entry fee to this event is a measly ZAR20. You couldn’t even buy a polony gatsby on the cape flats with that, yet, what you get from this is a night you’re more than likely never to forget.

Not only are the bouncers [Omar and co] helluva friendly, the venue itself is like stepping into someone’s livingroom. Couches, wooden floors, Foosball table and of course the many smiling faces.

It doesn’t stop there though. The four-man posse of Terrence [Pearce], Dario [Leite], Julz [Sanchez] and Pierre-Estienne [Bruwer] ensure that we, the dancers, are grooving, from the moment we set foot on the dancefloor until 02h00am or 02h30am [if Omar’s in an even better than normal mood] when the venue closes.

You’re also very likely to get offered a drink by any one of these fine gents. It’s that kind of vibe. Hosts who are friendly, welcoming…ensuring that everyone is having a great time.

Whether its House, Techno or some stripped-down Disco [Disco] you’re after, there seriously isn’t a better night in Cape Town than this.

You could hear anything from KiNK – Express right through to a disco edit by Terrence and everything in between. The thing about this though, is that no track is ever out of place, and even if it seemed that way, for a second, the crowd are receptive enough to just “go with it” and keep on dancing.

For the longest time Cape Town needed an event that brought people from different walks of life together. Private Life does that. No hang ups, no measurements or stereotypes…its all about the boogie..and do we boogie!

Private Life has hosted some of the finest in the industry both locally and on the global stage. Hesseltime, Esa Williams, Leighton Moody, Bruno Morphet, Robin Would to name a few, have all played here…and there are many more Guest appearances on the cards.

So, if you’re in Cape Town this Saturday or any Saturday for that matter…come down to The Waiting Room. You won’t regret it!

I love Private Life!

Free n Easy [Terrence Pearce Edit]

Standard

CTEMF Wish List

The Cape Town Electronic Music Festival is an event which happens in, you guessed it…Cape Town. Usually in the first quarter of the year, this year I was fortunate enough to be a part of a week-long musical journey, which culminated in the final 3 days being all about the music.

Previously, i was quite vocal about the lack of “real” representation at the event, voicing my opinion on how the event was not entirely inclusive enough, overlooking talents like Ready D, Oskido, Mbuso etc etc, who were some of the pioneering figures in Electronic music, as we know it, in this city and in this country.

Unlike many other promoters, CTEMF representatives listened and more than that actioned. This year the line up was a helluva lot more inclusive and the end result was an exceptional week of learning, listening and dancing. We had Shangaan Electro with that “ONE NINE ZERO” kinda jive, we had Ready D and fresh-faced hip hop gent Youngsta, providing the beats and lyrics, Behr and Mey, with arguably the LIVE SET of the weekend and there was cape-flats born, Esa Williams, to bring his take on electronic music with an acid-house set of epic proportions. Music was the winner.

So these are all memories now…and CTEMF 2014 creeps up on us slowly, but SURELY.

For the 2014 line up, I’d love to see the following people on the bill:

Robin Would

If anyone WOULD, Robin would. Ok, enough of that. This gent has in the last 6months really reminded us, what we may have forgotten. Listening to his Thrumcast for Thrumroom or catching his sets at Vinyl Digz or the guest slot at Private Life, you’d be sure to agree that Robin knows how to woo a crowd. Whether it’s the groove-time disco or the emotive sounding house or taking it peak time with some “lets go” Techno, Robin knows exactly how. An avid collector of records, with a taste for music to rival some of the best, I’m cock-sure he’ll deliver.

Robin Would – Thrumcast 003

____________________________

Kat La Kat

The brother is from the 011. Kgakgamatso Tlholoe has been churning out the #DeepVibes mix tapes for some time now. We’ve just hit no.32 in the series and each and every one of them are sublime. His genre selection on soundcloud is “deep shit”…it’s definitely deep, but certainly not the kinda shit you hear from everyone and their dog lately. We’ve never met in person, but the online chats around music and the joy I’m overcome by every time I hear a mix of his, means he gets my vote to represent!

Kat La Kat – Deep Vibes 032

____________________________

Sibonelo Zulu

Now here’s a guy who just goes about his business quietly. Another ardent collector of the black wax, Sibo Zulu is slowly winning over the Cape Town house music lovers’ one 12″ at a time. Sets at Vinyl Digz and a residency at Cape Town Deep House Movements’ monthly Tableism event, there’s been enough evidence to prove that he can hold his own with some of the finest in this city. Sibonelo hosts his own podcast series entitled “Its Tough Out There” and also had his second guest slot on Jazzman’s Deep Inspiration Show, just a few days ago. Have a listen!

Sibonelo Zulu – DIS Guest Mix 227

_____________________________

Rob Toca 

He hails from the 011, I believe, but since his arrival in the 021, Rob has done nothing but tear up dancefloors with his intelligent take on house and techno in a kind of micro-house sounding way. An absolute gent! Humility of note, he just gets on the decks and performs. His most notable sets for me were at the memorable “Nomadiq” summer rooftop events, where he’d more than likely be opening for one of the headliners. Without stealing the thunder [too much], Rob would set the tone so nicely, that by the time the main act was to play, the crowd was primed for the occasion.

______________________________

Mbuso 

I really do not have to list what the founder of Soul Candi and current owner of Phezulu Records has done. From releases on Innervisions to collaborations with the “who’s who” of house music, he really is up there with the finest in the game. I think Cape Town needs a reminder of what Mbee is about.

Check out this mixtape of some of the sounds that influenced him on his journey through sound.

Mbuso – Journey Rediscovered

______________________________

Julz Sanchez

Hottest kid in Cape Town right now. Seriously, talent way beyond his years. Ability to play a proper warm up slot or go to the wee hours with a marathon peak time slot at the infamous Republic Lounge. No mug behind the decks. The kind of ear for music and humility to keep learning that puts him ahead of some of the older players in the industry. You can catch him at a Vinyl Digz or at the usual Private Life residency. From stripped down disco to big room techno, you ask for it, you’ll get it! Full-portion!

Julz Sanchez – Pulse Radio Podcast

These aren’t just my ‘picks’ for CTEMF, but also a show of support to these talented gents for continuously pushing the envelope and delivering quality music to us, the dancers.

Standard

Greg’s Glastonbury Goodness

 

gregwilson1

I was doing my usual rounds on the internet, when i came across the set of the phenomenal Greg Wilson, recorded live at this years’ Glastonbury Festival.

The music got me grooving, it was disco…it was a touch of soul and it had those feel good vocal edits thrown in too. I couldn’t stop here, I went looking for more.

I found a piece by Greg himself, on the festival and thought it best I share it with you as well.

Glastonbury – The Greatest Show On Earth by Greg Wilson

 

Gregs’ career spans as far back as 1975, I only “arrived” 7years later, to give you some kind of understanding of his career. He stopped playing in 1984 and got back behind the decks in 2003. Thankfully!

For a more in depth look at the master Greg Wilson, click here

While you’re reading and checking out Gregs’ blog, here’s that mix from the festival.

Greg Wilson live at Glastonbury Festival 2013

 

Standard