Dopplershift links up with Jamie to discuss everything from what’s hot right now in South Africa, making music a full time career and his latest release via Monk Audio.
South Africa isn’t typically associated with jungle or drum and bass. Can you remember the first time you came across the scene? How do you track down good South African producers or DJs? Is the scene locked into small areas across the map?
“I can’t really pinpoint an exact time I heard drum and bass for the first time but I remember my early days playing at a club called DNE in my hometown of Port Elizabeth. Dave Mogowan was a Scottish guy with dreads who started the venue & showed me how to beatmatch on CDJ100’s with an old Vestax mixer. The scene itself in SA mostly comes from Johannesburg & Cape Town. There will be small pop up drum and bass parties throughout SA but mostly the larger cities.”
Is it quite a guarded scene in the same respects jungle was way back in the early 90’s? How does this affect new DJs and producers breaking through? Can it sometimes be frustrating or just more of a challenge?
“SA is very locked down in my opinion. It’s really tough out here to get noticed as an out & out drum and bass producer or DJ. We have had a few top talents fall out of the scene or changed genres to just get bookings and attention. Even me myself, I’m ignored constantly by the event organisers etc. Ha ha, maybe I’m the dick 😉
All in all, I’m trying to break the habit of what is currently going on here by showing that local guys can get their music heard by international audiences without the help of the gatekeepers here in SA.”
You started your musical life mixing bands, recording indie rock and hip hop artists but how did the transition take place in respect of the 174 vibes?
“Yeah I studied Music Engineering at college and had a lot of friends that were live performers but with nowhere to record. I started my own recording space and in turn had a heap of talent pass through my doors. I would always try to layer the recordings I have done with my hip hop artists into my drum and bass. I like that one can encompass any direction when composing 174 vibes. It can be soft & gentle (indie vocals) or hard (hip hop vocals).
The political tension in South Africa is probably overshadowed by the current worldwide situation, however, is this something you have to deal with as such on a daily basis? Without getting too deep, for those that don’t know, what’s going on?
“Politically SA is a nightmare. Women are being raped and taken advantage of here every minute of every day. Farm murders are rising. Racial tension. Lets just say we like to keep things locked away. Bladerunner ring a bell?”
Load shedding – not a word that most people have come across or indeed had to deal with. You lost a few music projects I take it? Grief!
“Yeah loadshedding is when the government turns off electrical supply to certain areas of the country at certain times. The other problem with this is the complex schedule that is never followed. So you could be working on something and then one second, your studio shuts down and you’re in complete darkness. Losing projects is one yes but having clients over without electricity also means no payments for studio time. So it’s a lose-lose for me.”
Going back to the music, is there an equivalent of the big warehouse raves we were previously pretty spoiled with in the UK where you are? Who’s the biggest player? What do you prefer vibe wise? A small, grotty basement or the big stage show? Hold tight when we can all actually go and party again!
“We have warehouse parties. They do really well (1000+). Propaganda is by far my favourite event in SA. They have hosted a bunch of Internationals including A.M.C. Science Frikshun , Pressure and It Came From The Jungle are the other big ones.”
Rubricate Records, a label pretty popular in South Africa, right? What’s the story here?
“Popular? I dunno about that!. A close friend of mine started the label 5 years back and saw overnight success with his band, so didn’t have the time to run the label simultaneously. I took over the label in its infancy (It had only done 4 releases). My best mate and I Juan Terblanche always had a passion for music so kept running the label as a multi genre outfit. We do however only focus on bass orientated music. Our passion is to get into the international scene ,we have some great talent from SA. We are a very patriotic brand I think. Just wanna rep local. You know how it is.”
Your music certainly has a unique vibe to it. Do you think that’s one of the reasons why it’s been so popular? It’s getting a lot of attention from some of the big players in the scene. Must feel good!
“Thanks guys! I try to incorporate all that I’ve learnt over the years of having other unique guys into my studio. I love learning. I think that’s one of the reasons for my success. That and im African. Africa has an energy to it, I try to bless that as I feel it I suppose.”
Aside from your own production, you’re also keen to push the South African vibe forwards across the globe. Give us a taste of a few producers you’re rating right now. Who’s doing bits right now?
“Now you’re asking me this…! Some guys are gonna be mad. I’ll be completely honest with you. There’s a lot of hardworking producers in SA. This keeps me on my toes big time. Some good healthy competition here. There is an all out local South African drum and bass VA coming out December 2020 via brand new record label – Propaganda 011. Be sure to scope that. It’s our best talent here excluding Krispy unfortunately. I’m gonna mention four if you don’t mind!
We also have a heap of ladies doing bits! Stay – C , Dakota , Mess Jilla to name a few.
In your own experience, do you think drum and bass can become a full time career for people breaking through in this day and age? Is it the dream to do this 24/7 or do you feel you need additional elements to your work life?
“I truly believe it can be a full time thing, yes. This year i’ve been going full time music. With my studio space, label and well as my graphic design business. It has been pretty hard I won’t lie. SA is notorious for its unemployment rate, kinda another reason I work for myself. Keen for some gigs in 2021. If you’re reading this; book me.”
Your forthcoming EP ‘666’ via Monk Audio features MC XL. Do you find working with vocalists virtually a production challenge? Not all being able to vibe out in the studio must be a bit strange, right?
“He’s a great MC first of all. What an honor. Back to my hip hop days, I always tracked guys in the studio. Suppose this way it gives us the freedom of expressing ourselves more as individuals. Then colliding our sound together. You can’t replace the vibe in the studio but for me it will have to be this way for a while, until I get overseas.”
The EP is full of various influences including a blatant breakbeat sample from a well known jungle tune. Was your intention to craft the sounds from a variety of influences or just to go with the flow?
“Yeah I try to keep things simple. I’m no expert. I have so many influences in the drum and bass scene. I tend to just find something I like and copy it. My unique sounds always somehow find their way through, which is cool I suppose. Some nights I like letting it flow, my best work normally happens in a day or two.”
Working with Monk Audio is obviously a big deal, their workrate and output has been incredibly consistent this year. If you had sight on one other major label in the scene for 2021, who would it be and why?
“Jack has been nothing but a true gent in dealing with my wants and needs. I was pretty specific what I wanted from my Monk EP and they delivered exactly what I wanted.
Dispatch has always been a goal of mine. Fokus, Souped Up, CIA , Flexout are others I’ve always looked up to as well.”
Any shouts or big ups, leave them below.
“Sonny from Four Corners Music – What a guy. Always pushing my sounds! (New EP with them in December), Henrik Stokka – We have connected recently and are making some really good stuff (New EP with him & SINE in March), BRK Morgan from Hyperactivity Music in France for always supporting. My family & girlfriend for always supporting my music.”