Is ANG the busiest woman in the industry?
Words: Tommy Dennis | Photography: Andile Phewa
Angela Weickl better known as ANG has seen and done the most. As a DJ, writer, promoter, event planner, organiser, and the list goes on, she has been a central figure in the local music scene for years. At an age where most of us are trying to become settled in our career choices, ANG is mentoring the next group of up and coming female and queer DJs and is the director of the South African chapter of shesaid.so, the global network of women who work in the music industry.
Strange then that ANG's first love was marine biology. “I know right?” she laughs when I tell her that sea cucumbers and DJing aren’t even in the same WhatsApp group.
"I missed the intake for the course and was forced into a gap year and during that gap year my dad said, 'your side interests seem like more of what you want to do than this thing you've been studying your whole life.' I always made mixtapes and would break up the old cassette tapes to mix up the tape sort of thing."
The ripples from that set her on the course she’s on now. As a young woman studying sound engineering in Cape Town, ANG found herself in the orbit of what some have called the golden age of South African electronic music. Managing a venue allowed her to experience some heavy hitters of the scene, like Max Normal. At the time ANG didn’t realise the importance of being surrounded by what was possibly a first in the South African music scene – live instruments coupled with electronic sounds.
"I was 20-years-old at the time and we were partying all the time. I knew I had a cool job, but not for the reasons I know now. So now I'm a bit sad because I forgot all the things that happened. Until someone says something and I'm, like, 'I was totally there, this is nuts.'"
The really great aspect of being involved in a scene that’s so young is that there are no rules and established patterns to work off. Just what you’re able to imagine, and ANG is full of imagination.
Even though it was a small community, the scene was dominated by men and one can imagine how this wasn't the easiest space for ANG to break into.
"It's always been a white man’s scene. The only artists of colour had to be extremely established already. The whole music scene was like that. Cape Town has always been more elite than the rest of the country so you don't have that cross-section that's more in balance with the rest of the country. Growing up in that scene I just took it for granted that that's how it is. There were only a handful of women doing things and so things weren't easy, I had to fight for space."
This is partly why ANG is invested in mentoring the next group of artists on the come-up. “I have to use my position and experience to make marginalised people’s agenda heard because I’m now being listened to.” Does that mean that she wishes that things were easier for emerging artists to get a foothold in the industry? "I don't know if easy is the right word. I'd like it to be fairer. Opportunity needs to be fairer. I want people to be chosen on merit. I don't ever want to get an opportunity because they need to fill the female quota. Your career when you're building things should never be easy because you then take it for granted.”
Since moving back to Johannesburg ANG has been working on transforming the nightlife culture of the city, throwing parties and performing at events where the emphasis is not only on a good time, but on a more holistic and, in a small way, almost socially responsible manner. Her events always include female and queer artists on the lineup and are generally the best parties in town. There's an off-tangent discussion about how Gen-Z kids don’t drink as much and instead of the Joe Budden flavoured conversation I’m excited to have, ANG puts me in my place by agreeing with the principle of it.
"The focus at events now is hedonism, not music. Like with the uproar with the change in Daisies' alcohol policy, people were angry because they were going somewhere to get f***ed up for three days and there just happened to be music. There's too much focus on how f***ed up you can get and not enough on the experience."
There's a dark side to this unabashed hedonism, namely that when people lose control or are given the space and tools (alcohol and drugs) to act like nothing matters, something will invariably happen at someone else's expense. Unfortunately, this generally manifests as aggression towards women or queer individuals and given that this is South Africa there is a dose of racism heaped on top of it. ANG believes that we need to change how we approach going out.
"If we refocus why we're going out to an event or festival or whatever, it will cut down on toxic behaviour because, you must remember, it's not like everyone is on the same level of drunk. There's this scattered energy of people and everyone is on this different level of rage. People don't really realise how divisive alcohol and drugs are.”
It's a slightly unsettling way to end our conversation but the mood is lightened significantly by ANG's cat, Biggie, who is doing her diva impersonation by making sure she's in every shot. In between shouting at Biggie to get out of frame, ANG mentions the Red Bull Studio's Social Club and the workshops she's running for aspiring female artists. Yes, work never stops for ANG, and she wouldn't have it any other way.