You Should Be Listening Toby Roach / 18.12.2013
Last month we had Sannie Fox, and the month before we had Jon‘s own mix. This month Mix’N’Blend got hold of Roach from African Dope Records to pick his favourite tracks, but them together for us and tell us why they mean something to him. Check out these tunes!
Joe Dulce – Shaddup Your Face
This is the first tune I ever bought.
I grew up in the middle of nowhere in Beit Bridge, on the Zimbabwe side of the Zim-SA border. It was the 70’s, the Rhodesian bush wars, 300km by armed convoy from the nearest city Bulawayo, which we visited every couple of months.
There were 30 kids in my whole primary school and 100km of bush behind my house. Too far away for TV. Indoor entertainment was reading, Springbok Radio and the record player. My mom fed us gems off the turntable ñ Sparkyís Magic Piano & Train, Danny Kaye, and Jeff Wayneís War of the Worlds. But I was also listening to the radio a lot – Springbok Radio and all kinds of crazy stuff I picked up on my shortwave radio.
So I was already a music head by age 8, and the first time my parents let me loose in Bulawayo’s only record shop, Gallo Records, I had spent so long lost in the dusty vinyl & cassette racks, that in the end I had to make a snap choice while being dragged by the elbow out the store and ended up with this one. Some would say that figures.
Jimi Hendrix – EXP and All Along The Watchtower
In 1982 I went to high school in Joburg, immediately landed amongst a bunch of the world’s finest nutters at King David Linksfield Hostel and have been hanging with the interesting people on the fringes ever since.
One afternoon during double Maths, while our teacher was off fetching another migraine tablet, I discovered that this quiet chap behind me by the name of Mark Bookatz was actually one of the most serious music heads I’ve ever met, and by age 15 had somehow assembled the most impressive collection of 60s and 70s music I’ve still ever seen. On cassette.
There was no internet in 1984, the CD hadn’t really arrived, and hard as it is to believe SA radio was even worse than it is now. If you wanted to hear non-Top 40 music in South Africa you listened to Chris Prior, or missioned hard and spent lots of cash on vinyl. A stash like Mark’s was priceless, and he enthusiastically fed my greedy appetite. Floyd, Joplin, The Doors, Deep Purple, Zappa, Led Zep, Bowie were all favourites, along with some heavier stuff like Iron Maiden, Yngwe Malmsteen and Blue Oyster Cult – but Hendrix was always my main man-with-a-geetar.
EXP – I clearly remember the precise delicious wtf moment first time I heard it. I’ve been wanting to play it or post it somewhere public since then and now I have. Tick on bucket list, hah!
I’ve also been seeing unidentified things in the sky since I was a kid and have met a few unidentified things too. But that’s a tale for another time perhaps.
‘All along the Watchtower’: some mysteries are more fun unsolved. I’m still pondering what the lyrics mean 30 years later, which means it must be profound, I’m just still none the wiser why. Alongside the slow solo in the middle of van Halen’s Panama, I’d have to say the jangly guitar bits in the middle of Watchtower are my favourite guitar moment of all.
The Cure – Love Song
This is my favourite love song. Although I’ve loved this song for 25 years and been blessed to share a lot of love over the years, I’ve only truly ever felt exactly like this song about someone once. I sent it to her and she thought it was lovely and said letís be friends.
If it vibrates it’s illusion i guess, but it you can genuinely feel like the chorus of this song, about everyone, then it doesn’t matter.
Empirion – Narcotic Influence
Cape Town’s Summer of Love was the summer of 94/95. I was hooked. This new music didn’t want my attention, it wanted to take my mind away. I surrendered, and lost myself in dance.
It’s hard to explain the step up from everything that came before; how subversive and different and genuinely underground it was.
