The Mixtape Vol. 129

Kid Fonque presents a 30-minute mix of some of his favourite local producers

By Ian McNair

Kid Fonque is a passionate and hungry listener of music who has made it his mission to uncover and share sincere and truthful musical expression – with a global view, but a localised focus.

Throughout his career, spanning two decades, he’s never cut down his tastes based on genre alone, and although he's most deeply embedded in the house worlds in SA, he has love for the sounds of soul, hip-hop, funk, beat scene, bass and more.

His approach to music has hardly changed through the years, from his time as a label manager at the iconic Soul Candi, his principled DJing approach, through to venturing into releasing his own original music in 2014. He set up Stay True Sounds with another major player in house, Jullian Gomes.

His most recent projects are proof of the power of sticking to your musical principles and the value of never forgetting to cater for your peers, no matter what the current wave is. His own show on national radio, #SelectiveStyles on 5fm, and the collaborative heavyweight event with Kenzhero and Maria McCloy, Tonght, are fine examples of his ethos of staying true to great music, no matter the genre box it gets put in or whether it’s radio-ready.

For his mix for The Way of Us, he explains, “I added some of my favorite SA Producers at the moment, Dunn Kidda, Daev Martian (an unreleased tune off his forthcoming album), Sean Munnick, Jazzuelle, a new kid called Casper and some international tunes I'm really into from Gila and Lone. I’m always about discovery, so I’m trying to flex my musical muscle in 30 minutes and showcase as many styles as I can and keep it interesting and new.”

Find out more about the artist after the jump.

Having been in the music game for 20 years or so, what would you say is the most important shift that's taken place for authentic music in the region?

It feels like we've landed as a country. When I was growing up we always looked out musically, everyone 'international' was far superior, but we as a country are making music that stands out and can be heard on a global level. I think the shift was due to time and experience for everyone to hone their craft. We have a new wave of producers that are at the peak of their game and the world is slowly starting to listen.

Over the course of your own two-decade journey in music, aside from your move from being a DJ and label manager to recording artist, what has shifted in you the most – personally, as a musician or as a music listener – and why?

No matter which hat I wear, I'll always be a passionate fan of music. I totally geek out at new exciting sounds from all over the world every day. That’s always been my mission, my day to day – to dig and find new music.

I don't think there has been a shift: it feels like my journey has been organic, just climbing the musical ladder, and staying in my lane. I have a different approach musically to most DJs and broadcasters, but I've stuck to what I feel and it finally feels like I'm getting heard.

How has having a family and kids changed your approach to nightlife and gigging?

I definitely take things more seriously. My weekends are busy, so less partying and being more responsible with my time and events. My family always comes first, but my work means late nights, so it really is just about taking care of myself so I can be a better father when I'm tired.

Your most recent achievement in a career of hard-won, principled musical moves is securing a slot on national radio, with your 5fm show, #SelectiveStyles. What were your conditions for agreeing to a show on a national radio station, and what do you aim to achieve with the show as a whole?

I knew there were some open spaces on 5FM and the last person I thought would get the call was me – but then I got the call.

As exciting as the prospect was, I had to make sure I would be given the freedom to do me and showcase what I do. After a few meetings with 5FM, we all agreed I would be doing it; a show that showcases me and what I do.

The show isn't genre-specific, I cover music I love from across the world with a heavy focus on South African independent music.

I have had some moments where I think I might be pushing the envelope a little too much, but it feels like my listenership are ready and have an appetite for new music and discovering new sounds. I am still pinching myself.

Your label with Jullian Gomes, Stay True Sounds, has releases from artists as varied as neo-jazz/soul musician Melo B Jones, bass magician Daev Martian, deep house cats Ta-Ice and Bruce Loko, and more. Aside from being predominantly concerned with house, what is the thread that binds all of this music, aside from authenticity?

We have one rule: follow the music.

If Jullian and I feel a tune we sign it, but we always have to be on the same page. We're both very pedantic with the music we represent through the label.

We 've been very fortunate that the artists we represent have organically landed on our laps. Since day one we’ve had relationships with many of them and it hasn't felt forced. I think artists gravitate to Jullian and my mindset – that we take music seriously and that we’re not here to put out hits and shoot music videos with half-naked women at the pool. It’s more than that and I think like minds gravitate to the label for that reason.

Your collaborative event series with Maria McCloy and Kenzhero at Club AND, TONGHT, focuses on live performances supported by your own respective DJ sets. What is the common thread there?

Kenzhero and I come from the same school, the same club, we're similar ages and we both have a lot of respect for each other. We have been meeting up over the years talking about an event that we could do that would be marketed to people our age who don't go out every weekend, or are parents or working people, and we finally got the opportunity to do it at AND. We have good fun throwing these parties but they are different to my usual sets; fun music from that [Club] 206 era – soul, funk, house, which is another side I love to play.

Maria would always see us out and ask us why we didn't start a party, so it felt right to add her in the mix and now we’re almost a year old.

Another night you’ve hosted since 2011, is #2SidesOfTheBeat at Kitcheners, which has had artists as varied as Nightmares on Wax, The Brother Moves On and Cuebur. Do you see a consistent community coming to each of the shows to experience the different sounds that you handpick, or do you find a different set of dancers and listeners attending every time, based on the guests you have on stage?

Ah, my home, #2sidesofthebeat! I do think the attendence from six years ago has changed but I also think the understanding of what I represent is still there. It’s a platform to showcase new and exciting music across genres. I always try book musical artists from different scenes so they get a platform with the same crowd.

The crowd has changed through the years but I do see the same faces monthly and it feels like there is a genuine love for music and discovering new things.

What’s been your favourite release of your own music so far? Why?

I still love ‘2sides’. It just feels like it says so much about me musically and as a DJ. I always feel like its a hard one to top, kinda my signature tune.

What’s the next big milestone that you’re working towards?

I'm always working on something. I am releasing a new project with D-Malice called rkls in 2018. It’s an album produced by us both and a showcase of our love for 90s soul and hip-hop, so that’s very exciting.

On Stay True Sounds, we’ve got a super EP from Capetonian Dwson. He's really something special, young and a very talented house producer. We’ve got an album/EP from Sio and a compilation of beat music from South Africa compiled by Daev Martian and myself.

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