Older and established musicians should use music to help groom young talent. This is the principle that guides DJ Fosta’s work and life. “I come from a musical background. My father is a musician and so is my uncle. My uncle’s actually Duke Ngcukana [the late, legendary jazz musician who founded the jazz outfit The Living Heritage Ensemble] so music’s always been a part of my life.”
I meet Fosta, whose real name is Thulani Headman, on a sweltering day in his hometown of Langa, Cape Town. He’s wearing a maroon top, stonewashed jeans and black sneakers. He laughs a lot. A smile is pressed across his face and he punctuates his sentences with a hoarse, spritely laugh. And why shouldn’t he be happy? He’s achieved a lot. His DJing career has seen him perform everywhere from Malawi to Amsterdam and he’s the also founder of 021 Records – a label that produced Kulula (a nationwide house anthem, which held the number one spot for three weeks on 5FM in 2008). But for Fosta, making music isn’t an end in itself. He believes music can be used as a vehicle to make a positive impact.
I feel like an ambassador of local music
Fosta is an ambassador for Bridges for Music: a non-profit organisation that supports upcoming electronic music producers from poor communities. “It’s all in the name,” he says. “It’s a bridge between rising and established artists. We host workshops in Langa, where established musicians can share the tricks of their trade with upcoming musicians. Our first workshop was in 2013 and we brought over Richie Hawtin [award-winning English DJ].” Since then, they have also hosted Black Coffee and international dubstep superstar Skrillex.
Last year, as part of a Bridges for Music programme, Fosta played a set at the Glastonbury Festival – a major UK music festival that’s hosted Pharrell, Kanye West and Curtis Mayfield. “It was an amazing experience,” he recalls. “I was a bit nervous before I played my set. I always feel that way when I have to play to an international audience. I ask myself: will they enjoy the music? Will they even understand it? In the end I always play local house music and they love it. And that makes me feel proud. I feel like an ambassador of local music.”
This article was first published on Red Bull Amaphiko