Christian Tiger School
The beauty of electronic dance music is that it's heart is electronic machines. Electronic devices have advanced at a faster speed across a wider geographical span. Electronics are the heart that pumps our veins with information. The more electronics you have the more information you can access and after everything it becomes obvious that "knowledge is power". The power to create, thus making music has become easier and the electronic sound is increasingly familiar.
As South Africa barely produces any of the electronic devices we rely on, and because online behaviour is largely steered by foreign companies such as Google or Apple, it's easy to assume that South African electronic music is based in a worship of the external. The aspect not fully understood yet is the point when a sound or thought is taken and turned into something new, "Honestly influence, influence into originality.", says Luc Veermeer, one half of Christian Tiger School. He begins by clarifying, "there's a difference between imitation and influence".
Cape Town is fast becoming an electronic music destination. The past 4months alone have seen our streets dominated by a flurry of electronic and house music festivals & gigs; from Sonár to Cape Town Electronic Music Festival to nights at Waiting Room, Fiction or the Assembly. In Cape Town's electronic scene, Christian Tiger School is a name which comfortably sits amongst the ranks of acts that create a sound that is undoubtable rooted in Cape Town.
"I don't know any other country when electronic music is the staple", says Sebastian Zanasi, the other half of the electronic music duo. "In a sense electronic music, especially more on the hip hop orientated side, Cape Town has always had it's spark. Artists got influenced by something and created their own thing", Sebastian elaborates. "When we first starting listening to this kind of stuff we went straight to these guys. No one else." The notion of Imitation is relative to where a person interacts with their first taste of say electronic dance music, "For us it wasn't like, oh these guys are copying, I hadn't heard this kind of stuff before".
And then there's house and it's down tempo electronic core, "now we're in a position where there's been ten years of it already, fifteen maybe. And it was going on before we even knew what it was", says Sebastian as he explains his initial interactions with the electronic sound.
Or Kwaito and it's strong alliance to hip hop, "hip hop is a very hard genre to do because it's been so Americanised" begins Sebastian. "the way I see it Kwaito is mixture of South African house, but I wouldn't say TKZ wasn't hip hop", he explains.
Electronic influences have seeped into different lives from different sources and at different stages. To point out a single source or flame that ignited the Cape Town electronic music industry is difficult. At Sonár, where Christian Tiger School & Fantasma performed, there was solid support for headliners, the Pet Shop Boys, Lords of a different variety of electronic music. In 2013 Skunk Anansie performed to a passionate and loyal crowd at Rocking the Daisies. This year's Cape Town International Jazz Fest sees an unassuming electronic act, Thundercat, on the line up feeding the aspect of the Cape Town music palette with an appetite for electronic soul.
It seems after a while, advancements in technologies that allow free flow of information transform independent culture or interpretation life through music into interdependent sounds. Art reflects life. The technological acceleration of creative collaboration walks hand-in-hand with shifts in international politics because that's how visa's are granted, air travel destinations become common, broadcasting rights are negotiated establishing a hierarchy of consumer power across boarders.
At the same time, "it's completely different to how it was, anyone can get a laptop. I can make music on my phone using an app", Luc Veermeer adds. "It's the spread of genres but it's also getting people to hear certain sounds", Luc states. "If you are destined to make music, you're going to be around technology one way or another", he explains.
There are gaps and holes regarding access to affordable data but fact is; you can teach yourself how to code using the internet and, outside of the latest Apple or Android devices, there are great devices that can support significant varieties of software allowing for creation and distribution of music. "It's not super expensive, it depends if you really want to invest", says Luc. "if you were like, I wanna make electronic music, it's not far fetched", he continues. And as electronic devices spread sounds, musical worlds infiltrate into each other and new sounds, soaked in a mixture of multiple histories & contexts, emerge.
Words by Anade Situma | Images by Kiki Rama