11.04.2016

The Mixtape Vol. 51

Meet South African music and subculture publishers Platform

Hooray for the doers, the makers, people creating instead of waiting for someone else to do it for them. Shoutouts to Platform, an online publication focusing on music and the subcultures surrounding it.
 
Having relaunched in November last year, this time with the goal of becoming "the go-to source of critical insight into interesting, important and excellent music in the Southern African region", the foolishly ambitious (to borrow a cover line from another indie publisher we admire) people behind the brand aim to transform and broaden the current conversation around the music that we listen to. The Way of Us chatted with founder Ian McNair, who together with his team (Hi, Zia!) has put together today's volume of the Monday Mixtape. Enjoy. 
There's been a dearth of local music content for a while now. No more Rolling Stone mag. No more MK. No more Mahala reviews... Will Platform be able to fix this?
A massive part of why I decided to relaunch is because of exactly that. I had a few conversations in the middle of last year with some trusted friends, and saw people talking online about it and had a pretty formative conversation with Skinny Macho of Boiler Room about it at a Connect ZA event. All the signs pointed to needing something like what Platform achieved in its first run, which was some kind of quality and insightful coverage of music (thanks to a group of really passionate and smart writers), but broader than just the Cape Town central city scene. We're getting well on our way to trying to fix the problem, but we have a way to go and we'll need the help of even more excellent writers, and people wanting to do podcasts and video content. We're getting there.
 
Some of your articles are dated 2013. Have you really been around for so long?
We originally launched in late 2013, with just a keenness to create a youth culture magazine and a gung-ho attitude I guess. We were pretty clueless about publishing and were paired with a publisher (of another international music magazine SA imprint that's now closed) that was dubious at best. We also went into some pretty ambitious events, which were amazing but didn't do so well financially. All that was a recipe for passionate disaster, so we eventually had to close. I spent a lot of time last year working after hours on repositioning and relaunching Platform at the new web address at pltfrm.co.za. The reason that you may have not heard of us is because we're still growing, but fast. Everyone's going to have to keep track of what we get up to in the next few months to see what that means.
 
Which artists have you featured on your blog and who would you still like to work with? 
Since relaunching we've been mostly focused on broadening the focus of the music news coverage we can achieve, but we published a feature on Rudeboyz from Durban last month and we've actually just started commissioning a series of artist profiles which will be going up every two weeks from next week. We've got plans to talk to Fever Trails, Escapism Refuge, some Durban acts, Nonku Phiri and Dunn Kidda, so far. I want to get into every corner of SA and then expand into our neighbouring countries. We also want to get into profiling some of the OGs of music in SA, to expand our collective sense of history, with people like Sibot, the African Dope crew and other old school acts. I don't want to give too much away, otherwise someone else will pounce and beat us to it... Hopefully our commitment to quality and insight will give us the leading edge.
 
You made Sibot quite angry with your guide to the CTEMF. What other drama has Platform found itself caught up in?
Ugh, yeah, that was terrible. I think maybe we have a bias towards emerging artists over the massively well-earned gravitas and rare, undeniable brilliance of pioneer artists like Sibot and Toyota, and I guess I failed to word that respectfully in the guide (Again, I'm so sorry Simon! No disrespect or shade was intended!). Other than that, there hasn't been much drama so far. I think once we really get into it, and grow the audience and scope, we're not going to shy away from ruffling feathers and being critical and harsh where it's needed. This country is changing for the better with young people demanding transformation. Those changes are going to carry through to every aspect of life, including music and subculture conversations, and we relaunched on the premise (amongst others) of trying to support that in any way we can.
 
Tell us about the mixtape you made for us. 
This was a tough one to make, because we try to cater to a massively divergent set of audiences and identities with our music coverage, so this mixtape needed to represent that whilst achieving some sense of flow and consistency. It's a very mixed bag of mostly South African tracks that a few of the core Platform writers sent me. I did my best to cobble together something that makes sense, and to be honest, I'm kinda chuffed with how it turned out. 
It starts out with a few guitar-based janglers, smooths out into some gorgeous pop-soaked cuts and moves through some tight, braggadocio-laced hip hop and smashes into a nostalgic dance crossover track, and then into more rhythmic dance tracks, getting darker and deeper and then ending off with a gorgeous acapella track as a palate-cleanser at the end. I think we believe in all of the artists on this mixtape and hope that everyone finds something they might love in there. I certainly discovered a few of these tracks for the first time in putting it together, so thanks to the writers for the new faves).
 
Anything to add, please do so here... 
I have a firm belief that all these different subscenes and their respective heroes in the overall music landscape deserve a place in the sun, and we aim to cut through the bullshit and give them that. If anyone wants to contribute to that or if you have any feedback on how we can do it better, hit us up via the submissions form on the site or on the Facebook page