Ke Dezemba Boss! And there’s no better way to celebrate than with music, South African music.
Let’s admit it. No party is really a party without hits like Nkalakatha, Ndihamba Nawe, Weekend Special, Shibobo, and Dala Mapantsula, to name but a few of my personal favourites. To that I would T.R.O, The Real Ones, with their hit song Hey Ouens Whatkind from the 90’s.
Surprised? Well, I grew up in Newlands West, across the road from the “bruin ous” so naturally that song brushed off on me. It remains iconic. I can sing the words from my heart, with all my heart.
South African artists put their souls into their music, and that’s why it has mass appeal. The success of Ladysmith Black Mamabazo proves this. That this group from KwaZulu-Natal has won a total of four Grammy Awards is nothing short of amazing. And just this week, they bagged two Grammy nominations for the 2018 ceremony. Come what may, there can be no doubt that they are world class entertainers. And South Africa has many more that we can proudly call our own, with the likes of Hugh Masekela, Yvonne Chaka Chaka, Johnny Clegg and the late Miriam Makeba.
I was reminded of the power of local music at a theatre show in Durban recently. There were evergreen international hits from the 90s beautifully played and sung by local artists. And then the saxophone player began playing Special Star from Mango Groove… The audience immediately lit up, some stood up and almost everyone clapped.
That moment right there said so much about how music has helped unite us as a nation and always will. All these thoughts came flooding to my mind as I chatted to a young artist who is determined to unite people through his music. But this is not music of the conventional kind.
Trishen Govender produces Gqom and Electronic music, and it’s rooted in Durban’s townships. Gqom is often described as an evolution of house, hip hop and kwaito music because it really has the same feel – but it is stripped down to a beat.
So Gqom artists literally created sound waves with computer software at home. From being played at taxis, it moved to the local club scene and then became a hit overseas. Today, Gqom is more popular in London and New York than it is back home. But, this too is changing, as Trishen tells me. He says the Gqom market is growing, because South African audiences want newer and different sounds.
Trishen is certainly not one for conforming. After all, he is an Indian guy producing Gqom music! Sleeping Buddha gives Durban’s Gqom music a new spin with electro beats.
And why the name Sleeping Buddha/Resting Buddha? Trishen finds great comfort, motivation and creativity in meditation and so he wanted to infuse this in his work. Or should I say passion. Because music is what he does full-time. He studied sound engineering and music production at the Creative Arts College in Durban, to make sure that he gets it right.
Trishen firmly believes that whatever you put out into the universe, you get back. He says he didn’t want to grow old with regrets, because there is nothing he would rather be doing than creating music. Spoken like a true artist, right?
Trishen released his album titled Oni this year, which can be downloaded for free here.
This Durbanite is now ready to take on the live music scene in Cape Town, thanks to event organiser and club DJ George Kretsos, who worked with Sketchy Bongo and Rudeboyz. He will be playing at Fiction in Cape Town from the 20th to 23rd December, and promises a mind-blowing performance.
Make no mistake, says Trishen – South Africa is seen largely as a developing third world country, but when it comes to music we are indeed first world. Let’s celebrate that this December. Remember, it isn’t a party unless there’s some South African tunes. I’ll dance to that!
P.S In my next post, I catch up with #BlackDiamond, Lungi Naidoo.