The Bhekinkosi Becks Ndlovu unreleased innerview presented by Nyasha Themba Dhliwayo

8.1.17

A happy new year to everyone!! What a year 2016 was and what a show stopper 2017 will be. Yes, we can confidently attest to the latter. Too many times we tend to shy away from saying the year will be a good one for fear of being quoted



 Exactly a year to this day, l sat down with our Ed in Chief, the one, the only, Nyasha ThembaDhliwayo. He has brought you numerous innerviews and he’ll continue to. This innerview was meant to feature on a certain publication but nonetheless, this is the perfect time that it drops as we intend to change our format a bit


Lets…  


Background


Nyasha: Of all the genres you could have been involved in, what made you choose Deep House in particular?

Becks: We'll, it started back in 1998, long before KwaBulawayo Djs got around to sampling the genre. It was a very scarce commodity hence when one bumped into a house music mix, the best way to describe it..... would be through the use of an example. 

You know, something similar to a feeling that a REAL hip hopper would get when they came across a BIG L innerview or record. From then on, l saw a lot of potential in the genre and l predicted, back then, that, it would eventually become Huge! This was round about the time Yfm started off down South and Bulawayo radios Djs like Otis Fraser were introducing it to the masses to much fanfare. Everyone would naturally want to be affiliated with what they think would be different and had better chances of blowing up‎


Nyasha: A lot of house heads will think of venturing into DJing or production, what made you opt for writing about the genre?

Becks: I never fancied the Djying part, mostly because; there was a "disco machine" in the form of dj equipment hire services available, opposite our Bulawayo home. That was arguably the biggest in town and gigs would frequent, starting on a Friday till Monday. 

The worst, was when l was in College 2005/6 and I would arrive with eye bags, indescribably exhausted. That's when I thought to myself that, l wouldn’t get anywhere with this type of lifestyle

 As for the production side, fruity loops back in the day, was the only readily available software, yet so hard to come by. Looping and patterns was never a thing for me, I doubt it will ever 


Nyasha: How exactly did you get started?

Becks: I think the writer bug kicked in round about the time our facebook group changed from an all genre platform, Good Flippin' Music, to the house music centric DHLA (Deep House Love Affair). 
There was an inevitable need to unearth the hidden talent from the platform and who better do it, than us. Everything about Deep House Love Affair has been a case study, very experimental. Before you attempt on other people's ish, try stretching your own brand and showcase what you can do, with your priced possession, your own brand‎


Nyasha: Most times when you start out getting interviews and content can be difficult. How did you go about securing the all important interviews and content?

I think it's all about working smart. It's no use putting yourself under pressure, really.

 One thing thing that is FACT, is, you will NOT be able to interview everyone. So now, you have to adapt the behaviour of a cheetah, be observant, literally put your ear on the ground and be able to lie low, silently….then POUNCE when you come across someone relevant to your offering. And when you do, engage with the subject, be clear & clean about what you propose, so that you won't have any drawbacks‎

The industry

Nyasha: Looking back at the history of SA House music, which individuals would you say have been game changers/icons?

Becks: I'l start off with Labels then break it down

 Kalawa 

 the days when Kalawa Jazmee was still Kalawa, lm talking Christos, Don Laka, Oskido, before they mashed up with Trompies. 
As much as one will argue and say, that was Kwaito, then what is Kwaito? Slowed down house music, right?

And on that tip, BOP (Brothers Of Peace) 's Project A, Project B & Project C were exceptional. This was when BOP ultimately became just Oskido and Bruce Sebitlo. Those were the Days of Tamara Dey, the Zabalaza remixes & hints of mid tempo here and there. 

 I will then proceed and single out Oskido from that label and from that duo, respectively. He def had and still has an ear for talent & it’s so rare to have someone say YES this will work, PERIOD!

Soul Candi 

Starting a Label from a record store business is not child's play. When you trace back when it was Dj Mbuso steering the ship, there was so much aura and charisma. 
There were so many projects that Mbuso did back then that we never got to here, till the days of the so successful Soul Candi one. By the time Harael Salkow came into the mix, he was just adding vanish, polishing the craft. When Mbuso ventured off to his "lnternational release oriented", solo project, in form of Phezulu Records, he was just showing off (laughs)

House Afrika 

I remember the days of Djs at Work volume 1 and 2 like it was yesterday. You see the risk taking at play back then. By the time they were dropping the Channel O house explosion and Vinny's Deep House Sounds Volume one to the What's Phat Pussy cat volume one, you realise, damn! They surely meant business. And on top of everything, they were running the record store aswell, geez! And history will attest that, before Dj Black Coffee released under Kalawa Jazmee, he had a smallish stint with House Afrika's Christos Katsaitis.

