Cape Town’s ready for it,” says Duncan Ringrose, event organiser. He’s referring to the first Cape Town Electronic Music Festival (CTEMF): booming right at us at the end of March. “We drew inspiration from international festivals such as, Sonar in Barcelona, and Movement in Detroit.” Music festivals happening right in the city: urban beats in an urban jungle.
There are plusses to having a festival in the centre of the metropolis: we all love driving out to a farm to party, but there’s something special about a festival in the middle of the city. You also don’t have to set up camp, bother with ablution blocks and you can get a taxi home, and then start all over again.
I’ve caught Duncan driving between appointments, but he assures me his Bluetooth is on and he can answer my questions – putting on the biggest electronic music showcase the city has ever seen; you have to make time where you can. If you hear the term electronic music, and you only think of house, forget it. The scene is as diverse and multi-layered as the country we live in, and that’s the aim of this festival; to showcase all forms of digital dance music. The weird stuff that always gets played on the second floor, or in the back room, is now as big as the other scenes, and these days there’s enough of a support base for formats, say, like glitch and techno as opposed to just commercial house.
The festival, happening from 27 March – 01 April 2012, is split into two parts. The dancing and drinking starts on a Friday, and goes till the Sunday. It’s a fairly wide spectrum of the music scene; a nice chunk of what CTEMF defines as electronic dance music. The preceding week sees a flux of workshops and info-sessions for musical peers and public alike. “This part is geared around the business side of music,” explains Duncan. The aim is to have sessions and insights into the different scenes, with a speaker line-up that is looking impressive, and topics that are varied. For example Black Coffee and Amaru Da Costa (Soulistic Music) will be chatting about the phenomenon of house music in South Africa, while Miles Keylock (Rolling Stone SA) will focus on the role that media plays in an artist’s career – and how to use the press effectively. You’ll also hear from scene stalwarts like, Hilton ‘Roach’ Roth (African Dope Records) on the state of the electronic music scene as well as from Regan Tacon (Nano Records) on the event promotion side of things. (These are just a few mentions).
Cape Town is ready. Much like a growing Lego collection the various nights have built on the development of the electronic music scene, to leave us with a complete picture; every genre represented.
“We’re all part of the same scene, even though the music styles are different,” says Duncan somewhat profoundly. This is my light bulb moment in our conversation. We may segregate ourselves with fashion – but we all walk to the beat of the same electronic drum, it’s just the IDMs that may vary. The impact and influence of the aforementioned nights, no matter what the music of choice is, are not to be underestimated. Every genre has had, and will have a role to play.
Let’s look back for a moment. There were the Pickle Parties, which introduced a broader range of hip hop and beats to the Cape Town city centre. And, of course, there’s Homegrown, South Africa’s drum ‘n bass institution; it’s been going for over 10 years now.
The list goes on: Subsonic, the first series of guerrilla techno warehouse-style parties in Cape Town; Trevor Mitchell, a purveyor of fine music, fashion and art; Discotheque, the regular electronic night that broke the scene open and pushed electro to the forefront; Step Up, which sowed the seeds of Dubstep in the city; Cold Turkey the bridging point between the CBD and rest of Cape Town for all things bass; Fiction, all of the nights pioneered their particular genres and pushed the envelope; in fact it was the Killer Robot night at Fiction that gave techno a regular home and really cemented it into the weekly socializing patterns of many people. Back in the early days Techno was a very dirty word… they changed all that! Then there was Arcade’s monthly nights at Mercury which introduced the new rave scene to a younger audience.
Also, Thursday nights at Marvel, many years ago, were the breeding ground for 90 percent of Cape Town’s alternate electronic scene.
So which acts can we expect to see at CTEMF? “Headliners are always a tricky one,” muses Duncan. “There are so many heavy hitters. But if I was to pick a handful it would be: Haezer, the biggest electro act out of South Africa (Friday). Sibot who is easily the freshest live electronic act in South Africa (Saturday). And, Black Coffee, the man making the most waves on behalf of South African house music on a global scale (Sunday).”
Other artists to look out for are: Dank, the beat maker for Sedge Warbler; this will be his first live show as a solo artist. Das Kapital, “definitely the hot pick of the year,” and Monique Pascall, who is said to be delivering something really special in the prime time set. Also keep an eye out for Jullian Gomes who is making a name for himself so quickly it’s unnerving. There are of course many other great artists on the line-up aside from the afore-mentioned that are all well worth seeing perform over the entire festival.
In all other scenes creative individuals have a platform to showcase their work. Designers have the Design Indaba, foodies have Taste of Cape Town, and writers have the literary festival, and so on. It was only a matter of time until the electronic music scene had somewhere to show off.
“We believe we can use as many forms as possible of electronic music as the main filler on a single dance floor, which will give Cape Town a comprehensive music festival. We’re here to represent one picture.” Duncan is quick to add though, that CTEMF does not by any means claim to represent every niche and genre conceivable and prefers to see the inaugural event as the starting point of what will hopefully grow and expand into a broader base each year.
If you love EDM – you wouldn’t be reading this magazine if you didn’t – then you have no excuse. Don’t miss this iconic moment in Cape Town’s electronic music history.
When: 27 March – 1st April
Where: Cape Town CBD and V & A Waterfront