AFRICA IS A COUNTRY

Cape Town goes Electronic
Dylan Valley | February 15th, 2013

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This weekend marks the 2nd year of the Cape Town Electronic Music Festival, an event that seeks to present the “multi facets of South Africa’s electronic music scene” with a weekend of performances and workshops. Judging from the promo video (below), the festival seems to be punting diversity and breaking down racial barriers under the umbrella of electronic music, which for Cape Town is generally not the most diverse crowd. However, the organizers have thankfully leaned towards a broader understanding of electronic music.

The international headline artist for this year is Richie Hawtin, a British-Canadian electronic musician and DJ who apparently spends a lot of time in Ibiza. He was also one of the major players in the Detroit techno movement (as I found out by googling him). Personally, that’s not really my thing. I am more excited about the local headliners, specifically Shangaan Electro, the high speed dance music genre which now seems to have been to reduced to one group, led by the inimitable kingpin Nozinja (the father of Shangaan Electro). Perhaps the naming of the group as Shangaan Electro is to draw a crowd who know the genre but are unfamiliar with Nozinja himself. Although who could forget this guy?

What’s remarkable about Shangaan electro is how Nozinja took a relatively obscure regional dance scene and turned it into a hip global dance genre, gobbled up by the likes of Dazed and Confused and The Fader, tearing up dancefloors in Europe and the US. As far as I can tell, this is also the first appearance of Shangaan Electro in Cape Town, so it’s a performance not to be missed.

Other notable local acts are Black Coffee (also having success with international audiences), electro hip hop don Sibot, drum ‘n bass darling Niskerone, and Card on Spokes, the electronic alter ego of Shane Cooper (Standard Bank’s Young Jazz Artist of the Year). Also, hip-hop pioneer Ready D will be doing a set with Cape rap upstart Youngsta (as seen in the video wearing shades indoors). It’s a good line-up, but hopefully next year the organizers will begin to extend the invite to electronic artists from the rest of the continent. One strong suggestion: Kenya’s Just a Band.

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Dylan Valley

South African documentary filmmaker/ director. I directed Afrikaaps (the film), Uprising of Hangberg (with Aryan Kaganof) and Incarcerated Knowledge. Other exploits include work for Al-Jazeera on struggle icons Fatima Meer and Tatamkhulu Afrika. Busy working on a short documentary about Issa Rae due for release mid-2014.

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