According to Cape Town event organiser Mawande “Manez” Sobethwa, Cape Town is the city of underground music – hip hop, reggae, dubstep, rock, and house.
He, however, feels that that very same underground music that The Mother City is replete with is overlooked. “In general, Cape Town has always neglected its own artists. There’s never been a program that says ‘look, let’s offer a platform to local Cape Town artists and give them an opportunity to headline events’” he says, “for instance, the International Jazz Festival, Design Indaba, and even the turning on of the lights, they always bring down Jo’burg artists. So there’s a gap and we felt someone needed to do something about it.”
The Creative Database – an events company Manez is part of, Jam That Session – an arts collective that hosts themed monthly events, and 3AM Media – a company that manages artists among other things, collaborated to try and bridge that gap. This, they hope to achieve with the upcoming event they have deemed the Cape Town Underground Music Festival. The festival which will span over five days (between Tuesday October 7th and Saturday October 11th), in five different venues, boasts five different genres – hip hop, reggae, house, dubstep, and rock.
The line between underground and mainstream music in Cape Town is a fuzzy one (if any). Asked what constitutes underground in his books, Manez says, “It’s those artists who you don’t hear on the radio. They’re not ambassadors of any commercial labels and brands. They’re here, still trying to push. They’re selling their CDs by hand. The hustle aspect. And I feel that is what is underground in Cape Town.” The direct interaction between these artists and their fans is what Manez and his team hope to use as leverage to make the event a notable entry in the Cape Town events calendar. “Underground is a community thing. We want to create a community around the festival, and not just fans and followers,” he explains.
The criteria for picking artists on the line up was, just like with any other event, crowd-pullers. And also artists that define the context of underground, he says. But an additional point to the criterion was affordability because they are putting this event together with no budget, no sponsors, whatsoever, he says. Sponsors which they hope to impress with the first installment of CTUMF. “We do have some interests from some brands. They are skeptical; they don’t [just] wanna throw money into it. So this first event is our CV, it’s our audition,” explains Manez.
The response has been slow, he admits. “But there’s been movement,” he says, “Computicket is there for people to buy presold tickets but with most events in Cape Town, if people have the opportunity to pay at the door, they usually prefer that.” However he is optimistic because he says they have managed to get both the artists and the general public excited. “When we started posting the event posters on Instagram, we had artists such as MXO and Zuluboy asking ‘yo, what’s this? Tell me more. Send me an email’. There was a sense of curiosity,” he says. Setting up the whole festival is half the battle won already. “We’ve got the venues to buy in. Reputable venues such as The Assembly, The Loop, we managed to sell the vision to them. All we are left with is to just sell the idea to the consumer,” assures Manez.
Next week will see the underdogs headlining a festival, which Manez says is a “revolution in Cape Town and South African entertainment at large”.
Tickets range from R60 presold to R80 at the door and can be purchased at www.computicket.com.
Weekly pass tickets are available for R240 (Presold only)
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