Nyasha: Which tracks and artists have stood out for you this year?

Becks: Mobi Dixon - Love, colour, spin 
Mshega - whistle song
Prince Kaybee Feat Audrey - Better Days 
 Culoe De Song feat. Thandiswa Mazwai – Nguwe
Mindlo & Essential i Feat. Kenny Allen - Truth Is Truth

Nyasha: Why?

Becks: I would say, it's the year of the underdogs, just when everyone else thought hip hop was taking over

Nyasha: How did your passion for exposing and celebrating emerging artists come about?


Becks: Reading and listening to interviews. There is power in someone’s journey and we all have something to say. From thereon, its easy to predict where they headed and its usually spot on.
There is so much undiscovered talent out there. I wish there was the re-emergence of platform such as "The Shell Road to fame" where the likes of Thandiswa Mazwai were discovered by Don Laka.

Generating content



Nyasha: What are some of your most memorable interviews?

Becks: I would say the Lucinda Gail Roux aka Dj Lusanda innerview because she penned it herself. There is something magical about that,
The Nyasha Themba Dhliwayo innerview too, because he also penned is himself. When you read those two innerviews (this and the Dj Lusanda innerview) side to side, back to back, there is so much depth and emphasis on their craft, it's beyond amazing!

 I'l sum it up with the  Dj Nonjebs innerview. From the days of her sound engineering studies at Damelin Bramley Campus (formerly Allenby College) to the KZN underground Dj icon she is now, it's so humbling. Goes on to show that we surely have an eye and ear for talent‎ if l do say so myself

Nyasha: How do you go about putting together your articles?

 Becks: When we've established common ground with the subject, we have to create some sort of hype about it. A producer from Romania, Frent Ovidiu aka Ovylarock, once said that a track is 80% marketing and 20% production, totally agree. 

A 35 000 strong membership on a facebook group is massive, and it allows us to drop hints about what we will present in the coming days.

 It is common knowledge that social media users have a very small attention span hence the innerviews are broken down into small bits and pieces. It's a juggle though, because if you take too long to update those pieces, the reader wonders off to their usual.
When we are done on the social media, it is uploaded on the blog and then ultimately we make it available on pdf. The pdf format allows for offline reading and we donate and use the BlogBooker site to make this possible

Nyasha: The Internet has revolutionized the way people write and communicate. How are you harnessing the power of the Internet in your work? (grins)

Becks: Firstly, let me say that, the internet is there to be taken advantage of. It might as well be the only thing that has been created for such. We do a lot of research there, there is so much info out there and it creates a good ambience when you are able to present your research to the interviewee.




 I take my cellphone with me, an old blackberry Q5 everywhere l go. My e-mail accounts are synced hence l can write on the go. A business icon, Strive Masiyiwa, once asked “what is that in your hands?”. The internet can be a never ending bridge, if used properly. There is a far greater organic reach with social media for content, free for all to use.  


Nyasha: What are some of the set backs you have faced in writing about House music?

Becks: 

Interest.

 House heads, be it underground or mainstream,  are far different from Hip hop cats in that, the latter is soo hungry. When you approach the former, you can see from the onset, that they are not so keen, possibly because of the fact that the innerview does not come with any financial remuneration. The possibility of the innerview opening doors is taken very lightly.

Costs. 

As the current catch phrase goes “house music is expensive”! There is little or no funding that we get to expand on the blog or ideas in general. You find yourself digging in on the paltry resources that you have. This in turn impacts on your work, for instance, if a member wishes to innerview a subject of their choice, they might not have any resources at hand, like data, and neither can we offer.  
  

Nyasha: How did you overcome these setbacks?

Becks: You just have to slow down and take rejection as it comes. On the cost part, we currently have a collaboration going on, with “The Hive Joburg” platform. It’s a rare opportunity and their core mission is to cultivate creative entrepreneurial effort funded by Independents United, Diageo & J&B Scotch whisky. We get to collaborate on a 4 months project which will guarantee self-sustainability in the long run   


Working relationship between artists and writers

Nyasha: Artists and their management teams often don't appreciate the tight deadlines and other pressures that writers work under. What do you think will help artists understand writers working conditions better and help nurture better working relations?

