PHfat (Live Set)

Who: PHfat

What: Live Set

Where: Madison Ave.

When: June 25, 2017

Vibe: Young, local, slightly sloppy but excited crowd, with a short, energetic hip-hop/electronic set

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Having seen PHFAT twice in 2014, I was super keen to see how he’s progressed over the past 3 years. He opened his set without warning with the go-to banger, “Lights Out”. As people instantly drew closer to the front of the small stage to surround rapper/vocalist, Mike Zietsman, I could see that pretty much everyone at Madison were PHfat natives as they effortlessly bobbed to the fast electro beats and knew the key choruses to his tracks. Given PHfat’s reputation as one of the most popular, and unique rap musicians in South Africa, I think that Madison came up a bit short as a venue for one of his shows. It was nothing more than a college-filled, makeshift club on the outskirts of Long Street and seeing the tours and collaborations that Mike has been making as of recent, it didn’t feel deserving of his performance. Lucky for us, that didn’t seem to stop Mike from having a hell of a time on stage, loud and sweaty, just the way we like it.

I wasn’t planning on going to this set with my electronic-theme blog in mind because I categorised PHfat as hip-hop/rap remembering the content being grimy, deep rap lyrics, but after seeing him through new eyes, I decided he 100% piled on to the electronic Cape Town culture as an iconic glitch rap artist–the “glitch” part primarily being the fast electro beats that complimented Mike’s rapping.

Mike’s presence on stage was as effortless and contagiously energetic as I remembered. He’s one of those people that just belongs up there when putting on a show. His lyrics are deep, aggressive and confusing, and the fact that you can see the veins on his temples from spitting (literally spitting) so many words in so little time is guaranteed to get anyone hyped.

Quickie: PHfat

Now a one-man-show, Smooth Mike hasn’t been slowed down since the slimming of PHfat a few years back. His fast tracks, aggressively deep lyrics and passionate nature never fail to get crowds dancing, jumping, singing, and at times shouting. His nameless genre is a force to be reckoned with as he’s gained a great following of devoted fans and spreads his indie-hip-pop-rap-electronic-whatever-else-you-wanna-call-it performances across Africa with loads of other great African artists.

PHfat is confusing just as much as he is awesome. While his lyrics can be graphic as hell, calling women “bitches” and rapping of women’s breasts as if they were objects in your grocery store (see, “Egodeth” lyrics) and other bizarre lines, Mike’s actually a sweet, socially-aware guy that’s against public health issues like sexual assault. How do I know? A few drunk, overly confident girls in the front row grabbed him by the ass mid-show. Not only did he clearly show discomfort via facial expressions during this, but he took the time to stop and discuss the inappropriateness of touching people without their permission once the song was over. He even addressed the wrongness of the term SOMF! Talk about contradicting. But still awesome.

He also created and funded his own campaign of inexpensive shows paired with quality production/sound because he was fed up with events overcharging people to see amazing talent with mediocre sets. In his words, “…the goal is to provide an immersive night out that allows musicians to present music the way they hear it in their heads and to allow music listeners the chance to hear it”. 

A standup guy overall amiright? Smooth Mike will always have a place in my forever-confused heart.

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Felix Laband (Live Set)

Who: Felix Laband

What: Live Set

Where: Fiction

When: August 19, 2017

Vibe: chilled crowd, keen for the music vs. socialising. Fun, melodic beats, prominent bass and indietronic sequences.

Having heard Felix Laband’s most recent album, “Deaf Safari” about 2 weeks ago thanks to a recommendation from a local friend, I was intrigued as to how he would sound once I found out he had a live set coming up. To be completely honest, I was a little unsure of the energy his sounds would stir in the crowd. Although I definitely enjoyed his music with chill, minimalist sounds to soothing beats, I also found some of his stuff to be a bit eerie with echo’ed voice recordings, animal sounds and simplistic background noises (think old school Emancipator with a darker, African twist). I played one of his SoundCloud playlists, and at one point found that I had been listening to hollowed gospel music recordings for about 3 minutes straight. Very interesting.

