The Mixtape Vol. 134

Pierre-Estienne with a mix from the likes of Mdu, Makhendlas and TKZee

Kwaitour is a platform used to spread unique South African sounds to other parts of the world. Having recently taken kwaito, Bubblegum and SA synth vibes to Vienna, Berlin, Zurich, Bern, Amsterdam and a festival in France, DJ Okapi, Paul Waxon and Pierre-Estienne will be playing in Friday 17 November at 219 Long Street, Cape Town.

For this local project the founders dug up sounds from the early to mid-90s Kwaito era and mixed them with some Bubblegum vibes from the 80s, and if you’d like one of four tickets to the party, go on over to their Facebook page and share this playlist there

The mix is courtesy Pierre-Estienne, whose regular celebration of music on wax, Vinyl DIGZ, has gained a solid and sizable following as the premiere party for people to connect and celebrate vinyl culture. Part of the Private Life collective, Pierre has been collecting records since 1984 and DJing since 1999. 

Along with making us a mix to jive to, we got Pierre to share some insight in a Q&A, which you can read after the jump.

What’s your sound story?

I got into collecting music during the 80s when there weren't that many options to keep you occupied as a teenager in the Northern Suburbs. The beginning for me was around 1985 when it was all about Depeche Mode, UK influences via the Acid House era and early Detroit acts like Inner City, but music was hard to find in those days, especially in the suburbs. In the late 90s I opened a record shop on Long Street called Phatbeat records and that was when I really got into collecting. I was buying records before I started DJing so my taste in music was really very eclectic. Indie, house, garage, techno… you name it. Later I started focusing more on house, disco and soul music from the 70s. Small sub-genres like speed garage and kwaito really interest me today, and I find great pleasure in searching for those records.

Kwaito is a proudly South African genre. How did it start and then where did it go?

Kwaito started in the 1990s and is a mix of different rhythms from marabi of the 1920s, kwela of the 1950s, mbaqanga and maskhandi, and Bubblegum music of the 80s. The kwaito from around 1994 was very similar to the House sounds that were emerging from the US around the same time, but had its own flavour with the much slower mid-tempo of around 80-90 bpm. Personally, I feel that it lost its unique sound once the BPMs went over 110 and started sounding more like the UK and US House.

Tell us about the fashion that emerged with the sound.

The best thing about kwaito is that it didn't only have the unique sound but also a unique style as far as fashion goes. The story is that the floppy hat (Spotti) was first worn by white cricket players and then later used by kwaito culture to mock the ruling class led by the Apartheid government still in power at the genre's inception. Canvas All Stars were definitely the shoe of choice.

Who are the names to follow, and are any of these guys still performing today?

With the current wave of re-issues, there has been a lot of interest in artists like Senyaka, Professor and TKZee. Some acts like Alaska and TKZee still perform.

What's the best way to dance to this?

If you can... definitely pantsula. 

Anything to add please do so here…

With the current interests from all over in South African artists, I think it's really important that an original and unique genre like kwaito is being kept alive. I would love to see a new wave of kwaito artists emerging in the future and local labels supporting the genre.

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