Becks: It begins with the Artist’s management teams understanding your mandate. It then becomes easy for them to give the artist the lowdown on what you’re about, eliminating the need for a writer to deviate and be exposed to the gruesome experience of trying to convince an artist to see the relevance of the engagement. That synergy or lack off, rubs on the reader. Established artists have to mention the role that writers had/have in their lives, good or bad as there is no such thing as bad publicity. Publicity is publicity!

Nyasha: Hype is distorting a lot of reviews because many writers/bloggers go over the top e.g. describing every second song as a "banger", "classic" etc. How do you guard against over-hyping releases that impress you?

Becks: Less is more. Writers/bloggers are encouraged to read and do loads of research, its that simple. A late English teacher back in high school, always emphasized that the word nice has no significance. I’l bring in a fabric choosing scenario to elaborate. What do you think of the color of this fabric? lts nice. And the texture? Its nice. Like WTF!

Nyasha: How do you stay abreast of the truckloads of music being released daily?

Becks: Now that’s a never ending battle. Cream just has to rise to the top, unfortunately! Music makers just have to keep pushing so that paths meet. If music is not sent to us on our platforms, l listen to radio and radio usually plays compilations.

The internet has made it easier for us to have a wide variety, but surprisingly, house heads  insist on venturing off to the nearest drinking hole for some fresh new beats. The dynamics of the current house scene in South Africa, in that regard, is worthy of a separate article on its own


Nyasha: A number of artists complain that they just can't get journalists to listen to, let alone review their music. How best do you think artists can get their music reviewed?

Becks: They have to be polite and respectful, firstly. Secondly, provide your music in a medium that is accessible, e.g the traditional compact disc (cd). Musicians tend to forget that everything is a hustle, it never stops. As Monique Bingham once said " I used to think I was hustling to get gigs and get records and opportunities. I now realize that the hustle is the gig". 

Artists don’t regard cd listening sessions as a priority. These generate hype and exposure compared to a cd lying on a shelve.

Nyasha: SA House music has stepped up to be on par with international dance music, yet the media that covers SA artists can be argued is not yet on the level of international music publications like Rolling Stone. How do you think SA writers and publications can step up, maintain and even exceed these levels?

Becks: This brings me to a very sad point. I reminisce on the times when YFM’s Ymag was still available. From that, (era), you had BIG names like Kabomo, Maria McCloy popping up. And when l say big, l'm not just exaggerating, google can attest to this.
We need to get the Department of Arts and Culture on board to make sure such platforms get the necessary funding. The private sector does also need financial injections as witnessed in the mining sector. That will propel us to even greater heights as the tourism sector can also rope in and SA can be promoted as the Mecca of House Music

Nyasha: For every published journalist/writer/blogger, there are a dozen more struggling to get editors to consider their work. What's your word of advise to those writers still on the hustle and pushing for a break?

Becks: Create your own platform first. Get frustrated, make a move, that way you create more chances of being seen. There are no short cuts. And take time to study the field, learn a bit of IT as well. Push yourself!

The future


Nyasha: As a writer you have the privilege to be able to analyze trends and make predictions about the future. What trends do you see emerging in 2016 and beyond?

Becks: I see a lot of tribal house coming back. I’ve had the privilege of sampling Culoe De Song’s new album and tracks from maestros like Dj Muzi GP. There will be the return and dominance of the sub-genre (tribal house) in the forthcoming Miami Music Conference. 

A lot of collabos aswell, house music has longevity. So with that said musicians from as far afield as Nigeria will be hooking up with house heads as they will seek to deviate from the seemingly saturated local hip hop frontier  


Nyasha: Which artists, DJs and producers should people look out for?

Becks: Im banking on Naakmusiq, Culoe De Song and the rise of Djs from outside Gauteng. There are unknown platforms such as 1KZN Tv’s Dj Mix on DSTV ch 261, Fridays 22h30 to 23h30. Multitudes of upcoming Djs like Ceega Wameropa have been emerged from such shows and hes recently released his own cd compilation.
The future is bright

#ThatsAwrap

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