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To my surprise, his set was a freaking JAM. As soon as my friend and I entered Fiction, I felt myself instantly gravitating towards the crowd, but more importantly the music. His sound provided the perfect bounce and bass to keep the crowd moving, with intricate, enchanting and yes, sometimes eerie, transitions between tracks. You could watch the tempo of the crowd speed up, slow down, and all around vibe on the same frequency with Felix Laband. With some upbeat house mixed in his hour-long set, I was excited to find my ears perk to a few of the tracks I had recognised from “Deaf Safari”. His music sparked my interest the first time I listened as I mentioned earlier, but listening to it in a live setting can not only heighten my impression of music but completely morph it. I’m sure many can relate to that although the crowd and extremely loud speakers don’t hurt either 😉 Needless to say, I highly recommend checking out a Felix Laband set and I’ll be watching out for other upcoming shows with him in the future.

Quickie: Felix Laband

Creating music for over 15 years now, Felix Laband has formed a niche music style incorporating a melting pot of minimalist sounds, podcast/audio recordings, guitar, and other featured instruments with a variety of artist collaborations. His music has reached a global audience as he’s played nearly every electronic festival in South Africa and has toured internationally. Incorporating visuals and art pieces to his music, Felix Laband’s societal impact as a musician is an expressive, and emotional one as he’s known to address political issues in his pieces.

Sweet Nothings: District Volume 1 & 2 (Indoor Festival)

Who: Lineup of local techno producers including: YETI, Faurest, Mogey, Woozle, Peach, Fogshow

What: A monthly, winter club event hosted by summertime music festival, Sweet Nothings

Where: District

When: May 20, 2017 & June 17, 2017

Vibe: chilled, classy but faded audience with deep, technohouse vibes

Cape Town is crawling with events every single weekend. Actually it’s crawling with events every single day period, but especially on the weekends. I had never heard of Sweet Nothings but according to an old friend whom I had bumped into on a coffee run, it was a supposedly cool, techno fest with some great local producers and was hosting a string of winter events at its partnered venue, District. Walked in for coffee, left with plans to attend an indoor festival. I’ll take it.

Now when I hear the word “festival” I instantly think open outdoor spaces, multiple stages, crazy wardrobed people of all shapes and sizes and nonstop music and production. However, I found that a wintertime, indoor festival such as Sweet Nothings is pretty much none of that, except for the two most important parts: nonstop music and production.

The atmosphere of District that night was nothing short of deep, dark and edgy with a hipster crowd. Side Note: I know I throw the term “hipster” around a lot, but idk how else to describe people with such little “f***s” and so much style—American of me, I know.

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With the bar on one end facing a small stage with back screen visuals on the other, District transformed its usual floorspace with black lights, lasers and some red-hued chandeliers. As we headed straight to the dance floor, I immediately began moving with rhythm. Soon realising that this festival was a static EDM genre, it didn’t take me long to get a feel for the sounds and progressively fall deeper and deeper into the tech frequencies of artists like YETI, Mogey and others. Sweet Nothings: District Volume 2 proved to be just as fulfilling with its crisp, dark beats, and proved to be better in terms of crowd (less people = more dance room). Great music, fun crowd, can’t lose.

 

Quickie: Sweet Nothings Festival

Founded in 2016, this toddler of a festival has already begun to crawl, featuring both local and international producers mixing on one main stage. It takes place on the Ostrich Farm in Cape Town–an outdoor venue that serves home to several other popular festivals during South Africa’s spring and summer.  With 14 hours of non-stop techno last summer, Sweet Nothings is growing with a full, 2-day festival event for 2017.

 

Kyle Watson (Live Set)

Who: Kyle Watson

What: Live set

Where: Fiction Night Club

When: May 6, 2017

Vibe: Fun, energetic, groupie-esque crowd with intimate, dark, G-house vibes

I’ve been recommended to check out Fiction in the past by like-minded, electronic lovers and I can say that the moment I stepped inside, I knew Fiction would become a sanctuary for me in Cape Town night outs, especially for Long Street. With two stories, both with bars and balconies, and the first floor with a small, and I mean very small, mixing table and dance floor, this intimate club scene was oozing deep, energetic, night-owl vibes.

The sets that night didn’t disappoint either. With a local opener spitting griddy, fast, house beats, the crowd was warming up very quickly in preparation for Kyle Watson. He stepped on at about 11:30pm and the crowd was definitely ready as a group of guys began chanting “Kyle. Watson. Kyle fu****g Watson” as soon as he stepped up to the board. It was surprisingly catchy and got us pretty pumped too.

