This time around however; credit should go to their recent unleashing of a virulent Deep/Soulful triple disc installment of sonic bliss ably titled ‘BBB Music Series’. A feel good tonic with a fine balance of groovy dance-ability doubling up to an after hour dance floor soother. I caught up with DJ SkinDeep who tells us more about the series and why he sees himself as an ‘avant-garde’ DJ….
What was the inspiration behind the compilation (BBB Music Series)?
The inspiration behind the compilation was to put together a compilation that not only showcased our label’s catalogue but also represented the history of the South Africa house music industry.
We also pitched the idea to eTV and suggested we collaborate with their popular TV show Club 808. They instantly loved the idea because it was relevant to their vision and we fitted perfectly. For us it’s more than a compilation. It’s a product, a storyteller and the label’s digital brochure.
We also made sure the packaging also represented the album contents. We wanted to break boundaries and move away from the norm, a brand within other brands.
Where within this inspiration do you see your contribution (Disc 2) fit?
I see my album [titled – ‘Origins’] as a storyteller. I compiled it in a sense that it showcases the different stages our local House scene went through. It begins from the 45IDM era (DJs @ Work & Tamara Dey), when it went underground to 115 (Antonio Lyons,Troye and Nomarema) until it became so popular that it had music videos (Sis ‘n Jones, KB).
You’ve gone back to dig in the SA House music archives (to compile Disc 2) and selected numerous golden oldies. Was it just out of nostalgia or were you trying to make a certain statement?
It was both a statement and nostalgia; most of the songs represent a certain memory to me and I wanted to share that with the rest of the nation. Every song in the album will remind you of a certain moment in your life, whether you were happy, sad, confused, with a friend, alone or in a club.
I think its credit to this project that tracks like Tim White’s ‘Sunday Lounging’ and Tamara Dey’s ‘What am I to do’ could just as easily be released today as 10 years ago. With that in mind, which aspects of the SA House scene have you seen immense advances?
Obviously the scene really changed with the evolution of technology, a lot of young producers are emerging from nowhere and releasing their songs with international labels.
As long as you have a PC and software programme, you can be easily produce a song and release it digitally. It was a different story back then because it was very difficult to break into the scene. The easiest path was to become a DJ; now it’s the other way around.
One thing I’m happy about is the facts that now House music has moved from being DJ oriented to being performed live i.e. C.9ine, Liquideep, MiCasa, Black Coffee, etc. That that has become one of the highest selling ideas in the country and it inspires most of us to even work harder.
How about a statement that ‘the more things change, the more they stay the same’.Do you think it applies to the local SA House scene?
Things have really changed [in a music business sense]; independent labels are slowly taking over and with enough resources. It will soon be pointless to release House music with major labels. The only thing that has stayed the same is the fact that the same independent labels don’t want to work together to enhance the standard of our local House scene.
In terms of ‘audience sentiments’ how has House music (including the authentic SA interpretation) changed from the House sound ten years ago?
In South Africa the scene has become somewhat pop influenced; people can put any lyrics on a 4-to-the-floor beat at 125 IDM and that can easily be called [or misinterpreted] House. There are obviously other popular artists/DJs that have kept to its pure form and yet popularised it in a good way. Ten years ago House was somehow underground, there was only one radio station that really pushed it and it wasn’t even national.
The standard of compilations also has dropped than what it was 10 years ago. Compilations have no longevity; DJs are recycling the same songs making consumers [willingly] not to spend their hard earned cash on albums that are “bubblegum”.
There are starting to be more ‘artist albums’ that there were ten years ago, the artist now has a voice unlike ten years ago when DJs were more celebrated/admired/given credit more than the artist.
The audience composition has changed. The scene has managed to crossover to all races hence the increment in sales and artist/DJ popularity. Brands also now believe in House DJs/Artists [as influencers]. They now make them spokespeople/ambassadors for their products.
In terms of the cataloging of House music do you see any overlaps/cross pollination of ideas or has House maintained its independent pillars on which it was derived?
The [primary] genre maintains its core pillars from its strongest Deep House sub-genre in South Africa. The rest of the sub-genres are sometimes diluted. In South Africa however, it has somehow become “Kwaito”; the tempo, arrangement, etc is similar. All they do is add vocals.
There is now a thin line between Kwaito & House music locally, hence you sometimes hear an international House DJ drop [sometimes unknowingly] a Kwaito tune in his/her set, thinking it’s a House tune simply because of its arrangement.
I take it you play/DJ regularly. What keeps you stimulated; DJ’ing week in and week out?
I’m stimulated by the fact that my sets are very eclectic. I don’t only have to select House songs for my sets. I’m also up to date with Nu Jazz, Broken Beats, Lounge and Hip Hop. I don’t only get booked for House gigs; I get booked for a diverse range of events.
Even the radio interviews that I attend [or invited in] are not only based on one genre that I play. That always keeps promoters and the audience curious as to what type of set I’m gonna drop. That maintains my relevance to the audience. I’m not in a box. I can easily pull magic at any gig that I’m booked for. I’m what they’d call an ‘avant-garde’ DJ.
I take a lot in planning my set, mostly in the type of music I’m gonna play. It’s not necessarily the exact titles because you might find you’re playing at a gig with DJs with your similar taste in music. You just have to find that gap that will make you unique from the rest.
Another trick is to also get a clear perspective from the promoter as to what type of audience you’re gonna be playing to. I also sometimes ask DJs that I know who have played at the event/venue. To me planning is key; it’s the same as a live musician doing rehearsals for his/her shows.
Apart from music, what else do you collect and why?
Do musical DVDs count [laughs…]? I’m a book-collector. I use them to enhance my knowledge. I strive to learn more about what I do and about life itself. I also collect magazines. I use them as my source of inspiration to work harder and for branding purposes.
What is the worse club you’ve played in? Why and what happened?
To be honest I can’t pick any specific club because I’ve had crap experiences in different clubs. I had never taken anything negative from them however. I take every bad thing that happens to me as a lesson. It helps build my character, whether it’s a bad set or bad treatment from club staff or owner, even when a promoter doesn’t pay me [laughs…].
INTERVIEW: Nduduzo Smalz Ngobese