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Markus Wormstorm

A Man of Collaboration

by Roger Young / 05.08.2011

Long before Die Antwoord and Spoek Mathambo there was a colab between Markus Wormstorm and Sibot called the Real Estate Agents that literally blew the lid off underground South African electronic music and defined mzansi glitch hop. A man of collaboration; Markus Wormstorm has worked alongside Sibot producing dark beats with both Ninja when he was Waddy and with Spoek in Sweat X. To get the full picture of what he’s currently up to it’s perhaps best to checkout his website. He has worked as script developer and composer for EA games and his Blackheart Gang project has created a coffee table book and sculptures that have been exhibited locally, in Europe and in the States. At present he is working as a producer, composer and writer on an interactive ibook. The Blackheart gang are often asked to speak at conferences like f5 in New York and Cut Out in Mexico. Apart from all of this, Wormstorm has developed a Science Fiction novel over the last four years and has recorded a series of songs for an album called “not I, but a friend”; all modern classical pieces written for cello, violins and clarinets with a slight electronica influence. He will be performing some of his new music with a classical ensemble on the 15th of August at the next New Evenings event, of which he is a partner.

Mahala: Do you ever make anything entirely on your own?

Markus Wormstorm: Yeah that’s how I started but I got caught in collaborations for a few years. At the moment I’m doing strictly my own thing again.

What is the value of collaboration?

I suppose it’s fun because different people specialize in different things and you never know what you’re gonna end up with and obviously it’s more fun being in a gang or a band.

What is your next big musical venture? Who are you working with at the moment?

At the moment I’m focusing on writing all of my new music as musical notation so that it can be performed by classical musicians. I’m writing a three piece at the moment that will be performed at New evenings on the 15th of August (for clarinets, vibraphone, marimba, cello.) I want this little project to be sophisticated without being pretentious. Some of the songs have humorous themes. One of the songs is for instance based on a quote by the ANC western cape secretary Songezo Mjongile “The DA’s philosophy is that the Western Cape is a European outpost surrounded by natives who want to take it back to the stone age”. I recreate my interpretation of these irrational fears with the tribal elements within these arrangements, particularly with the marimba and vibraphones. Another song deals with a streetkid’s hallucinations while on glue. Although these arrangements are executed in a traditional way, they are still strongly influenced by my electronica and techno background. I will also add electronica elements to the pieces when they are performed live. I would plan to release my album “not I but a friend” later this year.

Markus Wormstorm - New Evenings

You have a pretty interesting google autocomplete; has that helped or hindered you?

(laughs) Yeah, when you type in my name in Google one of the ten auto completes is “….is short and fat.” which sucks, even though I suspect there might be some truth in it.

Diss tracks are common in Hip Hop, they often read as bitter flattery, how serious is the diss from Ninja? Is it all fun and games or is the hostility genuine?

I’d say hostility. In hindsight we probably should never have worked together to begin with, but I suppose you live and learn.

That’s your only collab that’s ended badly, how did Sweat X come to an end and why? Do you still communicate with the Spoek?

We really get on. We travelled the world together, played shows everywhere, wrecked hotel rooms, kissed girls (you know that old chestnut) for years on end. I’m very glad that he’s doing so well, I mean he’s on the cover of magazines all around the world. I was the best man at his wedding.

And Real Estate and Sibot?

He’s one of the coolest guys I’ve ever met. My collaboration with him was one of the most important things in my life for a long time. And we’ve both got tattoos on our chests to prove it.

Markus Wormstorm - Conference

How does the relationship with Ree Treweek and Jannes Hendrikz in the The Blackheart Gang work? Who is the driving force? How do you brainstorm that stuff?

Ree and Jannes were the best men at my wedding. They are my bestfriends and have been for many, many years. Ree and I just sort of develop stories over time and they slowly turn into books, games, movies, and operas.

The electronica scene is quite diverse in South Africa at the moment from Mr Sakitumi to Yesterday’s Pupil, Dirty Parrafin and PH Fat. Is this just the way music is going or do you see it as coming out of that early 00’s influence and success of yours and other projects, like Lark or Real Estate?

We did break new ground that’s for sure. Back then there was nothing like the Real-estate agents. As far as how things have changed I really can’t pretend to know.

A lot of these younger acts like PH Fat, Spoek, Double Adaptor and Haezer are touring internationally a lot more than seemed possible before, it almost seems easy, did you tour to such an extent? Are we just hearing about this stuff more because the media landscape has changed?

