Afrotronicalby Rob Cockcroft / 11.10.2013
This week’s mixtape comes from Jumping Backslash, a foul mouthed, chain smoking dude who, if it weren’t for his limey accent, you would think grew up in a really rough part of Goodwood. He’s the progenitor of really hard music to describe which he likes to call ‘afrotronical space music’. We chat to him about his love of Mzansi house and kwaito and why, weirdly, South Africans don’t tend to support music that sounds like it comes from their own country. Plus you can listen to this special Mahala Friday mix while you’re reading.
I heard you got into 90s SA house and kwaito music while living in England. How did you get put onto it? What were you listening to at the time?
I didn’t really get properly into SA house and kwaito until I got here actually. I knew some kwaito when I was in the UK, the obvious stuff, Trompies, Chiskop but not much, it was a lot harder to find back then. I think when ‘Township Funk’ blew up in the UK a lot changed but I was already here when that happened.
Tell us about your musical background.
I was in a band called One Inch Punch when I was in my late teens, I think until my early twenties. We recorded an LP but before it got released another group with the same name released a tune via Virgin and fucked up our plans. For a couple of years after that we got caught up in legal issues with Virgin and it never got resolved. Shame really. So the band kinda fizzled out. After that I didn’t make music for a long time, I think I was a bit depressed about it. I had been fucking around with Cubase and samplers when I was in the band and that came back in my mid-twenties. After that, I was making odd electronica and all kinds of kak. It wasn’t til I came here that everything coalesced and the music I make now was born.
What ultimately made you decide to settle on house?
Don’t know. Just ended up that way. Although I wouldn’t necessarily describe my music as straight up house. I don’t know how I would describe it actually.
What styles/ sounds/genres are you experimenting with these days?
I’ve been fucking about with 160bpm vibes. I have a 12″ of that stuff coming out next year. I’ve also been listening to a lot of Gqom which I think has had an influence.
What sort of vibe did you go for with the mixtape?
Just a representation of my sound I guess. When I play out I only play out my own tunes. I suppose the mix is an idea of what a show of mine sounds like.
You’ve been gigging a lot recently. At clubs and festivals. Which gig was the highlight of the year so far?
I really enjoyed Oppikoppi. That was a good crowd and they were open to my stuff and into it. I managed to clear the area at Earthdance within three tunes which is also an achievement I think. It goes without saying that the EDM/Psy-Trance boytjies ain’t so keen on my vibes.
I played a Cold Turkey this year alongside my mates BIG FKN GUN when they were down here on tour and that gig was a lot of fun.
With Cape Town being so small and there being so many producers/djs it must be hard for a new DJ to get their slot and make a name for themselves out here. Did you find it hard at first to get your music heard out here?
Yeah, that’s interesting. For a long time the majority of interest in my music was coming from overseas. I think there is a weird reticence and ignorance from South Africans when it comes to local music that actually sounds like it comes from this country. Spoek, Yannick, John Wizards, Nozinja and others have all had the same issue. The local stuff that does well over here with the punters tends to sound international. It’s like you are rewarded for being an imitator. The irony is that those artists tend to have very little or no interest from the international media.
I didn’t really get much attention over here until Spoek had tweeted about a 12″ I did called Kwaai Sneakers and all of a sudden it all gained some traction.
Which musicians are inspiring you right now in Mzansi?
Rudeboyz, Roman Rodney, DJ Matsawu-Dlala, DJ Lag, Illumination Boys. A lot of Gqom producers. Gqom is a more broken, minimal and darkly deep SA sound. It’s almost like a South African techno. People should visit www.kasimp3.co.za and go listen to what is coming out the loxions and townships. It’s incredibly contemporary, very forward thinking and just like Kwaito, utterly unique to this country.
Whats more fulfilling? Creating the beats in your garage studio or playing them out?
There is nothing like that moment where you get a kwaai tune rolling. It’s just you and the tune and an all too brief moment of feeling that you are, regardless of what anyone could say about you, a fucking genius. After that it’s always downhill.
Watching a bunch of people vibe to my tunes is also befok, it’s a massive buzz but I reckon I have to go with the studio. Ultimately I make music for myself, if other people enjoy it too then it’s a bonus. If they don’t, I can’t say I give a fuck cos I don’t and I certainly wouldn’t change anything I do to make people like it more.
Is the party scene all that appealing to you? You don’t even drink.
The party scene doesn’t really appeal to me at all because I am a father now and I only tend to be out when I have a gig. I don’t drink or do class A stuff anymore mainly because I had a few issues with both of those things, particularly coke. I don’t feel moralistic about my abstinence, I understand why people do it and everyone is free to fuck their own body and brain up if they see fit. That said, I get gatvol with nonsensical conversations with gesuip/coked up cretins. At Rocking The Daisies a geezer came up to me, fucked out of his mind and said “I love your T-shirt but I hate everyone here. I’m sure you feel the same…” He then swatted at imaginary flies for a bit and fell over. I struggle to converse with such people.
Tell us about your group with Big Space, Manyoba Boy$. And what plans have you got for that?
Manyoba Boy$ is a live act ostensibly. We play live improvised techno/house sets with a heavy SA flavour. We have written a few tunes and are sitting on them for now. I do think however, that we work best as a live act.
Do you have any other affiliates?
I’m not part of a crew or anything like that. There’s a few vocalists I enjoy working with Spoek, Okmalumkoolkat, Eve Rakow. All cool people.
Did you record ‘Night Time Business’ with Spoek? You’ve remixed Okmalumkoolkat, Petite Noir, etc. Who would you like to collaborate with vocally?
‘Night Time Business’ is a tune on my next 12″. I produced the music and he created the words. We’ve done a few tunes together but it’s always via the internet. The odd time we stiek uit together we mostly smoke zol and talk bollocks. I’ve not remixed Smiso’s stuff by the way, I did however remix a tune we did together.
I’d like to work with Camagwini, Big Nuz, Jaak, Professor, the list could go on…
You’ve bootlegged a lot of RnB from the likes of Justin Timberlake, Robin Thicke, Mario et al. Are you a real fan of RnB, you’re not just being ironic?
I love RnB. Particularly the 90s era Dru Hill, En Vogue, SWV, TLC etc etc. RnB is often very forward thinking and progressive musically. Far more than people give it credit for.
I don’t subscribe to that ironic thing in music appreciation. I find it odd. If you like it then who gives a shit what anyone thinks.
What do you do other than producing and DJing?
I work in post production, mostly post supervision or management.
Are you working on anything at the moment?
Not swearing around the kids. Not fucking easy.
Musically, I got some 12″s coming out next year on various labels. It should all be quite exciting.