Rave hadn’t been tamed and commodified into ‘clubbing’ yet. You would drive into town on a Sunday morning and see ravers and freaks everywhere, spilling out onto the streets from sweaty clubs like Powerhouse, G Spot, Funk-E-House, The Gel and my favourite, Bar-Do-Me, and from the massive underground raves by pioneers like Pharcyde, Stardust, Gaia-Tek and Vortex. Their first 5 parties, oldskool raves in Woodstock warehouses, blew my mind away and I’m still looking for some of the pieces.
This classic takes me straight back to those Vortex dancefloors and lavish chill-rooms. The sample is from a famous speech by a UK government minister ranting about the evils of the underground rave movement. Throwing it straight back in her face like this epitomizes the spirit of those times. We could do with a lot more of it right now.
Omni Trio – Music Is The Key (Foul Play Remix)
Anyone remember Solid Records?
In 1995 my old mate Andre (aka Mr Mo) and I started investigating whether there was a business opportunity bringing underground electronic music into SA. We decided to do it anyway, and a dude called Ian Kelly agreed to put some cash in to buy us a pc with internet and see if we could set up a business.
I knew next to nothing about the music business, but sent some of these new email things to some of the best labels in the UK and Europe in different genres, enquiring if they’d be interested in distribution in SA: Moving Shadow, Soma, R&S, TIP and the like. They all said ‘Are you serious, you’re playing jungle / triphop / techno etc in Cape Town? Come over and see us’, so we hopped on a plane.
Suddenly out of nowhere I was in the heart of the electronic music industry – down to Metalheadz with Caroline from Moving Shadow and Dom (without his Roland); club-hopping with Judge Jules; the inaugural 10 Days of Techno in Ghent with the R&S Crew. After our meeting at Moving Shadow, Rob Playford says ‘have you got all our tunes yet? You should take what you don’t have’ and opened a door onto their vinyl warehouse room.
I left lugging a hefty box of rare treasures, that combined with similar harvests from the other labels eventually became the foundation of Krushed & Sorted.
We started a record distribution company called Solid Records with a CD/Vinyl shop just off Green Market Square which quickly positioned us in the heart of the burgeoning scene, but even more quickly degenerated into absolute chaos. I’m not even going to start trying to explain how out of hand things got, Hunter S Thompson wouldn’t have lasted a week.
Eventually, when one day Mr Kelly connected David Balilti’s right buttock so sweetly with his long left leg that the Israeli drummer went flying over freaks and couches and crashed into the computer table, destroying both our office pcs and all the data on them instantly, it was time to call it a day.
Shell-shocked by a year of complete insanity, I escaped with a few crates of records and together with fellow Solid refugees Clint Lox and Fletcher started djing as Krushed & Sorted. It was October 1997.
I’ve always loved deep, intricate drum n bass, and drum programming doesn’t come more intricate and soulful than this one, picked out from the Moving Shadow warehouse all those years ago. Itís for Mr Kelly, and for Trouble, who both loved it too: find peace brothers.
Dean Martin – Sway (Rip-Off Artist Remix)
We started off djing as Krushed & Sorted in chill-rooms and second rooms at big raves, festivals and trance parties. Often the likes of Vortex, Alien Safari, MCQP and Rustlers Valley would give us a floor to run for the whole party.
The party scene was much less serious then. Being a dj wasn’t exactly a career option. So you could play, for example, the entirety of Monty Python’s Life of Brian to the chill-room. Or have a 3rd deck with old afrikaans rugby commentaries and sex education records running pemanently over the mix for days. We even had a pirate radio station at one point, although we had to shut that down after DJ Trouble had broadcast continuously by himself for 3 days while we were away judging the Natal Homegrowers Cup. ‘Welcome back dudes, just in time, I was running out of tunes’. Legend.
This wild and magical time (1997-2000) culminated in us picking up some studio gear, starting a studio, then African Dope, and things I guess grew in a different direction, for us and the industry.
Those are still my favourite dj gigs though when you can get them – daytime at underground festivals on the side floor after the hype of the party is gone, when ears are wide wide open and you can bend minds, put smiles on faces and wiggles on asses at the same time with sonic naughtiness like this.
