Well my interest has always been left-of-centre electronic music and Cape Town is the capital of that. I always wanted to get down here and join the likes of Felix La Band and the Real Estate Agents so when I had the opportunity to come and work at the Red Bull Studio I jumped at it. And of course who can say no to working at the Red Bull Studio, a fool that’s who!
There seems to be a lot going on musically in Cape Town… something in the mountain air?
I think it comes down to two things: 1. Cape Town has a very solid tourist infrastructure and with that comes a great night-life. It’s hard to flourish as an artist or musician if you don’t have places to play your music at. 2. It just has a history of great music. African Dope, the Belville rock scene, the Cape Flats hip-hop scene, even Jazz ala Dollar Brand and the International Jazz Fest. If you live in a city that has a rich musical history then you’re compelled to live up to your predecessors and peers.
So you see and hear much music at the Red Bull Studio. Must be quite interesting being in the midst of that action all the time- what has been one of your most inspiring or fun experiences?
I love it when there’s an impromptu vibe going down and a lot of people around. For instance the Skillz that Paid the Billz project was amazing because there were just so many talented people hanging around the studio making music, styling artists, filming, etc. The most magical moments at the studio are when the space allows for groups of people to come together and collaborate, often spontaneously. A lot of great music has been made this year because the studio has provided a central point for artists to come together and just to see that happen is inspiring.
South African produced music often gets a bad rap- has the quality of local music production
improved over the last couple of years?
Not sure. I feel like local electronica and dance has been pretty solid over the years. The indigenous South African house sound is of international quality and guys from oversees are actually copying our local sounds now. But I can remember even ten years ago acts and artists like Qcumber Zoo and Roger Goode making international waves. They’re not the best example but they did show us back then that we had the technical expertise.
Richard the Third is me with all my talents and faults. I’ve been Richard the Third for so long it would feel like suicide if I dropped the moniker. But the overall journey was I started as a hip-hop producer and over time moved onto becoming a club DJ in Jozi. I still DJ and have plans to release a solo album.
Biscope is my exceptionally talented brother, Twelv and myself who make Dubstep together and play it out live. It’s been very well received but we’ve decided to start experimenting with music outside of the 140IDM Dubstep sound. And then Spoek and I began working on a project called Moleke Mbembe some years back and it’s kind of morphed into a live band with an album released on BBE…
Everyone’s talking about the new Spoek Mthambo and Mshini Wam album… What is it about Spoek as an artist that seems to have got the world interested in what he does?
Hmmm, well he’s a really intelligent guy who has vision. His ideas are very original, and locally relevant, but importantly he has the drive to make it all happen. He’s one of the hardest working guys I know and when he wants to do something he just does it. So many people have great original ideas, but they can’t execute them. That’s his super power: he just gets shit done.
Word is you guys are going on a nice little tour of the US end of this year?
We have some international gigs booked but we prefer to talk about it once it’s really on the cards. Going oversees with an entire band is a logistic nightmare and things can fall through. I can confirm that we’re off to Beunos Aires at the end of the month for the Tofee Festival there. Super looking forward to that.
If a huge computer gaming company offered you a high paying job making beats for the rest of your life- would you be wooed to leave the rocking dancefloors?
Absolutely. I LOVE computer games and in many ways I see them as one of the most interesting and pioneering art forms in the world. I really hope that once I’ve hung up my headphones, I can get work as a sound-designer and composer for a gaming company.
Tell us about the sounds of Richard The Third on a Friday night?
I have become a jack-of-all-trades over the years and I can comfortably play grinding electro, dubstep, soul-funk disco and chilled beats no problem. So it depends on where I’m playing. Essentially I play to the crowd. People don’t come to watch me play, I watch the audience and play the music they want to hear. That’s the idea anyway.
I turn the music off and watch a movie, read a book or play some computer games. When you work in the music industry, as much as you adore music, you need a break. Your ears need to rest. Besides, a lot of inspiration for making music comes from outside of actual music. I take a lot of ideas from film, whether it’s indirect or as straight forward as sampling sounds from the soundtrack.
If there were 3 of of you- 3 Richards being controlled by one mind- what would you do with
This reminds me of a Calvin and Hobbes cartoon where Calvin invents a cloner and clones several version of himself to do his chores, such as clean his room, so he can go and play. But in the end the cloned versions of him are equally lazy and refuse to do the work.
So whats next- releases, gigs etc?
I have a beautiful 4-track release coming out on African Dope. Beautiful because it features the amazing voices of Zaki Ibrahim and Black Porcelain and remixes by two exceptionally talented producers, Dank and Oltak. Its dreamy dancefloor electronica.
Then there is a Biscope release coming out on On A Break Records which is straight up jumping Dubstep for the dancefloor with some killer remixes by Callan Maart, Enough Weapons and Audiophile 021.
Then there are tons of gigs with Mshini Wam but I’m hesitant to talk about them until they’re 100% finalized. We do have a show booked for mid December at the Assembly so keep an eye out for that.
DJ wise I’m playing at the Arcade third birthday bash on the 5th of Nov at the Assembly as well. Gonna be messy, hedonistic fun.
Follow the link to listen to and download Richard’s eclectic electronic fpr IDM Life featuring productions from all his musical monikers here.