South Africa’s electronic music scene is huge right now. The niche genre even has its own annual festival, the Cape Town Electronic Music Festival (CTEMF). There has been an influx of new up-an-coming talent joining in, through both production and DJing. Below, in no particular order, is a list of 10 South African up-and-coming electronic DJs and producers that you should be listening to right now.
JYD has become a sought-after DJ and producer after just two years in the game. Bass music is his genre of choice and he can be described as a bass chameleon, as he can seamlessly switch from hip hop, to footwork, to something slowed down and sensual (which he dubs #NuAgeSexMusiq), to something more abstract or alternative.
2. Watermark High
Jo’burg-based DJ and producer, Watermark High surfaced in 2012, but only managed to make an impact in South Africa’s electronic music scene in 2014. He plays regularly in Johannesburg alongside fellow electronic DJ and producer Micr. Pluto. He played at this year’s installment of the CTEMF. He has also been featured on electronic music compilations such as DRK&LVLY, naasMusic and Subterranean Wavelength. His unique take on meshing various instruments and sounds has made him quite popular.
TehSynes (pronounced “The Signs”) is a DJ and producer from Cape Town whose first love is drum and bass, but he is also heavily influenced by soulful and jazzy melodies. He plays regularly at drum and bass events such as the weekly It Came From the Jungle and Pressure which takes place monthly. He has also played at the 2013 installment of the CTEMF. Although drum and bass is his specialty, it does not keep him away from letting other genres such as footwork, juke, hip hop and house influence his work. He is also not afraid to experiment with ambient electronic sounds.
Cape Town deep house DJ, Terrasoul’s love for the genre roots back to the days of Deluxe, which was Cape Town’s premier deep house venue. Deluxe inspired him to DJ by observing deep house DJs such as Roy Block and Clint Hill. Terrasoul fuses deep house, tech house, garage and R&B. He is the co-founder of Cape Town-based events and production company Khoi-soul, which has been a support base for artists such as rappers Patty Monroe and Garlic Brown. His song “In love With This Vibe” (featuring vocals from JYD) was recently released on Seasons Recordings, with remixes from British deep house icon Charles Webster and Cape Town deep house pioneer Erefaan Pearce. His versatility is key as he has produced for Cape Town rappers Boolz and Garlic Brown. Terrasoul is a name which will echo into the future with prestige and pride.
5. Broken Transient
Broken Transient is a newcomer in the drum and bass scene who began actively playing and producing in 2014. Even though hip hop was the genre which increased his interest in music and producing, today drum and bass is his genre of choice. Having already played at events at The Assembly in Cape Town, being featured as a remixer on electronic music compilation The New Slang, as well as receiving acclaim from drum and bass legends Mc Tan and DJ Tempo, Broken Transient has laid a solid foundation for a colossal career ahead.
Sean Munnick and Robin Muniz make up the house DJ/ producer duo, Munnibrotherz. The Port Elizabeth natives made their debut performance at CTEMF this year and deservedly so. They ripped the Terrace stage apart on the Saturday evening, and got everyone frantically asking who they were. They were also featured on Pulse Radio’s article “5 Artists you should watch out for after CTEMF”, and if you were fortunate enough to have heard their set, you could not be able to agree more. I have a feeling that the name Munnibrotherz is going to hit the lips of an international audience sooner than we expect.
7. Vox Portent
Vox Portent has to be one of South Africa’s most eclectic producers. Despite his many influences, he never loses his individuality. Upon the release of his second EP named Measures in February, he stated that he was trying to find his own sound, as he felt that his previous work was too similar to his current influences. He also said that he wanted to find more organic sounds and that the EP played a large role in helping him transition from a dark place to a place of more clarity. If anything, Measures is the EP that is testament to Vox Portent’s individuality and rising acclaim. His ability to interpret deep, dark and blissful emotions into his productions is incomparable.
Buli’s ambient style oozes emotion. It’s also rich with passion, sincerity and refreshing maturity. Already being featured on Micr. Pluto’s compilation Subterranean Wavelength, it’s safe to say that Buli is being recognised for his potential and talent. Playing at gigs with the likes of Watermark High, Dank and Escapism Refuge including receiving acclaim for remixing a Vox Portent original, you’d never say that this Pretoria boy is a newcomer.
9. Cutting Gems
Born in London and now living in Cape Town, Cutting Gems’ sound can be described as funky, groovy, whimsical and futuristic. At only 21 years of age, it seems as if producer/DJ Cutting Gems is way beyond his years. He made his debut at Rocking the Daisies last year in the Electronic Dome stage. Variety is what makes Cutting Gems, Cutting Gems. It’s near impossible to guess or anticipate what you’re going to hear when it comes to his productions or live sets, this has been an asset to him. He is also part of the naasMusic music agency with the likes of Thor Rixon, Maramza and Card on Spokes.
Mungo is the latest addition to naasMusic. He began producing in 2013 and the name Mungo itself comes from the name of a dog. Mungo is the solo electronic musical venture of Cape Town bassist and guitarist Simon Lee. His EP, The World According to Mungo intricately overlaps guitar sounds with electronic elements. Mungo manages to keep his work soulful with the right amount of depth, not making you feel too overwhelmed. He was featured last year on Platform’s 100 Best Tracks of 2014 article for his track “Intro to…” from The World According to Mungo. Even though he only has 115 likes on his Facebook page, he has new productions in the works that might easily make 2015 Mungo’s year.
Check out our coverage of the 2015 Cape Town Electronic Music Festival here.