Moodphase5ive – Addict live @ 206
This is a rough raw bootleg direct from the mixing desk, of one of the finest performances Iíve ever experienced by anyone.
We were on our first African Dope tour in April 2001 – in a minibus up to Bloem, Joburg, some festies and around the coast. We arrived at 206 and Moodphase rocked it so hard the power went down. They rocked it even harder with an impromptu acoustic jam while the power was down and when the lights came back on, knocked out the rest of Orange Grove with this one.
If you’re playing in a band and it doesn’t feel like this, you’re not doing it right.
“Let the drummer go OFF!”
Felix Laband – Single Light
Some tunes become part of you. I mean, like your leg. I was deeply involved in this one’s production – effecting every part and mixing it down alongside Felix along with the rest of Thin Shoes In June.
Both my kids, as it happens, were born while it was playing.
It takes me back to the early days of African Dope, when we lived on magic and anything was possible. And to a surreal night in a burnt out cinema when we pulled off a heaving launch party for an unknown artist playing ambient music. And of a cloudless night at Solipse Zambia when Mixmaster Morris waxed lyrical in disbelief that Felix had made this on an old Pentium in Acid with dodgy samples. And and and…
I would say Felix is the most talented composer I’ve worked with. He has a special ability to communicate whimsy and mischief, he makes you feel things you know but don’t necessarily have words for. I know the feeling evoked by ‘Single Light’ so well, but how do you describe it? Blissed out with an edge?
Buddy Rich – The Beat Goes On
In 2003 African Dope imploded. I won’t get into the dirties, but for a year I just had people screaming at me for money, and no money to give them. Lawyers, sheriffs, angry artists, stories in the press. It was a truly miserable time and by the time I sorted it all out everything had downsized a lot and I was scrambling trying all kinds of things to make a living in addition to the much smaller Dope. Now with added 2 kids.
With various partners I tried a mobile 35050 type thing called Dopemobile, a digital music services thing called Dig.it.all, and an online sync license platform called Sonic Spaza, which delivered ‘the Nokia deal’ that paid out over R1 million to underground artists around CT. And led me to start coding and into the tech world.
But somewhere along the line, for the first time in my life, I’d fallen out of love with music and stopped listening to it, even as I worked day and night hustling it. For maybe 2 years, crunching metadata and promoting songs I didn’t care about in silence.
One night, working late to the sound of my keyboard chattering for the umpteenth night in a row, I decided this is ridiculous, and so unhealthy: I get no pleasure from working with music, I may as well be selling insurance. So I dusted off my media player, couldn’t decide what to play, hit shuffle on my entire collection and this classic started playing.
I started laughing, and of course listening again – else there wouldn’t be much point in the story. But if you still believe in coincidence, slow down, you’re going too fast to join the dots.
Chip Wickham – Hit & Run (Captain Planet Remix)
Captain Planet has been an invaluable source for discovering new and interesting tunes for many years. When boredom sets in, a visit to Mixtape Riot inevitably unearths at least a few gems, or the context to start digging into a sound or group of artists. There can’t be too many cats out there with as unquenchable a thirst for good tunes, and his tastes stretch not just forward and backwards in time and across genres, but across the planet too.
His productions keep stepping up too, and this is right up my street: a fine flute, horns, stabs, phat bouncy beats with swagger and direction. Play this and you get me dancing.
Wallow – Throwing Sky & Py (Raffertie Remix)
We might be listening to the same tune, but you can be sure I’m not hearing exactly what you are. No-one can be really sure what anyone else is actually hearing. Reality really is much less stable than we tell ourselves it is.
For better or worse, I hear really really acutely. I hear the spaces between the sounds, I can zoom into the exact point where the outer edge of the reverb evaporates into silence. A gift from the heavens with great music on a good system (and a well positioned supercomfy couch). Not so much when 20 people start puking all around you on ayahuasca.
