The line-up for the sixth edition of Cape Town Electronic Music Festival (CTEMF) is every music lover’s dream. It is as if it was compiled in good music heaven. And as a lover and avid listener of deep house, I was fortunate enough to be awarded the chance to have a sit down with two particular acts that will be headlining the CTEMF (from February 10 -12).
One embodies more than two decades of experience as a DJ, label manager, promoter and more recently, a radio show host and producer within the South African electronic music scene.
The other represents a facet of Mzansi’s electronic music scene and, potentially, the current state as well as the future of deep house in South Africa.
Together they possess a wealth of industry experience and have already joined forces to establish one of SA’s freshest independent record labels, Stay True Sounds.
It’s none other than Kid Fonque and Jullian Gomes, ladies and gents – but I’m sure most of you had long figured that one out. For those of you who are still in the dark as to who the two may be, let me shed some light.
Jullian Gomes started his journey alongside his cousin Michael G as a duo known as G. Family. They went on to release countless projects on labels local and abroad. He is a Red Bull Music Academy alumnus after taking part in the London edition, 2010. In 2013, he picked up a South African Music Award nomination under the best dance album category for G. Family’s album Break The Silence – Deep House Chronicles 6.
He went on to bag a Metro Fm Music Award for best music video for his timeless jam – Love Song 28 (feat. Bobby). As a DJ he has travelled numerous countries and has played festivals such as Oppikoppi, Rocking the Daisies, Sonar Music Festival and, of course, the Cape Town Electronic Music Festival. Whew! Now that was a mouthful.
Kid Fonque’s story goes as far back as two or more decades ago and many will be familiar with the role he has played in the evolution of electronic music in South Africa. Beyond setting dance floors alight with his unorthodox yet remarkable selection and mixing technique, he has nurtured abundant talent as label manager of Africa’s seminal dance label, Soul Candi Records.
Kid Fonque has played in place such Hong Kong, Dubai, the UK and Switzerland – not to mention that he even represented South Africa on panel with fellow global industry leaders at the Amsterdam Dance Event in 2013. Much to every music lovers delight, 2016 saw him debut his own radio show, Selective Styles on 5FM. It airs every Sunday 5pm-7pm (GMT+2) so do give it a listen if you know what’s good for you!
As I sat and waited for the two to arrive I decided to kill the time by going over some of the questions I had prepared, just to make sure I left no stone unturned. Of course, I was nervous and excited at the same time but as soon as they walked in and we shared pleasant greetings and introductions, I felt a sudden feeling of relaxation and everything there after resembled a set of falling dominoes.
I look at the CTEMF 2017 line-up and as a music lover, I’m overwhelmed with excitement. Do you still get excited playing at events of such magnitude and seeing your names listed alongside great talents as on the CTEMF 2017 line-up?
Jullian Gomes: I don’t think the excitement ever fades. It’s always great to see yourself play alongside prolific artists, DJs and producers. But what excites me more is the concept behind the event, the people who care about the music, sound systems and the quality of the event towards promoting good music.
I’m happy that the guys from CTEMF have got the guts to pull off such a line-up
Kid Fonque: I’m just such a fan! I look at the line-up and there’s two very big ones for me. Like I literally grew up listening to Ninja Tune so Coldcut being on the line-up is a big thing for me and Peanut Butter Wolf who runs Stones Throw. And, of course, everyone else.
I am a music fan first so I do geek out when I see such line-ups. I’m happy that the guys from CTEMF have got the guts to pull off such a line-up because it takes a lot to bring such names together, especially from a monetary point of view.
Who are looking forward to seeing at the CTEMF 2017?
Julian Gomes: There are a lot of good names on this flyer. Kid Fonque, of course! Till Von Sein, Zaki Ibrahim, Peanut Butter Wolf, Killer Robot, Jazzuelle, Coldcut. But I feel everyone contributes to the energy of the festival. A festival is not about seeing the main act then bouncing, it’s more about experiencing the whole essence of the festival.
Kid Fonque: In terms of performances, I’m looking forward to everyone. In terms of seeing and meeting people, I’m looking forward to chatting Coldcut and Peanut Butter Wolf about starting and running a small independent labels and turning them into empires. We love that kind of ethos as it speaks to what we are trying to do as well.
What inspired you to team up and establish Stay True Sounds? And can you speak about the dilemma that most house labels find themselves in when it comes compromising their sound in order to sell more, make more money?
Jullian Gomes: At the back of our minds, the idea of starting Stay True Sounds had always been there. What’s amazing is that we never really spoke about it and I feel the energy that brought us together was something that was there and the whole process was organic.
And as for the advice for people that want to start their own labels, I see a label as a painting. Ideally, you need to look back on your catalogue as your masterpiece and that defines all the cool things you did (the music, the artworks, the label nights) it should be timeless, something you can’t put a price on. There’s a balance to it though, you need to be smart and understand that it is a business but it’s not something you want to do if you aren’t passion driven.
Running a label is not an easy task and I’m sure you know that as well. If you put pressure about money on the vision of your label, the vision and the music will get distorted.
We know that the music we put out is niche and that makes us happy, we’re ok with that.
Kid Fonque: I am fortunate to have worked for a commercial label and so I understand how the monetary machine works. You need certain kinds of artists on your roster that will keep your bank balance afloat.
