A Sónar Cape Town Inspired Dialogue

Over the past two days, I have been researching and compiling interview questions that I’ll hopefully be able to ask in person at Sónar Cape Town next week. I feel like I’m living in a parallel version of one of my favourite movies ‘Almost Famous’ except that I’m not really a hippie or a groupie. I feel modernity has muted my hippie tendencies. But it has not muted my wondering, creative mind that likes to take long walks on never-ending beaches.

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As I’ve been watching YouTube interviews, listening to artists’ top Souncloud tracks, discovering what makes each performer tick and how I can tap into that and accentuate their authenticity, it’s reminded me that all creatives perform best when they are aligned to their truth. Yes, here we go again with Katie’s mantra but the global and local electronic music scene proves my point.

Each artist that I’m hoping to interview next week at Sónar Cape Town has a particular and unusual fascination that has become their muse and has helped lead them to success. For most of them it’s been a long journey to establish their niche through a series of tough mistakes, life lessons, sometimes hitting rock bottom and then being reacquainted with their truth. If you think of any successful musician, actress, and well-known personality; they all have something that makes them… them.

Jon Hopkins’ ethereal music is influenced by his captivation with self-hypnosis and meditation. He now knows a track is complete when he can lie down on a mattress in his London studio listening to his latest creation and is transcended into meditation. It has become his final quality assurance check. And it clearly works very well.

The Pet Shop Boys continue to extend their repertoire in each new decade however they maintain their passion and authenticity. They said: ‘You have the continual history, which I think is a testament to your integrity that you are doing this music because you want to do it and you love doing it, and you’re not just a sort of genre-hopper. You want to feel that the potential for new sounds and new songs is still possible for your new music.’

We go through life, doing what we’re conformed by society to do and then some, especially creative and free spirited folks, try to divert from that path. Some travel and immerse themselves in new experiences. Some experiment in various other ways. Like the Bloody Beetroots and Felix Laband, who rebel and refuse to conform to conservative suburban norms. They test boundaries, challenge conventions and stay true to their views and beliefs. They produce music and visuals that shock audiences into re-evaluating their conservative, sometimes stagnant ideology. Sometimes unexpected audiences even start to enjoy their unconventional music.

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There is hope though in South Africa’s current music industry, where many of us are celebrating a melting pot of unique and flavorful artists. Look at Spoek Mothambo presents Fantasma who celebrate four very different corners of South Africa and music backgrounds. Although some may think it’s like turning a square into a circle, the quartet compliment each other and create a fusion of music that is relevant going into the third decade of democracy in our rainbow nation.

Yes, some of artists have taken their explorations too far and have had to pick themselves up after falling into a downward spiral of self-doubt, drowning in their drug-induced pessimistic thoughts. It’s part of the EDM music scene but fortunately most DJ/ Producers rediscover their passion and move into a new phase where they are inspired to explore unknown territory. Pablo Picasso went through many phases including a dire blue phase. Usually, they find their way back to their truth, their authenticity.

We all have those low moments. As I drink a chilled glass of white wine and listen to Ben Howard it takes me back to a few months ago on a pit-stop trip to Nicaragua guided by my truth ready to embark on my journey back to South Africa where I hoped to return to stimulating and challenging creative work. You see when you ignore your truth, you lose your way.

In one interview, Uner spoke about overcoming his creative blocks and following his truth: “…I saw that being true to you is how everything works. The most important lesson: continue being yourself and go whenever your heart takes you.”

Enough said.

Other the past few months, I’ve been lucky enough to interview some great musicians and my former Rhodes University journo student self is jumping for joy as I’ve rediscovered my love for meeting fascinating artists, learning their stories and discovering their truths. Perhaps my devotion and obsession with travel – exploring and discovering the story behind every sensory experience has groomed me for this role. Perhaps I’m meant to be doing something more with all of these experiences. But I’ll leave my life’s purpose for another day in my personal journal.

For those of you who have attended a Sónar event somewhere around the globe, I’d love to hear your stories. South Africa, I hope you’re excited to experience a sensory music phenomenon next week at Sónar Cape Town. If you haven’t got tickets yet then try your luck with this MyCityByNight competition.