During my first visit to South Africa in 2009 I got hooked on its culture, and over the past three years I’ve traveled in and out to what became my favourite city in the world; Cape Town. Like I said after the visit in 2009, I can say again after having spent two longer periods there: The city has everything: Wonderful welcoming people, an interesting and vibrant culture, breathtaking (and extreme) nature, amazing weather, delicious food and one of the things that fascinate me the most: a thriving MUSIC scene.
And I don’t know if you know this, but South Africa – and other African countries – are on a very interesting roll these days what concerns expanding their electronic musical scene. Without Europeans knowing much about it – as Eurocentric as we’ve become – South African musicians have for long indulged in various electronic beats and developed their own specific sounds. Kwaito is one of them, and from there a certain local House music style emerged.
In the country’s fashion however the electronic scene has been very divided according to race, having blacks and whites predominantly producing and listening to separate styles, and this was one of the things we found a bit curious when first there in 2009. Wherever we went to party we found that the crowd was either white or black. And the music seemed to change according to it.
Though the explanations to this situation are many – and any situation obviously always is evolving and changing – observing what we did in 2009 gave life to the idea of a project based on the believe that electronic music is a universal language that can be used to break down socio-economic boundaries.. Two years down the line the launch of Bridges for Music became a reality and its first events took place in South Africa together with national partners and local and international DJs this year.
The below picture for instance is from the day Bridges for Music arranged a workshop with a following free popup party featuring Richie Hawtin and local artists like Culoe de Song, Euphonik, Dj Fresh, Vinny da Vinci and Nastee Nevin. It took place in Kliptown, a neighbourhood of the township Soweto in Johannesburg, and I’ve never ever been to anything like it really.
Seeing how people in all ages and from different communities and races came together through music in these surroundings – dancing nonstop for over seven hours – was an eyeopening and unforgettable experience. In fact, Richie Hawtin later said: it was the proudest moment of his career. Personally I will forever recall that day and look back at it with a big smile on my face.
As much as the mentioned event was a success, so were the ones with Skrillex and Luciano who both joined Bridges for Music for township workshops and events in Cape Town and Johannesburg. And I can confirm that Luciano took some South African house tunes with him back to Ibiza where he made the audience go wild last summer.
Sure thing; bridges are being built from Africa to Europe as it suddenly seems as the global electronic music scene finally is opening its eyes to African sounds. A good example of that is South Africa being the topic of the upcoming Amsterdam Dance Event this year’s October, to what many South African artists are invited (some for their first journey outside of Africa).
Yup. Good stuff is going on in the world with regard to the spread of South African electronic music. Check for instance what BBC News just reported:
If you have spent any time in Johannesburg or Durban, South African house is a sound that you will have heard. This music is played everywhere, from taxis and barbers shops to bars and parties. Now that the hypnotic township sound has reached Europe and other parts of the world, it has helped some young Africans to reconnect with their roots.
I don’t know about you, but I definitely want more of this!
Watch BBC Africa’s Lebo Diseko report from the London underground club scene here.
Go here to see the video of Richie Hawtin’s visit in South Africa.