Jullian and I have come to terms with the fact that the money will come but we will just focus on the quality of the music. We know that the music we put out is niche and that makes us happy, we’re ok with that.
The biggest tip, this was also something I would tell artists that we’d sign to Soul Candi, is never put all your eggs in one basket. If you’re going to start a label, keep working. Have a job on the side that will balance your books. If you’re going to put all your energy in one basket, you will rely on it and if things don’t work out as fast as you’d like, it will frustrate you and that’s not what you want.
Looking at events and festivals, how important would you say it is to have the kinds of workshops being offered by the CTEMF in development of the artist and elevating the quality of music in South Africa?
Jullian Gomes: I think what CTEMF is trying to do is embody the full package of music. Spreading the knowledge while opening up doors for producers, DJs, artists and even future event organisers to say come check out what we’re doing and here’s a little crash course to go about it.
I like it when events and festivals do that because it shows their true intention as to what they really want for the scene. The fact that you give before you even start taking shows where your heart lies. I think that’s super dope and the music community needs more of such workshops.
On a lighter note, I’ve heard of habitual preparations by DJs and artists before performances. Some spinners meditate before their sets, some go on shopping sprees for hidden gems on various digital music stores. How do you guys prepare for your sets?
Kid Fonque: (Laughs) I’ve been playing for over 20 years and I still get nervous, if you don’t then you’re too sure of yourself. One of my things that I do before any of my sets is that as I’m standing next to the outgoing DJ, I take everything off. I take my wedding ring off, I put my phone and wallet away. I need to have nothing on me, nothing that can get in the way of me delivering that perfect set.
Jullian Gomes: Not really meditation but I do have a moment with myself and just listen to music. Also, I’m a very spiritual person so I say a little prayer before I go to the event and also pray for the people attending. That they may be safe because the night life is dangerous.
Kid Fonque, you currently have a platform on one of South Africa’s biggest radio stations, that is your show Selective Styles on 5FM. As someone well-invested in the electronic music scene, how important is it to have such platforms for the local electronic music scene and how are you using such a platform to support the growth of electronic music in South Africa?
Kid Fonque: My inclusion on 5FM is not a win for me alone, it’s a win for the underground and the whole electronic music community. Although Jullian gets played on the more mainstream radio shows, people like Zaki Ibrahim, Daev Martian, Jazzuelle and Dunn Kidda (whom I recently discovered) don’t see the light of day on commercial radio yet they make incredible music.
So the platform is for me to showcase all these amazing artists and the best part is that we broadcast throughout the whole of Africa. The feedback has been incredible as well. People from different age groups get in touch with the station manager and we trend every Sunday playing music people have never heard before. As well, because of the local music ratio that the SABC has, it forces me to find more incredible local content that suits the show. Hopefully though this, the scene gets elevated.
Jullian, you’ve recently released your first solo album Late Dreamer and I must say, it is one the most complete bodies of work I’ve heard in a while. It has this cohesion and synergy about it? May you please tell us about its conception, the choice of collaborations and the journey you’re aiming to take the listener on with this album?
Jullian Gomes: I’m actually happy you said that because that’s the whole objective of the album. The story telling within our house music albums is a rarity. For me I was trying make a piece of art.
I wanted to take the listener on a day in the dream of what I was going through, sharing my journey. That’s why even when you listen the opening track featuring Oveous. It’s titled Dream, has a dream-like sequence, and then each of the tracks share an integral part of the dream. You have Nothing Can Break Us featuring Ziyon which speaks of determination and faith.
The system featuring Lazarusman speaks of how this life is a system. It’s more conscious music that makes you aware of the ‘dream.’ The reason that Love Song 28, featuring Bobby, is at the end of the album is because it is the ‘dream’ come true.
This year I want to be more unexpected try and evolve my sets.
The song changed my life, that was when I woke up and that was the actualisation of the dream and my aspirations in music. More than anything, I just wanted the album to be timeless.
Lastly, to anyone out there looking to attend the CTEMF 2017 but has never experienced any of your live sets/performances, what can one expect or look forward from the both of you during the festival?
Jullian Gomes: For me, every set is like a journey. In terms of a festival, I always try to do something different. This year I want to be more unexpected try and evolve my sets. I want people to listen more than just take pictures or Shazam. For CTEMF, people can expect some great vibes.
Kid Fonque: I always try and make my festival sets as eclectic as I can. I have an hour so I’ll do my best to make sure I fit in as much as I can and of course, it must make sense you know?
And that’s a wrap!
These two are definitely some of the coolest musos I’ve meet and had a discussion with. It was an enlightening hour of discussion. To those of you who still don’t have your tickets you need to jump on as soon as possible, especially after the recent announcement by CTEMF that this year’s festival will have five stages and 64 artists. Get your tickets here.
And for all my Jozi connects that won’t be able to make it all the way to Cape Town, our good friends at CTEMF have brought forth a CTEMF Connect – Johannesburg event at Truth Nightclub in Midrand (Johannesburg) as well. It will be going down on the 10 and 11 February and has a line-up an enticing as the mother party in Cape Town.
I personally, cannot wait for CTEMF 2017. The perfect way to kick start the year for all electronic music connoisseurs and fun-lovers alike.