Again I have no idea. I do know that Spoek and I toured so much that we had to pretty much move to EU. And that SA media only really showed us love after they read about us in European magazines. I don’t know if that answers your question. I also think that Griet’s doing an amazing job in breaking their artists internationally.

How readily is electronica accepted by South African audiences outside of the club scene?

There is a very small audience for the kind of stuff I want to be doing. But I’ll never underestimate this city. I want to break some new ground in the future and I hope that I’ll have a local audience to share it with.

Is it easier to pay the bills now than when you were younger? Does it get better if you stick to your ideals?

Yeah sure, i love growing older everything just seems to get easier. And yeah I think it’s important to stick with what you love rather than to get influenced by whatever happening around you.

Who were you’re major influences starting out?

Autechre.

What made you choose this path?

Many little paths led me here.

Do you keep in touch with the club scene? How important, as an electronic artist, is it to be at Fiction every Tuesday?

Eish, I hope not very. As I said I’m slowly moving away from that world into new unexplored terrain.

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RESPONSES (19)
  1. Dplanet says:

    Nice. Would have liked to have read more though.

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  2. so telling says:

    that last question is so telling… see you at fiction to suck some dick of the peoples dicks you need to suck in order to get anywhere in this small closed off scene.

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  3. Johnny says:

    I hear Ninja dissed Wormstorm because Wormstorm got fresh with Ninja’s wife at the time.

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  4. $ says:

    My nigger …..3/4

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  5. Yes says:

    Sweat X really broke the cape town mold. I will always love Markus for that. They really made the “scene” what it is today. It kills me when new DJs don’t know about them.

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  6. Some Recognition says:

    NIce interview Roger
    @johnny, no ninja got fresh with markus’s ex at the time

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  7. maxipriest says:

    @some recognition
    phhhttt yeah right

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  8. D&B says:

    Yo big ups to this cat, but why no love for the D&B scene? Electro music evolved from drum and bass but we see no articles on the big guns in the industry.

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  9. Anonymous says:

    what i love about this guy is… love him or hate him, he is alive and concious, elevating, playing and enjoying his game’… colloborations are hard alot of the time, a certain sorta meeting of the minds … all rather intense for sure, makes for better reunions, ….I personally didn’t like sweat x much and preferred the real estate agents vibe, whatever, anyway’ totally intrigued …

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  10. Roger Young says:

    @D&b

    Electro evolved from D&B? Check yo self.

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  11. YellowElevator says:

    They ‘literally’ blew the lid off?

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  12. PO says:

    crap. crap. crap. crap. crap. cape town. here are these donks trying to imitate a scene in ldn or ny or paris making some, i’m sorry but pretty kak electro in cpt, while nobody seems to realise that the whole reason these places are happening is cause they are authentic.. the problem is we have authenticity in SA, think kwaito, but nobody wants to acknowledge it, basically cause they can’t handle the fact that their white arses (that includes spoek) are not from any of the above mentioned places and their sliding into irrelevance here.

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  13. dooki says:

    @PO
    God you’re an idiot. Look at his site http://www.markuswormstorm.tv, what is he imitating? Please post something thats similar. I dare you you sad insignificant faggot

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  14. 1994 says:

    @PO. Dude you hit the nail in the head, since when does South Africa represent a few whities playing some electro? What does it say about SA when all our musicians are white private school kids. No one listens to kwaito, or jazz, maybe because theres not enough out there or no ones writing articles about people that really are ground breaking like mandoza and tkzee.
    Racist? Maybe.

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  15. Buchu says:

    “The DA’s philosophy is that the Western Cape is a European outpost surrounded by natives who want to take it back to the stone age”. I recreate my interpretation of these irrational fears…
    Not so irrational, Marcus. Heheheh

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  16. captain salmon says:

    @1994

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  17. Blah blah Tshabalala says:

    Markus always been the most humble and consistent of the cool gang kids dat i ever met…

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  18. Urk says:

    people listen to what they choose. what’s this kak logic – if i want to to be on the edge and souf african to the bone, it requires me to move my rear to kwaito? fuck off. whether i enjoy teen-rebellion fuelled punk rock or treffers from the FAK sangbundel it does not make me more or less relevant, it just is.
    sadly there are gazillions who dig a lang-arm to the pointless rhymes of stoffel en stofsuiers’ sokkie standards. that is legimitely (albeiit embarrasingly) as much part of our collective indentity as elitist electro.

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  19. […] Tune’s artist roster – from Blockhead to Mr Scruff to Kid Koala. Names such as Felix Laband, Markus Wormstorm, Sibot, and a handful of others crafted sonic textures which effectively altered how people […]

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