Ever since my first hand introduction to the hyper-fast South African dance music Shangaan Electro, I’ve been in contact with Nozinja, the kingpin/producer/A&R/label and all-round good guy responsible for taking the music of Limpopo to the world.
Warp Records released an album from Nozinja this year called Nozinja Lodge but while the music remains on its own shelf, the music has been picked apart and reconstructed by European and American producers like Tessela, Pollyn, MMM, Anthony Shake Shakir and Oni Ayhun and more.
For his latest cross-continent collaboration, Nozinja has teamed up with Mumdance, Micachu and Tirzah on a limited release for the Vinyl Factory, and recorded live as part of Doug Aitken’s ‘Station to Station’ project, ‘Thinking Of You’ is a glimpse into what Nozinja’s frenetic African rhythms can do with the another culture, in this case, adding a more understandable dimension for English speakers.
Shangaan Electro is back and it’s found a new home on Warp Records no less. Nozinja will release a 12″ of his music on the label and ‘Tsekeleke’ is the first bit of music, with a video directed by Chris Saunders in Johannesburg.
Shangaan Electro is a style of music I came across when I visited South Africa a few years ago. It’s since come out of its origins into something of a worldwide phenomenon thanks to an Honest Jons compilation, remixes, support from Damon Albarn and a live show.
The orginator of the Shangaan style (characterised by digitised marimba beats and African rhythms which rarely drops below 180 BPM) is Richard Mthethwa aka Nozinja and he’s responsible for all of the productions in the style of Shangaan Electro. His latest release comes out on Dan Snaith’s Jiaolong imprint which recently released his Daphni album. The two tracks ‘Heke Heke’ and ‘Hoza’ are good examples of largely instrumental Shangaan.
Shangaan Electro producer Nozinja has made his first remix of a Western artist of LA band Pollyn. Nozinja is joined by Nurse Matlala for a video shot in Soweto, Joburg in South Africa and the song features new vocals based on lyrics from the Pollyn song. When Nozinja was in Dublin last, he left me about 150 cassettes featuring three volumes of Shangaan Electro which I may sell €5 on his behalf with his blessing. if anyone is interesting in buying leave me a comment? I’ll drop some into Elastic Witch for sure.
A month before the World Cup kicked off in Soccer City in Soweto in the townships of Johannesburg, I made a detour on the last day of my Smirnoff Experience trip to meet an influential music producer by the name of Nozinja.
Nozinja is the kingpin of the Shangaan electro scene and has been since 2005. Don’t worry if you haven’t heard anything about this genre, it only really exists in the Shangaani areas of South Africa. Shangaan electro is characterised by an ultra fast-pace (180BPM and up), sped-up vocal samples, marimbas, digital beats, synths and afro-centric melodies. It barely exists outside of Soweto but does exist in other parts of the country where the Shangaani people are from in Limpopo for example. DVDs are the primary medium in which the music is shared as the accompanying dancing is just as important as the music. For now, Youtube videos are the primary way of spreading the phenomenon. Just watch this video of the kid-friendly Tshetsha Boys dancing and you’ll understand straight away why I wanted to be there.
After a 30 minute taxi ride from our hotel, myself and my companion Sarah found ourselves waiting outside a Soweto shopping centre for Nozinja to pick us up. Sarah (who works for Dazed and Confused) and I had both independently of each other, sourced a meeting with Nozinja with the help of Wills Glasspiegel, a producer, blogger and field recordist who also had a hand in the new Honest Jons compilationNew Wave dance Music from South Africa but more on that later… (more…)