We spoke to king of gqom DJ Lag about his new single Anywhere We Go featuring Shekhinah
Words: Foyin Ogunrombi | Photography: Travys Owen
As the undisputed king of gqom, DJ Lag’s influence in the uniquely South African genre is unrivalled. From the streets of Clermont in Durban to the dancefloors of France and China, “Anywhere We Go” was an apt title for the DJ’s latest track featuring another Durban native, Shekhinah, on the vocals. Lwazi Asanda Gwala is no stranger to The Way of Us, having schooled us on gqom culture, taken us along for Ice Drop and creating a mixtape for us this past December, so we sat down together once again to speak about where he’s been lately and his latest track with Shekhinah.
We’ve seen you’ve been on tour overseas as part of the #GqomIsThePresent Tour, as well as playing at Afropunk NYC and other international gigs. What’s been your favourite to play?
Unsound Festival Croatia in 2016, because it was my first show outside of South Africa and the response was crazy. Playing between Tyler The Creator and Pusha T at Afropunk Brooklyn last year was also up there. Shows in Asia are always special, because of how different we are culturally, yet we connect through music. I have played in every continent of the globe now and there have been too many great experiences.
Beyond work, what’s been your favourite country to visit or place to travel to? How does it compare to home?
I can say LA for me is the best. I love that city — that's the only place I could think of moving to. It is also one of the few places that I ask my agents to book me at no matter how lengthy the travel or what the fees are. I love it there and plan to do a lot more. But no place is like home. South Africa is in its own lane and it is hard to compare to any other place. It is a place of extremes, the good and the bad, which is also the reason why it is booming with so much creativity.
Having been a pioneer in the gqom genre, do you ever feel pressured to conform to a particular sound or do you continue to experiment with other sounds and influences?
I experiment with other sounds and “Anywhere We Go” with Shekhinah is a good example. It's different from the music I've released so far. Even from collaborations like the Kelela and the Epic B tracks. I am excited about experimenting more, working with more artists, growing and evolving my sound. Gqom is my present, but I welcome change when the time is right or the opportunity is suitable. I would like to create, pioneer — whatever you want to call it — new sounds. I am playing with that as we speak.
Returning to "Anywhere We Go", how did that track come about and how did you and Shekhinah come together?
The collaboration was inspired by Adidas and credit to them for that, as it was not an obvious choice for a collab. We met in Cape Town during the Jazz Festival, had a chat, sent her the beat and then she worked on it. She was flexible and open to feedback. In the process, I grew a lot of respect for her as an artist and as a person, too. She has high integrity and is a perfectionist. She wants the best version of herself out there and works very hard. Her success is justified and I am happy to have had this experience with her.