Are We Getting Old?by Ts’eliso Monaheng / 13.02.2013
It’ll be interesting to see how Pure Solid get received at this year’s Cape Town Electronic Music Festival. The duo, a dub outfit consisting of producer Dplanet and visual artist Spo0ky, had a few choice words to share about their appearance at last year’s Synergy festival, specifically with regards to the patrons who were nowhere to be seen come Sunday morning when they performed. We had a sit-down with them in the lead-up to CTEMF, now in its second year running. The following is an excerpt of what transpired.
Who is Pure Solid and what are you about?
Dplanet: Pure Solid is us two.
Spo0ky: Which is Dplanet, and Spo0ky.
Dplanet: We’re an audio-visual dubwise experience, to give a brief overview. I make dub-based music with a lot of different influences, ranging from stuff that I think is fairly traditionally dubb-y, to stuff that has influences of grime, hip hop, spaza…any kind of dark dance music.
Spo0ky: So you can really get into it, not like ADD-type music.
Dplanet: In that sense it’s a bit old-school. A lot of modern dance music has an attention-deficit thing, I think dubstep started it. We went to a thing [in Holland] about five years ago. We were quite excited to go because we’d heard it was some big-deal guy from the UK. Great soundsystem, everything was cool – apart from the fact that it was drops every thirty seconds. There was no groove.
Spo0ky: You can’t get into it. You dance for a little bit, and then it changes completely.
Dplanet: And then I thought ‘are we getting old’? No-one was dancing! In France, we were talking to Loïc who’s one of the founders of Jarring FX, a label we work with over there. He was having this crisis about what he’s doing with his life; why is he doing this, what’s it all about? And we got to discussing what is the point of doing parties; it’s not just to get drunk and to get fucked up. It’s because it brings people together, and with certain music it creates an experience for those people. People share ideas in that environment. A lot of dance music, I find, has become increasingly about the guy at the front who’s standing there like a god. To me it’s kind of the opposite of that experience; you’re going to worship someone who’s only playing someone else’s tracks most of the time, and he’s probably playing the top 40 on Beatport anyway. He could be replaced by twenty other guys and you wouldn’t even notice. When I grew up with soundsystems, it really wasn’t about the selectah. The selectah was just there in the crowd, at the same level as everybody; not there to be looked at, to be watched and to be studied.
Spo0ky: Jah Shaka, best party ever! Wall of speaker soundsystem, and then he’s just there. And he’s massive, but it’s not about that.
Dplanet: It’s not about him. I guess in a sense, without trying to be old-fashioned, we’re trying to bring that element back to dance music. Something where there’s a message, without overly ramming it down people’s throat. Just to encourage people to think about something other than…
Spo0ky: Consumerism, capitalism…
Dplanet: Reggae has always been conscious music, and it’s kind of anti-system, the same with hip hop. But it’s changed over the years, and it’s fine. There’s always been a party element to both, but it’s just that that element now is so predominant; there is nothing else, especially in dance music and especially in Cape Town. Cape Town is a historically awkward place anyway in Africa; it’s just a strange place. I didn’t actually read the whole article, but I saw on Mahala there was a story about Synergy; it mentioned something about rich white kids getting fucked up. Unfortunately that’s what dance music is in Cape Town.
Spo0ky: And they don’t care about the music, they just go there for the experience, which breaks my heart so much. In Belgium where I’m from, I really go to festivals for the music; to discover new things and really get into it. You will stay ‘til the end. Here people will just go, get fucked, have a good time, go on a park ride or whatever, and then Sunday they just go home. Why? There’s another day of music, but you don’t care. That’s my beef!
Dplanet: I grew up in a fully multi-cultural background in London where you’re exposed to everything; you’re not necessarily partaking in every single thing, but it’s around you. I have friends who are crazily into Led Zeppelin, rock music, house music, funk, rare grooves, you know?! I would go and partake in a little bit of all those things. Even though I had my favourites, I would still go out with my friends and listen to whatever different acts were coming through, underground acts coming through, all kinds of new things where it’s just a new experience all the time. Cape Town, because the club scene is at the centre of town and it’s historically white, is a monoculture. It’s the same deejays playing the same kind of dance music with no real influence from anything from Africa. That’s a generalisation of course, some people are adding elements of this and that, but generally speaking the music here is either American or European.
So what role are you guys playing as Pure Solid; what is your point of difference?
Dplanet: I mean we’re European as well, but we’re here and we’re more into – obviously through running Pioneer Unit as well – we’re more in touch with everything else that’s going on in this town, not just one side of this town. I guess when we’re in Europe, [our role] is ambassadors for a certain sound from here, and also giving people an experience that, although it’s not quintessentially South African music – I guess the real sound of South Africa is house or kwaito at the moment. I don’t necessarily think the style of music is that important; we take elements from everything.