Interview by Maya-Rose Torrão
South African duo STAB Virus is a techno project formed by two friends and producers who broke away from the local cultural expectations of Black South African men in order to pursue their passion of producing electronic music. The pair have been going from strength to strength since their inception and their debut release has been signed to the titanic Spanish label Saura, which is run by techno visionary, Coyu.
STAB Virus is made up of Makonwabe “Audiojerk” Bekwa and Siphe “Messive” Tebeka, who are both successful artists each in their own right, and brings something fresh and dynamic to the techno scene. The producer pair have been known to draw inspiration from traditional South African rhythms, which they skilfully infuse into their cosmopolitan techno sound.
STAB Virus will be performing at SpiltMilk 2018 in Cape Town this coming weekend alongside Kevin De Vries and Ryan Murgatroyd. Tickets to this almost sold-out annual techno festival can be bought here.
We caught up with the guys from STAB Virus and got to know the brains behind the beats.
Set the tone for us. Why the arts?
It’s because we love music and we’re passionate about it.
How did the two of you meet? Have you always had this musical connection?
We met through a friend (Lungile) years back, and Audio was still learning to DJ. Lungile introduced Audio to Siphe, and they both taught him how to make music. Then after that, we started making music together, and then in 2014 we decided to form STAB virus.
Which comes first when you’re producing – the sound or the idea?
Well it depends, sometimes it’s the sound, and sometimes it’s the idea. I mean, sometimes you’d sit at home or wherever… and then an idea of song pops up in your mind… the first thing we do is we jump on a computer and make the idea a reality.
Does your new material feature any collaborations?
I have a few collabs with some of our favourite local artists, but we can’t mention what, at the moment. We will drop a tune or 3 this Saturday of our unreleased stuff.
Tell us about the chemistry you have with your fans on stage.
Most importantly, we always read the crowd, most cases we don’t prepare the set, we always play whatever we feel like.
What techniques do you experiment with to get your original sound?
We always struggle to finish the tracks, we don’t rush, we always take time to complete the tracks, especially when we fuse African Percussions and Techno.
There are a lot of expectations for persons of colour in the music industry, especially when it comes to genre – how does this pressure affect STAB Virus?
I think we always face challenges, especially when we played overseas. But we don’t really get affected, haha.
What’s on your current playlist?
It’s some of our unreleased stuff, and our favourite songs at the moment.
Do either of you have a ‘wild/obsessed fan story’ you could share with us?
Haha oh no, not yet!
Take us through a day in the studio.
We usually start something fresh, or we’d bring unfinished tracks that we wrote in our individual, spare time and work on them together. Sometimes we fight haha, cause we’d not agree on the same thing.
Was there a specific moment in your life where you thought, “this is what we want to do”?
Yes, especially when everything is going very well for us. We would think of how we started and where we are now. I mean, we have archived a lot in a short period of time. We are very proud of ourselves, and we are very thankful… this is something we really wanted to do.
You guys are no strangers to playing at festivals, plus you’ve got some more exciting ones coming up this year. What’s been your best festival experience so far?
I’d say, Awakenings in Amsterdam last year & SpiltMilk Techno Dome 2016. Both of the shows were super amazing, we’re talking about the crowd, hospitality… everything. Both shows were incredible, we were really honoured to play the shows.
And a memory from a festival that wasn’t so great?
Ahhh… we don’t remember any.
What do you keep close by while you’re playing a set?
We’d say, headphones, USBs and our drinks, haha.
The South African music scene is really pumping at the moment; any emerging artists on your radar?
Yeah we have a lot, we have Siphe that has been doing very well for himself as solo, Mogey, SecondNature, Sytec, Messive Muzik, Bizza Wethu, Rose Bonica, Dwson, Deep Aztec, the list is very long.
What gets your creative juices flowing? How do you two get in the ‘zone’ to create?
You know, sometimes we’d sit in the studio for hours and struggle to finish a song, what we usually do is we take a break and listen to songs that we like for inspiration.
Take us through your collection of gear, tech or software that accompanies your creative expression.
We use FL Studio, and we’ve been using it for years. We know it’s “old-school” but it works perfectly for us. We use VSTs & Siphe has a Korg Minilogue & a Push 2, we use these machines when we work in the studio.
Any side projects you’re working on?
Yes, we are working on our new EP… we are aiming to release before November… and we also have a few collaborations we are working on.
If STAB Virus could collaborate with any artist, living or not, who would it be? Why that artist?
Tale Of Us, Joseph Capriati, Stephan Bodzin, Stimming, Enoo Napa, the Legendary Black Moses (from Soul Brothers), we can go on for hours.
How have you refined your craft since you entered the industry?
We are still learning and we are still new in the scene.
Breakdown the news for us: what can we expect from STAB Virus this year?
An EP, mixes & a lot of shows.
Listen to ‘Apocalypto’ by STAB Virus below.