South African producer Gervase Gordon recently signed to Hyperdub. Which makes him the label's first Gqom artist. Sort of. That scene — born in Durban and rapidly encroaching across the globe — for those not in the know, is a kind of hybrid of kwaito, skeletally minimal house, and the rollingly glacial tropes of contemporary rap and hip hop production. It's vital, energetic, unusual music; perfect for those of us who occasionally forget that music's meant to excite.
Gordon produces as Okzharp and Duemla 113 is his first EP for the South London label. Translating as "Hello 113" the title's a reference to Gordon's collaborator's Manthe Ribane's Studio113, a creative agency/studio based in Capetown. Ribane's a dancer, model, stylist, photographer and singer. Gordon's got polymathic tendencies too, so the pair are a match made in heaven. South African director Chris Saunders brought them together while shooting a film called Ghost Diamond.
Since then, they've teamed up in the studio and produced one of the most intriguing EPs we've heard in a long time. I spoke to Gordon about Manthe and Gqom, and we're also delighted to be bringing you the world premier of the video for lead single "Dear Ribane". Check it all out below.
THUMP: Can you tell us a little about your working life with Manthe?
OK Zharp: Manthe and I were first introduced by the rapper Okmalumkoolkat in Joburg a few years ago. She had just got back from touring all over the place as a dancer for the Die Antwoord show. Chris Saunders who directed the video and I were starting to put together our film Ghost Diamond and she (Manthe) was going to be the lead actress/performer. She is quite well known in SA as a dancer, creative, stylist and artist in her own right. I was struck instantly by her imagination and humility and discipline and her unique and amazing way of expressing herself. We were shooting the film for the entire weekend so by the time we got to Sunday night we were pretty dead, so when everyone went out to party we stayed behind in this cavernous ex-marshmallow factory in Maboneng that Chris was using as his photo studio. I played Manthe some of the music I was working on for the film and she started singing different ideas. I set up mic in one of the little rooms and we stayed up all night writing and recording music together. The music didn't change much after that night, I like that on one of the songs you can just about hear us laughing because she nailed some amazing timing on a particular phrase. Three of the songs we did that night made it onto the EP. She is an amazing live performer, we are hoping to get together inside some kind of performance at some point.
How'd you hook up with Hyperdub?
I sent Kode9 some of the music I had done and he liked it and asked if he could put it out. That's pretty much it. Musically I'm very happy to be releasing my first music through them, as we go back a bit. As a listener I've enjoyed going back to their releases. Walton's album for example. So good, slept on I think. I'm also a fan of their parties, and always come away from them feeling inspired. Scratcha DVA is probably my favourite DJ ever.
What's your relationship to the Gqom scene?
I'm here and gqom is there, so it's hard to have any kind of real relationship to it. But I'm in touch with some of the people I've liked the most. For me people like Rudeboyz, Lag, Julz, Lusiman, Infamous Boyz etc are just great, unique producers in their own right I'm quite into their own individual sounds… like, Lusiman does amazing things with synths and he has quite an intoxicating, psychedelic sound, while Julz and Lag are just freaky rhythmic and violent at times. Infinite respect to 'Unknown', probably my favourite artist still. Recently I heard about a track called "Saddam" by a certain quite famous SA producer that apparently originated 'the gqom sound' when it found its way to Durban via the taxis ages ago, but he's not from Durban at all. I need to find this track, so please sort me out if you have it. Also, keep an eye out for Zhambeez activities… in LDN and beyond…
The Dumella 113 EP is released via Hyperdub on October the 10th.