Electronic House DJ, Ryan Murgatroyd has been producing music since 2004 with his first release, ‘Funk Country’ winning the accolade of BBC Radio 1’s ‘Essential New Tune’. Since then, his career has rocketed as he geared himself towards Europe, taking a step away from his home country of South Africa.
Going on two decades later, we’ve seen him in a string of successful music education ventures as well as chart-topping aliases. Finally, he joined up with long-time student turned collaborator, Blanka Mazimela as they embarked on their journey with a homegrown collective of South African artists. This collective would eventually become known as Bantwanas.
We sat down with both Ryan Murgatroyd and Blanka Mazimela ahead of Bantwanas‘s latest EP, Back To Front. You can find the link to Mazimela‘s interview below.
Hi Ryan, thank you for taking the time to chat with us. How has your year been so far?
I swear to you if I’ve been out the studio for 3 days this year, it’s a lot, but I couldn’t be happier. Thanks for having me.
You’ve been working alongside Blanka Mazimela, student turned collaborator. What has it been like to work with him over the years?
We’re having a good time writing records as always, Blanka is unique because he has a legitimate obsession with recording very interesting African musicians, often with choirs and unique instrumentation and it’s always a pleasure to see what him and the Bantwanas gents are up to, and take his recordings into a different context.
What is your favourite single from the upcoming EP? Why?
Of course ‘Back To Front’ is the one! I think it has a little piece of every member of the collective in it, sonically, and I worked on it for a long time to bring it all into balance on the production side, so it’s an interesting track that I think is pretty unique right now.
When you look at working with other musicians, what is the deciding factor for you to move forward with the collaboration?
It’s all about feeling when you’re collabing but with Bantwanas. I felt like there was already an existing synergy between all the members and I just had to tap into that and try to figure out the most streamlined way to get their sonic signature across.
How do you feel the South African music scene differs from the European one?
Well, the scene here in South Africa is just very small for boutique electronic music. Of course, there is a big market here but that’s reserved for mainstream pop music and so that means real underground dance music is very small in South Africa, and when you’re talking about LIVE acts, it’s even smaller. But we wanted to cut our teeth here and tighten the show up before we hit the big markets abroad, and this is the perfect place to do that. Of course, in Europe, electronic music is a big business with hundreds of established festival brands and a plethora of underground parties happening all the time and that’s where we’ll be heading with Bantwanas now that we’re releasing on labels like All day I dream.
As an artist, it becomes apparent that there is a huge difference between the art and the business. Is there anything about the music scene that you would personally change?
You can’t change it so you have to adapt! Of course the focus on social media is exhausting for everyone in every industry, and it seems to get more and more intrusive into daily life, but it’s a game you have to play if you want to be a successful touring artist and promote your work, so a necessary evil.
Besides your own Bantwanas collective, what African electronic act/s would you like to highlight for our readers?
Kususa, Lemon n Herb and Leeu.
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