Point is, electronic music for me is an evolution from what came before because of the added dimensions of sonic texture it enables. You don’t need a Stradivarius to get a million dollar tone, only the imagination. The quality of the sounds is as fundamental to the music as how they’re put together.
This tune is majestic, with sumptuous vocals, interesting instrumentation, arrangement, harmonies and other appealing musical characteristics – but the magic is in the production, the sounds themselves. Close your eyes and bask in how the sounds swell, swirl, hang and dissolve in time and space. Or am I hearing things?
Mutated Forms – Glory Days (Netsky Remix)
Free your ass and your mind will follow.
Worked for me, and still does! I don’t like drunk dance floors though, so mostly I dance with my cats.
The best electronic music is made for the dance. It tells your ass a story that unhinges your mind, and if it’s produced properly, makes a specific shape in the air. Spirals are the rarest, especially as deftly and lovingly crafted as this; one of my all-time favourite tunes for dancing round the house like no-one’s watching (because they aren’t).
Radioclit – Secousse All Stars
Ooh this tune makes my spine tingle. I think it’s from Cote D’Iviore via Paris. Something so fresh about it I can’t put my finger on, other than I’ve truly never heard anything quite like it. i just get the feeling there’s the seed of something big in here, something wild and free and fuck you were doing it anyway because we know what we’re doing even if you don’t get it yet.
Listen to Jesse & Krabbe’s Bazzerk, Radioclit and similar nuskool underground African beats, there’s something big happening. It’s the sound of Africa starting to shake up the global village on its own terms.
Salif Keita – Madan (Gekko Remix)
This tune is all about two syllables: when Salif goes “Ah Hah”. I don’t know how to explain. It’s where and when and how he uses it. Its just masterful. I love the way this tune builds and drops, and how delicately faithful the remix is to the original, but really, I can listen to it over and over again just to hear Salif go Ah Hah like that. I should probably get out more, I know.
JJ Cale – Sentimental Kind
This is the Maltese Cross in the Cederberg. It’s my favourite place on Earth, the quietest place I’ve ever been, where I learned to hear mountains sing.
I’ve been up there 15 times in all, but there was a period of 10 years in a row when I went on an annual Cederberg Camping Trip with my oldest, closest mates from around the world, always centred around an epic day trip up at the Cross. Some of the most profound experiences of my life up there, where the world of man truly is irrelevant.
Frankly, there really isn’t much that sounds better than the bush itself. Coming down around the campfire, under a tree by the river far from anyone else, you end up putting a lot of music on and turning it straight off again. Everything from country to psytrance can work, but anything contrived sounds well, like exactly what it is.
Over the years there’s one artist we could always put on and flop back contentedly going ‘aaaaaaaah’. The ultimate campfire artist is JJ Cale.
This man understands the bush. The orangey pink sunset over jagged rock silhouettes. The warm breeze off the wilderness. The psychedelic insect sounds. The hammock, the dog, the beer, the fire. The melody stirring in the quiet of your mind. The important shit.
This is for Trevor, my china for 30 years and the one responsible for getting me into the music business by sorting that radio show on CTFM all them years ago. Here’s to another 30 talking life, Liverpool, our next Cederberg trip, and of course JJ Cale.
John Lennon – Imagine
Surely the most important song ever written, because it’s the truth – stated and delivered with such simple pure perfection that everyone can understand. Its so dangerous it got him killed.
My favourite literature is Neil Gaiman’s series of Sandman graphic novels. Dune, The Drifters, Siddhartha, Asterix, Rich Dad Poor Dad and The Illuminatus Trilogy all shook my foundations at poignant times, but nothing shakes me, moves me, and grows with me like the Sandman.
In the 3rd Volume, Dream Country, resides my favourite story of all: ‘I Dream of a 1000 Cats‘.
Read it, listen to the song, and imagine. Because if you want to be the change you want to see in the world (and you’re part of the problem if you don’t, right?), then it starts with imagine.
Mo Kolours – Intro
Yip, an intro for an outro.
Thanks for indulging me.