As a young, up-and-coming musician, attending one of the most successful music conferences in South Africa this past weekend was a humbling experience. From the 21st-23rd of March, the Cape Town City Hall transformed into the venue for the Music Exchange Conference. Wet-behind-the-ears as I am when it comes to the South African music industry, I was incredibly enthusiastic about what could transpire. Sipho Hotstix Mabuse, Peter Lacey and Martin Myers – organisers of the conference – see it as a way to educate musicians and give them a chance to interact with some of the most successful artists in South Africa and abroad. These are artists who have enjoyed longevity in an industry that is known for being uncertain and fickle.
Many of the established artists and key-note speakers shared the same sentiments when it came to tips on how to get the most out of the gathering. For example: During the 10-minute breaks you get throughout the talks, instead of catching a smoke, rather use the time to bug the relevant people. Hand out demos and find out about your rights from legal representatives. Share your concerns with SAMRO (South African Music Rights Organisation) and get advice on your image from image consultants. You are a brand, so act accordingly.
So as day-three approached I was already amped up. I could not have anticipated, however, meeting one the most respected international DJ’s and producers there, Charles Webster – who held an interactive DJ workshop on Saturday. I mean, this is the man who has sold more than 180 000 albums without ever being considered mainstream and DJ’d world-wide in every continent. Tamara, Live’s Video Journalism Mentor (also from the UK) introduced me to Mr Webster. He invited me to contribute on a track he was about to mix on stage. I said yes, unaware of what I was really getting myself into. I’ve been a vocalist and song-writer for a while now (mainly working on house tracks), but the exhilaration that comes with being on stage never gets old. I chatted to Mr Webster briefly and found him to be refreshingly unassuming.
I took to the stage two hours into the track mastering demonstration with no clue what I was about to do. I was in a room filled with fellow musicians, DJ’s, producers and generally people who could help or break my humble beginnings. I’m guessing Charles picked up on the nerves and assured me that there was no pressure. I told him I was certain that I wanted to do it and so I sang. “Woke up feeling good this morning” True story. I had, that morning. At the end of it all the track sounded brilliant and before I could ask, Mr Webster invited me to complete it with him at a later stage. The Live team was also there to capture the moment – be sure to look out for the video on our You-tube channel.
So next time you listen to your radio and you hear a fresh voice belting out this familiar phrase… Act like you know!