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That said, Kyle put on a hell of a set. To go from TiMO the night before, to Kyle Watson directly after is a perfect example of how even artists, both specialising in a genre such as deep house, can still have two completely different sounds. Kyle’s style is eclectic in that his music has a smooth, minimalistic buildup to it with contrasting, heavy drops to fall into on the dance floor. With a heavy combo of deep house and G-house textures, Kyle Watson’s set felt mindless to dance to. Safe to say I’ve seen him play another show since that first night at Fiction and I intend to see many more.

 

Quickie: Kyle Watson

Unlike TiMO, Kyle’s contributions to the electronic music industry were bound to happen. Growing up learning music theory as well as playing the piano, it’s no surprise that Kyle’s managed to be considered one of the top South African and internationally recognised music producers of his time. His powerful style of deep and garage house combos have lead several big-time producers to show their support–Oliver Heldens, Malaa, and Justin Martin to name a few. His work has been recognised to the point of impressive label signage with Dirtybird, Atlantic, This Ain’t Bristol and Ultra records and he tours internationally now. “Kyle Watson. Kyle f*****g Watson.” is damn right.

TiMO ODV (Live Set)

Who: TiMO ODV

What: Live set

Where: Shimmy Beach Club

When: May 5, 2017

Vibe: Somewhat “preppy” crowd, with fun, drunk, careless dancing among deep house and pop vocals

Oh Shimmy Beach Bar. We do indeed meet again. I have exceptionally fond memories of this boujey, beach front bar, as the last (and only) time I had been there was during my last weekend in Cape Town for my study abroad in 2014. My crew of 10+ americans decided to go out full throttle and get intentionally kicked out the bar. After our schemed, unified, fully-clothed jump into their outdoor pool (post dancing and drinking of course) I was rewarded with a sliced toe, lots of blood, and an overdue trip to the ER the next day. Nevertheless, a very keen, bonding experience during my last days in the motherland and yes, we successfully got escorted out by security. Mission accomplished!

Tonight’s show at Shimmy was featuring a popular South African house producer, TiMO ODV. We were invited to go with local friends we had recently made, so I had to do some pre game play-listing to get a taste of what the show would be like. I was pleasantly surprised to have recognised some of his more popular songs due to drunken shuffling on Long Street and seeing his track “Dancing Again” on my friend’s Shazam account. I knew then I was in for a treat.

With Shimmy turning their normal, open-spaced bar and dance floor into a mini concert venue– stage, back screens, lights and all– for a second I felt I was in an entirely new bar. The young, collared shirt, tight-pants’d, and tipsy crowd (think: Martha’s Vineyard at a deep house show) was very fitting both for the venue and for TiMO’s music. Playing straight deep house, Timo ODV’s stuff was extremely deep, sometimes trancy, paired with steady baselines and a little bit of pop. Featuring his own vocals in his most original hits, TiMO stuck to just mixing for the duration of his show that night.

 

Quickie: TiMO ODV

Originally from Johannesburg, I’ve learned that TiMO ODV (pronounced “Tim-O” not “tee-mo” for the record) has become one of Africa’s leading house producers and fastHis spontaneous ambition to become a musician has proved to be beyond successful as he’s taught himself to read and understand music and mastered an array of musical instruments within the past 4 years. His first single, “Save Me” featuring Sara Jackson, launched in 2015 reached #1 on the 5fm top 40 and was the most played local track in South Africa.

I’m typically an obsessive, compulsive SoundCloud user, but I felt the full music video would render better than a 30-sec preview on the cloud.

About

 

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Me:

My name’s Jan. I like bass, vibrations, womps and other strange sounds that give me feels. I’m here to share my experience while I work part-time in my favourite city, while also interning as an assistant manager for some really great producers in France. Wee!

Blog:

EleCTronic Cape Town is a casual music and culture based blog, informing the interested in what defines the electronic music scene in, yep, you guessed it, Cape Town, along with other parts of South Africa. Between select genres, artists, venues and festivals, you can learn about South Africa’s “who, what, where, when and vibe” on electronic music here.

Note: All the content in this blog is from an American’s perspective or as ‘an outsider looking in’ more so. I’m no EDM virgin, but be prepared for comparing and contrasting from a westerner’s POV.

* Learn about my full love story with EDM in the How Did I Get Here page  *