A rare visit to Cape Town from an exciting European Afro House act with a global footprint is coming up on the 29th of October. We House Sundays is welcoming the enigmatic producer and DJ, Hyenah, just after he arrives back from Berlin for the monthly night he and his crew, RISE, run at Watergate in Berlin – this next one alongside Culoe De Song and Floyd Lavine.
He has previously described that a core part of what he does is connecting Southern African house sounds with European and American sounds, with a bit of West African and North African sounds too. The RISE crew is made up of SA’s very own Floyd Lavine, a regular on European house circuits, and DEDE. He explains that they “are each different, but we all move between African and Western House music. For me that is what makes RISE unique: it is exploring sounds, it is building bridges and creating something new.” The work is clearly having an impact too: “These two compliments show very well what we stand for: on one hand Djeff Afrozila said that RISE did actually change his sound, his vision of what he wants to do towards a more edgy sound. And on the other hand Henrik Schwarz said, that he never experienced such a soulful and warm vibe in a major club in Berlin.”
The shift to expanding RISE into a label, RISE MUSIC, is something that Hyenah has always wanted to do, but it’s also a way of expanding the ethos and “finally allows us to give other artists the opportunity to share our vision.” The first RISE MUSIC release was Floyd Lavine’s Masala EP 4 months ago.
Hyenah has also recently released an EP, but not on RISE MUSIC – September’s Usuthu EP out on Jimpster’s Freerange Records. While he acknowledges that it’s great to get reach for your music beyond your own label via other labels, it’s crucial that the label’s integrity and agenda match up to his, which he is sure to assure us that Freerange does. “Recently a lot of labels have asked for Hyenah’s music to release it, but I am selecting very carefully. There is just no need to be the trendy African sound gadget on a Tech House label just because it is getting trendy at the moment.”
The EP features South African acts B’utiza and Nonku Phiri. Hyenah met B’utiza on Kid Fonque’s recommendation, who described him as ‘on fire and very professional’. The collab happened smoothly, “I sent him an instrumental track and he sent me some vocals for it in the speed of light. I re-edited them and we were done.”
His track with Nonku happened after he fell in love with her voice on her collab track with Crazy White Boy. “She has this very unique texture and intimate energy in her singing. It grabs you right away and unfolds its magic every time. I also admire her as an artist. She is very sensitive and has a clear vision.” The track is actually made from leftover snippets from their sessions creating a previously-released track ‘Soak It’, after struggling multiple times to get a brand new track together.
He’s thrilled to be coming to Cape Town, but specifically to play We House Sundays, due to its closeness to the intentions and mission of his own night at Watergate: “[Unlike] Joburg, Cape Town’s nightlife scene is still very segregated in many ways. We House Sundays is supposed to do the same as we at Rise do: building bridges. On top of that I saw some videos and that whole event just looked amazing. I know the venue too. Actually that is where I met Nonku for the first time in person.”
He is however stressed about bringing Afro House to a discerning, knowledgeable house audience IN AFRICA, “If I can be frank, I am actually feeling a certain level of pressure here: On one hand I know that people know their House music there. And I know that what I do outside Africa is way more inspirational and new to people than at We House Sundays. So I expect a lot of enthusiasm but also high expectations. It is going to be intense!”
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